Olango Island

Olango Island is one of seven (7) islands that comprise the Olango Island Group. The other six (6) satellite islets are: Sulpa, Hilutungan, Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an and Camungi. These islands are found in the Central Visayan Region of the Philippines and are part of the Cebu Province and likewise under the jurisdiction of 2 local government units (LGUs) namely, the City of Lapu-Lapu and the Municipality of Cordova.

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Lapu-Lapu City is located at Mactan Island. Olango Island is host to eight (8) Lapu-Lapu City barangays: Baring, Caw-oy, Sabang, Santa Rosa, Talima, Tingo, Tunga-san and San Vicente. Together with the islets of Pangan-an and Caohagan, Olango Island is under the administration of Lapu-Lapu City; Hilutungan and Nalusuan islets, both within Barangay Hilutungan, are under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Cordova.

Total land area of the whole island group is approximately 1,041 hectares with a population of over 20,000 people, half of whom are under 18 years of age. Santa Rosa is the largest barangay with a land area of 321 hectares, the number of residents adding up to 4,500. Of the estimated households, 75 percent are engaged in fishing and shell craft. The area is relatively underdeveloped, lacking basic infrastructure, such as water and waste disposal.

Olango Island and the islets are surrounded by a reef flat-lagoon having a total of 4,482 hectares of extensive sandy beach, rocky shoreline, sea grass beds, coral reefs, inshore flats, mudflats, mangrove forests and salt marsh grass. The mangroves, mudflats, and sea grasses are the breeding ground of fishes and other crustaceans which are likewise, feasted upon by the birds that flock by the thousands to the island.

The six islets are likewise bounded by continuous fringing reefs with steep reef wall on the west and sloping reef at the east coast of Olango. It is considered as one of the most extensive reef areas in Central Visayas and offers scuba diving enthusiasts with a variety of wondrous dive sites.

Olango and the islets are low-lying with elevation reaching no more than 10 meters above sea level. During low tides, Olango Island doubles its land size. At the center of these islands is a vast tidal flat, which includes the 920-hectare area which was declared as a protected wetland and called the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Twice a year, from February to April and again from September to November, the OIWS finds itself the refuge of thousands of migratory birds.

So, notwithstanding the lack of basic facilities, the island has its share of visitors, foreign and local alike, lured by the beauty of the landscape, of its surrounding dive sites, and the thousands of birds, resident and migratory, that visits the island twice a year.

Fast becoming a birder’s destination, Olango Island has noted 48 species of migratory birds that flock to this small island twice each year, adding to the rich population of 49 resident avian species, including 7 of unconfirmed origin. These exotic creatures are often found wading in the waters, basking under the sun or taking refuge under the thick mangroves. Chinese egrets, sandpipers, plovers and red shanks are just some of the winged visitors that one can encounter on birding trips.


Olango Island and surrounding islets lies between 10°16′N latitude and 124°03′E longitude. It is five kilometers east of Mactan Island and lies between the Bohol Strait to the South and the Camotes Sea to the North. To the east is the Olango Channel and to the west is the Hilutungan Channel. Olango Island is quite small, about 13 square kilometers only.

A concrete road leads to the Sanctuary from the pier which takes about 20 minutes of tricycle ride. Expect the drivers to charge you P60 for a one-way trip or P120 for a roundtrip arrangement. Because of the infrequent flow of visitors to the Sanctuary and it being so “out of the way”, they then ask for this exorbitant sum.

Accessibility from Bohol

Olango Island is accessible from Bohol, either from the towns of Getafe, Talibon or Tubigon. There are no regular trips that go straight to Olango Island yet outrigger boats are available for hire. The trip may take two hours or more. The boats dock at the Santa Rosa wharf and from there, the sanctuary can be reached by tricycle or on foot.

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However, regular trips ply the Bohol-Cebu City route from the towns of Talibon, Getafe and Tubigon and boat fare is more or less P200.00 for a one-way trip. When in Cebu, follow the directions below.

Accessibility from the Airport

For those who are outside of the Philippines, the most convenient way is to take a direct flight to Mactan International Airport in Cebu. Others may fly first to the NAI Airport in Manila then take a domestic flight to Cebu. From the airport, take a taxi and go direct to the Angasil pier or to the pier near the Hilton Hotel. Outrigger boats are available every 30 minutes from 5:30 am to 6:00 pm bound for Sta. Rosa in Olango Island. Fare is from P15-P20 per head.

Accessibility from Cebu City

From Cebu City, one has to go to Lapu-Lapu City at Mactan Island. There are two ways to go to Lapu-Lapu City at Mactan Island: thru a land trip or via ferryboat. The land trip takes longer wherein one has to take a Jeepney bound for Lapu-Lapu City at the terminal near the burned-down building of White Gold Department Store at the reclamation area or at SM terminal area. With traffic, the trip will usually take more than an hour. At Lapu-Lapu, ride a tricycle bound for Angasil and get off at the Mar Y Cielo Beach Resort where the boats bound for Sta. Rosa are docked.

An easier yet more expensive option is to hire a taxi from Cebu City and go direct to Angasil pier near Mar Y Cielo Beach Resort or the pier near the Hilton Hotel, both at Mactan Island. And from there, board the boat for Sta. Rosa.

A much easier yet less expensive route from Cebu City is via ferryboat which is available for a very minimal fee (less than P10.00) at Pier 3. The boat will take you direct to Lapu-Lapu for less than an hour, where you will board a tricycle for Angasil.

For everybody’s information, last trip for native outrigger boats from Olango to Mactan is at 7 pm.

Island Tours

Native outrigger boats may be hired at Angasil Pier from P2, 500-P3, 000 for a tour of Hilutungan, Sulpa, and Olango Islands, including the Bird Sanctuary. Boats have a maximum capacity of 20 people. Restaurants on stilts are available at Barangay Caw-oy in Olango serving sea foods that are freshly caught from the sea for a reasonable price.


Olango Island and its satellite islets are raised coral reefs. The lithology of the island consists of 2 unit types: the Plio-Pleistocene Carcar Formation and the Quartenary Alluvium (the youngest lithologic unit). Carcar formation is typically a porous coralline limestone characterized by small sinkholes, pitted grooves, and branching pinnacles. This suggests in situ deposition. Its dominant compositions are shell, algae, and other carbonate materials, while macro and micro fossils are found abundant in its formation. Alluvium, on the other hand, is mostly found in the coastal areas. Calcareous sand derived from the weathering of limestone mostly makes up the tidal flat. This appears as fine to coarse-grained sand mixed with shell fragments.

Olango Island has a tropical climate, which is typical to the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the area is relatively hot and humid, with a mean daily temperature range of 23 to 30 degrees Celsius. Daily mean relative humidity ranges from 60 to 94 percent. The annual rainfall averages about 1,579 mm at Mactan-Cebu International Airport and 1,440 mm in Barangay Maribago, which is located along the eastern coastline of Mactan Island.

The climate of Olango Island can be classified as Type 3, having a very pronounced maximum rain period and only a short dry season. Although, the Philippine archipelago lies within the typhoon belt, the island of Olango is shielded from typhoons by the islands of Mactan and Bohol.


Population size, density, distribution

Olango and its satellite islets had a total population of 21,928, composed of 4,382 households in 1995. The average population density of Olango is 34.2 individuals per ha or 3,420 per km2, with Hilutungan Island having the highest density of all the barangays at 96.8 individuals per hectare.


Elementary schools are found in all barangays and 4 high schools operating in 4 barangays. At present, there are no college or vocational courses being offered in the island.


The traditional occupations of Olango residents are fishing and coastal-related activities such as shell craft, aquarium fish collection, boat operations, and seaweed farming. Other sources of income include rain fed farming, personnel services, livestock raising, small enterprise (sari-sari store) and, recently, various types of employment from tourism activities.

Seaweed farming is concentrated on the sea grass beds adjacent to Gilutongan Island and nearby Barangay Sabang, where more than 40 hectares were planted with Euchuema seaweed. Seaweed farming in the area is now the main livelihood of 200 fishers turned seaweed farmers. Proceeds from sale of dry seaweed greatly augmented the income of these farmers.

Coastal Resources

Olango Island’s coastal resources are the coral reefs, mangroves, sea beds and mudflats that surround the island and the neighboring islets. The coral reefs though were greatly depleted due to the wrong fishing methods practiced by local fishermen leading to lesser fish yields a few years back. Yet with the program of the government to protect these natural fish habitats, including the mangroves, sea grasses and mudflats; and the continual education of the fisher folks on conservation methods, fish yields have slowly increased.

Tourism Potential

Tourism activities centers on birding and diving activities. 920 hectares of wetland has now been declared as a protected area and is host to countless of migratory birds, not counting the resident birds, who come in twice each year to feed and roost or to rest their wings before they proceed to Australia and New Zealand. This is one of the major attractions of Olango Island wherein visitors come mainly to see and observe the birds in the sanctuary.

The fringing reefs with their steep and sloping walls also lure a number of scuba diving enthusiasts and snorkelers to the island. A number of dive sites have been established were wondrous marine flora and fauna can be found. A big slice of the visiting population comes purely for scuba diving and snorkelling pursuits.

An average of 80 persons per day travels on 10 separate boat trips to Olango Island and extend cash in exchange for food and services. Thus, the incomes of the boat operators are augmented; likewise revenues of resort operators increase, not only in Olango Island, but also at Mactan Island.


See Also:

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary | Olango Island Dive Sites

Top of Olango Island

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