Wouldn’t it be great if you can find a small place that is jam-packed with adventure? No need to catch a taxi, jeepney, bus, or motorcycle ride to hop from one adventure to another. No need to pay hefty fares. No need for inconvenience. All you need to do is to simply walk around to get to places and experience activities that will give you an adrenaline high! You can find that place in amazing Sumilon Island, which is privately owned by Bluewater Resorts.
Follow our adventures during our exciting weekend stay in this exquisite, coralline island.
Instead of a villa, we stayed in a nice tent that is filled with virtually all the amenities in a standard hotel room. Called glamping, this style of accommodation allows guests to experience the thrill of sleeping outdoors while enjoying the comfort and convenience of a hotel. It is a great way to introduce oneself to the idea of sleeping in the wilderness in preparation for real camping.
A large canvas roof protects the glamping area from sun and rain. For the glampers’ convenience, a common bath and toilet is constructed nearby.
According to the management of Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, the existing glamping area is only temporary. The tents will soon be moved to a new glamping site right at the sandy beach. That would be excellent since the tents would face the lovely sea around Sumilon.
Just imagine the fresh, salty breeze blowing gently on you as you lie down on the bed, the gentle rolling waves lulling you to sleep, and the glorious view of the sunrise as you wake up to a new day of adventures.
We haven’t seen jet skis and speedboats around Bluewater Sumilon. However, we did find this sleek, ultra-cool Hobie Cat on the shore. We would have loved to try this, but the resort said they need to see some sort of license. That is understandable; sailing is a very technical sport and requires a thorough understanding of the wind.
The first thing we did after putting our stuff in our glamping tent was to head off to the start of the resort’s trekking trail. During our research, we were delighted to know that the resort offers this kind of activity. Guided tours are available, but you can hike the island yourself.
We have been trekking in fast-flowing rivers, backroads, and lofty mountains for years. But this is our first time to do this activity around a small, rocky island out in the middle of the sea. We immediately felt like modern Robinson Crusoes!
We located the trailhead, which features directional signs and information boards to help make the treks fun and safe. Walking sticks are also available at the trailhead.
The trail is very well established, so hikers won’t get lost around the island. It doesn’t have any sharp ascent, and light, green woods shelter the trail from the sun. Thus, for first time hikers, walking around Sumilon Island is ideal. However, people need to be careful since loose, sharp rocks mark the entire trail.
To ensure hiker’s won’t get lost, colored flags are installed around the island. Yellow is for beginners, and blue is for intermediate hikers. Since we wanted to go around the island, we chose the advanced trail, which is marked by red flags.
Many plants along the trail are tagged with nice information boards that indicate their local, common, English, and scientific names as well as their uses. Yes, you learn a lot from hiking!
Just check out that amazing view of the kayaking lagoon, the white beach, and the blue expanse of the sea! Note the large round formations under the lagoon’s shoreline; could these be elephant ear corals?
We were on top of a high coral stone cliff that encompasses the entire island.
Safety ropes line the edge at some points of the trail. For your own safety, do not go off-trail and cross the rope. Remember that you are hiking at the edge of a high cliff.
Isn’t that vista spectacular? At this point, we can see very sharp contrasts in landscapes—the dark green waters of the kayaking lagoon, the fine white sands of the beach, and the lovely aquamarine and deep blue sea. At the background is Cebu’s lofty mountain range, which we once traversed earlier this year.
Hiking in the wilderness gives people opportunities to witness Mother Nature’s masterpiece paintings—paintings that captivate the mind and heal the soul.
Some distance later, we disengaged from the advanced trail and took a side trail that leads to the center of the island. At the end of the side trail is this old non-operational lighthouse. We can just imagine the loneliness felt by the lighthouse caretakers of the past when the resort was still non-existent.
We would have wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but the holds seemed rusted. Let us be on the safe side although we know, for sure, that the view from up there will be magnificent!
Beside the old lighthouse (which is actually a contemporary structure) are the remains of this 17th-century Spanish baluarte, or watchtower. The Sumilon Island baluarte is part of a network of watchtowers that line from Santander at the southern tip of Cebu to Carcar, which is 96 kilometers away from Sumilon.
Each baluarte was within line of sight of each other. Collectively, they served as an early warning system for slavers, raiders, and pirates who often pillage coastal towns and cities.
The inside of the baluarte is chilly and overgrown with trees, vines, and moss. With other sounds except the rustling of leaves and the occasional cackle of seabirds, it’s really quite eerie inside this old structure. We can almost feel the ghosts of the watchmen who are, most probably, eternally guarding this island.
We headed back to the main trail, which skims across the island’s edges. Along the way, we passed by a rich coral sanctuary; those are the large brown patches under the aquamarine water. This is one of the snorkeling sites in Sumilon, and had it not been for the rough seas, we would have snorkeled here.
The view, as you can see from the photo below, was indeed spectacular. But we had to be careful in hiking here as the trail goes over razor-sharp coralline rocks. One slip and we could end up with several gashes or cuts on the foot.
Be careful! The trail skirts alongside rough, sharp sea cliffs such as these.
Look closely and along the way, you can see fossils such as these—fossils of seashells and corals. The presence of fossils suggests that millions of years ago, Sumilon Island was once submerged.
An expansive view of the open sea awaits the hiker at the east side of the island. It was so windy that we could easily see whitecaps forming on the surface of the water. The presence of whitecaps is an indication of large waves and choppy waters, which could be dangerous for small vessels.
Check out the spiky coral stone that juts out from the trail.
Witness the unfathomable power of the sea. Powerful waves crashed on the sea cliffs with thunderous roars as if straining to push Sumilon Island closer to mainland Cebu. In some areas, we hear the violent explosions as waves crash through large caverns and overhangs below our feet.
Just look at the poignant photo below. Humans, who are so conceited to think that they can ravage seas, forests, and mountains with impunity, cannot withstand the power of Mother Nature.
Mother Nature is an effective mental and spiritual cleanser, and I love to bask in that balm.
After an hour of checking out snippets of the island, we reached the south stretch of Sumilon, which gives us a very clear view of Cebu mainland and neighboring Negros Island.
Hikers usually notice a gradual but distinguishable change in the trail; loose soil now replaces the razor-sharp rocks. Light woods, however, are prevalent all throughout the island.
We completed the advanced trail after an hour and a half of walking. Well, we could do it in an hour or less, but we took time in admiring the view, taking detours, and taking note of interesting subtleties. We don’t hike fast so we could take time in enjoying the adventure.
We were thoroughly overheated during the trek. So now, it’s time to cool down. We returned to our tent to change into rash guards. Then, we headed to the long and narrow kayaking lagoon, which is just behind our tent.
Guests can enjoy kayaking, stand-up paddling, and fishing here.
Enjoying a lot, Sweetie? The lagoon was completely quiet, and all we can hear were the strokes of our paddles. That was a complete change from the violent, roiling music of the sea. What a way to relax!
After a couple of hours paddling around, I disembarked at the shore while Sweetie took off by herself; she wanted to paddle solo. As you can see, the lagoon is bordered by a rich forest of virgin mangroves.
A tall, coral stone cliff rises above the lagoon; we skirted the edge of that cliff during our trek around Sumilon Island.
If specific conditions are met, then this rock wall is a great venue for bolting. Well, you know what that means. Rock climbing! And of course, that’s another come-on for the resort.
We had our fill of kayaking at around 5PM. It was time to do one of our most anticipated thing whenever we go somewhere—witness a uniquely beautiful sunset. The best place in Sumilon to view a fiery sunset is at the large sandbar at the southwestern edge of the island.
Just check out that gorgeous fine white sand. No one can resist the temptation of simply walking on it barefoot!
The sandbar changes shape, according to the tide. Swimmers here would be treated to an encompassing view of mainland Cebu while having a cool, refreshing swim or basking in the sun.
We swam around for awhile, but battling the waves proved to be too exhausting. So, we simply sat on the waterline while playing with the sand.
After awhile, the sun began its slow descent. Moments like these will make you realize that despite the modernity, there is still magic in this world. Everyone should see a picturesque sunset at least once in their lives.
We woke up early the next day to see an equally dazzling sunrise. At Sumilon, the view of a fiery sunrise is uninterrupted by terrain as the glorious disc rises over open water.
Have you ever seen the movie Contact? If so, do you remember at the last act when Dr. Arroway (Jodie Foster) talked with her deceased “father” on a surreal alien “beach” somewhere in the star Vega? Well, we don’t need to risk lives, ask for funding from an eccentric billionaire, and build a trillion-dollar machine that generates a wormhole so we can travel to Vega.
That scene is just right here in Sumilon. All you need to do is to simply wake up early!
After breakfast, we headed back out to the sandbar where we can swim towards Sumilon Island’s main marine sanctuary. However, when we got there, the waves were still huge and powerful, and the sanctuary is still a long way off the shore. Swimming out there in the deep, with all those humongous waves, would not just be exhausting but potentially perilous.
After a few minutes, we decided to check out another snorkeling area where the water was calm and shallow.
If you find the sandbar a bit crowded especially on peak season, you can head out to the northwest side of the island where the kayaking lagoon is. Fronting the lagoon is a very expansive postcard-perfect white-sand beach where you can swim in its turquoise waters. Walk east towards the sea cliffs, and you can find another nice snorkeling area there.
If you recall, this is where we helped transplant corals during Project BLUE’s BluEarth event.
We left the sandbar to look for another area where we could snorkel. It was a good thing that the footpath was shady and cool. Light woods shielded us from the ever-increasing heat of the morning sun.
Along the way, we saw these two interesting signs. Funny, we didn’t notice them the day before on our way back to the glamping site after our trek.
We decided to check out the cave first. The entrance to the cave is almost unobtrusive; it is partially blocked from view with a large boulder.
Whoa! Are those ghosts? Yamashita Cave is a collective name of explored and unexplored caves that are thought to have concealed a large cache of ill-gotten gold from the coffers or Ferdinand Marcos, the infamous Filipino dictator.
We wanted to explore the Yamashita Cave deeper, but we didn’t bring any headlamp or helmet. We’ll check this out on our next visit to Sumilon.
Beside the cave is this nice rocky cove that is converted into a grotto. It’s a nice place to commune with your spiritual side.
Sweetie and I found a shallow yet expansive coral reef just a few meters off the shore of Sumilon Island. We feel that snorkeling in Sumilon deserves another blog post. Check out snorkeling adventure!
Sumilon Island may be small, but it truly has a lot to offer for the adrenaline junkie. Visit Sumilon now, and let your “ber” adventures begin!
1. For more details of their adventures, please contact Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. Click this link and scroll down to the Tips section for their contact details.
2. For your own safety and enjoyment, please follow their hiking rules.
3. Find their scuba diving rates below. They also offer scuba certification courses. Note that rates are subject to change without prior notice.
4. Wear a lifejacket when kayaking. Never underestimate Mother Nature, and always be on the side of safety.
5. Observe LNT principles. Keep your voice down, and do not litter.
Tinde! Jam-packed nga. Now this is very nice.
Hehe! It definitely is! Sumilon Island is an all-in-one adventure venue!
Hey Gian and Sheila,
Thanks for this comprehensive post! I originally clicked on it as Camille and I were both interested in checking out Oslob for the whale shark sightings. However after reading this we’ve simply added another go to place in the Philippines. We recently went to Dumaugete and Siquijor and found there were tons of stuff to do in the area. We’re hoping to do another Visayas trip soon hopefully before we leave the Philippines.
How far was this from Cebu city? Also was this during rainy season? The waters were rough in Negros when we were there last week. Changed the landscape and scenery but gave us a little insight to what we have in store for next time.
The pictures never do these places justice but the sandbar looks amazing. Thanks again for this post friends!
Love from (ugh) Manila,
Mark and Camille
Hi Mark and Camille,
Thank you very much for the compliment! 🙂
Sumilon Island is around 4 hours from Cebu City, and the boat ride from Oslob to Sumilon is just around 15 minutes.
The waters are quite rough this time of the year. When we went there, the sea was quite choppy. But don’t worry, Bluewater Sumilon’s boat is quite big, so you are totally safe.
Yes, it’s rainy season, but there are pockets and days of good weather. We went to Sumilon during one of these calm days. 🙂
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