Friday, March 29, 2013

Sumilon Bluewater - Holy Week 2013

Holy Week came in early this year.  To avoid the rush hour crowd, we left town by Wednesday (Mar 26) for Sumilon Bluewater in Oslob, Cebu.  We took the 7:10am Cebu Pacific flight to Dumaguete.  From Dumaguete airport, we were met by the resort representative who took us to the nearby Sibulan Port.  The "fast craft" leaves only every hour at the top of the hour.  Since we missed  the 9am craft, we had to wait for the next one at 10am.  The boat ride to Oslob was very dizzying because the waves were very strong.   It took about 20 mins to go across.  From there, it was another 15 mins or so ride to the Sumilon Resort dock where we had to wait for the 11am ride to the resort.

Sumilon Bluewater is part of the Maribago group, which also operates resorts in Cebu and Bohol.  Sumilon Bluewater is a bit old already, but it has been reaping the windfall benefits of a recent resurgence in local and foreign tourists due to the presence of the whale sharks (butanding) in Oslob.  In fact, other than the whale shark interaction tours, there is really nothing much to do in Sumilon.  If one is looking for peace and quiet, then its a good place to go.  With only 14 cottages, it offers an exclusive feel and away from the maddening Holy Week crowd of places like Boracay.

If you have hyperactive kids looking for activities, Sumilon does not have much to offer.  The infinity pool is tiny.  The beach shore is too rocky.  You cannot really walk on it without wearing sandals.  The waves are too strong for kids to swim.  The island shuttle van is dilapidated.  The rooms are very old but spacious (although, in fairness, they are building new cottages).   The island has a natural lagoon where we kayak-ed in the afternoon.

The highlight of the trip had to be the whale shark interaction on Thur (Mar 28).  We took a boat from Sumilon back to the Oslob side.  Then it was a very short shuttle ride to the area where the whale sharks were lounging.  There must have been around 8 to 10 of them, by my estimate, swimming only several meters from shore.  Cols, Caitlin, Ethan and I jumped down from the boat while the folks stayed on the boat.  The organizers charge P300 for whale watching only and P500 for diving into the water with the whale sharks.

I brought along my DiCaPac DSLR underwater camera pack but it was next to useless.  The waves were too strong, while the pack was very unwieldy and kept floating up.  So I just blindly took shots underwater by pointing the camera in the general direction of the butanding.  You just have to take my word that the image below is really the "Big Mama" whale shark just a couple of meters away from me.  She was about the length of 2 cars.

Conner mostly stayed at our cottage and only joined us when we went swimming within the resort.  He did enjoyed the pool but did not really like the beach as the water was too salty.  Personally, I thought it was saltier than normal sea water.  Just a splash on the face really stings the eyes.  Maybe its something in the water that is driving the whale sharks to this part of the world.

Ethan and I went hiking on Fri (Mar 29).  It was a 45-min hike and I was fairly impressed with Ethan.  He was a good sport even though he tripped and scratched his right knee.  The hiking path was actually fairly tough as it was very rocky.  I couldn't imagine Caitlin coming along in this hike.  She would definitely be complaining all the way.

There is only one dining place in the entire island -- the Pavilion.  The food selection is decent.  Food is a bit expensive as one would expect from an island resort, but nowhere near the price level of Bellarocca.

Over-all, it was a good vacation.  The butanding interaction is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience.  But Sumilon Bluewater is not really one of those places that I would want to go back to again and again.  Once is enough.  Onward to our next family adventure!

View all our photos here!