Linggo, Hunyo 24, 2012

End of Summer Tour: Apo Reef

"Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest one in the Philippines."( That sentence alone would make you want to see it for yourself, but as wise robots would put it: "There's more to it than meets the eye."

To give you an idea, here are some photos taken during our adventure:

The trip was about 8-11 hours from manila. 3 hour bus ride to Batangas Pier. 3 hour Roro Ferry ride to Mindoro. 3 hours of the same bus (rode the boat as well) to Sablayan then finally 2 hours by motor boat to the island(less if the current is in your favor). Local boatmen, who also acted as our guide, gave us tour of the island. They are the ones in the first of the series of photos above.

We arrived on a clear sunny day, but not without traces of the recent typhoon that just hit the day before. Luckily for us, we only experienced strong waves from the normally calm waters of the beach.

I was with friends, old and new. The love of my life was also there with me. She's in one of the photos above. It was her second time in the place and was the one who made me want to see what she have seen. 

At sunset, when the tides are low, you will find corals protruding from the waters and at dawn, tracks of turtles who just laid eggs.

 The sands were fine. There was nothing like it.

The weather was perfect. The storm aftermath brought interesting cloud formations.

Our camp was under the shade of trees. That spot also serves as the island's communal area where we held our nightly gatherings.

We had no trouble finding places for our tents.

The island ran on solar energy but if that fails, this very hut houses.. a generator.

We basically had the island to ourselves for three days. The other group was composed of divers whom we rarely interact with but crossed paths when we were snorkeling above them while they were about 50 feet below. They looked really cool with full gear underwater. Unfortunately, i've no photos of them for the camera ran out batteries before we got to them. Anyway, here are some underwater shots (mostly from a friend's camera).

It was calm above the water..

..and chaos underneath!

Well.. not really. It was filled with serenity.

It was a haven for the strangest of life forms.

Where the  small can thrive on its own..

..And the most vulnerable exist.

It was a world on its own.

 The ocean.. so vast and blue..

..sometimes green.. or yellow

and rarely.. white

..and in extreme cases.. brainy.

After that fulfilling underwater adventure, everyone enjoyed the boat ride back to the camp.

As beautiful as the days were, I wish I could also show you the nights. We were blanketed by millions of stars. The moon, as bright as ever and the ocean waves, the perfect ambient sound. No photo will ever show the whole experience I just described. But here are some photos taken from the other side of the island.. the darker side.

The island also has its share of hauntings. There are areas with building ruins like that on the photo above. It was said that they were built in the 1900's. There are also stories of some encounters with a couple of headless people that welcomed the visitors walking by the lighthouse. 

That's me at the door by the way.

The path to the lagoon. An adventure on its own.

Mangrove forest. Who would have thunk it exists in such a small island.

The Lagoon:

The Lagoon. Still filled with saltwater marine life and millions of other microorganisms. Not to worry, no alligators nor anacondas here.

That's not the White tower of Saruman, that's the Lighthouse as seen from the lagoon and surrounding it are the Ents. 

All the ends of the Earth and the wonders of the sea as perceived from the lighthouse

The lagoon: now as seen from the lighthouse!

The beach. Also from the lighthouse

Corals on the island: as high as the trees. Proof that this island was submerged a while back. They now look like Sand king mounds from the "Outer Limits"

Beach  =  Vacation

= Fun

= Huts

= Fishing boats

= Sunsets

Here's a reminder though: hundreds of these little guys have scattered on the beach..

Mac -  with it's macaroni shell on it's back. He braves the Red Dead Seaweed on a boat. That's how it rolls.

Peanut - prefers the name wall-nut. Seen here scouting the perimeter. Tough as they can get.

Connie - The fastest among the shelled warriors. Must be the aerodynamic armor. be careful where you land your feet.

Photo credits: Julius Ramirez (Underwater)
                       Carlo Guevarra (All the rest)