The world under the sea is a mysterious, dangerous, and spectacular place. It is vastly unexplored; we know more about outer space than our oceans. But here in Cebu, Philippines, we are fortunate to be blessed with so many places wherein we can explore this alien world with nothing more than a good-quality snorkel and a mask. In fact, snippets of this world can be located just a few meters off the shore! And we found some of these amazingly marine-rich sites in Sumilon Island in Oslob, Cebu.
After a heavy breakfast, we changed into our swim clothes and brought our snorkeling gear to check out the marine sanctuary at the south end of the island. Unfortunately, the waves were still huge and strong; we half expected them to calm down in the morning.
Swimming out all the way to the sanctuary would definitely tire us out. When (notice we didn’t say “if”) that happens, we’ll be at the mercy of the extreme danger and harsh elements of the sea.
We decided not to risk swimming to the faraway sanctuary. That meant we need to find another snorkeling site. While going around the island, we noticed huge dark splotches—indicators of coral reefs, rocks, or seagrass beds—in the aquamarine waters near the west side of Sumilon, the side that faces Cebu mainland. The water here was mirror-like in its calmness, so we decided to check out the area.
As we descended a short, rocky cliff, we arrived at this small, white-sand beach that served as our staging ground for our snorkeling adventure.
It turned out we were right; we were swimming on top of a large and impressive shallow reef that starts just a few meters away from the shore! Just look at that amazing seascape!
Do you want to know how shallow this reef is? Check out the photo below. If Sweetie stands up, the water would probably be chest-high for her. For us, that is really excellent as we can observe marine life without having to spend precious energy to dive and swim below the water’s surface. Also, we didn’t have to equip our GoPro with a red filter to neutralize the water’s blue hue.
90 percent of the reef is made up of abundant, stony staghorn corals. They are named so because of their resemblance to the antlers of a stag or deer. Care must be taken not to bump on those horns as they are very delicate.
Around the immense staghorn coral fields are other types of hard, stony corals. We found large brain corals as well as flat table corals.
These dainty cabbage leather corals sprout up from bare sand. They make perfect places for young fish who want to play hide-and-seek. Hehehe!
Colorful corals, spiky urchins, lovely fish—it’s a colorful world under there, don’t you think? And this world is just a few meters off the shore of Sumilon Island!
Although most of the reef is made of hard corals, there are also plenty of delicate soft-bodied organisms such as this lively, yellow sea anemone (or is it a tree coral?).
These puffball-shaped sea anemones seem to sparkle when you get close to them. Yes, they’re living sparklers!
Never step on the corals. Keep afloat by treading water or by wearing a life jacket or PFD. Not only is it destructive when corals are stepped on, it might be a very painful experience for you. These wicked sea urchins, which hide in the nooks and crannies of the corals, can easily puncture your skin with their needle-sharp spikes.
The spikes are very brittle and can be lodged in your skin. Your muscle’s involuntary contractions pull the remnants of the spike deeper. Ouch!
A rich coral reef is like a lively metropolis only that the residents are fish, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, and more. Who says that only humans can build cities?
Some fish are quite territorial. They will stand their ground or attack you if you venture too close to their territory. This guy kept a baleful eye on me as I skirted his home.
Everywhere we go, we always make sure we do our part in preserving and protecting Mother Nature. While snorkeling, we took out and gathered quite a number of discarded beer cans, glass bottles, plastic bags, and other man-made objects from the reef. These things do not belong here, and they can do massive harm to delicate ecosystems.
When visiting fragile sites like these coral reefs, rivers, mountains, caves, and forests, please do your share by not throwing your garbage anywhere. Bring them with you until you get back to the city for proper disposal.
We were happily stalking a silvery ghost pipefish when, suddenly, out of nowhere, a small black-tipped reef shark zipped by. Fortunately, we were able to capture a video of the spectacle. Can you see it?
You can probably tell that we thoroughly enjoyed our snorkeling adventure. In fact, we covered 80 percent of the reef most of the morning!
Other Snorkeling Sites in Sumilon
The southern marine sanctuary and western shore are not the only snorkeling sites in Sumilon. In fact, there’s a snorkeling site just right beside the one we swam in. It’s just right beside the docking area.
The northern beach has a rocky snorkeling area as well. If you remember correctly, we planted artificial corals here a few months back during the BluEarth event.
A little farther down the northern beach is another very rich snorkeling area. Just check out those lovely coral-encrusted rocks. However, snorkeling here is prohibited if the waves are strong. That’s because the area is just in front of treacherous rock cliffs. A strong wave can push a snorkeler right into those razor-sharp coralline rocks.
After we had our fill of snorkeling, we headed back to the resort’s infinity pool to relax for a bit. As it was a Monday, we had the whole pool to ourselves for more than an hour. Hehehe!
After enjoying a filling, buffet lunch, we showered and packed up. It was time to say goodbye to this beautiful Sumilon island and exemplary Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. But surely, our visit here won’t be the last.
Thank you very much, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, for the stay! You definitely have a one-of-a-kind resort here, a true idyllic paradise island that is full of adventure. You have made a destination that Cebuanos can be proud of.
1. For more details and information of their snorkeling sites, adventures, services, accommodations, rates, etc., please contact Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. Click this link and scroll down to the Tips section for their contact details.
2. For other adventures offered by Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, check out this link.
3. If you haven’t brought your snorkeling gear, you can rent a set at their in-house dive shop.
4. We recommend snorkeling in the shallow areas of Sumilon Island. The water is clear, and the coral fields are just within arm’s reach. In fact, you don’t need to dive deep to take a closer look at the corals.
5. Avoid snorkeling near sea cliffs when the weather is bad or when the sea is rough. A powerful wave can carry and slam you against the treacherous rocks.
6. If you wish to swim out to the main sanctuary from the sandbar, wear a life jacket or bring a flotation device. The sanctuary is about a couple of hundreds of meters away from the shore, thus you need to swim towards deep water. A life jacket or and an emergency flotation device can help you stay afloat as you swim, conserving precious energy.
7. Take extra care not to touch, step on, or break corals. The slightest touch can compromise their protective mucus layer, which can damage them. Don’t even think of taking one as a souvenir! Corals are very delicate and form an important part of the sea’s ecosystem.
Always wear a life vest and stay on the water’s surface. If you know how to swim, hover above the corals.
If you have to put your feet on the ground, find a sandy patch before putting down your feet. We recommend wearing protective foot gear such as aqua shoes.