There are two stories of how the islet of Capitancillo got its name. The first story, a legend set during the Spanish Colonial Period, tells the tale of Capitan Basillo, a skipper of a trading vessel, who angered Rajah Bugtopasan, a contemporary of Lapu-Lapu. Capitan Basillo tried to escape Bugtopasan, but the latter was endowed with magical powers which he used to curse the hapless Capitan with thunder and lightning. The islet now stands where Capitan Basillo’s vessel was last seen.
The second story is more mundane. An American named Captain Cillo ran aground the islet on his ship during World War II. Thus was the islet named after him.
Falling under the jurisdiction of Bogo City in northern Cebu, Capitancillo is fast turning into a popular tourist attraction in the city. The islet lies 10 kilometers southeast from the Bogo mainland in the Visayan Sea and can be reached via a less-than-an-hour-long pumpboat ride from various jump-off places in northeastern Cebu.
Being a small island, there are no accommodations on Capitancillo and it is a primarily a day-trip spot. The islet’s main feature is a 25-meter-tall solar-powered lighthouse dating to the 1950s and which replaced an older structure that was built during the early American Period. The islet also features a some white sandy beachfronts, a few trees, and several nipa huts for rent (though I think the trees and huts were destroyed when Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan decimated the Visayas last year).
Capitancillo’s main tourist draw, however, is the coral marine sanctuary surrounding the islet that is becoming popular among divers. The islet has 3 main diving areas: the Ormoc Shoal, the Nuñez Shoal, and the Southwest Wall. The coral reef extends around two to three kilometers from north to south and occupies around 22 hectares of water around the islet. Unlike Negros’ Apo Island, marine life preservation in Capitancillo is still in its infancy and the islet is still recovering from destructive fishing techniques like dynamite fishing that depleted fish stocks in the area. By declaring the islet a marine sanctuary and by conducting marine life conservation training among the local populace, local officials and environmentalists hope to reinvigorate Capitancillo and establish it as a premier ecotourism destination in Cebu.