Destination | Sambawan Island

Only since our trip to Kalanggaman Island have I started getting even more curious to see what other places I can take my kids to that are within easy reach of Tacloban City. And I found quite a lot of options that has perked my interest. And one of these is Sambawan Island off the coast of Biliran in Leyte, Philippines. After seeing the photos, this was the place I set my heart to visiting last February over the Chinese New Year holiday we had in China.

Getting the information has been easy… from other bloggers to the Biliran Tourism website and friends who have been there.


From Tacloban City:

  • Took the Van-Van transport to Naval which is about 2 to 2.45 hours, depending on how fast the driver drives and the road situation. Van-Van’s location is in downtown Tacloban corner of Zamora and Burgos Streets
  • When we got there, there was a nearly full van ready to go which departed at 6:30am. You pay the driver before the van departs which costs PHP 130 one way per passenger
  • We arrived in Naval around 8:30am

I was dead set on taking the Naval – Kawayan – Sambawan route hence we had to find our way to Kawayan from Naval. I don’t know why but somehow I had this notion that the habal-habal you need to take to Kawayan was a jeepney sort of transportation. I realised that this is what a habal-habal is! I was not sure what I was thinking but we found a guy to take us to Kawayan, and I got all 3 of us including our bags on one . I wish I took photos of us but as I was struggling between our bags and hanging on to dear life, I opted to just remember this experience in my head…

  • For the 3 of us, the cost on the habal-habal is PHP 200 one way
  • It takes about 30 mins to get there
  • If you have a backpack, choose one without the “top” as it makes things easier; the one we had going back to Naval had this contraption to shelter passengers from rain or sun and unfortunately, I couldn’t put my heavy backpack on my back and instead had to carry it on my arms all the way
  • As crazy as this experience was, I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

We were dropped off at the pier and was met by the dispatcher who led us to the boat we were taking to the island.

  • From Kawayan, there is another 1 hour of boat ride to Sambawan
  • We got a small boat which suffice for the 3 of us and for less than what I had anticipated
  • The boat costs PHP 2,500 round trip; we paid in full on the return trip
  • You need to let the boatman know what time to pick you up from the island the following day or however long you are staying

We landed in Sambawan before noon. The island was almost empty except for a couple travelers and the custodians.

  • We paid entrance fee of PHP 80 each
  • We paid another PHP 20 for the environment fee
  • We paid PHP 1,500 for a cottage that had clean fresh water, 2 beds and an attic that can still comfortably fit 3-4 people
  • The water was free of use for the first 100 litres and then you have to pay for anything in excess; these were all calculated thru the individual water metre behind each cottage
  • We loved this accommodation better than Kalanggaman as we got to sit in our porch to read or eat
  • Electricity comes on between 6pm to 6am and there was an electric fan in the ground floor of the cottage but the fresh breeze from the sea was enough that there was no need to turn it on

For a small remote island, there wasn’t much to do except get disconnected from the modern life and just savour the moment. We snorkelled, hiked, took photos, read books, painted, ate food we brought, looked for interesting shells and watched the sunset. There was a hill that we hiked up to and was rewarded with the breathtaking view of the 2 ends of the island from that vantage point.


Was awake at 4am which felt good as it gave me a chance to have some really quiet time to do some journaling, watch the sun come up as I listen to the waves lapping onto the shore. So tranquil and long for something like this everyday. I will definitely not tire of it.

We had a simple breakfast under the tree taking in the fresh air. Then kids got ready to do their discovery dive as it has been something they have been so keen about. They were very excited. The instructor was kind enough to take my camera and take photo under the sea.

While kids were underwater, I took the opportunity to do some sketching and painting. So grateful for the peace and quiet of the island!

Thank you for reading about our adventure.




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