Sumilon Island is a 24-hectare (59-acre) coral island located at the southeastern tip of Cebu. It is the first marine protected area in the Philippines, created as a marine sanctuary in 1974 under the guidance of the Silliman University Marine Reserve of Dumaguete City in the nearby province of Negros Oriental.
The island is famous throughout the country and internationally for the exceptional beauty of its four dive sites: Garden Eel Plaza, Nikki’s Wall, Coral Landscape and Julie’s Rock. A shifting white sandbar on the western docking area of the island is very popular with the locals.
Sumilon Island takes its name as a safe harbor for fishermen during strong typhoons – sumilong. It belongs to the Municipality of Oslob, Cebu with whom the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, a triple-A resort owned by Filipinos, entered into a long term lease agreement to develop the island into an eco-friendly haven.
Stories were told that the original Japanese investors who first developed cottages on the island were actually treasure hunters who abandoned the project, presumably as soon as they were able to retrieve something valuable from their excavations on the island.
A foreshore lease agreement prevents squatters from living on the beach, and for environmental protection in compliance with the DENR since the area surrounding the island is a marine reserve.
Because all shorelines belong to the government, day use of the island is allowed but limited to the white sandbar area and the dive sites for day tour guests who rent their own boats. Guests with children who are expecting to enjoy the white sandbar may be in for a disappointment if their visit falls on the time of day when it is high tide. During high tide, the sandbar is underwater and there is no dry beach to picnic on.
It normally costs Php 1,500 to rent a boat for the day to bring you to Sumilon Island and then back again to mainland Cebu. Each trip takes approximately 15 minutes.
For Php 1,500 nett per person on weekdays and Php 2,000 nett per person on weekends and holidays, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort provides you with the following:
- Roundtrip boat transfers from Bancogon (Oslob) to Sumilon Island
- Buffet lunch per person at the lagoon area
- Island activities (snorkeling, paddle boating, kayaking) and use of picnic tables in the lagoon area
- Use of the swimming pool. A new pool and restaurant is currently being constructed, also in the lagoon area, to service day tours with a target launch on July of 2017
Buffet lunch is an appetizing array that includes a soup of the day, vegetable salads and hor d’ oeuvres as appetizers, red meat, white meat, seafood and a choice of white steamed rice or fried rice in several variations (garlic rice, adobo rice) as the main course, Italian pasta or Chinese noodles, fresh fruits and pastries for desert. Drinks are included.
F & B Manager Ms. Desiry Olicia was quick to point out that the demand for day tours starting summer of 2016 was quite high they had to schedule two shifts for the buffet lunch, a 12:00-1:00 PM and a 1:00-2:00 PM shift, to accommodate group tours which sometimes reached as many as 250 pax a day. These are mostly Chinese tourists booked by travel agents. The once forlorn lagoon area is now a bustling center of activity not only on the weekends but even during weekdays.
The most recent additions to the accommodations are a Family Villa with a private dipping pool which can accommodate a family of six, and two Honeymoon Villas also with their own private dipping pool and a cliffside view of the lagoon and ocean.
Ten Premiere Deluxe and fourteen Deluxe Rooms are still in high demand with their well-appointed amenities, now sporting newly landscaped lawns and a private veranda installed with a swing set.
Glamorous camping (glamping) in tents have currently been set aside pending the completion of the new restaurant and pool in the lagoon area. Glamping will be relocated towards the end part of the lagoon where a sandy cove may be reached by a 10-minute hike on the beach for privacy.
The resort’s Pavilion is the main dining facility where succulent seafood and gourmet food may be ordered a la carte for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for in-between fixers.
Aside from the shifting white sandbar, the infinity pool and the three jacuzzi pools which are favorite hang-outs of guests, other places of interest on the island include the natural lagoon with high mangroves for kayaking and fishing, and the newly installed bamboo raft where one can snorkel around or paddle to using the fiber-glass bottomed kayaks.
You may hike around the island for an hour or two. You start off your hike by passing through an organic garden containing herbs grown in neat rows, and a chicken coop housing a dozen or more native poultry.
According to the Resident Manager Mr. EJ Barretto who has been living on the premises these past three years, the chef peruses the herbs and native poultry for the resort’s menu.
On the south portion of the island, a lighthouse rests on a protected tree park, and beside it is a “baluarte”, a historical watchtower built as part of a warning system to thwart slavers and marauders in the 19th century. There are also a couple of small shallow caves named after the infamous World War II Imperial Japanese Army General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
Indulge in any of the resort’s Amuma Spa signature massages at any one of the native huts (payag payag) near the pool area or in the comfort of your room. Filipino traditional “hilot” is on the spa menu, as well as the best in Asian and Western massages therapies. In photo is the Hot Stone Massage.
Whale shark (butanding) watching has become a popular tourist attraction in Oslob only within the last decade. Local fishermen feed the whale sharks by hand which tourists find entertaining. A whale shark tour, usually early morning between 6:00-9:00 AM, may be arranged at the resort’s front office.
What would otherwise be trivial for a resort located on the mainland takes on gargantuan scope. For an island resort 15 minutes away by boat from the mainland, 24 hour electricity, water and food supply, sanitation, as well as the safety and security of its guests become a major concern. Thanks to the able leadership of its resident manager, with the support of management and in cooperation with the local government of Oslob, Cebu, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort is able to live up to its name – that of a triple-A resort showcasing the best of the Philippines.
Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort
Address: Sumilon Island, Bancogon, Oslob, Cebu, Philippines 6025
Phone: 032-318-3129 / 318-9098
Mobile: 0917-631-7512 / 0999-885-8337
Sincere gratitude to Bluewater Resorts’ VP of Sales & Marketing Ms. Margie Munsayac, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort Resident Manager Mr. EJ Barretto, F & B Manager Ms. Desiry Olicia, Mr. Ethan Bernales of Marketing Communications Dept., and Mr. Bryyan Keym Cardeno for taking time out from such busy schedules. Cheers to the success of Bluewater Resorts Group!