travel

Sambawan Island: Wondrous Island in Biliran

Last year, my friends and I booked a flight to Tacloban in Leyte with one objective in mind – Kalanggaman Island. Upon arriving at the airport, one year after that ticket purchase, we still had Kalanggaman Island as our main destination. However, it was hard to resist the beauty of Sambawan Island, an attraction nearby the town of Tacloban. With a spontaneous change in plans, what was supposed to be a relaxing day on the sandbar in Palompon became an adrenaline-filled adventure in Biliran.

June 19, 2017 — You know what they say, save the best for last. In this case, Sambawan Island was put last because it was the star attraction of the whole island hopping tour. I would say every island brought us a great experience, but Sambawan Island portrays many characters in it that it’s not enough to just set foot on it and leave. We had to go up the hill and take in the majesty of its many forms – its grassy terrain, the mountainous formations, the rocky shoreline, the serene waters, the rich marine life and the small neighborhood. There are so much to see in here, and we feel happy that we went for Sambawan Island instead of going with our initial plans.

 

 

We arrived on the island at 4 in the afternoon. Our boatmen sailed back to Kawayan Port after they helped us carry our bags to the front desk. I was surprised that the island was not as virgin as I thought. There were lots of developments on the island, such as the cemented pathways, concrete restrooms, closed-air cottages with two beds plus its own private bathroom! Although the fan room would’ve given us comfort in exchange of a thousand pesos, we chose to stay the night inside our inconvenient tent, which only cost us ₱450. It was just for one night, anyway.

 

Hilltop View

After setting up the tent, we rushed to the hilltop which was known for its great view of the island. I was actually preparing my body for another trek, but to my surprise, the trail was just a 5-minute walk up a concrete stairway.

 

Sambawan Island, Leyte

Sambawan Island, Leyte

Sambawan Island, Leyte

Sambawan Island-1

 

Not only that, there was also a viewing deck on the hilltop where you can rest and just admire the scenery that envelopes you.

There are two different sides of Sambawan Island. There is a view that shows its untouched beauty, standing tall despite being cut by a deep canyon. It is surrounded by rocks that fight the strong blows of the ocean. The island basks in its own wilderness, its own brokenness. This side brings out the carefree, edgy attitude of the land.

 

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

 

Meanwhile, the other side of Sambawan Island shows its softer, feminine character. It is surrounded by fine sand that gently moves along with the tossing of the waves. This side is covered in trees! It allows life to operate in it and it gladly sustains every moving thing that comes to her for rest. From this view, it even looked like it was reaching out to another smaller island.

 

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

 

Both sides were exposed equally. This makes me realize that even we humans have different roles; we have different faces to wear and to remove. We can be relaxed, free and wild like a child, firm and unwavering to what we think is right in our eyes. And at the same time, we can be welcoming, giving and compassionate like a mother, even to the point of putting other’s needs first before our own. Oh, to live this life! It’s such a beautiful gift! Being on top of the hill gave me an opportunity to reflect. I hope that when you visit Sambawan Island, you also take the moment to thank God and appreciate every angle there is to you. *breathes in*

Anyway, after our photo-op on the hilltop, we could have snorkeled, or kayaked or swam, but we didn’t. There was a different kind of peace by just being on the island alone that we didn’t need to do anything to attain it.

 

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

 

By evening, we enjoyed our canned good, aka sardines and tuna, paired with every meal’s staple – cooked rice. The great night has ended with a light rainfall. Even though the wind was terribly strong, we still had a good night’s sleep.

 

Sambawan Island, Leyte, Biliran

 

Before we left, I would like to believe that we made a friend on the island. Atlas, the dog with a necktie, accompanied us during our short but sweet stay in the island.

 

 

 

 

 

Guide to Sambawan Island

    • Secure your supplies but don’t worry if you forgot some. There is a store on the island for you!
    • Travel in a big group so you can save up money even in accommodation.
    • Bring your own food, and drinking water.
    • You can take a bath! Only bring your hygiene kit and ₱25 for a pail of water.
    • There is a limited mobile signal in the area. The reception is good at the hilltop.
    • The view deck is open only from 6AM to 6PM. However, when my friend tried to go up the hill earlier than 6AM, there was no watchman to guard the place. Grab that chance to watch the stars at night or catch the sunrise!

 

Contact Persons

Sambawan Island Hopping Tour Operator

Person to look for: Ate Malou
Mobile Number: 0921-262-8154

 

Biliran Waterfall Hopping Tour Guide

Person to look for: Kuya Roldan
Mobile Number: 0926-727-6011

 

Mabini Lighthouse Tour Guide (Higatangan Island)

Person to look for: Kuya Joy
Mobile Number: 0916-507-6402

 

TJ Pensionne (Naval, Biliran)

Person to look for: n/a
Mobile Number: 09060753213 / 09994226274

 

Biliran Island Inn (Naval, Biliran)

Person to look for: n/a
Mobile Number: 0917 321 9953

 

Itinerary and Budget

Note: This itinerary was based on an actual trip of 4 persons in 2017.

Day 1 (June 18) 1:42 PM Arrival at D.Z. Romualdez Airport ₱ 300 / head (roundtrip airfare during AirAsia 2016 seatsale)
2:00 PM Lunch ₱ 55 per head (lunch in a nearby eatery)
2:35 PM City Tour ₱ 1000 / group
5:00 PM End of tour / ETD to downtown terminal to Naval
5:50 PM ETD Van ride to Naval Biliran ₱ 100 per head (van ride)
8:24 PM ETA Naval / Check in Biliran island inn ₱ 1400 for 4 (accommodation)
9:00 PM Dinner at Jelo’s ₱ 612 for 4 pax (dinner)
Day 2 (June 19) 5:30 AM Wake up/prep
6:30 AM Check out/eat breakfast ₱ 65 / head (breakfast); ₱ 76 / head (packed lunch)
7:00 AM ETD to Kawayan Port ₱ 600 / 4pax (two-way transport service)
7:40 AM ETA Kawayan/register/buy food ₱ 62 / head (snacks)
8:15 AM Start of Island hopping / ETD to Dalutan Island ₱ 1000 / head (tour)
8:55 AM ETA Dalutan Island ₱ 20/ head (entrance fee)
9:50 AM ETD to Kapinyahan Island
10:00 AM ETA Kapinyahan Island
10:05 AM ETD to Higatangan Island
10:55 AM ETA Higatangan Island / lunch
11:20 AM Higatangan Sandbar
12:10 NN Mabini Lighthouse trek ₱ 150/head (lighthouse tour)
12:35 PM Reach the lighthouse / picture taking
1:00 PM Trek back to beach
1:20 PM Back to boat
1:30 PM ETD to Tingkasan Island
2:25 PM ETA to Tingkasan Island
2:45 PM ETD to Sambawan Island
3:40 PM ETA to Sambawan Island / Set up tent in Sambawan Resort ₱ 100 / head (entrance fee); ₱ 450 / one big tent (good for 4 pax); ₱ 30 / cooking service (cook rice)
4:25 AM Trek to hilltop
4:30 PM Reach hilltop / take photos
6:00 PM Back to camp / swim / prepare dinner
7:00 PM Eat dinner/ socials / wash up
5:00 AM wake up / breakfast / sunrise view
6:30 AM Wash up ₱ 25 / pail of water
7:15 AM ETD to Kawayan Port
8:15 AM ETA Kawayan Port/buy snacks
8:20 AM ETD to Almeria
8:40 AM ETA Almeria / eat breakfast ₱ 50 / head (breakfast)
9:10 AM ETD to Ulan-ulan Falls ₱ 2,000 / Biliran group tour (for 4)
9:35 AM ETA registration site ₱ 20 / head (environmental fee)
9:45 AM Trek to Ulan-ulan Falls
10:20 AM ETA Ulan-ulan Falls / swim
12:10 NN Trek to Recoletos Falls
12:25 NN ETA to Recoletos Falls
12:55 PM Trek back to registration site
1:30 PM ETD to Tinago Falls / Stop to see the rice terraces / stayed at Kuya Roldan’s house because of heavy rain
3:05 PM ETA Tinago Falls ₱ 20 / head (entrance fee)
4:00 PM ETD to Mainit Hot Springs
4:20 PM ETA Mainit Hot Springs ₱ 10 / head (entrance fee)
4:45 PM ETD back to Naval
6:00 PM Check in at TJ Pensionne ₱ 1150 / 4 pax (accommodation)
6:15 PM Dinner at Naval Port / socials ₱ 100 / head (dinner)
Day 4 (June 21) 6:00 AM Wake up/ prep/ checkout of inn
7:00 AM Breakfast at Goldilocks ₱ 65 / head (meal)
7:30 AM Secure van slot back to Tacloban ₱ 120 / head (van fare)
7:45 AM ETD from Naval to Tacloban
10:45 AM ETA Robinson’s Tacloban
11:00 AM Lunch
12:45 PM Tricycle to airport ₱ 50 /head (fare)
1:00 PM Airport Check-in ₱ 150 / head (terminal fee)
ETIMATED EXPENSES ₱ 4,182 / head (including food, exclusive of airfare)

 

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