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Apo Island: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Adventurer Mayan Benedicto heads south for an underwater excursion in Dumaguete’s thriving waters.

Apo Island is the place to visit when you want to go swim with the turtles, and is quite popular for diving. The island’s surrounding waters is a marine reserve, so you’re guaranteed the corals are alive—in fact, they’re the most colorful I’ve seen so far in the Philippines. Avid divers can attest to this, too.

If you’re solely out to see the turtles, they’re only a few meters away from the shore. It’s a thriving population, and they move closer when they feed.

How to get there:

Apo Island is in Dumaguete, so your first task is to reach Dumaguete. Rent a van or take one of the buses next to the local Robinsons Mall that can take you out to Malapatay, about 30 minutes outside of town. From there, you can take a bangka to Apo Island.

If you’re from Cebu, you have three options. If you like a scenic trip, or if ferry and flight schedules aren’t convenient for you, you can take a bus from the South Bus Terminal headed for Liloan Port, Santander or rent a van to take you there. A 30-minute ferry ride leads you to Sibulan Port in Duamguete. There are also daily ferries from Pier 1 that go straight to Dumaguete, which can take four to six hours, depending if you take a fast ferry or not. The easiest way is to fly from Cebu to Dumaguete. However, flights are in the afternoon and you may have to stay in Dumaguete overnight, as bangkas to Apo Island only operate until 5:00 PM.

Essentials to bring:

  • Snorkeling gear, because the rentals can get pricey
  • • Fins, because the current gets pretty strong
  • • Aqua shoes, because it’s not all sand there! You find some pretty sharp rocks
  • • Food. There are only two resorts, and the food can be a bit expensive

Apo Island is ideal for a day trip, especially if you’re already traveling to Dumaguete. Otherwise, you can stay overnight in either of the resorts or you can settle for home stays. There’s no electricity there, though, so they give you solar lamps. The bright side—you get to see a clear sky full of stars at night.

The bangkas are quite pricey, so it’s best to travel in groups. It’s P2,000 for a roundtrip four-person bangka, P3,000 for an eight person one. If you’re a solo traveler or a couple, you can take a while and wait for others to share the cost.

Aside from snorkeling, swimming and diving, you can walk around the little town. It’s quite interesting to see the locals and how they live. Facing the island, there’s a little lake on the right side. You can also climb up to the lighthouse. The foot of the stairs starts out just by Liberty Lodge.


The two resorts on the island is Liberty’s Lodge and Apo Island Beach Resort. Liberty’s Lodge has hillside rooms that have breathtaking views of the island, and has a lighthouse on the property. Apo Island Beach Resort has a secluded beachfront location, and has a generator that supplies the resort with electricity all night.

Before you venture off to swim with the turtles, stop by the Marine Park Office to pay the conservation fees. Some packages already have these built in, so make sure to discuss it with your operator.

After exploring underwater, check out Boluarte, a volcanic rock formation that is one of the island’s landmarks.

Some sites to see in Dumaguete:

  1. Twin Lakes
  2. Casaroro Falls
  3. Pulang Bato Falls

Must try restaurants in Dumaguete:

  1. Kri
  2. Sans Rival

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Find Your Summer Spirit in Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu

Breathe in the tropical atmosphere, as you find summer joys through sight, sound and taste at Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu. Poolside fun during the day, spent serenely and luxuriantly—a refreshment in hand. While the evenings are for outdoor family movie nights, with the ocean waves rippling in the background.

Summer is all of that, and more! Plan an extraordinary weekend with an array of exciting activities that await your arrival. Discover your #ShangriLaSummerSpirit from 15 July to 30 August.

Tiki Bar at Buko Bar

Epicurean Delights by the Pool

Keep yourself fueled up as you splish and splash with the whole crew. Take a quick break from all that summer jazz with Mediterranean and Polynesian-inspired bites exquisitely crafted for your palate. From rice balls and pastas, ice creams to sliders—indulge in tastes and aromas that transport you to a world of endless, golden summers.

Mediterranean Selections at Acqua

A Whimsical Touch

Make it a colourful summer for the kids! Let them explore their own version of paradise with whimsical floaties, sure to keep them happily afloat. Your little ones can now freely kick and play in the water with fun and fascinating, animal-shaped inflatables.

Pleasant Sundowner Tunes

Bid the sun adieu and embrace the sunset hues with live acoustics at the Main Pool from 4pm to 6:30pm.

Tiki Cocktails at Buko Bar

Champagne Bar at Acqua

A Toast to an Endless Summer!

Unwind and savour the tropical vibe as our expert mixologists craft refreshing Tiki cocktails and serve chilled bottles of exquisite champagne by the pool! With a backdrop of swaying palm trees and stunning ocean views, sip on delightful beverages and toast to unforgettable summer moments in paradise.

Family Outdoor Movie Night

Gather your nearest and dearest for an enchanting evening as we set up a large outdoor screen by the pool under the starry night sky. Cozy up as you enjoy a family-friendly movie that will delight both those who are young and young-at-heart at Treasure Island from 7pm to 9pm.

Surrounded by lush greens, let the experience bring you to a world of joy and laughter, creating cherished memories for you and the family. For more information on Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, you may contact (032) 2310288. You may also follow them on Facebook and Instagram or visit #FindYourSummerSpirit #FindYourShangriLa

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LONDON IN FULL BLOOM: An Exclusive Look at the recent Chelsea Flower Show

Dame Judy Dench (center in white) with gallery owner, Jerry Sibal, Edwin Josue, writer Eva Gullas and artist James Doran-Webb.

The Chelsea Flower Show in London, one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world, returned in full glory in May 2023, captivating visitors with its stunning displays and landscape designs. Held annually on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, this year’s show proved to be a true feast for the senses, showcasing an array of breathtaking gardens, vibrant floral arrangements, and innovative landscaping. The 3-day event showcased 36 outdoor gardens, including four balcony gardens for small spaces. Inside the giant pavilion, blooms compete with each other, exotic flowers, roses, and many more.

Princess Kate Middleton walking the booths at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Dame Judy Dench, who owns several of Webb’s pieces in her garden, with James Doran-Webb and Jerry Sibal discussing the works of James.

One of the flower arrangements competing at the show.

The 2023 Chelsea Flower Show embraced a Nature’s Harmony theme, with a strong focus on sustainability and mental health. The show’s organizers emphasized the importance of sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity conservation, inspiring attendees to create beautiful outdoor spaces while preserving and protecting the environment.

One of the floral gazebo displays recycled chairs and salvaged materials.

Shops at the Chelsea Flower Show are mostly from sustainable materials.

What’s Cebu got to do with the Chelsea Flower Show in London? One person. James Doran Webb (, an Englishman working with driftwood, has been displaying his artworks for several years. James collects cast-off driftwood and shapes them into beautiful animal shapes that find places in some of the most iconic gardens. Leaping horses, owls, reindeer, and the occasional dragon, James Webb’s creations are avidly collected by landscapers to add accent to gardens in all sizes, using cast-off wood, fitting perfectly with the sustainable element—something Mr. Webb has done quite well for the last decade.

The impressive dragon of James Doran-Webb


The Philippine International Flower Festival will be held at the PICC in Manila from January 14 to 18, 2024. Watch out for more info from our website!

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Club Serena: A ‘Serene Luxury’ Experience in the Heart of Cebu’s Diving Mecca

photography by GPA Art and Photography

A three-hour drive, or more, depending on traffic, the fishing town of Moalboal in the southwest of Cebu Island is an extremely popular destination for divers and weekenders who love the white sand and pink sunsets. It is also a favorite place to stay for expats looking for a laid-back life of endless coffees or cocktails.

Thankfully, the big chain resorts haven’t discovered it and places to stay are mostly small family-run resorts. But if pampering is what you are looking for, there is only one hotel to book in Moalboal. Club Serena Resort is a 1.7-hectare beachfront property perched above coral rocks, presenting a unique union of luxurious accommodations and a host of activities to be enjoyed. This hidden gem is reached through a dirt road away from the main highway. Fronting a wide swath of white sand beach, it is an easy walk past several smaller resorts to reach the main town.

Recently renovated by noted architect James Jao, the new Club Serena has 17 rooms, three swimming pools, a restaurant, and a beachfront event space, all designed with modern Filipino aesthetic. On the drawing board are more rooms to be added, an expansion of their modern dive shop, and their popular Kids’ Club program. Their food outlet, Mira, offers all-day dining, favorite among visitors and locals, as well as the growing expat community that has settled in Moalboal. 

Club Serena offers diving courses for adults and kids by their resident operator, Seven Seas Aquanauts Phil. Corp, a PADI 5 accredited diving facility operating since 1988. For a complete list of the courses and their rates, please call (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307.

The resort encourages above-water activities as well, and they have several paddle boards and kayaks available for guests to use.

For rates and more information, visit or email or (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307. You can also visit their Facebook page for updates.

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