Sambawan Island: The Pride of Biliran

Approaching Sambawan Island
Approaching Sambawan Island

I never knew there was a province named Biliran until I saw a picture of a hill overlooking an island similar to Cabugao Gamay. I also never knew that Biliran cradles a few astonishing islands. Sambawan Island is one of them. It is a long stretch of skeleton island characterized by rock boulders, a cliff, rolling hills and a white sand beach on the middle part. Last year, I finally had the chance to visit Biliran along with some friends.

Sambawan Island
Sambawan Island's Shoreline

Clear crystal waters greeted us as we docked on the pleasant shore of Sambawan Island. The stretch of pristine white sand beach is unblemished. There were only a few people when we arrived. The island was very quiet and still. Perfect for an escape from the polluted urban jungle. The long trip was definitely worth it. We rented one small cottage and took a short rest before pitching our respective tents.

Overlooking Sambawan
Overlooking Sambawan Island with Maripipi Island on the background

The best vantage point of the island is on top of the hill that gives a 360-degree view of the island. Somehow my excitement was lessened when a concrete staircase appeared before my eyes when we made our way to the top. This man-made structure have diminished the point of exploring such a wonderful creation. Excuse me, that's me being a mountaineer talking.

After a five-minute hike, we were on top of the island. I marveled at the beauty right before me. Tall cogon grasses covered much of the landscape while piles of boulder rocks make up the rest of the island. The conic volcano of Maripipi Island stands proud in the background. I cannot describe the reaction on the faces of everyone, perhaps they were mesmerized too. The elongated island looked like three different islets since it was high tide.

Overlooking Sambawan Island
Overlooking the other side of Sambawan Island

The southern side of the island boasts of a rolling hill sloping downwards to the rocky shore. We wanted to explore and go to the other end of the island but got ticked off the idea since it was already late in the afternoon. We enjoyed our stay in Sambawan and hoped we will be able to go back to explore the island again and perhaps Maripipi Island, too.

Waiting for sunset

On top of Sambawan Island
On top of Sambawan Island

Exploring Sambawan Island is part of my 7-day Eastern Visayas trip.

Sambawan Island can be reached via Tacloban City with domestic flights from Manila and Cebu going here. From the airport, take a cab and alight at the van terminal bound for Naval located in the corner of P Burgos and Salazar Streets (van fare is around P150). Travel time is around 2 to 2.5 hours.

There are also ferries from Cebu City directly to Ormoc. From Ormoc, there are vans bound for Naval. Roro boats are also traveling from Cebu to Naval and vice versa, check the schedule here.

From Naval, wait for buses or jeepneys bound for Kawayan. Alight at the town proper and head to Kawayan Port. Trip is approximnately 45 minutes plus waiting time to fill up the bus/jeepney. Boats direct to Sambawan Island range from P1,000 for day trips to P2,000 for overnight trips and can accommodate up to 10 people. Travel time is 45-60 minutes depending on the time of day and current of waves.

The other alternative and a cheaper choice is to take the ferry boat to Maripipi that leaves Naval at 10:00AM and goes back to Naval from Maripipi at 5:00AM the following day. Ferry schedule is everyday except Sundays. Confirm schedules with boat owner, Felisa Mulles at +63 9057815295. Fare is P60 and travel time is approximately 2 hours. From Maripipi, you can hire a boat for a round trip to Sambawan and back to Maripipi for P500 depending on your haggling skills. Travel time is 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day and current of waves.

If you are staying in Agta Beach Resort, you may get ask for help from Melo Sabitsana.

What you should know:

  1. There is no water and food supplies in Sambawan, only a small store that sells junk food.
  2. It is recommended to buy food and supplies in Naval if you intend to spend a night here.
  3. Entrance fee is Php 50.
  4. Cottage is Php 500.
  5. You can rent 2"-mattresses here for Php 100.
  6. Camping is allowed.
  7. There is freshwater in the island for Php 10 per pail.
  8. The best time to come is during the morning when the beach is facing the sun.
  9. Activities include swimming, snorkeling, beach bumming and hiking.

Related Articles:

Chasing Waterfalls: Tinago Falls of Biliran

Chasing Waterfalls in Almeria, Biliran: Ulan-ulan and Recoletos Falls

The Unchartered Dalutan and Capinahan Islands of Almeria

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  1. Do you have any contact boatman we hire a direct boatrip from Kayawan to Sambawan. I want to skip Maripipi in visiting the island. Thanks for sharing this guide!

    1. Agta Beach Resort have their own boat where you can go directly from their resort to Sambawan, i also got our boat there going to the islands of Dalutan and Capinahan.

  2. How much do they charge from Agta Beach Resort?

    1. cant remember the rates sir, this was 3 years ago. they do have a Facebook Page and I included a link above to the FB account of Melo Sabitsana, the Manager/Owner of Agta Beach Resort.

    2. Thanks for sharing and I also saw the fb page. Your travelogue was useful.

    3. But long is the travel from Agta to Sambawan via boat? Is it really far?

  3. for bigger boats, it can be reached in an hour. for the smaller ones, it may take around two hours.