Olango IslandCebu Province, just offshore from (east of) Mactan Island and Lapu-Lapu city. It is known mainly for its wildlife sanctuary but also has some fine beaches and dive sites. The Olango Island Group includes Olango and six smaller islands nearby. The main town and main port is Santa Rosa on the west coast.
Much of the terrain is mangrove swamp, home to large numbers of birds and also, unfortunately, to many mosquitoes.
Despite the rural impression, Olango is probably not a destination for backpackers on a tight budget; the accommodation open to tourists is all resorts. These are not as expensive as resorts in some other areas, but still more than cheap hotels elsewhere.
The island lacks things like shopping malls or even a large market; residents generally go to Lapu-Lapu for those. There are sari-sari shops, fruit stalls and barbecue places, and Santa Rosa has a pharmacy and a small hospital with an ambulance, but facilities are generally quite limited.
Administratively the Olango Group is split like Mactan Island to the west; the larger northern part is included in Lapu-Lapu municipality while some of the south is in Córdova Municipality.
There are several ferries, only a few of which carry vehicles. The most-used route is from a pier next to the Hilton Hotel on the Lapu-Lapu side to Santa Rosa on Olango. Officially, it is the Punta Engaño Pier but locals call it the and taxi drivers may know the destination as Movenpick. The resort hotel next to it was Hilton but is now Movenpick. An important pier on Olango island itself is the .
There are also boats from the Hilton pier to Getafe on Bohol.
These boats carry passengers, bicycles, motorcycles and freight, but not cars. They seat about 40 people, have outriggers, and look like the photo. Cost is plus a terminal fee and the ride takes about 20 minutes. Boats run every half hour or so during daylight hours, but there are fairly often delays while freight is loaded or unloaded. The boats do not run in bad weather and are small enough that those with sensitive stomachs may be uncomfortable with even a mild swell.
Boarding one of these ferries is an interesting experience; the gangplanks are narrow, they move because one end is on the boat, not all have a railing, and on some the railings or even the floor have gaps. However, crew members are very helpful about reaching out with a stabilizing hand where needed, and sometimes two of them will hold up a long bamboo pole to provide a railing. There are porters moving freight on and off the boat; one of them will be happy to handle your luggage for a few pesos.
There are lots of other boats, mostly smaller than the ferries, around the pier. Many offer "island-hopping" trips to some of the smaller islands in the area. Boats direct to resorts on Olango can also be arranged, either by contacting the resort ahead of time or just haggling with boat men around the pier.
There is occasionally a small RoRo ferry between the Hilton and Santa Rosa piers, mainly carrying freight and trucks loaded with freight.
The commonest mode of transport on the island is a motorcycle plus sidecar rig known as a pedicab. These are more expensive on the island than elsewhere; most rides cost .
Bringing your own bicycle or motorcycle would be practical; the ferries can carry those, traffic on the island is light, and the main roads are mostly paved though often quite narrow. You need to drive slowly and watch for potholes, wandering animals, and children playing in the street. At night, beware of motorcycles running without lights.
Olango Wildlife SanctuaryA wetland area with many water fowl, very popular with bird watchers; close to a hundred species are found here, about half of them migratory and half permanent residents. It is the only site in the Philippines listed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat. Facilities are minimal; the sanctuary office sells coconut juice and provides a bathroom, but there are no restaurants or accommodation on-site.
Olango ReefA government-protected fish sanctuary with good snorkelling, located south of Olango around the smaller islands of Nalusuan and Hilutungan. It is one of the largest reef areas in the Visayas, about 4.5 km².
It is also possible to hire a boat to get to various smaller islands nearby; some of those have good diving.
The Lapu-Lapu city government organizes a tour they call OMG, Olango my Getaway at a person; it includes transport, some meals, and a night at Triponia Homestay, listed under #Sleep.
The only places with an extensive menu including western food are in the resorts, listed at #Sleep below. Prices there are not outrageous, but they are noticeably higher than in areas with more competition in western restaurants such as Cebu City or Dumaguete. Expect about a person for a meal and drink.
There are also a number of places billed as "floating restaurants" that are actually built on pilings in shallow water. They are only accessible by boat; many of the island-hopping boats or dive trips bring their clients here. Prices are high by Philippine standards but the seafood is very fresh and often excellent.
Caw Oy Floating Restaurant
Many of the small roadside stores have soft drinks and beer, and these are generally cheaper than the resorts. At Sagastrand, for example, either the restaurant or the minibar in your room will provide a bottle of any of San Miguel's three main beers — Pilsen, Light or the stronger and darker Red Horse — for , and the restaurant has other beers as well. The little shop across the street sells a liter (1000 ml) of Red Horse for , but that is the only beer they offer.
phone: +63 995 826 9788address: Santa Rosa
It is common for people with a generous budget to stay on the Lapu Lapu side; the area just opposite the island is called Mactan New Town and has many high-end resorts such as Movenpick (formerly Hilton) and Shangrila. A short boat ride from there gets you to the dive sites or wildlife sanctuary on Olango.
There is no really cheap accommodation, such as backpacker dorms, on the island; prices start around .
Olango Star Innphone: +63 942 553 8986
Triponia's HomestaySomewhere between a normal homestay and a small resort hotel; guests are in a separate wing but the rest of the compound is inhabited by locals. Rooms on land have solid walls, a/c, & private bathroom with cold water shower. Others are built over the water with woven bamboo walls, electric fan, shared bathroom, & the sea visible through gaps in the bamboo floor at high tide. Some travellers find the sound of waves very relaxing Not much else except a large patio area; no restaurant but they can provide Filipino food if asked. Nearby shops have drinks and snacks.
phone: +63 929 883 7704A pleasant establishment between Santa Rosa and the Wildlife Sanctuary. Nice swimming pool, not-very-nice beach, tennis court, a small playground with swings etc., restaurant with both western and Filipino food. Rooms all have a/c, shower, hot water, fridge, TV. Apartments available for long-term stays.
phone: +63-922-8513360address: Talima barangayA large place with a swimming pool, massage service, dive center, reasonably good but expensive food.
phone: +63 32 492-4388address: Olango ReefAqua sports activities like wave runners, jet skiing, scuba diving, and water skiing.
phone: +63 32 406 7738As the name implies, this is a white building. It is large and looks rather like an antebellum plantation from the American South.
phone: +63 32 2381878, +63 32 2363343, +63 32 2363344address: Gilutongan25 rooms, 25 villas, all A/C with cable TV, refrigerator, bathtub, private toilet and hot and cold water.