Olango Island Cebu

Five kilometres east of Mactan Island, Olango Island supports the largest concentration of migratory birds in the country. About 77 species, including egrets, sandpipers, terns and black-bellied plovers, use the island as a rest stop on their annual migration from breeding grounds in Siberia, northern China and Japan to Australia and New Zealand.

Declared a wildlife reserve in 1998, the island is also home to about 16,000 resident native birds which live mostly in the northern half; the southern half of the island is made up of a wide, shallow bay and expanses of mud flats and mangrove.

The reserve is at its best during peak migration months: September to November for the southward migration and February to April northbound.

Most resorts on Mactan can organize a day-trip here, though you could visit independently: there are hourly bangkas (P40) to Santa Rosa on Olango Island from the wharf near the Hilton on Mactan Island or you can hire your own bangka from the area around the Tambuli Beach Resort for around P2000 to the island and back.

From the small Santa Rosa wharf it’s only a short tricycle ride to the sanctuary. If you want a knowledgeable guide, make arrangements with the Coastal Resource Management Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (T032/346-9177) located in the Capitol Building in OsmeƱa Boulevard in Cebu City, which runs an Olango Birds and Seascape tour.

Jump Off Point Outfitters (T032/236-5678, Ejump_offpoint@yahoo.com) can also arrange kayak trips to Olango and Sulpo islands. The only place to stay is the lovely Nalusuan Island Resort & Marine Sanctuary (T032/516-6432, Wwww.nalusan.mencaresorts.com; 5), a wonderful place on an islet rising out of Olango’s western coastal reef with rooms and duplex cottages on stilts in the water.

The open-air restaurant specializes in seafood caught on the doorstep and there are nightly campfire cookouts where you can barbecue food as you like it. The resort can collect you in Mactan if requested in advance and there are kayaks available to explore the area.

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