That Island Called Sambawan

At the northern part of Leyte lies one of the country’s newest and smallest provinces. This island province calls itself Biliran. 2 hours off the coast of Biliran points to our next destination- an isolated island gaining popularity these past months- Sambawan Island.


Uninhabited and desolate, Sambawan comprises of three little islands shaped into a sickle. It has been gaining popularity because of its scenic and natural view as seen from the top.

And it can be hard to locate on google maps.hehe

After much debate with my mom on whether or not to bring our 1 year old- daughter, and with the weather being as fickle as it is on the month of December, we pushed thru with the plan with much excitement and hesitation.


Team Sambawan.

Notice our fully loaded baggage? That’s because we still have a long long way to go after Sambawan, but that’s another story. And if you are bringing a little moving bundle, along it is her entire life- milk, diapers, clothes, etc.haha


From Cebu City, we took a boat (ROBLE Shipping) to Ormoc City. Fare is 520 for tourist accommodation. The boat leaves at 10 pm. We arrived at the port of Ormoc at around 5 am. Cebu- Ormoc route has several trips a day catered by Roble shipping, Lite Shipping, 2go, Weesam Express, Supercat and Oceanjet. You may look for their schedule individually thru their website.


One may also take this route but Roble shipping has a very limited schedule. It departs from Cebu port on Mondays and Saturdays leaving the port at 8:30 pm and arriving at 8 am the next day. It then leaves the port of Naval on Tuesdays and Sundays at 8:30 pm.

We opted for the Cebu- Ormoc route because a 12- hour long boat ride is too boring for us!hehe


At the port of Ormoc, you will find vans for hire for Naval. Just look at the sign board. Fare is 130 php  and travel time is roughly 2 hours

You will know that you are entering the island province of Biliran once you pass the orange bridge linking it to the province of Leyte.

We arrived at the town of Naval by 8 am. We were hungry so we looked for a place to eat. We asked around and they pointed us to Goldilocks. I was curious knowing they have it in Naval. We were confused as we found out this is the Goldilocks they were referring. I can’t help but admire how simple it is to live in the province. Our breakfast for 2 cost us 97 php.


After that goldi breakfast, we looked for a ride to take us to Kawayan- our jump off point to Sambawan Island. One may charter a habal- habal or rent a motorcycle. Since we are a group of 5, we opted for the motorcycle. The driver charged us 300 php.

The trip from Naval to Kawayan took us 40 struggling minutes. Though the road to Kawayan was completely paved, some were uphill making it difficult for a loaded motorcycle to go up.



A cheaper option would be riding an outrigger boat that departs from Naval to Maripipi Island on weekdays from Monday to Saturday at 10 am. Fare is around 50 -75 php each. From Maripipi, you have to charter a smaller pump boat that can carry 2-3 persons to Sambawan for 500php. Given this scenario, you have to stay overnight in Maripipi.

We opted for the Kawayan to Sambawan route since it was a Sunday when we arrived.

Port of Kawayan canvassing a panoramic view of distant Maripipi Island.


If you plan to stay at the island overnight, the price for chartering a boat is 3, 000php and 2, 500 for day use. Good thing we were able to haggle down to 2, 800. You may contact our boatman, Edito Mabuhay (0915 734 0166)  for your future trip to the island.



After 5 minutes on board the 10- passenger boat, the sea began to get rough. The undulating waves splashed mightily against the base of the boat. And my placid heart began to tremble.haha. True, waves in that area can be very rough.

This was taken before the waves got angry.



It took us 55 minutes to reach the isolated island of Sambawan.

Another thing crashed off from my bucket list =)


The island is owned by the LGU of Biliran but manned by the Sambawan Dive Camp Resort (contact no: 0918 910 2141)


Entrance Fee- 50php

Environmental Fee- 20 php each

Closed cottages- 2,500 good for 10-15 persons (for overnight stay)

Open cottages- 500

Tent pitching- 100

Mooring Fee- 20

Unlike most of the islands I’ve been, Sambawan is the most secluded. There were only three persons from the resort and 2 sight- seeing guests. The ambience of the island is very opposite to that of Boracay.


Open- air cottages are lined throughout the shore.



It was an overwhelming thing to know that the island is home to the eggs of Hawksbill Turtles due to hatch on the last week of January 2016. That enclosed area houses the unhatched eggs.


The island also boasts of plenty of nice dive spots.


The most awesome part of your Sambawan escape would be climbing up the hill to see the full view of the island.


Step 1.


Steps 2, 3, 4. As you go up the hill, the view becomes more dramatic.


And 5! Every traveler should savor this instagram- worthy scenery.


A view of the other side of the island.


We always loved watching the sun rise, hence the day after, we woke up early to witness how the sun rises on a desolated island.


Same view but different time of day.


And of course!


We marveled at the isolation and explored the other areas we were not able to cover the day before.

At the other part of the shore.




At 9 am, our boatman fetched us. It was time for us to go and all that’s left are pictures of this tiny, beautiful island in our minds.

The ride back to Kawayan was better, the waves were more accommodating. From Kawayan, we chartered a  habal-habal to Naval for 150 php good for 2 persons.



  1. The resort only allows 200 liters of water to be used per cottage. Any excess would be billed 1php/ liter used. You have to look at the water meter upon checking in and take note of the starting consumption. We failed to do this hence we got confused on how we maxed up our 50 liters and paid an excess of 60php.
  2. Bring your own food and water. Instant noodles, canned goods and egg are the only available food in the resort.
  3. The best time to go there is during summer when the waves are friendly.
  4. Electricity in the island runs through generator from 6pm- 6am.

5 thoughts on “That Island Called Sambawan

  1. Tiburcio says:

    A truly must-go destination. Too bad my trip to sambawan few months ago was cancelled due to strong waves brought by low pressure. I must push it through next time:)

    • oyen says:

      Yes we did. There are boatmen at the jump off point willing to give you a ride to the island at a decent price. Try to haggle too. If you want this planned out, you can try to contact our boatman, his number is at my sambawan post 🙂 enjoy your time there!

      • ian | going places says:

        Thanks for the tips. We’re planning to visit this November. I hope weather will be fine and sunny. By the way, can we haggle it lower than 2,800 since we were 3 only in the group.

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