Since arriving in the Philippines, we have trekked through the Ifugao Rice Terraces, ridden a boat through the bays of Donsol looking for whale sharks, gone”canyoning” in Moalboal, and taken a frightening scooter ride to Osmena Peak for the incredible views, but we have not spent time on any of the Philippines endless beaches. As our travels began to pick up speed the last few weeks of this trip we found that we needed to schedule in a beach day, imagine that. Now, this was about to change as we caught the local bus out of Moalboal heading south on Cebu island to out next stop in the town of Oslob. Many people know this town for the “whale shark excursion,” but that was definitely not why we were heading there (we already did the more ecofriendly version in Donsol). Instead, we selected Oslob for our stepping off point to a beautiful private island resort on Sumilon Island.
We arrived to our accommodations about mid-afternoon with just enough daylight left to see what we could do in town. We checked into our less than desirable Airbnb room and set off on foot toward the “downtown” area. It turned out the center of town was quite small, but it had just enough of the things we needed. We stocked up on a few drinks and water and ventured further down toward the water’s edge. This well protected port town was apparently another of the Spanish settlements of the past. The remnants of an old fort and a historic, yet still active Cathedral, lay near the water. It made for some excellent evening photos as you can see.
Leaving there, we snagged a couple pizzas at a local restaurant and called it a night.
Early the next morning, we excitedly gathered our beach bag and headed out for our Sumilon Island retreat. This island is about 60 square acres and is exclusively home to the Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort and of course the local wildlife. This particular resort has a couple options for guests. First, you could book accommodations on the island and stay in one of their bungalows for about $250 a night. The second option, and the one that we chose, was to buy a Day Pass for $30 each and spend the full day on the island soaking up their amenities before heading back to our $25/night room on shore.
We caught the first catamaran of the day from the dock in Oslob hoping to spend every possible minute we could on the island. We almost immediately began snapping photos in all directions once we were on the boat, and then as soon as it reached shore, Whitney and I took off to find the best spots on the beach, which happened to be a private covered daybed right on the beach. It looked so romantic and picturesque, but as you know we couldn’t sit still very long and gave it up not long after we snapped a few dozen more pictures.
Next, we made our way across the island to the lovely sandbar that jets out into the sea. This particular beach is accessible by tourists not actually visiting the resort so it was a little more crowded than the other side of the island, but we hardly noticed, for the stunning views all around kept us occupied. (Except for having to angle the camera in different directions to keep people out of backgrounds).
The Sumilon Island Day Pass also included access to the buffet lunch on the beach giving us a chance to enjoy many local dishes with our toes in the sand. What’s better than a bottomless picnic on the beach that we didn’t have to prepare in any way!! I, of course, cannot simply enjoy a buffet without gorging on excess amounts of the best items on the tables, so crawling back into a daybed is what followed lunch. Once being stuffed reduced to feeling simply “full,” it was time to explore the rest of the island.
There is a beautiful coastline trail that circles the entire island. It begins behind the resort giving a bird’s eye view of the resort and its amenities then heads further around to the rocky cliffs where the small waves of the ocean gently crash on shore.
At one point, we even saw what we thought were some large fish circling in the water. But as we got closer, we could see they were in fact not fish, but huge black tip reef sharks circling in the shallow water at the far end of the beach where we were just swimming. Have no fear though, I’m only being dramatic. These sharks want nothing to do with humans and wouldn’t be getting close to anyone swimming in the water.
We continued on around the island until we were back where we started. We opted for a swim in the resort infinity pools and alternated this with lounging on the beach and splashing in the ocean for the rest of the day. We even squeezed in some snorkeling.
At the end of the day, we caught the final catamaran back to Oslob late in the afternoon to finish off our “scheduled beach day.”
In the end, we found this to be a beautiful island to spend a day on. There isn’t much to do in Oslob at all, so no need to spare any time to explore town. I’ll again discourage the whale shark activities in this area, but if you are passing through then a visit to Sumilon Island would be definitely be a pleasurable destination.
Next up El Nido with some of the best sunsets in all of the Philippines!!