Glamping is a cheeky play on two words that would otherwise never meet: glamorous and camping. It is revelling in the great outdoors while still enjoying the comforts of a hotel. If you are curious, a good introduction would be to go glamping on Sumilon, an island off the southeast coast of the Municipality of Oslob, Cebu in the Philippines.
It is a perfect break from a backpacking trip in the area when you have tried hostels and island hopping and would want to commune with nature sans the hassles associated with camping.
How to get to Sumilon
The easiest and fastest way is to fly to Dumaguete. While Sumilon is in closer proximity to Dumaguete, it is one of Cebu’s hidden beauties. You can choose to stay a day or two to hit the Dumaguete spots and perhaps a day in Siquijor and another day for Apo Island.
When you are ready, head to the Sibulan port in Dumaguete, and after a 20-minute minute fast craft ride, you arrive at to Lilo-an port in Santander, Cebu. Bancogon, the jump-off point to Sumilon, is a few minutes via bus or tricycle ride. From this point, the package already covers your transfers to and from the island paradise.
Taking shelter, going glamping
Sumilon is said to have derived its name from its being a storm shelter for fishermen, sumilong, meaning “to take cover.” It was made a fish sanctuary in 1974 and lays claim to being the first marine protected area in the country. Today, Sumilon is most known for its gorgeous white sand bar, shifting across clear blue waters, and glorious diving spots (one will find varied marine species including the occasional sightings of black tip sharks during dives in its waters).
While everyone can go to the sandbar area and swim, going glamping would require the glamour of modern conveniences. Fortunately, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, the exclusive and lone resort on the island now offers remarkably affordable glamping packages, thereby allowing travellers on a budget to experience the island for longer than a daytrip.
What to bring: The great thing about glamping is you do not need to worry about a tent, a sleeping bag or its equivalent, cooking your meals and packing up. All you need to bring are your clothes and personal necessities, stuff that you will bring anyway even if you were staying in a hotel. You just show up and everything is taken care of.
What to do: Sumilon island’s coveted privacy is doubly magical when you sink your feet into its powdery white sand while looking out into the crystal clear waters. Here, you can also go for a swim, snorkel, have a picnic or just sunbathe. You can go out for a dive, if that is your thing. Or for less-active pursuits, simply cool down at the infinity pool of Bluewater Sumilon, have a massage, or sip on a shake in one payag-payag (hut).
The resort’s reception pavilion has a mini library so you can also read a book after a round of the local game sungka. Included in the packages are freshly cooked, deliciously innovative dishes, not to mention the complimentary drinks and snacks in cooler bar tables inside your glamping tent. At night, a camping assistant will light a bonfire for you. And did we mention there is free wi-fi?
If you like to be a little active, you can trek around the island, preferably in the early morning: discover caves, stumble upon the island’s flora and fauna, and eventually find your way into the solitary lighthouse. For safety and convenience, the paths are marked and most of them paved so no need to bring special gear. In the afternoon, you can kayak around the natural lagoon ensconced with mangroves. And of course, you can always just bum around and watch the sun as it casts its bursts of colours as the day ends.
Watch: The Philippines has more beaches and island adventures to offer. And don’t forget dancing and karaoke singing, too. Watch the Funbassadors take in the fun!
Camping made easy in Cebu