Even the most tropical of places aren’t spared from the occasional storms, but what’s a little rain to take away the fun of discovering an island destination? The beauty of Sumilon Island proves that it can stand the test of weather.
It won’t be easy but it will be worth it, I thought, staring apprehensively at the furious waves crashing on the mainland’s shore, Sumilon Island barely visible against the horizon.
An understatement—the weather was uncooperative. Any notion that the Philippines was a tropical country disappeared along with the sun. Dark clouds loomed over the skies, bringing down rain that never stopped, not even for a minute, on the two-and-a half hour trip to Oslob.
Reaching the docking point for Sumilon Island only led to the discovery that there was another force of nature to be reckoned with—the strong winds responsible for the waves that were sure to make the 15-minute boat ride to the island a rough journey.
Still, the ominous conditions did not deter this writer. The rain dwindled to a light drizzle during the boat ride, finally ceasing for the moment upon arriving at Sumilon’s famous shifting sandbar—a temporary docking point that was safer in this weather, as opposed to the usual port that leads straight to the resort.
In this case, it took a ten-minute walk along a path before finally reaching the charming Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, the only establishment in Sumilon Island. Bluewater Resorts opted to develop only 20% of this 24-hectare coral island. The natural beauty of the island, complimented with the world-class amenities and distinct Filipino touch standard to the Bluewater Resorts brand, make Bluewater Sumilon the ideal island getaway.
The island’s pavilion was a welcome sight after the brief trek. In better weather conditions, it offers a stunning view of the sea and of mainland Cebu, but at that point, the view was obscured by native blinds that still went well with the pavilion’s look, while keeping guests warm and dry. Besides serving as the reception area for the resort, it also houses a library where one can borrow and read books, and a small gift shop.
More importantly, the pavilion doubles as the hotel restaurant, serving a small yet impressive array of local and international dishes. The sojourn to Sumilon was arduous, and finally reaching the destination called for some food. Lunch was Nasi Goreng—Indonesian fried rice topped with fried egg, served with pork and chicken satay, barbecue chicken wings, bean sprouts and prawn crackers. It was bursting with flavor, creating a great first impression about the food served at Bluewater Sumilon.
Past the pavilion is Bluewater Sumilon’s lagoon shaped infinity pool, almost as iconic as the island’s shifting sandbar. The pool’s still waters create an interesting contrast against the choppy waves of the sea—a tempting alternative for those who want to swim and are willing to brave the cold. The resort also has a Jacuzzi, located a few steps down the pool.
Bluewater Sumilon offers several types of accommodations. Just beyond the pool are 14 deluxe rooms and 10 premiere deluxe rooms, each with its own private veranda with a view of the sea. The rooms are decked in neutrals, complimented with warm lighting and wooden furniture. Splashes of blue on the linens give the place just the right hint of color. the overal effect is understatedly luxurious, yet comfortably homey.
On the opposite side of the pavilion lie the more exclusive villas. At the moment, Bluewater Sumilon has two honeymoon villas and one family villa. Although their décor is consistent with the other rooms, the villas hold the distinction of each having their own private dipping pool. The villas are also in the perfect position to witness the sun rise in the mornings.
For the more adventurous guests, Bluewater Sumilon offers the experience of enjoying the great outdoors in style with glamping— glamorous camping. Apart from tent accommodations, glamping packages include full-board meals, in-tent mini bar, island camp activities, and a camp assistant to cater to every need.
Yet with everything that Sumilon has to offer, it’s impossible to just stay in the rooms, no matter how comfortable Bluewater’s accommodations are.
Explore the island on foot by following the trails that lead to Sumilon’s landmarks, including the natural lagoon, the lighthouse, the historic watchtower or baluarte, and the Yamashita caves. The path also showcases some spectacular views of the sea, especially from the highest points of the island.
Sumilon Island is home to the first marine sanctuary established in the Philippines. Discover the vibrant underwater life through snorkeling, or get up close and personal with the tropical fish with a scuba diving adventure. The island’s natural lagoon is also something worth exploring. Steer a kayak through the high mangrove trees, or have a hand at fishing. For a truly one of a kind adventure, Sumilon’s proximity to the town of Oslob means guests can try the famed whale shark watching.
After so many adventures, it’s all but fitting to relax, and Bluewater Sumilon offers several options to do so. There’s afternoon tea, beach picnics, lounging at the payag-payag, and romantic private dinners. Bluewater also brings their trademark Amuma Spa to Sumilon. The spa’s offerings, combined with the serenity of the location, make for a truly blissful experience.
The beauty of Sumilon is something that can’t be defined by anything, not even the weather. While the iconic image of Sumilon is sparkling turquoise waters blending with clear skies, it’s stunning to see how the steel grey skies make the waters bluer than ever, living up to the resort’s name. Sumilon has a lot of things to offer, and rain or shine bring different experiences to explore and enjoy all of them.
- by Patty Taboada
- photography Mike Jo
Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise
LOST IN PARADISE
Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.
by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder
Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.
The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.
Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”
The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.
The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.
In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!
For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com
(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)
THROWBACK THURSDAY. Our Stylish Voyage on a Boat with Loida and Richard
With hosts Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau, we take entertaining to the high seas.
by Shari Quimbo photography Steffen Billhardt
The sky was decidedly gloomy on the Sunday afternoon Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau invited a small group of us for a sail, the clouds getting darker as I make my way to Porter’s Marina, where the Blue Planet was docked.
“Richard built the boat himself in Cebu,” Loida explains, going on to share that he was the former honorary French consul in Cebu. “It was built here, and I designed the interiors.”
All that work certainly paid off—Loida and Richard would often sail the boat out to different Philippine destinations such as El Nido, Siargao, Boracay and the Gigantes Islands in Iloilo. These could mean days-long journeys that sometimes meant dealing with some rough seas. Quick day trips, much like the one we were about to embark on, were also a regular past time.
Loida gives me a quick tour of the boat then shows off her tropical spread. With its bright blue and white floral seating, the cabin’s dining area is already a pretty festive site. “I wanted to keep it simple,” she tells me, arranging her fresh fruits around on the banana leaf-covered wooden slabs she was using as serving trays. “And I wanted it to look more local, more tropical. We are on the water, after all.”
The bamboo slats of the dining table were the perfect backdrop to Loida’s spread, which featured tropical fruits alongside an entire roll of lechon belly, fresh lumpia, empanada and steamed shrimp.
The highlight of the table, though, was the chicken liver pate, a dish that Richard makes himself. “Luckily, the French love to cook,” Loida jokes conspiratorially.
Finally, it was time to take the vessel out onto the high seas, and the group makes its way above deck to enjoy the view. The cool sea breeze was a bit stronger than usual, something that had to do with the dark rain clouds looming above us—something that would have deterred any other group, but not this adventurous bunch. Armed with a glass of champagne in one hand and a biscuit smeared with pate on the other, many stand against the railing, admiring the sight of the sky turning orange above the Mactan Channel.
And then it starts to pour. No matter, though—as the rain pounds against the deck, the party finds its way down below. A bottle of wine is opened, and then another, while a second pot of pate is transferred on a plate. Our captain waits until the waves calm before he brings us back ashore.
(This story has already been published in the printed edition of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s November 2016 issue as one of the Entertaining Features on pages 82-85.)
Experience authentic Korean Barbeque at Da-In Restaurant
Filipinos are crazy for Korean barbecue. As such, there are a lot of places that are offering Korean barbecue. But Da-In restaurant isn’t just one of those restaurants.
Located in Salinas Drive in Lahug, Cebu, Da-in restaurant is a joint project between the Creative Cuisine Group and Da-Won restaurant. With state-of-the-art grilling stations in each table and various Korean cuisines ready to be served, Da-In would surely sate your Korean barbecue cravings without any hassle.
Visit Da-In restaurant today!
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