Sambawan Island

Just a little off Biliran, Leyte rests the charming island of Sambawan. A picturesque semi-curved island rich in marine life certainly lures anyone to add this to their bucket list of to-go-to islands. This is just a perfect getaway for those looking for an escapade away from the urban jungle.

After we settled our things in our rented cottage, we decided to hike up the view deck to enjoy the best 360 view of the entire island while there was still daylight. This is just an easy hike of about 5 minutes or so. We were just halfway up but we can see the pristine beach and the turquoise water paired with the volcanic island of Maripipi in the background. It could have been perfect with a blue sky but the weather was gloomy that day. Nevertheless, it was a stunningly beautiful view.


It’s best to swim early in the morning as you can vividly see different kind of fishes just a little offshore and avoid getting sunburnt under the scorching heat of the sun. If you’re lucky enough, sea turtles can also be seen roaming around the area too. If you are feeling more adventurous, hire a dive master who can guide you to the best spots for snorkeling. They even said you can spot sharks and manta ray if lucky. There’s no fixed price for the guide so you can just give him a tip.  We didn’t get to do this as we have limited time and our boatman back to the main island was waiting for us already.

How to get there:

  1. From Tacloban Airport, the cheapest way to reach the town center is through jeepney. If you are in a hurry, another option is to hire tricycle. Just negotiate well since drivers tend to jack up the price knowing you’re a tourist in the area. Tell the driver to take you to VS Grand Tours terminal. This will take you 20 to 25 minutes of travel time.
  2. Take a van going to Naval Biliran via VS Grand Tours. This will take 2.5 to 3 hours of travel time depending on the traffic situation. Be sure to sit in the front section of the van since it gets really hot even if it’s an AC van.
  3. The best way to reach Kawayan port is to hire a habal-habal. We were lucky enough to have Kuya Jovi approached us just as we got off the van in Naval terminal. He also knows a boatman who owns motorboat which we could rent. The boat is good for a maximum of 6 pax. This is usually 3,000 php for an overnight trip but since we were just three in a group, we negotiated it for just 2,500php. Still expensive to share but it’s the best option for us. Contact him at 09757316755.
  4. Transfer to a boat going to Sambawan Island. This boat ride takes 1 to 1.5 hours. If you are a big group of 10 to 15 persons, better rent a boat from Naval port which takes you directly to Sambawan Island for 10,000php. This boat ride will take you for just an hour.


Where to Stay:

Sambawan Dive Camp and Beach Resort is the only accommodation available in the island. There are 2 types of closed cottages which you can rent out.

  1. Cottage 1 costs 2,500php/day (3 beds, bathroom, Beddings, 200L Fresh Water)
  2. Cottage 2 costs 1,500php/day (2 beds, bathroom, Beddings, 100L Fresh Water)
  3. If you have tent, you can opt for camping that costs 100php/day

These are just fan rooms for now as the island operates solely through fueled generator which only run from 6am to 6pm. Fresh water is limited so better conserve water. Contact Kuya Jessie, 09264104866 or Kuya Nestor, 09189102141 for room or cottage reservations.

What to Do:

  1. Snorkeling
  2. Diving
  3. Swimming

Essential Tips:

  1. Buy food and drinks at the Naval town since only canned goods are available in the island.
  2. Electricity runs only from 6pm to 6am so maximize charging your gadgets at these times.
  3. Best to call or text Kuya Jessie or Kuya Nestor for reservations as it gets crowded especially on weekends and summer.


Here’s a list of sample expenses for Sambawan Island.

Expenses Cost for sharing Per pax
Jeep fare from airport to Tacloban town center (25min) 13
VS Grand Tours Van to Naval, Biliran (one-way) (3hrs) 120
Habal-Habal to Kawayan port-oneway (we rented 2 motorbikes since each of us has a big bag, one motorbike cost 150) (30min) 300 100
Boat rental to Sambawan Island (RT) (1.5hrs one way) 2,500 833.33
Entrance and environmental fee 100
Closed overnight cottage good for 3 to 6 pax 1,500 500
Food and water 233.33
Habal-Habal back to Naval town (30min) 300 100
Van back to Tacloban (3hrs) 120
Total cost   2,119.66