Sumilon Island ResortLet’s be honest; photos sell tourism. What I mean is that when people see the photos and videos of a place online – usually on Facebook, Instagram, etc. – it’s instantly on their radar and they’re interested. They can see the white beach, the Gatorade-blue of the ocean water, the lush emerald green of the mountains, and suddenly see themselves there. But if you wrote a whole book describing that place, they probably wouldn’t read it, and it definitely wouldn’t have the same effect. Photos also have a powerful effect because people want to be IN them, and will travel thousands of miles just to take a bunch of shots standing (or posing) in front of that special spot – or with that special animal.

Why do I bring this up? One of the most spectacular photo ops you’ll get anywhere in the world is in Oslob, in the southern part of Cebu island in the Philippines, where you can swim with whale sharks – magnificent, regal, and HUGE creatures. People come from all over Asia – and sometimes, all over the world, just for the experience and to get photos or GoPro footage of them swimming side by side with these exotic fish.

Sumilon Island Resort Review

But the problem is, there really isn’t anything else to do in Oslob. The trip there is arduous (it takes 4-8 hours by bus) and other than the whale sharks, there isn’t anything to see, nor is the town particularly nice (or nice at all.)

However, there is one saving grace for your day trip or overnight stay in Oslob, which is the perfect addition to an early morning swim with the whale sharks: Sumilon Island. It’s also a best-kept secret since most tourists know nothing about it, even though it’s so nice and so close.

To get there, just take a trike or get a ride to the port only 20 minutes or less from Oslob. They have big ferries taking you across the sea channel every hour or so to the island, and the boat ride should only be half an hour or less.

Sumilon Island spans an area of about 24 hectares and is anchored by the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort. While the resort is very nice, it does cost about $220 minimum to book a room for one night, but they are totally appreciative of day visitors. You can sit in their open-air lounge and eat at the resort’s restaurant, and they also have a fantastic infinity pool with a planter and a tree growing right in the center of it – photo op #1!

There’s also a cool little poolside bar, and you can walk down to the beach, which is nice but not spectacular. But they do sometimes throw extravagant meals down there with white tents so you can drink and dine right on the beach. Photo op #2!

But the highlight of Sumilon Island is the sandbar. Walk along a path (not so well marked but still easy to navigate) to the back of the island, and you’ll be amazed at the epic sandbar you find. It’s an area about as big as two football fields with white sand that’s visible at the lowest of tides, but ankle, knee, and waist-high as the tide rises. There are plenty of boats that come in with tourists just to see the sandbar, and you can splash around, swim, snorkel, and play for hours. Photo ops #3,4, and 5!

On Sumilon Island there is also a “lighthouse” that takes a good deal of treacherous hiking over wet rocks along the shore to get to, or you can just cut back to the central path and find it that way. However, it’s nothing too special, and you can’t go inside of it anymore. No photo op!

Sorry, but you’d had plenty of them already today!

Norm Schriever

About 

Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post, Business.com, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, Hotels.com, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.