LORI BLACKBURN experiences camping on a whole new, glamorous level. Photos by George Tapan
If sleeping under the stars and communing with nature sound appealing, but pitching a tent or hauling gear makes you flinch, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort provides the best of both worlds. Ready to trade soggy hotdogs for gourmet barbecue? How about bumpy sleeping bags for comfy beds? Glamour + Camping = Glamping.
Head to this 24-hectare island off the tip of southeastern Cebu to enjoy aquamarine waters, a shifting white sandbar, and mangrove lagoons. Sumilon’s approach to the Great Outdoors combines traditional camping with modern amenities. Gone are the days of basic ridge tents. Yours comes with a minibar. A personal attendant also serves afternoon tea and builds bonfires. Oh, yes, Mother Nature has taken one sophisticated turn.
Guided wildlife exploration, anyone? Your camp attendant will show you the trails where a hike to Sumilon’s peaks displays grand vistas of mainland Cebu and Negros Oriental. Binoculars are provided upon request. Explore the historical parola (lighthouse) and baluarte (Spanish-era watchtower) used to ward off 19th-century marauders. Afterwards, lounge in a bamboo gazebo or payag-payag. Colorful pillows and seascapes are perfect for taking photos or stealing a romantic smooch from your sweetheart.
Aside from glamping, Sumilon is full of perks. Those preferring traditional accommodation can book the resort’s cottage-style rooms with oceanfront verandas. Grab a game of pool, a book from the library, or a bite to eat at the Pavilion Restaurant’s al fresco dining area. Panoramic views and native architecture make island time just a beer away.
Dinner’s ready and Sumilon makes it fun. Themed nights such as Sandbar Clambakes and Cultural Barrio Fiestas ensure a memorable time. These folks can throw a party. Glampers get their own campsite barbecue complete with candlelit table. Afterall, roughing it shouldn’t be too rough.
To reach Sumilon, drive 125 kilometers south of Cebu City to Bancogon, Oslob. Kick back with a cool drink at the resort’s welcome dock where a banca (native outrigger boat) will provide the 15-minute ride to the island.
Overnight accommodation starts at Php12,000 per room per night and includes full-board meals, boat transfers, and activities. Overnight glamping packages start at Php4,500 per person, which includes full-board meals plus barbecue and bonfire, boat transfers, camp assistant, tent accommodation, and activities. Budget travelers can opt for a Sumilon Day Pass starting at Php1,500 per person and includes boat transfers, set lunch, and activities.
Whale Sharks and Waterfalls
Sumilon’s whale shark excursion has streamlined swimming with the world’s largest fish. Dive into the waters of Tan-awan, Oslob, and be encircled by whale sharks about 18 to 25 feet long. Overnight guests can skip long registration lines and go straight to orientation at Oslob’s whale shark center. Excursions start at Php1,500 per person, but packages can include a side-trip to Tumalog waterfalls.