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Sambawan Island Travel Guide: How to Get There

Sambawan Island Travel Guide: How to Get There

One Friday eve, I went to Cebu’s port and got on a ferry bound for Palompon, Leyte. Everything was just random and had no fix itinerary in mind. However, what I had been thinking that moment was spending a night camp in Kalanggaman, an island floating off the coast of the boat’s destination.

Short Introduction of my Random Trip

The dawn chilled a bit as I walk around Palompon. The town was deeply asleep, except for the few “sikad” (bicycle with side car used to convey passengers in sort distances) drivers who were busy attending the new arrivals and some teens and few adults who enjoyed staying late for some reasons.

I realized that 2:30AM was too early to knock on the Tourism office door to book for a slot to Kalanggaman, hence, I looked for a place to spend the rest of the dawn.

It was surprisingly loud in the land transport terminal. A nearby “videoke” bar was alive and some eateries and bakeries are open to serve hot drinks, etc. So I stayed there for a while, talked to some random strangers, and then weighed my options.

Sambawan Island, Maripipi, Biliran

Sambawan Island, Maripipi, Biliran

Sambawan Island has long been on my travel list. I’ve done some research before on how to get to the island. Going there solo, is a bit pricey though. So that morning, I wasn’t considering Sambawan Island as an option.

As early as 3:00AM, vans and buses bound for Tacloban and Ormoc started to queue. And then suddenly, Sambawan came to mind. And for some reasons, my focus switched to Sambawan and forgot everything about Kalanggaman.

Before the sunrise, I found myself boarding a bus to Ormoc and then a van to Naval, Biliran.

Luckily, I met a couple (Arianne and Mark) who were Sambawan-bound in Naval port, I immediately made acquaintance and then agreed to share the boat expenses.

It was in Sambawan when I accidentally dropped my phone in the water. As of this writing, the phone is still in the service center and needs battery and motherboard replacement. The bill will cost me a fortune.

Sambawan Island

Completing the stretch

How to get there

If you are coming from Manila, you may take a flight to Tacloban. If you are coming from Cebu, you may either take a flight to Tacloban or a ferry to Ormoc.

  • From either Tacloban or Ormoc, you may hop on a van bound for Naval, Biliran. The fare is ₱130 and the travel time is 2 hours.
  • From Naval pier, board an outrigger passenger boat to Maripipi. The boat fare is ₱60. There are three boats that travel the Naval-Maripipi route. Ma. Lourdes docks at Maripipi town proper (Brgy. Ermita) while Viga Express unloads passengers at Binalayan port. The earliest boat leaves Naval at 10:00AM and the other two follow 30 minutes after. The boats return to Naval the following day at 04:30, 05:00, and 05:30AM respectively.
    Note that there are no ferry transfers during Sunday. Your only option is to take the more expensive “pakyaw” (charter) from Kawayan in mainland Biliran to Maripi (₱600/way) or directly from Kawayan to Sambawan (₱3000 two-way for up to 10 passengers).
  • From your port in Maripipi, you can take habal-habal, the only mode of transport in the island, to Sambawan boat station in Barangay Ol-og. The fare is ₱50 but they usually charge ₱100 especially for obvious tourists (with all the costumes and sunglasses).
  • The boat transfer from Barangay Ol-og to Sambawan Island will cost you ₱500 for two way. It can carry 1 to 5 passengers. The bigger you are in a group, the cheaper you have to shell out. You do not need to contact them before hand because the boats are operated by Sambawan operators. The stand-by personnel at the boat station will arrange a boat transfer for you.

Reminder: Make sure you choose a flight or boat with earliest arrival in Tacloban or Ormoc. Travel time to Naval could exceed 2 hours while the boat that will bring you to Maripipi from Naval leaves around 10:00AM.

Pebbly Beach of Sambawan Island

Pebbly Beach of Sambawan Island

Sambawan Island Facilities and Fees

  • The island is operated by private individuals and call it Sambawan Dive Camp & Beach Resort. The entrance fee is ₱80 and the environmental fee is ₱20.
  • If you are staying overnight with your tent, you have to pay additional ₱100/tent. Larger tents do have higher rates.
  • Roll mats with pillow and blanket can be rented at ₱100 per night.
  • Snorkels are available for rent for only ₱150/day.
  • Paddle boats (sagwan) can be rented for ₱300/day.
  • The island has generator which is only operational from 06:00PM to 05:00AM.
  • Phone charging is available during these hours (when the generator is on) and will cost you ₱10 per full charge.
  • Wash room and comfort rooms are available but the water coming out from the faucet is seawater.
  • Non-portable fresh water is also available for ₱25 per 4-gallon container. I found it soft so I think it’s rain water.
Sambawan dive camp and beach resort marker

Sambawan dive camp and beach resort marker

Where to stay

  • If you prefer for a day tour in Sambawan, homestays are available in Maripipi town proper. A friend recommended Judith Gaviola’s Homestay (+63 929 766 9790).
  • In the Island, you may pitch you own tent (₱100/tent per night) or choose from the following options:
    • Sambawan have 3 rooms with own CR and balcony that can house up to 8 individuals. Each room is for rent for ₱2,500 (or ₱2,800 during peak season starting March 16).
    • Cottages can be rented for ₱500 (or ₱650 during peak season starting March 16)
    • Kamalig can be rented for ₱1,000 (or ₱1,200 during peak season starting March 16).

Sambawan Stretch

Things to do

  • Beach bumming. The beach is not actually white sand but crushed corals or pebbles.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Boating or kayaking.
  • Trekking.
  • Sunset and sunrise watching. The watch tower gives you an awesome view of the island.
Sambawan Island

Sambawan Island

  • I heard beaches in Palompon aren’t that tourist attractive anymore after Yolanda. But I think I heard and thought wrong, this place looks peaceful and relaxing!

  • hannafrej

    Wow! Never heard of this place until today. Will surely include this on my list. 🙂

  • Another place to visit! Thanks for sharing. The place looks really wonderful! <3

    x, Kat of Nested Thoughts


    Interesting place. I have to save up to go here I guess, so many transport fees hehehe. I hope their will be an easier way to get there in the future.

  • Hoven Encontro

    wow, this would surely go to my bucket list and also this guide!

  • Akirah

    I didn’t know that this beautiful island exist. Wow.. after kalanggaman, this one must be included on my bucketlist. 🙂