Philippine tourism

Looking for underrated beaches? A travel guide to Leyte and Biliran

Joshua Berida

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Looking for underrated beaches? A travel guide to Leyte and Biliran

Photos by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Biliran, in particular, still has the rural and pristine sheen of a destination waiting to be discovered

If you’re planning to visit multiple provinces in one trip, you might want to consider visiting Leyte and Biliran. Leyte is home to interesting sites such as Kalanggaman Island, the MacArthur Memorial, and the San Juanico Bridge. On the other hand, Biliran still has the rural and pristine sheen of a destination waiting to be discovered. The province is also one of the smallest in the country. Despite its size, it has attractions that warrant your attention. 

It’s possible to visit both in one trip because of Leyte’s accessibility and Tacloban’s transportation options to towns in Biliran.

Get into Tacloban

You have the option to travel by plane or bus to reach Tacloban.

By plane

Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines all have regular direct flights to Tacloban from Manila. Book your tickets weeks or months before your trip to get the lowest possible prices.

By bus

You can also take the bus from Metro Manila to Tacloban. The trip may take up to around 23 hours per way. The fare costs up to P2,400 or less depending on the bus company and type of bus.

Get into Biliran

Biliran is easily accessible from Tacloban City. There are regular vans traveling between Tacloban in Leyte and Naval in Biliran. Look for Duptours terminal while in the city. The earliest scheduled van bound for Naval is around 6 am while the last one departs at around 5 pm. The fare for a one-way ride is around P330. The trip takes approximately 2.5 hours. 

Getting around

Like many provinces in the Philippines, both Leyte and Biliran provide you with multiple transportation options such as jeeps, tricycles, habal-habal (motorcycle taxi), boats, and vans. The amount you pay depends on your destination and if you want to hire the whole boat, motorcycle, or tricycle without waiting for other passengers.


*This itinerary assumes you start with one full day.

Day 1

You’re going to spend your first day traveling to Palompon, the gateway to Kalanggaman Island. Try to arrive in Tacloban before lunch so that you have more than enough time to catch the van bound for Palompon. Make your way to the van terminal and board whichever van is available. The fare for a one-way ride is around P280 and the trip takes approximately 3.5 hours. The first van departs at around 6 am while the last one leaves at 3 pm. Pick a flight revolving around this schedule. Once in Palompon, check in at your accommodation. 

Day 2

After checking out of your accommodation in the morning, make your way to the Palompon Eco Tourism Office to register for your trip to Kalanggaman Island. 

The white sand beach of Kalanggaman Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Fees for a trip to Kalanggaman Island:

Day Tours

  • P500 – International tourists
  • P150 – Local tourists

Overnight Trips

  • P750 – International tourists
  • P225 – Local tourists

*Senior citizens and students get a discount

Round-Trip Boat Rental

  • P3,000 – for up to 15 persons
  • P3,500 – for up to 25 persons
  • P4,000 – for up to 30 persons

Cottage Rental

  • P250 – Small (15 persons)
  • P500 – Medium (25 persons)
  • P750 – Large (30 persons)

*Fees may change without notice, check for updates in the tourism office.

The crystal-clear waters of Kalanggaman Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Kalanggaman Island is a beautiful beach destination where you can just chill, swim, sunbathe, and eat and drink for a few hours. The beach has powdery, white sand and the water is crystal clear and blue. You can bring a volleyball or frisbee to pass the time. Try to start your trip as early as possible and be back at the van terminal before 3 pm to catch a ride to Tacloban City. The van fare to Tacloban is around P280. Once in the city again, check into your accommodation and find a place to eat dinner.

Kalanggaman Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 3

On your third day, try to leave as early as possible for Naval, Biliran. The earliest van departs at around 6 am and the last one at around 3 pm. The trip takes around 2.5 hours one way and the fare for the van ride is around P150. You could look for Grand Tours, Duptours, or other van companies that ply the Tacloban-Naval route in the city. 

After arriving in Naval, leave your bags in your chosen accommodation if you can’t check in yet. Depending on the time of your arrival, grab brunch or lunch before exploring some parts of Biliran. Look for a habal-habal driver (motorcycle taxi) to take you to two of Biliran’s most popular waterfalls, Tinago and Ulan Ulan. The ride to both waterfalls is scenic with rice paddies, hills, and the countryside. Ulan Ulan Falls is a highlight of this trip in my opinion.

Ulan Ulan Falls. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 4

Check out of your accommodation and prepare for your trip to Sambawan Island. After breakfast, make your way to Naval Port to catch the ferry bound for Maripipi Island that leaves at around 10 am. The fare is around P100 and takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. This boat is only available from Monday to Saturday. Upon arrival in Maripipi, buy some snacks, food, and drinks if you didn’t bring any with you. You can hire a habal-habal to take you to the port in Barangay Ol-og. At the port, you can charter a boat to Sambawan Island for up to P1,000+++ depending on the size of your group. Get the contact number of your boatman so that you could hire him again for your return trip to Maripipi. 

Sambawan Island’s enticing waters. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Sambawan Island is an underrated destination. The pristine beach and fetching views from the viewing platform make the trip worth it. The usual activities on the island include swimming, sunbathing, volleyball, frisbee, and others. You have the option to spend the night on the island or return to Maripipi. You can rent one of the cottages on the island or pitch a tent for a fee. 

Scenic Sambawan Island. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler


  • P100 – Sambawan Island day trip
  • P200 – Sambawan Island overnight stay
  • P1,500 – Cottage for up to 6 people
  • P2,500 – Cottage for up to 15 people 

*Fees may change without notice.

Day 5

You have a couple of options to get back to Naval before going back to Tacloban:

  • If you spend the night on the island, look for other passengers to share a boat directly to Kawayan. Boats cost up to P3,000+++ depending on the size of the boat and number of passengers. From Kawayan, you can board a jeep or hire a habal-habal to Naval.
  • If you don’t spend the night on the island, check out of your accommodation in Maripipi early and catch the boat traveling to Naval at around 4:30 am. The fare is around P100. This boat is only available from Monday to Saturday. 

Once in Naval, you can head straight to the van terminal or grab something to eat first. When you’re ready, board a van bound for Tacloban. 

You have the option to spend another night in Tacloban before your flight to Manila or to book an evening flight so that you have at least one more day to see some attractions accessible from the city. 

San Juanico Bridge. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

If you booked one more night in Tacloban, make your way to your accommodation and leave your things. Catch a ride bound for Samar such as Calbayog, Catbalogan, or Basey. Tell the driver that you’d like to alight at San Juanico Bridge. The bridge connects two provinces, Samar and Leyte. It took around four years to finish construction of the bridge from 1969 to 1973. If you want to take pictures, make sure you get down at either end of the bridge because the driver won’t stop at any other point. After visiting the San Juanico Bridge, eat lunch before boarding a jeep or multi-cab bound for Palo. In Palo, you’ll get to visit the Palo Cathedral and the famous MacArthur Landing Memorial. Spend the rest of the day resting in your accommodation or for your evening flight.

MacArthur Landing Memorial. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler

Day 6

If your flight isn’t too early or if you didn’t leave the day before, do some last-minute souvenir shopping (as long as it’s within your budget).

How much will you spend?

A budget of around P10,000 each for at least two people traveling together for six days covers the itinerary above, shared accommodation, food (budget meals), transportation, fees, tours, and boat rides. This doesn’t include flights or overnight buses to Tacloban and back to Metro Manila. You can save some money by sharing boat rides with other people since this will be your biggest expense. Reduce food expenses by eating budget meals from restaurants, fast food chains, or a local eatery. If you just want to add another province on your travel bucket list or reduce your spending even more, you can remove a few days from the itinerary and just visit a few spots in both Leyte and Biliran. –

Joshua Berida is a writer who loves to travel. He blogs at

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