Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort: A Taste of Leisure, Sense of Adventure and Dose of History | Cebu


As I pace the rhythm of my steps, having stumbled into a serene trail that ultimately led me to a breathtaking panorama of the sun-kissed shores adorning the island’s eastern flank, my attention is abruptly arrested by a signpost bearing the inscription "Baluarte (watchtower) 250 meters."

Armi Valdez
View of the island’s eastern side from a hiking trail leading to the watchtower

With a quickened pace, it only took a few minutes until I came gazing at the majestic lighthouse. Its imposing stature reached skyward, a towering presence that stood at an approximate height of 35 feet. Nestled beside it, were the ruins of a 19th century watchtower. In an instant, the enigmatic presence of these two structures, remnants of bygone years, on the southern point of the island, made the hideaway vibe of Bluewater Sumilon all the more evident.

A Secluded Beach Getaway

A half hour by boat from the town of Oslob, Bluewater Sumilon Island, while still clearly visible from eyes of mainland Cebu, effortlessly projects a secluded setting. Amidst tropical trees swaying to gentle breezes and the verdant cloak of a mangrove forest, turquoise waters navigated by baby sharks surround the island’s rocky edges and white sandy shores.

Naelah Alshorbaji
The Resort's infinity pool and jacuzzi offers a spectacular view of the ocean and of mainland Cebu

Here, civilization tends to recede with the ebbing of the sundown's low tide. Throughout the day, one can easily cradle solitude on the island resort’s many charming spots. Whether you relax inside your luxurious villa or on a hammock fronting the beach, to getting a soothing massage in the outdoor Amuma spa, there’s much to do or force you in mindful meditation.

The family villa is adjoined by a private dipping pool and a spacious lawn

Located on the southeastern tip of Sumilon Island, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort screams of a perfect escape thanks to its surrounding 24 hectares of awe-inspiring natural beauty.

I stayed in this room that measures 77 sqm and has all the amenities I need"

In 1974, thanks to the work of Siliman University Marine Reserve, the seas around Sumilon Island were designated as a fish sanctuary, making it the first marine protected area in the Philippines.

Janelle Cu
During high tide, this area is frequented by baby sharks. Guests can feed them here

Guests who choose to embark on underwater expeditions are met with a wealth of marine species, occasionally graced by the presence of black tip sharks. When one opts to explore on the surface, one shall in turn come across pristine expanses of off-white-hued shores, where the sand glistens to the brilliance of the sun.

Elegantly Rested

I was billeted in their Premier Deluxe room that comes with a balcony offering a panoramic view of the blue waters and the Southern mountain range of Cebu. Upon entering the glass door, I was welcomed by an inviting space of a comfortable couch, beckoning me to unwind and relax right away. Adjacent to it, are a couple of steps that add a touch of architectural intrigue, guiding me towards the two Queen beds resting behind a plain wall adorned with a lighting fixture made from coconut fibers. The setup of the bed not only provides privacy but also conceals a closet and the entrance to a private bathroom. Inside, the gentle ambient lighting creates an atmosphere of peacefulness that almost made me stay in my room the whole day — if only not for the itch of exploring the island.

Each room in Bluewater Sumilon has its own veranda perfect for relaxing doing a bit of work

There are 14 Premier Deluxe and 14 Deluxe villas spread out evenly along a winding path with views of Southern Cebu, ensuring each guest’s an adequate space. On the more isolated part of the island, situates two sizable villas — a 1-bedroom and a 2-bedroom villa ideal for a more remote retreat.

Bluewater Sumilon regularly organizes a 3-day summer camp that aims to teach kids and parents on how to become eco-warriors

Resort staff I come across with would always grace my ears with a pleasant “Maayong buntag", whenever I walk to have my breakfast, "Maayong hapon", during my stroll to the sandbar to catch the sunset. The resort's hospitality stems from the concept of "Amoma", to which Arnel Barreta, Bluewater Sumilon Island's Resort Manager, explained to me as the Cebuano word that means "to pamper". Incorporating this with the renowned trademark hospitality of the Filipinos, the resort has seamlessly blended a warm and inviting atmosphere for its guests.

Enjoy the best of both worlds: a soothing massage and a splendid view of Bohol Sea

Throughout my whole stay at the resort, which included some work assisting on a photo shoot for a cover story on this issue, I always find myself waking up elegantly rested the next morning. The charming island with all its splendor, to the mouthwatering dishes served to our group at the in-house Pulo Restaurant, to an invigorating massage at the resort's Amuma Spa, all contributed to a very relaxing workcation — I know, it was supposed to be a working trip, but it felt more like a vacation.

A Walk in the Woods, a Dip in the Pool and Everything in Between

In between our photo shoot, I would escape for a walk that would led me to the other parts of the island. On our first afternoon, I ventured to the glamping portion of the resort.

Me trying to decide if he will swim or not on the island's sandbar (not fully visible during high tide)

Set-up on the eastern side of Sumilon island, are a few opulent tents designed with glamping aesthetics in mind. Equally spaced out to provide privacy, these tents offer guests a sophisticated take on camping in the great outdoors.

This loaded platter is perfect for a small group of guests

Mr. Barreta told me that Bluewater Sumilon’s no-frills glamping experience is elevated with a personalized service courtesy of a butler and a Camp Master who teaches guests important outdoor survival skills. The Glamping option may be a far departure from the ultra-luxurious villa accommodations of the resort, but it surely delivers a fun and memorable experience. I would definitely try it next time I visit Sumilon.

The more than 200-year old two-story watchtower was built in the early 1800s to serve as warning station for attacking marauders and slavers

With us on our second day exploring the island was our model Naelah Alshorbaji, the 2021 Miss Earth Philippines. Taking advantage of the abundance of beautiful settings on the island, we ended up on the serene lagoon next to the dense mangrove forest. As we take more photographs of Naelah, the bright blue skies presented itself to create a fantastic background with the deep green hues of the mangrove trees and the lagoon whose calm water is where one can go on a kayaking activity in utmost peace.

The lighthouse stands just a few feet from the watchtower

This part of the resort would be swarming with day trippers during the day because it faces a long shoreline and is very near the aforementioned picturesque lagoon and mystical mangrove forest.

The lagoon pool is open for use by day guests

Mr. Barreta informed me that the resort has begun promoting a "day use" package that grants guests access to the Pulo swimming pool and a buffet lunch in an effort to attract the local beachgoers to also enjoy the island.

The Chicken Inasal consists of a quarter-cut chicken leg marinated in lemongrass and ginger and served with a mango-cucumber salsa made with Sinamak (Iloilo's spiced vinegar), annato chicken oil, and a native sauce.

I find it a great gesture since Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort has all the trappings to be a super exclusive resort. Yet, they open portions of their property to guests who are mostly coming from the nearby towns of Oslob, Boljoon and Santander.

For those looking for a seafood alternative, the cajun flavored tanigue steak with chimichirriu sauce and grilled vegetables is a wonderful choice.

"80% of our staff are from Oslob, while the rest are from other places in Cebu", Barreta explains to me. Even after Sumilon Island saw its original settlers move to the mainland many decades ago, the resort sustained ties to the local community by hiring locals, some of whom could even be direct descendants of the island's original inhabitants.

The good ole favorite Turon with a twist

When in Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, one can indulge in more than the usual leisure activities offered by most resorts. “We have a divemaster who takes guests on scuba diving excursions, as well as for the whale shark sighting in Oslob”, Barreta tells me. “In our lagoon, guests can indulge in catch-and-release fishing or go hiking to the lighthouse. We even have a baby shark feeding area”, he adds.

The quaint natural lagoon is surrounded by mangrove forest and towering rocky walls

After spending time in the pool, I joined our photographer and make-up artists who are on break from their shoot for an afternoon swim on the island’s sandbar.

The cover girl of AsianTraveler's issue we photographed in Sumilon: 2021 Miss Earth Philippines Naelah Alshorbaji

The sandbar is another key attraction of the island. During certain seasons, it may extend like an inviting pathway, summoning beach bums to traverse its length. In other times of the year, it may shrink and curve, creating secluded pockets of pristine sand zig-zagging the crystal-clear waters. This ever-changing shape of the sandbar adds an element of wonder and surprise to Sumilon Island's countless allures.

The private bathrooms of the two villas are furnished with a bathtub

In between swimming in the resort’s infinity pool, walking barefoot over the island’s lengthy sand bar and finding relaxation spots all around, I regard my morning trek to the lighthouse as the most welcome surprise of my stay at Bluewater Sumilon. Along the way I passed by a cave used by the Japanese as a hiding place during WWII, a grotto with an image of the Virgin Mary, a vegetable garden, a number of stunning view decks and most of all, a wooden trail that provides moderate hiking pace fit for even the young adventurers.

As I lean on the walls of the 19th century watchtower built by Spanish Augustinians to serve guard to slavers and attacking marauders, I feel myself not only experiencing the invigorating impact of Bluewater Sumilon's revered Amoma service, but also immersing in the profound historical narrative of the island, spanning numerous centuries. 

I guess in Bluewater Sumilon, the convergence of leisurely pursuits, gastronomic indulgence, adventurous endeavors, calm reflection, and historical immersion all combine to make Sumilon Island an unparalleled destination wherein one may temporarily escape to and get satisfyingly lost for a while.


This article first appeared on the 2023 2nd Quarter issue of AsianTraveler Magazine