Travel time to Kawayan Port, one of the jump-off points to Sambawan Island, from Naval, Biliran will take you 30 minutes at maximum. That is if you will avail services from habal-habal drivers. On our case, since we were not in a hurry, we utilized the jeepney and just paid Php30. The ride was one of those unusual experiences where the route has only one schedule in a day. This resulted in a jeepney ride having a lot of stopovers along the way.
We arrived at Kawayan Port quarter to two and locals immediately approached us to ask where we were heading. Having bulky backpacks were not obvious reasons we’re tourists. They started plummeting rates when they got the information from us. The group was not paying attention as everyone was busy capturing the quaint view of the port.
Cumulonimbus clouds altered the view of the nearby island. I sensed that it will be a rough ride for us going to Sambawan Island. After we negotiated a deal from one of the locals, we hurriedly went onboard the outrigger boats. It rained on some part of the boat ride and thanks to our crew for keeping our stuff dry. The ride wasn’t that terrifying as I’ve expected yet not so smooth which we hoped for.
An hour dizzy ride brought us to the shores of Sambawan Island. Numerous boats lined-up the “parking area” while the guests were enjoying on the other cove of the island. A hut serves as the registration area where the caretakers collect Php100 per head. We then continued to the wooden boardwalk where we had the first glimpse of the beach. Don’t expect for fine sand because the shoreline is pebbly, or is it coral-ly.
Two families occupy adjacent cottages when we arrived. Add to that two other groups of travelers goofing in the island. We were the fifth group and the total number of tourists on my estimate was just below fifty.
We were prepared for that overnight camping in Sambawan Island and brought our own tents and bought food supplies and booze in Naval market. Set of puso (rice), roasted chicken, fruits, chips, and beers can be found in our meal box that day. Tent pitching is Php50 per tent and they also offer tents for rent with the price I forgot to ask.
Sambawan Island, part of Maripipi, has jagged hills covered with green grasses that complement well with the blue sky and the cerulean waters that surround the island. It is an island with interconnecting islets clustered into two. One side offers the meek side of the island with the imposing view of the mountain in Maripipi island. Caretakers installed a watchtower on the highest point of the island that serves as a venue to watch for impressive sunrise and sunsets. Going to the tower is not a joke as you need to ascend a staircase flanked with towering grasses. Once you arrive at the tower, the view will swiftly depose the exasperating climb.
Locals mentioned that Sambawan Island is also blessed with great marine life. Other guests actually try scuba diving on the other side of the island, they added. We just stayed on the usual side and my free-diver friends tried snorkeling within the area delimited by some lifebuoys. I wasn’t able to try snorkeling as I pleased myself just by staring at the view and taking a nap under a tree.
We went back to the watchtower during sundown. The frame created by the spewing rays of the sun, clouds hovering Maripipi mountain, and the sparkling waters, was really striking. For about minutes, the sights made me just stare perplexedly in awe.
Darkness enveloped the area and there are only spots where light is available. Luckily, one of the light post installed is near our campsite. By the way, you can pitch anywhere as there were no guidelines given to us. Gushing wind started to waft us so we decided to raid one of the cottages to feast on our dinner.
The island has numerous toilet and shower but pipes dispense saltwater. If you insist on having a shower using freshwater, you can buy at Php25 per gallon. Before calling it a day, we sat on the beach and share travel stories. In the middle of the conversation, I felt something crawling on my legs. I was terrified when I saw about 3-inches maroon-colored centipede. I was about to get rid of the critter when the arthropod bit me.
The wind continued to rage heavily, pushing our tents and blowing all items on the ground. After taking some Milky Way shots, we went inside our respective tents to rest. Dark clouds made us worry because our tent has no fly sheet which will make the rain go directly inside our temporary abode. We were so positive and just determined to sleep.
Sunrise watching is one of the best things to do every time I go beach camping. The bolt of the sun started to rise, painting the horizon with bright colors. The color developed into vivid tones of yellow to orange and slowly illuminated Sambawan Island.
It was a great morning and my desire to grab a cup of hot coffee was satisfied by the convenience store on the island. They also cook instant noodles, canned goods, and even rice at a fee. We didn’t have any other plans that morning aside from enjoying the fairly cold fresh air. A short nap under one of the cottages was the last thing I did before out boatmen arrived notifying us to prepare.
Most tourists visiting Sambawan Island compare it to one of the islands in Iloilo’s Isla de Gigantes because of the view from the hill. I’ve never been to the latter so it was a great moment to enjoy the island without comparing it to other destinations. It was a short overnight camping in Sambawan Island but the scenery: swaying green grasses on the hills, the optimistic blue waters, and the fine weather, made the experience really gratifying and relaxing at the same time.
SAMBAWAN ISLAND TRAVEL GUIDE
- You have actually three options in going to Sambawan Island from Naval, Biliran:
- 1.5-hour boat ride from Naval Port – Boat rental is Php 7,000* for 10-15 pax.
- Jeepney (Php30) or habal-habal (Php60) to Kawayan Port. 45 minutes boat ride from Kawayan Port is Php3000 good for 8-10 person (roundtrip).
- Travel to Maripipi Island via ferry boats from Naval Port. Once you arrive in Maripipi Island, proceed to Brgy Ol-og where boats to Sambawan Island at Php600 are available. Check ferry boat schedules to Maripipi here.
- Bring your own food and drinks. There’s a cafeteria on the island but they’re limited to canned goods and instant noodles. They offer some cooking services though so you can buy goods in Naval before heading to the island.
- There’s no freshwater source in the island. Buy gallons of freshwater at Php25 per gallon.
- Bring your tent. Just in case you don’t have one, they offer tents for rent. Just notify them the moment you arrive on the island.
- If camping is not your thing, lodging cottages are available at Php2800 per day equipped with own toilet and bath, bedding, and electricity.
- Also, power only runs from 6 PM to 6 AM. You can recharge your phones via the convenience store by paying a minimum fee.
Naval to Kawayan Port – Php30
Boat to Sambawan – Php750/pax (Php3000)
Entrance – Php80
Environmental Fee – Php20
Food Supply – Php445/pax (3 meals)
Freshwater – Php25/gallon
Kawayan Port to Naval – Php150/pax