A few years ago, there was a lot of buzz on social media when photos of a seemingly mysterious stretch of white sand suddenly emerged in the middle of cerulean waters. We now know this as Manjuyod Sandbar or Sumapao Shoal, one of Negros Oriental’s best-kept gems. It’s a seven kilometer stretch of white sand located off the coast of North Bais Bay.
Sandbars or shoals form when sand and other sediments are deposited on top of ridges in the sea floor. These become visible especially during low tide.
In just a short span of time, this pristine destination has gained popularity because of its raw and unadulterated beauty.
Travelers from all over the Philippines, as well as other parts of the globe, are suddenly flocking to Negros Oriental to behold the magnificence of Manjuyod Sandbar, which is in some way elusive because it is exposed above water for only a limited period of time.
The best time to go here is during low tide which is around 7:00 to 9:00 AM and 4:00 to 6:00 PM. Even so, there is no guarantee that you will see the white stretch of sand in its full glory. There are days when only segments of the sandbar are visible at low tide. But what’s the point of going on an adventure if there’s no element of surprise!
How to go to Manjuyod Sandbar
Some people get confused and think that Manjuyod Sandbar is under the territory of Bais City since it’s the more popular jump-off point to the sandbar. However, do keep in mind that it is under the jurisdiction of Manjuyod town.
From Dumaguete City, take a Ceres bus bound for Manjuyod town. It is best that you take the first trip which leaves the station at 5:00 AM. You may ask the bus conductor to alert you once you are at Bais City. Don’t worry because most of them are used to tourists so they will gladly help you out. For the landmark, you will see a police outpost beside the loading and unloading shed in Bais City.
Once in Bais City, ride a tricycle going to either Capiñahan Wharf or Canibol Wharf. Of these two, Capiñahan Wharf is the more convenient jump-off point, so a lot of travelers would recommend taking that route.
From Capiñahan Wharf, you may hire a boat that will take you to and from Manjuyod Sandbar. Most of these boats are for rent the whole day but they may charge you extra if you want to try out other activities like an island-hopping tour around North Bais Bay or farther into Tañon Strait.
What to do in Manjuyod Sandbar
Once at Manjuyod Sandbar, you can swim in the crystal clear waters kissing the creamy white sand. The whole place is definitely Instagram-worthy so don’t forget to bring your camera. It would be much better if it’s a waterproof action camera or a drone that can take stunning aerial shots. Most importantly, relax and immerse yourself in the magical beauty surrounding you.
When swimming, it’s always best to take precautions against possibly hazardous sea creatures such as jellyfish and sea urchins. Boat operators usually tell tourists that there are only a handful of those animals along the fringes of the sandbar but be extra careful anyway and bring a first aid kit with you and wear a rashguard and aqua shoes.
For those who are on a day trip, there are houses with paid restrooms near the wharf where you can take a quick shower and change to dry clothes.
Dolphin and whale watching
Aside from relaxing at the unspoiled sandbar, you may also arrange for a dolphin-watching activity at Tañon Strait, the Philippines’ largest marine-protected area located between the islands of Negros and Cebu. This narrow body of water is home to 14 species of dolphins, including bottlenose, fraiser, spotted, spinner, and striped dolphins. Tour organizers recommend seeing the dolphins in the morning when they are more numerous. Dolphins also prefer calm waters so it’s best to go when the weather is fine.
In addition to dolphins, Tañon Strait is also home to 14 species of whales like melon-headed whales, short-finned pilot whales, pygmy sperm whales, pygmy killer whales, and dwarf sperm whales, to name a few. Depending on the season, tour operators may include whale-watching in their Tañon Strait cruise package.
Where to stay in Bais City
If you want a night of peace and quiet, with the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep, then you can spend the night at the sandbar. There are over-the-water bungalows or large cottages, the only structures on the islet that you may rent for the night. Accommodations can be arranged at the tourism office. There are also no restaurants here so it’s best if you bring food with you. There are grill pits in the cottages where you may cook fresh meat, fish and vegetables.
And if you do decide to stay here for the night, be sure to bring power banks as there is no electricity in the cottages. Water will be provided by the tourism office but for a limited supply only. As such, remember to bring extra gallons of drinking water to last you through the night.
Of course, there are also other accommodations that are located in Bais City or Manjuyod if you plan to stay in the area for an extended period of time. Bais City, being a top tourist destination, has several hotels that cater to the varying tastes of travelers.
One of the most recognizable hotels in Bais City is La Planta Hotel located at Mabini Street. This 17-room hotel is a former power plant that was once the primary source of electricity for Bais City. The overnight rate for a standard room for two is around ₱1,450.
Casa Sandoval Pension House & Restaurant can be found at National Highway, Talungon, Bais City. Here, guests get to enjoy a homey vibe during their stay because it’s a family house that has been converted into a pension house. The standard overnight room rate for two is around ₱1,200.
If you want to stay in proximity to the sandbar, then check out Campuyo Aroma Beach Resort at Barangay Campuyo in Manjuyod. The standard room costs ₱1,150 per night.
Other accommodations that you may want to check out the next time you are in Bais City are Velez Pensionne House located at Mabini cor. Roxas Street (₱906 per night), Casa Margarita, a rustic vintage-themed hotel at Talungon, Bais City (₱1,000 a night), and Bahia de Bais at Hilltop, Capiñahan Port.
Sample Itinerary and Estimated Expenses
It’s fairly simple to assemble an itinerary going to Manjuyod Sandbar, especially if you are one of those who prefer do-it-yourself (DIY) trips. For a day trip, here is a sample schedule and estimated expenses for two people:
|5:00 AM||Ride a Manjuyod-bound bus then alight at Bais City||₱55/head|
|6:00 AM||At Bais City, take a tricycle to Capiñahan Wharf||₱30/head|
|6:30 AM||At the wharf, hire a boat going to Manjuyod Sandbar||₱1,600|
|7:00 AM to 10:00 AM||Explore Manjuyod Sandbar, take pictures, swim at the beach|
|10:00 AM to 10:30 AM||Go back to Capiñahan Wharf|
|10:30 AM to 10:45 AM||Rent a shower and change to your dry clothes||₱25/head|
|10:45 AM to 11:15 AM||Ride a tricycle back to Bais City||₱30/head|
Prior to your trip, you may already want to arrange a boat ride with any of the tour operators organizing trips to the sandbar. The package already includes a transfer from Bais City to Capiñahan Wharf, a boat ride to and from Manjuyod Sandbar, and transportation from Capiñahan Wharf back to Bais City.
For other questions or advice regarding your trip, or if you want to check if your tour operator is accredited, you may get in touch with the Manjuyod Tourism Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bais City Tourism Office (email@example.com).