One of the best things you can do in Visayas is island hopping in Biliran. You can visit Sambawan Island — which is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines — along with other island attractions in the province.
Hali and I went here during our backpacking trip to Biliran and Leyte. This island hopping trip was actually my favorite activity among the others we’d done.
Here’s a Guide to Island Hopping in Biliran.
How to get to Biliran
Tacloban Airport is the common jump-off point to Biliran. Fare is about P120 per person. Travel time is 2.5 hours.
Island Hopping in Biliran
The main highlight when island hopping in Biliran is Sambawan Island. Most people visit only this place, but I’ll discuss how you can visit the rest of the islands too.
Also given are the current rates (updated as of 2020).
Option 1: Maripipi and Sambawan Island
Most backpackers visit Maripipi Island and Sambawan Island only because this route is serviceable by a passenger boat with daily trips.
Here are the ways you can visit Maripipi and Sambawan Island.
Via passsenger boat
- From Naval Port, ride a passenger boat to Maripipi Island. There are daily trips at 10AM except Sunday. Fare is P100 including terminal fee. Travel time is 2 hours. (Return trip from Maripipi Island to Naval Port is 5AM. )
- From Maripipi Island, charter a boat to Sambawan Island. Rate is P800 round trip (good up to 5 pax).
Via private boat
- Charter a private boat from Kawayan Port in the mailand. Rate is P1500-3000 round-trip (capacity depends on boat size).
- Another option is to charter a private boat c/o Agta Resort in Talahid. Rate is P3500 round-trip.
Option 2: Full island hopping tour
Not many people know that there are other islands you can see in Biliran. You can tour around Sambawan Island, Tingkasan Bat Cave, Higatangan Island, Dalutan Island, and Capiñahan Island.
You can charter a private boat for an island hopping tour or book a joiner tour.
Via private boat
We weren’t able to inquire about the costs of a private boat for island hopping but based on a round-trip transfer from mainland to Sambawan Island only, you might need to shell out more than P3000-3500.
Via joiner tour
Joiner tours aren’t as common in Biliran, so I suggest planning ahead to check schedules of tours.
We booked via Biliran Island Travel & Tours. Their current rate starts at P2000 per person.
Here are the detailed inclusions:
- Island hopping to Tingkasan Bat Cave, Sambawan Island, Higatangan Island, Dalutan Island, Capiñahan Island
- Buffet lunch, snorkel gear
We took this trip back in 2017 so the rate was much cheaper then. I found the package sulit, especially considering the generous seafood buffet and the fact that we were able to visit places other than Sambawan Island. Even today, in my opinion this is still a good deal especially if you’re solo/couple or in a small group.
Our Island Hopping Experience
These are the places we’d visited during our island hopping tour in Biliran.
Tingkasan Bat Cave
Tingkasan Bat Cave is a small sea cave located in Tingkasan Island.
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.
Sambawan Island is one of the two major islands in Biliran. It’s made up of interconnected land masses. It is surrounded by beautiful turquoise water where you can snorkel and dive. A watchtower at the top of the hill in the island offers an overlooking view of the surrounding.
Let me tell you. There are places that look better in photos and there are those too beautiful to be captured in camera. Sambawan Island belongs to the latter.
I’d read about Sambawan Island before but ignored it because the photos I saw didn’t have enough pull. It was picturesque, but so are other thousand locations in IG.
But when we approached the island, I was awed.
I initially thought that it was small, until I saw its surrounding grassy islets. We climbed the small hill to reach the watch tower, where guests often stay to witness the sunrise or sunset. There we took photos of the island including the iconic spot with the boulder.
We then swam in the white-sand beach. It was clear and refreshing.
Later on, we enjoyed a sumptuous seafood buffet prepare by our tour organizer. There were so many shrimps and crabs that I was so full!
We stayed here for around 3 hours. If I were to go back, I’d definitely stay for overnight.
Did you know the Milky Way is always visible in Biliran? Well, according to Hali’s friend, that is.
Higatangan Island is one of the more famous islands in Biliran. It has a beach resort for those who want an exclusive stay in the area.
Higatangan Island is known for its long sand bar, which changes its shape on different hours of the day. To be honest, I find it disappointing. There was a trail of trash in the sand bar and we joked about it shifting lines of trash instead of sand. I don’t know if it’s being maintained.
That saying, Higatangan Island has other things to offer. It has interesting rock formations that reminded me of Dapa Island in Burias Island. It also has a snorkeling area where we spent our time. I saw some coral species that I hadn’t seen in previous snorkeling trips.
My impression about Higatangan Island is that it’s a nice place to stay. We wanted to stay longer in the coral garden because we had a good time there.
Dalutan Island is a small island with a rocky shoreline. It’s rich in marine life, and it’s a great place for snorkeling and diving.
The island is visible from Talahid. In fact, you can rent a boat there for less than P1000.
We didn’t stay long in Dalutan Island since it was already 5 or 6PM at that time and there were joiners who needed to get back to the airport for their return flight.
Capiñahan Island is similar to Dalutan Island. It has a white-sand beach and snorkeling & diving sites.
It is now privately owned and has been developed as WAD Resort. It’s still open to tourists.
We weren’t able to visit this island due to time constraint and sea current condition.
Reminders and Tips
- Booking a joiner tour is the best way to island hop in Biliran. The disadvantage is that since you’re going with other tourists, the itinerary may be changed to accommodate the needs of other guests. In our case, there were guests that needed to get back to the city for their flights. We were able to visit Tingkasan Bat Cave, Sambawan Island, and Higatangan Island and then we only took a quick stop at Dalutan Island. We missed Capiñahan Island altogether.
Here are the things you should note about Sambawan Island, especially if you’re staying overnight:
- You can stay overnight in Sambawan Island. Open-air cottage is P500 and closed cottage starts at P1500 (good up to 5 people). You can also bring your own tent or rent one in the island.
- Sambawan Island offers various activities including snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and astrophotography.
- Electricity in the island only runs from 12 noon to 2AM.
Has this Guide to Island Hopping in Biliran been helpful to you? If you have comments or questions, let us know in the comment section below.
What to read next:
This is part of our backpacking trip to Biliran and Leyte. Here are the posts we’ve written for this trip:
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