Here’s our backpacking trip to Biliran and Leyte! These provinces are close to each other so you can explore them via Tacloban Airport.
- Biliran is a small province and can be explored in 2-3 days. The main activities here include visiting waterfalls and island hopping.
- Leyte is definitely bigger, with lots of attractions. A fellow blogger says that if you like to explore the southern area alone, you will need about 2 weeks. Some of the most visited places in Leyte include Kalanggaman Island, Cuatro Islas, and Canigao Island.
- You might consider doing a separate trip each for Biliran and Leyte.
This itinerary covers chasing waterfalls and island hopping in Biliran and island hopping in Cuatro Islas and Canigao Island in Leyte.
We haven’t been to Canigao Island but I added it since it’s just close to Cuatro Islas. Our actual trip was just 4 days, but I have written a guide for 5 days because it’s more sulit and sensible, in my opinion.
Now let’s get on with the details!
How to get here
The common jump-off point to either Biliran or Leyte is Tacloban Airport.
Tacloban to Biliran
- From Tacloban Airport, there are vans that depart to Naval (Biliran). A cheaper option is to ride a jeep to Van Van or Dup Tours Terminal in the downtown or Tacloban Grand Terminal. From there, ride van or bus to Naval (Biliran). Travel time is 2.5 hours.
Biliran to Leyte
- From Biliran, ride a van bound for Ormoc City.
- To get to Cuatro Islas: From Ormoc City. ride a van bound for Maasin and get off at Inopacan. Let the driver know to let you off at the municipal hall. Registration area for island hopping can be found at the back of the municipal hall. Travel time is about 2 hours.
- To get to Canigao Island: Ride a van bound fo Maasin and get off at Brgy. Maitum in Matalom. From Inopacan, it is only 30 minutes away.
To get back to Tacloban City, you can ride a van directly bound for Tacloban City. If there are no vans available, you can ride a van bound for Ormoc City and then transfer to another van going to Tacloban City. This is a longer route but it’s easier especially during peak time.
5 Days Itinerary to Biliran and Leyte
Here’s a sample itinerary to Biliran and Cuatro Islas in Leyte.
|Day 0||Flight from Manila to Tacloban City|
Ride a van to Naval, Biliran
Check in at selected accommodation
|Day 1 – Biliran||Chasing waterfalls|
|Day 2 – Biliran||Island hopping (Sambawan Island and other islands)|
|Day 3 – 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 in Cuatro Islas
Overnight in Digyo Island
|Day 4 – Leyte||Canigao Island / overnight stay|
|Day 5||Back to Tacloban City|
Day 1 – Chasing waterfalls in Biliran
Visiting waterfalls in Biliran can be done in a day. Although there are reportedly 30 waterfalls in this province, most of them are not visited either due to accessibility or the size of the fall. The most popular waterfalls in Biliran are Ulan-Ulan Falls and Tinago Falls.
There are a total of 30 waterfalls in Biliran. Only a handful are accessible or open to tourists. Ulan-Ulan Falls and Tinago Falls are the most popular waterfalls here.
We managed to see four waterfalls in one day: Ulan-Ulan Falls, Recoletos Falls, Pondol Falls, and Tinago Falls. Ulan-Ulan Falls is the most beautiful waterfall I’d seen — it’s located in the midst of a jungle, natural and undisturbed. It stands at about 100 feet high, with small umbrella pockets that gives it a unique look.
The Biliran waterfalls tour can be done in a half-day or whole day. We prefer allocating a whole day since we wouldn’t be in a rush.
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. You can also book ahead. We have included a recommended guide below.
There is no standard rate for habal-habal tour. It ranges from 1000 for a whole-day tour, good for 2 people.
- Kuya Fernando (habal-habal guide): 09073283676
Day 2 – Island hopping in Biliran
Arranging a trip to Sambawan Island was a bit tricky given that public transfer is not available on Sundays and chartering a whole boat is expensive. There were only 2 of us, and we didn’t want to shell out thousands for this.
Luckily, we found a sulit island hopping packaged tour for joiners.
We visited Tingkasan Bat Cave, Sambawan Island, Higatangan Island, and Dalutan Island. We didn’t have time to go to Capiñahan Island.
Sambawan Island is one of the most beautiful islands I’ve seen! I can’t believe that we visited in mid-summer and it wasn’t as crowded, compared to our previous visit to Kalanggaman Island. In fact, we were able to get some nice shots in the viewdeck overlooking the island.
We also enjoyed a sumptuous seafood buffet lunch, which includes shrimps and crabs.
Hali and I really enjoyed our island hopping tour.
Day 3 – Island hopping in Cuatro Islas
Cuatro Islas is composed of Mahaba Island, Digyo Island, Apid Island, and Himokilan Island. It used to be possible to visit all four islands in one tour, but the appropriate barangays have implemented new regulations on which LGU handles the tourists.
Mahaba Island and Digyo Island are under Inopacan, while Apid Island and Himokilan Island are under Hindang.
We chartered a boat in Inopacan to see Digyo Island and Mahaba Island. Digyo Island has a nice sand bar similar to Kalanggaman Island and Mahaba Island has a nice shore with a selected portion designated as sanctuary.
From thereon, we stayed overnight in Digyo Island. The morning after, our boatman also took us quickly. to see Apid Island and Himokilan Island. These are residential islands and in my opinion can be skipped entirely, so don’t feel bad about visiting only Digyo Island and Mahaba Island because those are the best for island hopping in Cuatro Islas.
Overall, Cuatro Islas is okay but it didn’t really give me a “wow” factor.
Day 4 – Canigao Island
Canigao Island is a small island with powdery white sand and clear water. It used to be a fishers’ sanctuary until it became a popular summer destination in Leyte.
The north and west side of the island is considered a protected sanctuary.
There are cottages here where you can stay overnight. You can swim, eat fresh seafood sold by the fishers in the area, and snorkel outside the sanctuary.
Where to stay
Here are the resorts you can stay at in Biliran:
- Talahid Resort
- Agta Beach Resort – Book discounted rooms here
We stayed at Talahid Resort (also known as Coco Grove Resort) in Talahid, which has reasonable rates. It’s also very relaxing and has one of the calmest beach shores I’ve seen. Beach sunset is beautiful. 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.
Here are other budget accommodations in Naval (town proper):
- TJ Pension House
- Marvin’s Seaside Inn – Book discounted rooms here
- GV Hotel – Book discounted rooms here
- D Mei Residence Inn – Book discounted rooms here
If island hopping in Cuatro Islas, you can stay at Digyo Island. There are limited cottages available, so you might want to book ahead if possible.
Similarly, there are cottages and rooms available for overnight stay in Canigao Island.
Rates and Expenses
Hali and I took this trip in 2017. Our budget then was about P7000 – 8000 each.
Here I have listed the major expenses. Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):
P1000 (good for 2 people)
Boat transfer / island hopping tour:
Option 1: Passenger boat from Maripipi to Sambawan Island – P800 (good for 5 pax)
Option 2: Charter private boat to Sambawan Island – P3000-3500 (capacity depends on boat size)
Option 3: Joiner tour for island hopping to 5 islands including Sambawan Island (includes fees, lunch, snorkeling gears) – P2000 per person (or depending on tour size)
Sambawan Island: Entrance fee – P100 (day tour) or P200 (overnight) / Cottage – P1500-2500 (overnight)
Resort or lodging: room – P700-1000 (good for 2 people)
P3000 (good up to 10 people) / P4000 (good up to 20 people)
Digyo Island: Cottage – P500 (day tour; plus P50 for overnight stay)
Transfer via passenger boat:
P65 per person
Entrance fee – P40
Cottage – P500 (day tour) or P700 (overnight) / Room – P1500
|Safe budget is P8000-9000 each (for a group of 5 pax)|
Reminders and Tips
Here are some reminders and tips before you go:
- As always, it’s best to travel with a group to share expenses with especially with island hopping tours.
- If you’re solo or a couple, it’s best to schedule your island hopping tours (particularly in Cuatro Islas) on a weekend so you can find other joiners.
- It’s possible to commute via passenger boat from Naval Port to Maripipi and then Maripipi to Sambawan Island. However, island hopping in the rest of the islands is an amazing experience so I recommend that you charter your own boat for island hopping or book a joiner tour.
- Bring powerbank. There are no working outlets in cottages in Digyo Island.
- Bring your own food before heading to Cuatro Islas. There are no restaurants in Digyo Island, but there is a sari-sari store. There is a market near Inopacan City Hall where you can buy meals.
Has this Itinerary to Biliran and Leyte been helpful to you? If you have comments or questions, let us know in the comment section below!
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).