Sumilon Island is situated just 15 minutes by boat from Oslob and is a great place to hang out and relax after a morning whale shark watching or exploring one of the many waterfalls in the region.
Unlike many other parts of the Philippines getting to and from Sumilon Island is relatively straightforward, quick and hassle-free.
Given the relatively easy journey and the fact Helen and I had never previously visited a sandbar, we knew it was somewhere we simply had to visit during our time in Oslob.
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How To Get To Sumilon Island
Sumilon Island is situated around 8km off the coast of Oslob and takes around 10 to 15 minutes to access by boat.
There is just one hotel on Sumilon Island, and that is the elusive Bluewater Sumilon.
If you’re planning on booking a day pass for Bluewater Sumilon or staying overnight at the resort then you’ll be able to take a private boat from Bancogon, Oslob.
The Bluewater Sumilon boat runs on the following schedule;
Mainland Bancogon to Sumilon Island
Sumilon Island to Mainland Bancogon
Additional transfers can be made outside these hours for between 1,500 pesos and 2,500 pesos.
This is to be booked in advance by emailing the Sumilon Bluewater team. Bluewater Sumilon offers one-day tour rates for 2,500 pesos.
This is inclusive of:
· Free roundtrip boat transfers (Puerto Sumilon to Sumilon Island and vice versa)
· Welcome drinks and free use of parking area at the mainland
· Lunch buffet at Pulo Restaurant.
· Complimentary use of mask and snorkel
· Complimentary use of beach towel
· Complimentary use of the lagoon swimming pool, beach, and shower rooms
· Complimentary use of payag, kiddie park and sunbeds. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis only
· Complimentary Island Adventure activities (Trekking, Fishing at the lagoon Fish feeding, Kayaking and Pedal Boating)
These benefits are all also available to guests staying at the Sumilon Bluewater resort overnight.
If like us you’re only able to visit Sumilon Island on a budget, then you’ll be visiting the sandbar and taking a private boat from one of two companies; Vangies and Feel Verano.
We personally used Vangie’s which is located by Papatiyo’s Seafood House just opposite Vangie’s homestay.
The return shared boat transfer cost us 550 pesos per person (including the island entrance fee of 50 pesos).
Although, I’m not entirely sure if we got a good deal…
When we arrived at the ticket location the rate for the shared boat transfer to and from the island started around 750 pesos per person.
However, when we started questioning whether or not we had enough cash, it quickly seemed to drop to 1,100 for the two of us including the entrance fee to the island.
I tried to push it further and get it to a round figure of 1,000 pesos for the two of us (500 pesos per person) including entry to the island.
However, that didn’t work so I’ve no idea if that was the true price, to begin with – let me know your experiences in the comments below.
Both of these companies require some waiting around as there’s no set schedule.
An depending on the time you choose to travel to and from the island, you may have to wait for a few boats to leave with passengers who arrived prior. As each boat only holds around 30 passengers.
To get to either of the two boat launch locations you’ll either want to take a taxi, habal-habal (renting one from Oslob to Sumilon Island pier from the mainland cost us 100 pesos) or rent a scooter (renting a scooter costs anything from 200 pesos to 400 pesos per day)
Pro Tip: If you also plan to come from Tumalog Falls then the guys who ride the scooters hang out under the shade on the corner between the turn off for the waterfall and the main road.
We came straight from Tumalog Falls and managed to ride on the back of a scooter for 20 pesos each.
Sumilon Island Entry Cost
It costs 50 pesos per person to enter Sumilon Island. When buying our tickets for the boat transfer from Vangies the entry cost for the island was included.
However, with Feel Veran, the island entry cost is extra and is payable upon arrival.
The cost of your island entry fee is included in the booking cost when visiting or staying on Sumilon Island with Bluewater Sumilon.
Guide To Sumilon Island
As we didn’t stay at Bluewater Sumilon (I wish we could have, believe me!) I’m unable to cover any of the details of the resort experience specifically.
However, we did spend over three hours laying on the incredible white sand of the Sumilon Island sandbar and swimming in the crystal clear sea.
So, here’s a couple of things to note based on our experience;
Without access to the Bluewater Sumilon Resort, you’ll only have access to the sandbar.
However, if you go to Sumilon Island knowing this and expecting to only have the sandbar then I believe you’re going to have a much better balance between expectation vs reality.
We found a number of previous reviews of Sumilon Island in which the visitors were frustrated with the lack of ability to move around the rest of the island freely.
Bluewater Sumilon Resort owns the remainder of the island and is only accessible to guests of the resort – who are either staying overnight or have booked a day package.
For visitors to the sandbar, there are two comfort rooms that are set back from the sandbar. These are perfect for getting changed into/out of your swimwear.
Sadly, there’s no lights, no showers, minimal upkeep and no hooks to hang your items on so it’s somewhat of a balancing act in trying to both see your items and ensure not get anything wet.
Down on the beach, you’ll find the water is relatively shallow for an extended distance.
You’re able to rent a life vest for free on the island and due to the potentially strong tide, I recommend it for all non-swimmers – even those who aren’t planning on swimming out that far.
There’s also the ability to rent snorkelling equipment from the same location for a small fee.
We didn’t see as much marine life here as back in Moalboal, however, we have read that people have spotted a whale shark here early in the morning.
Besides swimming and relaxing on the sand there’s not a lot to see or do here. There’s also zero shade, so be prepared to take A LOT of sun cream.
Being surrounded by water, the sun is consistently on you and it’s incredibly easy to get burnt.
Around midday, the island can become crowded, so try and visit as early as possible as the final returning boat to the mainland is at 5 pm.
If you do choose to leave between 1pm and 3pm then expect to wait for an extended period of time in the direct sunlight.
There’s no set queue so when the correct boat (with whom you have travelled to the island) arrives it can be an awkward struggle to get on board.
Where To Eat On Sumilon Island
If you book a day at Bluewater Sumilon then a Lunch buffet at Pulo Restaurant is included.
Otherwise, there are no major restaurants on the island, only a small picnic area up on the rocks set back from the sandbar in which you have to wade through the water to access.
Helen and I chose to get some corn while waiting for the boat for our outbound journey to the island.
There’s a number of snack bars and small restaurants that serve a range of seafood that are incredibly popular with both locals and tourists going to/from the sandbar.