​Ecotourism Site Spotlight: Sagay, Negros Occidental

Sandbar at Panal Reef

Sagay City, located in Negros Occidental, is blessed with one of the largest marine protected areas in the country – 32-000 hectares in total. The Sagay Marine Reserve or SMR was initiated by then Mayor Alfredo Maranon in the 1970s and has become a perfect example of marine diversity. It was opened to the public only in 2009 and has already attracted a significant number of tourists. This marine reserve is composed of small islands, sand bars and shallow coral reefs.


One of the most popular sites in SMR is Carbin Reef where you can snorkel to see a variety of corals, schools of fishes, hundreds of giant clams, and if you’re lucky, you might just be able to spot sea turtles. Or if you prefer to stay by the shore, you can lounge around the unique, tongue-shaped sand bar. The clear blue water is also perfect for swimming.

Macahulom and Panal reefs are also favorite among tourists, having colorful coral reefs and marine life as well as migratory birds.

Suyac Islet, also located in SMR, is a small community where the city’s oldest mangrove forest thrives. A community-based tourism project has been established by the city government and it is  providing an economic incentive for the island residents to protect the mangrove area.

The city also has the Museo Sang Bata, an interactive museum for children, the only one of its kind in the Philippines.

The tourism office of Sagay City advocates sustainable and responsible tourism. They play an active role in ensuring that SMR is protected from irresponsible practices so that both visitors in the area and local communities continue to benefit from the beauty and abundance that SMR has to offer.

Hear more about Sagay’s tourism products and best practices from Helen Cutillar, Tourism Officer of Ciy of Sagay, at the second Philippine Ecotourism 101.

Photos are by Louie Mencias and Patricia Mencias