Do you believe in love at first sight? I certainly do and I am not referring to a person but with a place. I’ve seen a photo of a crescent-shaped island named Sambawan Island years ago and I just fell in love.
My husband was there around 5 years ago (that’s where I learned about the island) and the view was breathtaking. I thought to myself that one day I’ll visit and see that view myself.
And when the opportunity to do so finally arrived, I couldn’t be more excited to see this gem in the province of Biliran.
Biliran has been in the shadow of its more popular neighbour province Leyte for the past years. Only lately has it slowly opened its doors to its amazing beaches that could rival even the most beautiful ones in the Philippines including Palawan and Cebu!
Sambawan Island, between the Maripipi and Biliran, is an island that has slowly gaining popularity to the locals and tourists alike. It’s white sands, blue waters and topping it off with thriving marine life, make it one of Biliran’s must-see destination.
Apart from the white sandy beach, the island is a series of inter-connecting stony islets with rocky and grassy terrain. This makes it, in my opinion, beautiful and unique especially if seen from above.
The rocky terrain and interconnecting islet vaguely reminded me of Funtastic Island in Gibitngil. All those islets connected with bridges does have its charm.
Table of Contents
- How To Get To Sambawan Island
- What are the Facilities and Amenities in Sambawan Island
- Things To Do in Sambawan Island
- Travel Tips When Visiting
How To Get To Sambawan Island
Sambawan Island can be reached through two (2) main islands: Biliran and Maripipi. If you are coming in from Manila and will be heading to Sambawan Island immediately, the best way will be to take a bus or a van going to Naval. Fare is around 250 Php with travel time of approximately 2-3 hours depending on the speed.
Or if you are coming in from Cebu, take the fast craft or slow boat going to Ormoc City. From there, take the bus or a van going to Naval.
Once on board the van/ bus, you may ask the driver to drop you off at the Kawayan port going to Sambawan Island. At drop off, ask locals to point you to the port.
As per my husband’ previous trip, you can just walk going to the port as it is near. In case you miss it, alight at Naval Proper and ride a the local jeepney or hire a habal-habal going to Kawayan Port.
At the port, you can hire a boat to take you to the island. Boat rental starts at 3,000 Php to 12,000 Php, depending on the seating capacity and with travel time of around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Please do take note that rates may change accordingly. It would be more cheaper if you go with a group to divide the cost between you (like we did).
If you want to explore Maripipi first, you can catch a ferry from Naval Port where fare is around 100 Php and travel time can take up to 1.5 hours.
The ferry going to Maripipi is scheduled so better check out the time and date fo your arrival. Usually, they leave for Maripipi at 10 AM daily except on Sundays.
From Maripipi hire a habal-habal (local term for a motorcycle/ scooter) to Brgy Ol-og with fare of around 75 Php per head.
Then take the boat going to Sambawan with travel time of 20 minutes and boat rental of around 600 Php good for 5-6 persons. Prices are also in approximation.
This is way cheaper but will definitely cost you time. It depends mostly on the number of persons you’re with and the time you have allotted for this trip.
What are the Facilities and Amenities in Sambawan Island
When my husband visited back then, the island was still very untouched. Some of the amenities (including the rooms) and the access towards the other part of the island was still not available.
During our visit, it can be noticed how time (and the resort’s efforts) have changed the island. Here are some of the facilities and amenities that you’ll expect when you visit:
Room Cottages for Overnight Stay
When we visited there were several big cottages that were for rent that ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 Php per day.
This depends on the capacity per room. The rooms can easily accommodate groups of 2-15 persons.
Our group rented a total of 2 rooms for the night. Originally, we were supposed to camp here, but our companions kindly shared us their room. The room had an attic that was still available so we were able to sleep with a roof above our heads.
Not missing out on a bit of star gazing, my husband and I spent hours doing so after dinner. It was so peaceful!
The room has beds with beddings, a toilet and bath. It also include some fresh water that you can use for taking a bath and washing the dishes.
The water is limited, however, and would depend on the type of cottage you have booked. Bigger cottages for 12-15 pax includes 200 liters of fresh water while the smaller cottage for 2-6 pax has free 100 liters of fresh water.
Once you run out of the supply, you will have to pay for the extra water consumed per litre.
Cottages for Day Use
If you’re there for the day only, you can rent one of the cottages/ beach hut available on the beach front for 300 to 1,000 Php.
My husband and his friends before was able to rent this along with pitching a few tents on the area. Some stayed inside the tent while others decided to sleep on the bench.
Grilling / Cooking Area
If you want some warm and freshly cooked food, you can easily do so at the island’s BBQ and cooking area. Just remember to purchase your supplies beforehand.
We were able to enjoy some delicious grilled food during dinner!
Canteen/ Convenience Store
This is the island’s canteen where canned goods and some supplies are sold. We never bought any items, however, because we already bought all our provisions with us.
Nevertheless, its presence is an assurance that you’ll survive the night just in case you forgot to bring along some basic items with you!
Things To Do in Sambawan Island
You will never get bored in the island for sure! Sambawan Island has a number of activities that you’ll enjoy including the following:
Swim in the island’s blue waters day and night! Sadly I was not able to take a swim because I had my period, but I did took a few nice walk on the shore and boy was the water cool to the skin and very clear!
I was tempted (like super tempted) to take a dip, but sadly did not give in. My husband did though and spent hours enjoying the water!
The island’s seabed is teeming with abundant marine life so if scuba diving is not for you, snorkelling will surely do! My husband saw some sea turtles once when he went out for a swim.
Scuba Dive and experience Sambawan’s underwater delights! Rental for scuba diving equipment is approximately at 2,500 Php.
We saw some local guides dressed and geared up for scuba diving on the day we left. Unfortunately, nobody from our group tried this activity.
Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
If you love kayaking, Sambawan Island has some kayaks for rent which is about 300 Php per hour. Some of the people in our group rented one and enjoyed paddling it out at the beach.
There are paddle boards available too.
You can use the kayak to go to the other part of Sambawan Island for some photo ops and avoid the trek that we did just to get this views. We saw a couple who did that and it was pretty convenient.
The island’s mountainous terrain is a perfect excuse to do some trekking. The resort (Sambawan Island is managed by the Sambawan Dive Camp and Beach Resort) has put up some concrete steps to make the ascent and descent easier.
And this is something that you should not miss. The views is breathtaking from above.
There are two 2 areas at the top that offers amazing background and climbing over rocks to get this shot is worth it!
Please do take note that the view deck is closed at 7 PM for safety reasons though.
At the beach, there’s a bridge or pathway that was built for easier access to the next area on the island. Some of the boats docked here. Ours, however, docked on the other side.
We were able to explore this part of the beach and even managed to climb up in hopes to reach another portion of the island for more views.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to do so as it was pretty steep. But we did get to enjoy the hike going up.
I hope they also improve this area here as the views of the cliff up close was beautiful! The first part of terrain was a bit inclined though so climbing up and going down was challenging (and I was wearing slippers at that time so it was pretty tricky).
Sunrise and Sunset from the Watchtower
The watch tower at the top of the hill is great for sunset and sunrise watching. Unfortunately we did not capture the sunrise from the island as it was gloomy in the morning.
It was also the reason why we left Sambawan Island at 10 AM instead of the agreed 7AM as the waves were rough.
We did saw the amazing sunset and golden hour so it was still a good thing.
Despite the gloomy weather the following day, I found the view from the watch tower very relaxing and calming.
If camping is what you prefer, you may certainly do so at Sambawan Island. The island has some long stretch of white sands that you can put up your tent.
Please take note that there is a pitching fee of 100 Php for small tents.
Travel Tips When Visiting
1. Purchase your supplies needed for the trip beforehand to cut cost. There is a small canteen/ convenience store at the island with your basic needs just in case.
2. Rough sea conditions are sometimes expected so better travel there in the morning when it is more calm. Expect rougher waves after 5 PM. My husband vaguely remembers their previous trip with friends where the sea was rough. The waves were pretty high and they had to endure a longer travel time from Naval to Sambawan Island and vice versa.
3. An entrance and environmental fee of 100 Php per head is collected. There is also a docking fee for boats chartered here which is around 50 – 300 Php depending on the size of the boat.
4. Electricity at the island is available only from 6 PM until 6 AM the following day. So bring power banks with you just in case. We use Silvertech as our powerbank for our trips. It can charge up to 3 mobile units and is very handy.
5. If you can, bring some electrical extensions especially if you’re with a big group so that you can charge your phones simultaneously.
And don’t forget to bring your travel essentials! Most of this items on our island hopping packing list will come very handy!
Our stay was short but I hope to return and maybe do more trekking and kayaking around the island. I’m pretty sure snorkelling here is also a great activity.
Have you been to the Sambawan Island? Or is there as island that’s been on your list for so long that when you finally get to visit it, it was amazing? Share it with us!
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I’ve never even heard of this island before! It looks great! Though, I am a fan of long showers…but I think I’d suck it up for these views!
I’m sure you’ll love it.. The view is definitely worth it!
I’d never heard of this place until now! very beautiful.
It is beautiful 🙂 Thank you for dropping by, Zoe!
My God! A beach hut in such an amazing place for so little! Wow! The Philippinnes have been in my bucket list for so long that they almost own it hahaha. In any case, thanks for a post in such detail, from your pics I can tell you had a blast!
You should come, Jenn.. 🙂 We did.. It was a fun trip!
Thank you for this lovely post! This place looks amazing, I would love to visit 🙂
Thank you, Piia!
Such a beautiful view, no wonder you wanted to see it yourself too. Honestly I have never heard of that island before, but your post really makes me want to go there too. 🙂
Oh my goodness, this looks like an island paradise! I’m a beach baby and a huge fan of hiking, so this looks like the place I need to add to my bucket list ASAP. Great pictures!
I’m pretty sure you’ll have a blast here then. 🙂 Thank you, Sarah!
Loved reading your post! You have mentioned all the information to help me plan for this trip. We are planning to visit later this year
Also the pictures are gorgeous
Awww.. Thank you, Mayuri!
I had never heard of this before but it was beautiful!!! A bummer to hear you couldn’t take a dip though. This definitely made the bucket list!
Agree.. Next time I’ll spend lots of time in the water!
Looks like a really nice place. I’m considering going to the Phillipines this year so I’ve saved this article for future use. Thanks for sharing 🙂
That’s so cool to hear! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
I have wanted to go to the Philippines for so long. Looks like you had a great time
You definitely should.. There are a lot of islands I’m sure you’ll love!
Wow this place truly does look amazing! Seems like there is so much to do and just one day isn’t enough! Thanks for sharing prices too, makes it easier to plan a budget! Love the pictures, it looks stunning here – saved it for when I get the chance to go!
You’re welcome Jacqueline! 🙂
I’ll be heading to the Philippines soon and would love to stay here!
That’s so cool! Include Leyte in your itinerary! 🙂
I have been to the Philippines many time but this is the first time I am hearing of Sambawan. It looks an amazing place to spend a few days just lazing around in those lovely cottages. Thanks for the useful tips in the end.c
Cool! You should definitely visit once you return. 🙂
This looks like a great place to stay and it looks like you can do some walks to the hill tops to take in the amazing views. Have marked down Sambawan Island as a possible destination to visit when I eventually get over to P’pines. Been on my list for a very long time.
Cross that bucketlist, Danik! I’m sure you’ll love the Philippines! 🙂
when it’s hot and the water looks this good-I’ll swim! Regardless of whether it is my woman-time or not. I’m curious to whether you heard anything while you were on these islands, about problems caused by rising sea levels?
Oh my God this looks so beautiful!! Would love to visit this place one day. Thank you so much for this article with wonderful photos!
There is no dearth of beautiful, untouched islands in the Philippines and I am not surprised that there is yet another one that I haven’t even heard of. Sanbawan Island looks fantastic, the white sandy beaches, the cottages, the convenience store, everything! Thanks for such a detailed guide on how to get there and where to stay.
Island travel is not something we have done, but do hope to. I like that you included prices for things because even if they change it will at least give me an idea of some of the costs to get there. It would be pretty cool to rent a kayak to get a better view of the island. I do like hiking though so wouldn’t mind going that way too. It’s too bad you didn’t get to swim the water looks so nice.
I too believe in love at first sight…yes with a place just like you 🙂
I feel I am already in love with Sambawan Island just looking at your pictures…the experience of actually being there would be so great!
I have heard of Biliran as the bank I used to work in Manila has a branch there. Other than that, I knew nothing of the place until now. This is a revelation as I think it is at par with the other islands in the Philippines. How many days would you recommend to stay and do all those activities you mentioned? Gazing stars in the night time would be an awesome experience!
I’d say a day or two will be enough. We stayed there for just one night and I think it’s not enough to do everything! 🙂
This is an absolute white sand paradise. I love the shots you have taken, especially the ones that seem from a hillock. The water looks perfect and your accommodation too, adds to the charm. Pity you missed out on Scuba for that would have been my first thing to do here. It also, seems reasonably priced. A beautiful capture of your experience
This is definitely the place to participate in outdoor activities! I’d love to go snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. The water looks so beautiful and I could just jump in right now.
Exactly the same thing has happened with me. I have fallen for Sambawan Island after seeing your pictures. It is beautiful beyond words. The white beaches, cottages, activities and conventional store everything looks great there. We really need to visit this place when travelling to Philippines. Thanks for the lovely guide.
Thank you, Suruchi! It was very beautiful! I hope you’d get to visit!
This one is really Beautiful, It looks such a amazing. I wish to visit on this Island with family.
Loved the plethora of activities you can indulge in while being here at the island. Beautiful pictures.
Planning to go visit Sambawan on June 13-14 for an overnight trip. Anyone want to share a boat?
2 lang kami 🙁
Hi Michael! That sounds like fun!
Wish I can go with you! 😀
planning to go there next week, yung 20 liters water, is that for drinking?
Hello Dee! Thank you for dropping by.. 🙂 The 20 liters are for taking a bath and washing dishes only. Hindi po sya pwede inumin.. Hope this helps.. And enjoy Sambawan! 🙂
Thanks! mejo na-confuse nga ko kanina if the water is drinking or for taking a bath. may makakainan naman po ng dinner and breakfast sa island? if yes, how are the prices and food?
Thanks for pointing that out 🙂 The island has a store where you can purchase supplies like canned goods and all that. But I’m not sure if they serve rice as electricity is limited. We brought our own food when we went there. Our tour group prepared the food for us, so you can also cook some 🙂
Do you have a contact for boat rental?
Hi Josie! Our main contact was our friend from Ludify Trips 🙂 You can reach out to them for the boat rentals. Here’s their FB page : https://www.facebook.com/LUDIFY.Trips/ . Hope this helps! 🙂
Hi! My friends and I are planning to visit this month. Do you have the contact numbers especially the Sambawan Island caretakers so that I could book in advance? Thanks!
Hello Kim! We had our trip planned by Ludify Trips. Feel free to contact them on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LUDIFY.Trips 🙂 Enjoy!
Wow there are so many nice view in the Philippines that are still now known yet to many tourist imagine we have 7000 islands
hi, this info is really helpful. planning to visit by next week to spend my b-day. thank you..
Thank you. Hope you have enjoyed your trip!