Nowadays, it’s easy to get lost within a mountain of beautiful places we could only wish we could go to in just a click of a button. Like how I wish traveling could be as easy as liking every photo we see on Instagram. In our world ruled by social media where no paradise can stay hidden anymore, there will never be enough space to squeeze everything into our bucketlist. We could only wish some genius could finally unlock the secrets to teleportation but until then, I guess the less fortunate millennials such as I whose everyday is spent behind desk doing some shitload of the corporate world can only look forward to promo fares and pray we will be lucky to snag ourselves some. Given our limited resources, prioritization is a must. There are places which we could leave for later but there are just those we simply couldn’t resist. Sambawan Island in the province of Biliran happens to be one of the latter.
Sambawan Island is dubbed as Biliran’s answer to paradise. While its neighboring islands boast of fine white sand shores, this stunning island on the other hand has tiny white pebble and rough coral stones filling the entire stretch of its shoreline. The beach is not just the only great thing about this island. Atop one of its hills is a magnificent view of the surrounding seascape. And underneath its azure water is a colorful and diverse marine ecosystem definitely able to swoon over diving enthusiasts.
My visit to Sambawan Island was part of my 5-Day Leyte-Biliran Adventure earlier this year. I was coming from Ormoc after a visit to Kalanggaman Island the day before. Seven in the morning of my 4th day, I was seated next to the driver of a van bound to Naval. It was a 3-hour drive through the national highway connecting the provinces of Leyte and Biliran. The journey was pretty much uneventful with me on my headphones listening to Taylor Swift while staring blankly through the window. Twenty minutes before finally reaching the town of Naval was a bridge similar to that of San Juanico only shorter that says Province Of Biliran warmly welcoming us together with the beautiful view of the coast.
Alighting in the public market a little over 10AM, off I walked to Naval Port for five minutes. At the port, I immediately paid the boat fee of P60 then the terminal fee of P10. I thought I missed the trip since based on the blogs I’ve read prior to my trip, the ferry to Maripipi Island departs at 10AM. Yes true enough, the first ferry to the island just left but there were 2 more trips. One for 10:30AM and the other is for 11AM. I boarded the ferry and sat among the locals. The ferry was cramped not only with passengers but with loads of goods from food, bottled beverages and fresh produce. At 10:45AM, the ferry’s engine started to roar and slowly, we sailed away from Naval Port. The trip lasted for almost two hours. Reaching Maripipi island, off I went to find me a driver to drive me around.
I planned to stay overnight in Sambawan Island but before heading there, I wanna explore Maripipi Island and see what it has to offer. I found me a young driver a few minutes while walking randomly on the streets outside the port. I contracted his service for P300. First I went to a local eatery to buy me some food. After I got everything I needed, off I went exploring the entirety of Maripipi Island. We went to explore all the corners of the island. From the coldspring to the beaches. During the drive, I couldn’t help but notice how verdant were the mountains towering not so far away. I asked my guide whether those mountains were open for hiking but he said not at the moment.
I spent some time on the island’s most famous beach, Candol Beach which shorelines were of rough white coral and pebble stones. It was a public beach but there was no other people around. I sat by the beach while exchanging stories with my young driver. His name was Lawrence. He was just 21 but he carries the world on his shoulders. His father died when he was 14 and that’s when he stopped school to help with the family’s expenses. His mother suffered from stroke that took away half of her body. While he told me his story, I can’t help but notice his enthusiasm. I found it really unusual for someone who has to live by unimaginable hardship every single day of his life. He seemed smart too and focused but every single one of his dreams were not his for the taking.
I looked at him. His innocent face already wrinkled by the test of times. Then I noticed his right leg was swollen. There were also bruises and wounds on his right foot all the way to his knee. I could easily tell he was in pain. I offered him my first aid kit so he could clean his wounds. He gladly took it. There was something I felt I need ask him but before I could do so the answer came flowing through. Without hesitation he told me he was in a motorcycle accident two days before but he can’t stay at home and rest otherwise he, his mother and two younger siblings would starve. It was just sad and devastating to see him in such a bad shape but he had to endure for his family. I told him to keep going and that his hard work would someday pay off. He just smiled.. His hopeful smile.
It was fifteen past 3PM that Lawrence decided to take me to Brgy. Ol-og where I could hire a boat to Sambawan Island. He said I might not get someone to take me to the island anymore if I linger further as it might already be late. We drove for another ten minutes. We arrived to a closed Barangay office so he told me to wait with his motorcycle while he scoot to look me a boat. Ten minutes past and Lawrence came back and drove us twenty meters more to where the boat awaited.
The docks were located at the back of a fisherman’s house. Waiting for the boat to be ready were five other girls. They agreed to let me join and share with them the cost. I bid Lawrence goodbye and off I went to board the outtrigger boat. I wished I had more time to share with this admirable young man but I had to go. We started sailing away a few minutes after everyone was settled. After fifteen minutes, we reached Sambawan Island.
I wanted to explore the island but I thought the taking me some photos would be too hard under the excruciating heat of the sun. Besides, I wanted the views all to myself so I thought I’d be better off to wait. Since I got nothing else to do while I waited, I asked our boatman if he could take me some place beautiful. Said he will be happy to oblige since the water is calm and he thought it will be perfect to do some snorkeling. I agreed and gladly hopped into his boat. Twenty minutes after, I found me in so much awe at wonder of the world found underneath the water surrounding Sambawan Island. I thought I have seen something great in Cuatro Islas but Sambawan Island took it to a whole new level of awesome.
After an hour of snorkeling and finally getting tired and breathless, I headed back to Sambawan Island. The boatman didn’t charge me saying he had the chance to fish while I was out there. My heart just melted with his kindness. I just smiled, thanked him and off I went to see the view Sambawan Island is known for. I didn’t offer him anything. I thought offering him a reward would be an insult to his pure intentions. Climbing my way up the hill was easy. It took me fifteen minutes but hey who’s rushing! I marveled at the beauty of the surrounding seascape and thought this island really is the paradise Biliran should very well be proud of. I took me some photos before finally contenting myself with that day’s event and went down to wait for the sunset and the sea of stars later that night.
HOW TO GO THERE
- From Tacloban – Ride a van going to Naval (3Hrs ; P130). Alight in Naval Public Market. Walk to the port. Ride a ferry to Maripipi Island (2Hrs ; P70). Once in Maripipi Island, ride a motorcycle to Brgy. Ol-og (30Min ; P50). From there, ride a boat going to Maripipi Island (20Min ; P600/6pax).
- From Ormoc – Ride a van to Naval (3Hrs ; P130) and follow steps above.
- From Kalanggaman Island – Ride a van from Palompon to Lemon Junction (1.5Hr ; P90) then ride another van to Naval Port (45Min ; P50). Follow remaining steps above.
- From Cebu – Ride a fastcraft to Ormoc then ride a van going to Naval Port.
- Number of trips to Maripipi Island varies. Depends on the number of passengers and demand, there are days with trips of up to three but there in most days, there is only one trip scheduled to depart Naval Port at 10AM so make sure to take this into consideration when planning your itinerary.
- There are no trips to Maripipi Island on Sundays.
- In severe weather, trip to the Maripipi Island might be prohibited by the coast guard to ensure safety.
- If you missed the 10AM ferry trip to Maripipi Island, another option is to ride a boat directly to Sambawan Island from Kawayan Port. This can be be a bit costly at P1200/boat especially if you are traveling alone. From Naval, you can ride a jeepney to Kawayan Port. Travel should only take 30-45 minutes.
- Bring a tent if you plan to stay in Sambawan Island for the night. Although they have some tents available for rent, this might help you save some bucks.
- If camping isn’t your style, there are overnight cottages available as well. Small cottage good for up to five people should set you back P1500. Big cottages however cost more at P2500.
- Electricity is only available for a limited time in both Maripipi and Sambawan Islands. It goes out at 2AM and goes back up again at 12NN.
- Mobile signal is good in both of the islands. Mobile data is available too for Globe users.
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES & OTHER ESSENTIALS
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Van Ormoc-Naval - P130
Ferry + Terminal Fee - P70
Maripipi Tour - P300
Boat Maripipi-Sambawan (Shared) @ P500/5 - P100
Food - P250
Entrance Fee (Sambawan Is) - P100
Sleep - P300
Total <<>> P1250
|BOAT & ENTRANCE FEE||Boat Transfers
Ferry Naval-Maripipi + Terminal Fee - P70
Boat Maripipi-Sambawan - P600 (up to 5 pax)
Boat Maripipi-Kawayan - P600 (up to 5 pax)
Boat Kawayan-Sambawan - P1200
Sambawan Island - P100 (Day Trip) : P200 (Overnight)
Overnight Cottages (Sambawan Is)
Small 4-6pax - P1500
Big 10-15pax - P2500
Tent Rental - P300
Tent Space - Small P50 ; Big P150
|CONTACT PERSON||Kuya Gidab - 09481696233 (Boat Maripipi-Sambawan)
Kuya Jun-Jun - 09355206342 (Boat Kawayan)
Sambawan Caretaker - 09264104866
There you have it loves. Feel free to leave me your comments, questions, feedback or anything that might fill in my free time although I barely have any. Until next time. See yah!