The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary for migratory birds and other marine species in the Olango Island Group located about five kilometers east of Mactan Island, Cebu. The group of islands consists of Olango Island and six other islets namely Sulpa, Gilutongan, Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an, and Camungi.
The Olango Island Group has a total land area of about 10.3 square kilometers or 1,030 hectares. The island group is under the jurisdiction of Lapu-Lapu City and the municipality of Cordova in the province of Cebu.
The island group is a diverse coastal ecosystem consisting of extensive coralline sand flats, mangroves, sea-grass beds, and offshore coral reefs. The mangroves of Olango Island are the most extensive in the province of Cebu and its offshore corals are home to various kinds of marine species. The island group is surrounded by warm seas and partly sheltered from monsoons and strong trade winds.
The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary has become a major tourist attraction as it is one of the seven best-known flyways in the world for migratory birds. The 920-hectare sanctuary is a haven for birds migrating from Siberia, Northern China, Japan, and other parts of northern Asia during the winter months.
Every year from September to April, the birds use the wildlife sanctuary as a wintering ground and feeding station in their annual southward migration to Australia and New Zealand. The birds then stop at the wildlife sanctuary in their northward migration back to the Northern Hemisphere to breed during the summer months from June to August.
Tourists and bird-watching enthusiasts usually visit the wildlife sanctuary in the months of July to November during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 97 species of birds in the Olango Island Group consisting of 48 migratory species, while the remaining 49 species are native to the island.
Some species of the migratory birds that stop at the wildlife sanctuary are considered endangered. Among the migratory birds in the island group are Chinese egrets, Asiatic dowitchers, Eastern curlews, plovers, sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwit, and Red Knot.
The Philippines government in 1992 declared the 1,020 hectares of tidal flats in the Olango Island Group as a protected area. The tidal flats in the island group is also home to various species of marine invertebrates that are the primary food of the migratory birds.
The Olango Island Group is located approximately five kilometers east of Mactan Island, Cebu. Trying to get there from Cebu City involves taking a jeepney to SM City Cebu, where you’ll find jeepneys bound for Lapu-Lapu City. You can also go to Mandaue City’s Banilad Crossing, where most of the multicabs and jeepneys ply their routes to interior Mactan.
After you arrive in Lapu-Lapu City, take a tricycle bound for the barangays of Dapdap or Angasil. Then disembark at the Portofino Beach Resort (formerly Mar y Cielo) . Take a pump boat for Santa Rosa in Olango Island and disembark in the Santa Rosa Wharf. From the wharf, the sanctuary can be reached by tricycle or foot.
There are also professional tour companies in Cebu City and in Lapu-Lapu City that can give you affordable, comfortable and hassle-free tour packages to the Olango Island Group.