Sumilon Island is a small, 24-hectare island on the southeastern tip of Cebu just off the town of Oslob. It’s a picturesque island surrounded by pristine white sand beaches and therefore seemed an attractive side trip destination after our whale shark encounter at the latter. However, we did not even bother checking out a possible visit to the island knowing that a private resort occupied the whole place. Even a day trip here would surely be an extra burden for wallets already stretched for a 4-day vacation covering several destinations.
A friend however told us that it is possible to visit the island without checking in at the resort. It turns out that the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort has opened the most attractive natural section of the island – namely its white sandbar – to the general public for an entrance fee (P50). We just needed to rent a boat on the beachfront at Tan-awan, Oslob (the site for our whale shark-watching tour) to take us there. The trip took less than 20 minutes.
The tide was already rising when we reached Sumilon’s sandbar but we still saw a good stretch of white sand trailing off from the island. Like other sandbars we’ve visited before, this sandbar must be visited at the height of low tide to see the sand fully exposed. But with our whale-shark watching tour dictating our schedule, it was just not possible on this day.
Even with a considerable portion of the Sumilon Island sandbar submerged it was still an amazing sight. Crystal-clear turquoise waters blanketed the sandbar, the colors all the more beautiful, magnified by the clear blue skies above and the fine, almost blindingly white sand underneath.
Our first business on reaching Sumilon was: lunch! We bought this from one of the many food establishments or restaurants along the Tan-awan beachfront and ate it on our parked boat. Afterwards we had an enjoyable swim. The waters around the sandbar were shallow such that, even with moderately strong waves, it wasn’t risky to move around. We were careful not to test the far edges of the sandbar, however, since the sea bed suddenly slopes down at a steep angle there.
After a while of frolicking around the sandbar we decided to climb the steps to a rocky promontory where the sandbar joins the island. There are restrooms up there that seem open to the public (at least the island caretakers didn’t stop anyone from going), but we also wanted to get a panoramic view of the sandbar.
Alike a few other sandbars in the Visayas, the Sumilon sandbar changes shape and shifts locations depending on changing currents and weather conditions. From our vantage point we got an even better appreciation of this sandbar’s beauty. We also noticed the sudden change in color of the waters at its edges from turquoise to deep blue. This signals a sudden drop of the seabed – a dangerous area for novice swimmers but also an area potentially rich in marine life and attractive to snorkelers and divers.
Just like our subsequent stay at the Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais, many of us would be lulled to sleep after lunch or after bumming around Sumilon’s sandbar. Such is the sense of tranquility one encounters in this place. It was only after a thoughtful glance at our smartphones did we realize it was nearing mid-afternoon and that we had better get going for our return trip back to Dumaguete City on the Negros mainland.
By this time other boats have begun packing up and preparing to move out as well. The wind was also up and the waves were stronger. In just a few minutes we were back in Oslob and thanking our boatmen for the experience that was Sumilon’s sandbar. This kind of destination warrants being treated more than just a side trip. If we had only allotted more time…