Sambawan Island – A Complete Guide for Visitors

Take a break from the urban jungle this summer and escape to Leyte’s untouched island.

By Rheinalee Casupanan
April 05, 2017

The Stunning Wonder: Sambawan Island

Sambawan Island
Photo by RodelBontes via Flickr Creative Commons

More and more people are starting to be aware of the small and uninhabited island in the province of Biliran and located five kilometers away from the west coast of the municipality of Maripipi in Leyte. Known as Sambawan Island, this incredible piece of land with white sand beach, pristine waters, stunning corals, green landscapes, and tranquil atmosphere will easily attract travelers of all types, entrapping them all to its mesmerizing beauty and luring them into the temptation of an adventure.

If you’re thinking of rewarding yourself with a scenic and relaxing vacation, consider going on an escapade to Sambawan Island, a certified gem in Eastern Visayas.

What to Do

Many travelers who have been to Sambawan Island say that it is the place for people with an undying sense of adventure and love for tropical island life. Apart from the island’s picturesque wonder, it also offers exciting activities that are set to leave you with unforgettable experiences. It’s time to wear your thrill-seeking hats and make sure that you try these activities while you are on the island.

Go trekking at the hill for the 360-degree view of Sambawan

The amazing view at Sambawan Island
Photo by Jeff Zapanta of Travelmaker

All it takes is a five-minute hike for you to reach the top of the hill on Sambawan Island and gaze in awe at the stunning view. The long stretch of white sand beach with clear, turquoise waters is perfectly laid out before your eyes as if the island is aware of its own marvelous beauty. From the top of the hill, you can also see the volcano of the Maripipi Island standing proudly in the background—an additional flair to this mesmerizing scenery. There is also a watch tower specifically built to let you enjoy the spectacular view of both the sunrise and sunset.

Stargaze while camping at night

Travelers on a tight budget often choose to pitch a tent on the shores instead of renting a cottage, but it doesn’t mean they get anything less from Sambawan Island. This allows them to have the best view at night when thousands of stars in the clear sky appear. If you choose to witness this wonder, just brace yourself for the chilly breeze that will come from the northeast winds. Feel free to bring your own tent if you have one to save money.

Go kayaking

Boat at Sambawan Island
Photo by Jayson Arenas

Test your boating skills and try kayaking with your friends and loved ones at Sambawan Island. You’ll get a sneak peak of the island’s extensive wealth of corals and vast waters.

Try scuba diving and snorkeling

Sambawan Island is not a destination with pretentious beauty. Its stunning appeal extends up to its underwater world with vivid aquatic life. If you wish to feast your eyes on the island’s marine sanctuary, you can inquire at the onsite diving camp which offers rental services for scuba diving equipment. You may also bring your own scuba and snorkeling gears with you when you go to the island.

Hop to two more equally-stunning islands

Kalanggaman Island
Photo of Kalanggaman Island by Josienette Vinluan

You get to discover two more of Leyte’s hidden gems when you are at Sambawan Island. First on the list is Kalanggaman Island, another postcard-perfect virgin island at Palompon, Leyte. Its crystal clear waters and long, powdery white sand bars bring you an extraordinary sense of calm. It gets even more amazing when you visit Cuatro Islas, because getting there means exploring four more different islets at once. Since the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) discovered 400 more islands in our country, you may not want to miss the opportunity of seeing more of the Philippines’ natural beauty.

Enjoy the island’s sidetrips

Falls at Sambawan Island
Photo by Jayson Arenas

One of the things that make your Sambawan Island trip different from your other beach getaways is the sidetrips available. Instead of just hopping from one island to another, Sambawan Island also allows you to see three different waterfalls—Ulan-Ulan, Recoletos, and Tinago Falls—all in just one boat trip.

How to Get There

Welcome to Sambawan Island
Photo by Jeff Zapanta of Travelmaker

Setting foot at Sambawan Island is like discovering a place for the first time. Tourists have just recently been attracted to this once untouched island, but its magnificent beauty still fascinates them like a hidden paradise. With that, here’s a step-by-step guide to reach Sambawan Island:

  1. Book a flight to Tacloban City in Leyte, the jumping off point to the island as well as the entire Biliran Province. Local airlines offer direct flights to the city from Manila; although if you are coming from Cebu, you may choose to ride the fast craft to Ormoc then go to Tacloban by riding a van.

  2. From Tacloban City, take a van and prepare at least PHP 120.00 for your trip bound for Naval. The trip will take approximately two hours and a half.

  3. Once you arrive at Naval, take the passenger boat to Maripipi Island. This two-hour trip should cost you around PHP 70.00 for the terminal fee and the boat fare. Note that this boat is the only one that goes to Maripipi and it leaves at 10:00 AM daily except Sundays. This same boat, then, leaves Maripipi to head back to Naval the following day.

  4. From Maripipi Island, ride a motorbike or habal-habal to Barangay Ol-og, which will cost you PHP 50.00 per person.

  5. Rent a boat to Sambawan Island. A round trip boat should cost PHP 500.00 for five (5) people. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the island when you see a very festive welcome signage made from bamboo and several bilao.

For a more hassle-free trip, you may opt to rent a private boat to Sambawan Island from the Naval Port. A group of 10 to 15 travelers should fit in a boat that can be rented for PHP 10,000.00, while large groups (30 to 60 people) should rent the bigger boat for approximately PHP 12,000.00 to PHP 14,000.00.

Island Expenses

Perhaps the main reason why Sambawan Island never loses its wonder is because of the locals who see to it that the island is well taken care of. There is a nipa hut that serves as the registration area where caretakers collect PHP 100.00 per head for the island’s entrance and environmental fee.

Because of the different activities the island offers, you might encounter other fees while you’re enjoying your vacation such as the following:

expenses at Sambawan Island

While additional expenses may seem like it will hurt your pocket, don’t worry because it is not necessary for you to avail all these. You are always free to bring your own equipment that you can use on the island.

Sambawan Island Travel Tips

Calm beach of Cuatro Islas
Photo of Cuatros Islas by Josienette Vinluan

  • Prepare the supplies you need for your trip beforehand. Although there is a convenience store on the island that sells basic island essentials and snacks, you can always cut costs if you bring your own food and other provisions.

  • There is no water supply at Sambawan, so it will be wise for you to bring your own drinking water. Fresh water, however, is available for PHP 10.00 per pail.

  • Another way for you to lessen your expenses is to bring your own tent as well as scuba and snorkeling gears.

  • The best time to travel to the island is during the dry season (April to June), and it is recommended that you wake up early in the morning so you can catch the dazzling sunrise view.

  • Charge up your gadgets and power banks because electricity on the island only runs from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM. In case of any emergency, you can charge your gadgets in the island’s convenience store for a fee.

For the longest time, the island province of Biliran has been off the radar of most tourists. Before, it has just lived within the shadows of Leyte, until such time that Sambawan Island found ways to get itself noticed by curious travelers. It’s not even surprising that the natural charm of Sambawan had already been exposed for the entire world to see. It had just always been a matter of when, because such beauty is impossible to remain unnoticed. It was a secret that’s just waiting to be revealed.