Island hopping in Biliran and discovering the majestic, underrated Sambawan Island

Sambawan Island, Biliran

Last March, we took a few days off from the hustle and bustle of Manila to go island hopping in Biliran, among other things.

Like I said previously, it was tricky planning this, especially since we were on a budget. From Talahid, a boat to Sambawan Island alone costs P3500, and this seems to be the price range from Kawayan Port as well. I’d hate to imagine how much we’d have to spend if we wanted to visit the rest of the islands in Biliran.

But the Universe is generous and all-giving.

Day tour for island hopping in Biliran

Lucky for us, we found a joiner day tour, which costs P1699 per person c/o Biliran Island Travel and Tours. The day tour includes Tingkasan Bat Cave, Sambawan Island, Higatangan Island, Dalutan Island and Capiñahan Island.

For more practical info, head on to Travel guide to Biliran and Cuatro Islas in Leyte.

I find it sulit, especially considering the generous seafood buffet and the fact that we were able to visit places other than Sambawan Island.

One of the cons is that I don’t think the itinerary is feasible in a single day. We visited the first three islands, but it was already dark when we arrived in Dalutan Island. There was nothing else to do but take pictures. We missed Capiñahan Island altogether. Still, if you’re traveling solo or with a partner and can’t afford to charter your own boat for 2 days to visit all the islands, this kind of day tour package is something to consider.

Island hopping in Biliran

Sambawan Island

There are places that look better in photos, and there are those too beautiful to be captured in camera. Sambawan Island in Biliran belongs to the latter.

I’ve seen a couple of photos of Sambawan Island before but had ignored it up until this point because the photos didn’t have enough pull. Picturesque, yes. But so are a thousand other locations featured in Instagram.

But when we approached the island, I was awed.

Sambawan Island, Biliran
Sambawan Island. (Photo by Hali)
Sambawan Island couple shot
Non-obligatory couple shot. (Photo by Hali)
Other side of Sambawan Island, Biliran
Other side of Sambawan Island. (Photo by Hali)

It wasn’t small as I thought it was. It’s actually composed of a few grassy islets. In its main island, there’s a wide beach that goes from an aquamarine to a deep blue and a small hill with a viewdeck at the top. There’s a cottage/watch tower in the viewdeck, where guests can stay to see the sunrise or sunset.

Stairs to viewdeck of Sambawan Island
Stairs to viewdeck of Sambawan Island. (Photo by Hali)
Sambawan Island, Biliran
You can see the rooms in the resort from here. (Photo by Hali)

There’s one resort in Sambawan Island. We also saw a few camping tents for backpackers and a row of cottages for those on a day trip. There’s also a diving gear rental office. Apparently Sambawan Island a popular dive site. Who knew? I guess it’s not that well known among local tourists because we’re not very much into diving activities. Our organizer told us to bring our snorkels here, so I guess there might be a snorkeling area around.

We stayed here for maybe 3 hours, at the least. If I were to go back here, I’d definitely stay for an overnight. Did you know the Milky Way is always visible in Biliran? Well, according to Hali’s friend, that is.

Tingkasan Bat Cave

Tingkasan Bat Cave is a small sea cave located in Tingkasan Island.

Tingkasan bat cave, Biliran
Tingkasan bat cave. (Photo by Hali)
Beach in Tingkasan Island, Biliran
Beach in Tingkasan Island, Biliran. (Photo by Hali)

There’s nothing much to do here. You can swim around and explore the sea cave in 15 minutes. There are small schools of fishes in the area and the water is clear. There’s an interesting beach at the end of Tingkasan Island, although we didn’t come up close to see what it’s like.

Tingkasan Bat Cave is nice, all in all, but it’s too far that if it were up to me, I’d exclude it in a day tour.

Higatangan Island

Higatangan Island is one of the more famous islands in Biliran. It has a beach resort for those who want a little exclusivity. The island also has interesting rock formations and a snorkeling area where you explore a wide coral garden. I think I saw some coral species that seemed new to me.

Higatangan Island rock formation3
Rock formations from afar. (Photo by Hali)
Rock formation and snorkeling area in Higatangan Island, Biliran
Rock formation and snorkeling area in Higatangan Island. (Photo by Hali)
Hali snorkeling in Higatangan Island, Biliran
Hali snorkeling in the coral garden.

Aside from these, Higatangan Island also has a long sand bar, which accordingly shifts its shape on different hours of the day. I find it disappointing. There’s a trail of trash in the sand bar, and we joked about it having shifting lines of trash instead. Is it being maintained? I don’t know.

Higatangan Island sand bar, Biliran
Higatangan Island sand bar from afar. (Photo by Hali)

Higatangan Island seemed like a nice place to stay overall and we would’ve wanted to stay longer in the coral garden, but if I were you, dear reader, I wouldn’t get my hopes up in its sand bar.

Dalutan Island and Capiñahan Island

I really don’t have much to say about these two because like I said, we didn’t have time to explore Dalutan Island and we skipped Capiñahan Island.

Dalutan Island, Biliran
Dalutan Island as seen from Talahid. (Photo by Hali)
Capinahan Island, Biliran
Capinahan Island. (Photo by Hali)

For info’s sake though, Dalutan Island is a small island with a rocky shoreline. Apparently it has a rich marine life and visited by those who’re into snorkeling and diving,  If you’re staying in Talahid, you can see it from afar. You can rent a boat from Talahid for P700.

From what’s little of written about Capiñahan Island, it’s a bit similar to Dalutan Island. It has a white beach and not frequented by tourists. It seems like my type of hideaway. It’s too bad we weren’t able to make it here, although due to time constraint and the fickle weather we might not be able to stay long anyway.

Short summary: Island hopping in Biliran

Dolphins in Biliran
We saw dolphins while island hopping! (Photo by Hali)

Overall, it’s nice to explore the islands in Biliran. A day trip is a cheap, convenient option, but if budget is not an issue, it’s probably best to stay 2-3 days here. From what I read, the rooms in Sambawan Island are a bit expensive, but there’s always the option of camping. Higatangan Beach Resort also seems interesting.

I wonder if there’s more beaches or islands here to discover?

 

P.S. Don’t forget to read about our travel guide to Biliran and Leyte here. You might also be interested in:

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7 Comment

  1. Amazing! We’ve only been to Sambawan Island. Putting these islands in our bucket list when we go back to Biliran for another canyoning adventure.

  2. OMG! Your post makes me want to go snorkeling too. I just can’t help myself but get wowed on the beautiful landscape and the pristine waters. Traveling will really put out the best in every person. I feel it’s great to do soul searching in that kind of place.

  3. PiaDy says: Reply

    I’ve actually never heard of Biliran before this post so thanks for sharing! Your pictures are absolutely breathtaking! I really love that it’s not as commercialized as the more popular beaches in the Philippines. My husband’s mom is from Leyte so maybe it’s high time we make the trip.

  4. I have never heard of Biliran before. Wow! Higatangan looks really nice, especially since it’s corals are likely far less damaged than those in the resorts I’ve been to with snorkeling activities. ((I just wanna say I am glad each time I learn about a new place in the Philippine Islands. Your blog has been very helpful!!)

  5. Oh wow! Those views are absolutely stunning. I might be visiting Asia for the first time in my life next year and I really look forward to see all that beautiful nature there. I love all that blue sea, green grass and mystical caves there. And I bet the water was super warm and great for swimming and diving? 🙂

  6. aicabatoon says: Reply

    I’m also in awe just by looking at those amazing photos you took!! 🙂 Those islands are beautiful. Too bad you had to skip an island, though. Thank you so much for sharing. <3

  7. Indeed our country is rich in beautiful places. Ive never been to any of these places and its all new to my ear. It suddenly urged me to book a vacation somewhere the same. We actually never had a summer getaway yet this year. Nay! Your photos were all stunning by the way 🙂

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