Nalusuan Island must surely be one of the world’s smallest inhabited islands. In fact, it is largely artificial – there isn’t much more here than a sandbank which is uncovered at low tide. Even the seven cottages which provide accommodation for visitors are, strictly speaking, not on the island – they are built on stilts over the water and attached to the island by short bridges.
Nalusuan is a privately owned marine reserve at the south end of the Olongo reef, east of Mactan Island, Cebu. The fact that it is easily the best preserved reef in an area otherwise decimated by dynamite and cyanide fishing is testimony to the effectiveness of the sanctuary.
We moved on to Nalusuan after Cebu and stayed there for one night. It really is a place for chilling out; according to the manager it is popular with visitors from Hong Kong who come for the weekend, flying into Cebu International Airport on Mactan, from which it is only a 20 minute drive and 30 minute boat ride away. The island also receives day visitors, often from places such as Korea and Taiwan, who are in the Philippines on a week-long diving holiday.
From a distance, the island is easily identified by its long pier at which service boats dock. The end of the pier is located close to the reef, which makes snorkelling very easy. In fact, you only need to climb down the ladder into the water and you are surrounded by large numbers of striped ‘Sergeant Majors’ (Abudefduf saxatilis). I’m not particularly competent at identifying tropical fish, but as I swam over the reef I recognised different species of wrasse, parrotfish, angelfish and damselfish.
The wonderful thing about Nalusuan is that you don’t even need to go diving or snorkelling to see the fish. The waters are so shallow around the island that they are quite visible from the pier and the balconies of the rooms. There are also numerous starfish (we spotted the Blue Starfish Linckia and the reef-eating Chocolate Chip Starfish Protoreaster), sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
We spent about 24 hours at Nalusuan, from midday to midday. In the evening we were treated to a beautiful sunset. The following morning a brief shower brought a rainbow, which was rather more difficult to photograph. Sometimes we have to accept that nature’s beauty cannot always be captured digitally, but is simply to be enjoyed.
For more pictures of Nalusuan Island, click here.