Now here’s the technical part of our trip in Leyte: a travel guide to Sambawan Island in Biliran and Cuatro Islas in southern Leyte. I hope you weren’t totally discouraged with what I wrote last time and have a better time than we did.
Exploring Biliran and Cuatro Islas in 4-5 days is actually a stretch. I know it’s common for local backpackers to move around a lot in order to see as many places as possible. Still, I’ll have to agree with others I’ve talked with that it’s better to do a separate trip each for Biliran and Leyte.
In its own way, I did enjoy Biliran. If I were to do this again I’d probably stay longer in here, particularly Sambawan Island and explore some of the islands that we missed (Dalutan and Capinahan islands) as well as a few interesting beach resorts in the area (Higatangan Beach Resort, for instance).
Trivia: Did you know that the Milky Way can be seen in Biliran?
Cuatro Islas for me is just okay. Not that amazing, but still worth a visit. I said the same thing about Kalanggaman Island by the way, so that might give you an idea of my standards when it comes to beaches.
As you know, Cuatro Islas is composed for four islands. Digyo Island has two sand bars, one of which is a bit like that in Kalanggaman Island, which I know Instagrammers will love. Mahaba Island is very nice and a portion of it is considered protected sanctuary. Apid Island and Himokilan Island (not accessible from Inopacan) are residential and in my opinion can be skipped entirely.
So far I’d been to Leyte twice, and I’m still looking for that place that for me has a “wow” factor. I included other attractions in Biliran and Leyte below, in case you’re like me who want to explore some place else.
4-Day Itinerary to Biliran and Cuatro Islas
– Flight from Manila to Tacloban City
– Ride a jeep to SM Savemore, walk to van terminal
– Ride a van to Naval, Biliran
– Check in at selected accommodation
Day 1 – Biliran
– Explore waterfalls
Day 2 – Biliran
– Island hopping
Day 3 – Cuatro Islas, Leyte
– 4:00AM – Check out at accommodation
– 4:30AM – Take first van schedule to Ormoc City, Leyte
– Ride van to Maasin, get off at Inopacan
– Island hopping, overnight in Digyo Island
– Back to Tacloban City
There are also vans right outside Tacloban Airport but fare is more expensive because it’s pakyawan.
In Inopacan, vans going back directly to Tacloban City are far and between and often full. You might have to take one en route to Ormoc City instead and then transfer to another van to Tacloban City. The latter is more time consuming at 4 hours of travel time.
Other places of interest in Biliran and Leyte
Some people also squeeze in a day tour to Kalanggaman Island in Palompon since it’s just about 3 hours away from Tacloban City or Naval, but we skipped that since we’d already been there last summer. Other destinations in Leyte include Canigao Island in Matalom and Limawasa Island. A fellow blogger says it will take 2 weeks to tour southern Leyte, so I’m guessing there’s still a lot we haven’t covered.
I don’t think there’s much to do in Tacloban City except for the few usual touristy things (see San Juanico Bridge, etc.), but food tripping seems like a good idea.
Waterfalls tour in Biliran
There are a total of 30 waterfalls in Biliran, although only few are commonly visited by tourists. As far as I know, Ulan-Ulan Falls and Tinago Falls are the best among these.
It’s recommended to allot a whole day for exploring the waterfalls in Biliran. Habal-habal rate is P500 above. I won’t recommend our guide since we weren’t happy with him, but a fellow traveler I met in Biliran gave me another contact:
- Kuya Fernando, 0907-328-3676
There’s a lot of habal-habal rides in Naval town and Talahid so it should be easy to get a tour there and then.
Island hopping in Biliran
If you’ve already read other blogs, you’ll know that there two options to get to Sambawan Island.
Option A: Take the 10AM passenger boat from Naval port to Maripipi (P75 fare). Charter a boat to Sambawan Island (P500 round trip). The next morning, take the 5AM boat ride back to Naval port.
Option B: From Kawayan port, charter a private boat to Sambawan Island (P1500-3000 round trip).
Option A is more time consuming but it’s also cheaper. Budget travelers, especially those in solo or two’s, opt to go with this.
Because of our schedule (Friday to Tuesday), we found that getting to Sambawan Island is a bit tricky. There are no boat transfers during Sundays. So if we went with option A, we’d be stuck in Maripipi until Monday and we’d run out of time for other things. We can go with option B, but if we wanted to visit other islands as well I’m guessing the cost will be around P4000.
There’s another option, but it’s not any better. I find the price outrageous, to be honest. Sambawan Island isn’t even that far.
Option C: Charter a private boat for island hopping from Talahid, c/o Agta Resort. A boat to Sambawan Island costs P3500.
Luckily, we found this sulit island hopping package tour by Biliran Island Travel and Tours. It costs P1699 each person and includes the following:
- Tingkasan Bat Cave, Sambawan Island, Higatangan Island, Dalutan Island, Capiñahan Island
- Buffet lunch, snorkel gear
I highly recommend this package by Kuya Marlon. It’s not only cheaper, Kuya Marlon is also very hands-on and prepared the best seafood buffet I’ve had. We had so many shrimps and crabs I felt so bloated afterwards. (Please say Hello for us! You will, will you?)
Cuatro Islas in Leyte
Boats that offer island hopping to Cuatro Islas are located at the port at the back of the municipal hall in Inopacan. You can share a boat with other tourists. If you’re there on a weekday, there’s a chance you might not find other tourists to share expenses with (happened to us).
For 10 people or less, island hopping rate is P2500 and P3000 if overnight. Entrance fee in Digyo Island is P50 per person. Cottage rent is P500, with check out time at 9AM the next day. The cottage is a basic one, no frills. No pillows or bedding. There is no electricity except for the lights outside.
As of this writing, there are only 6 available cottages in Digyo Island. I’m not sure if you can reserve in advance because I can’t find any contact details with the Inopacan tourism.
There are no restaurants in Cuatro Islas, but there’s a sari-sari store in the island.
We stayed at Talahid Resort (aka Coco Grove Resort) in Talahid. It’s beside Agta Beach Resort, but room rates here are cheaper. It’s also very relaxing and has one of the calmest beach shores I’ve seen. Beach sunset is beautiful. These are the room rates for 1-2 people:
- Native fan room – P350
- Aircon room – P500, P700 (with cable TV)
There’s a small sari-sari store in Talahid Beach Resort but they have no restaurant. You have to cross to Agta Cafe on the other side or bring your own food from town. I suggest doing the latter if you’re on a budget.
After island hopping, we stayed in the town of Naval so we could catch the early public transport to Ormoc City. We had a room at TJ Pension House, which is just walking distance from the terminal.
- Aircon room with common CR – P570
- Aircon with own CR – P700
Planning to visit this place soon? Check out the lowest prices of accommodations here.
I wasn’t able to take note of how much we spent. Possibly P7000-8000 each. Like I said, island hopping rates are expensive for couple travelers. What you can do is find other travelers in FB groups in advance or plan your island hops on weekends so you’d be sure to find other joiners.
That’s it. Have this travel guide to Biliran and Cuatro Islas in Leyte been helpful? Anything you’d like to ask or share? 🙂