Northern Samar is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region.
It is one of the three provinces that are part of Samar Island (the other two being Samar and Eastern Samar provinces).
Often overlooked or even unknown to many, what you’ll discover in this province will surprise you.
Let the “secret” towns of San Antonio, Capul and Biri give you plenty of reasons to visit Northern Samar.
San Antonio, Northern Samar
Off the northwestern coast of Samar is an elongated island surrounded by crystal clear waters that embrace extensive white sand beaches.
A short 20-minute boat ride from the town of Victoria, Dalupiri is the name of the island conterminous to the municipality of San Antonio. Slowly getting famous for its laid-back tropical atmosphere, it is poised to become a prime destination for locals and visitors looking for a place to unwind and bond with family and friends.
Despite its proximity to a largely Waray-speaking region, Cebuano is the dominant language spoken in San Antonio. Owe this to the huge number of migrants from Cebu and Bohol who reside on the island — establishing small businesses and exploiting the rich fishing grounds in the area.
How To Get There
From Manila, RoRo buses (e.g. Philtranco) bound for Tacloban and the rest of Mindanao will pass by the town of Victoria in Northern Samar. Travel time from Manila to Victoria takes around 15 hours.
PAL flies daily from Manila to Catarman, the capital of Northern Samar. From Catarman, there are vans and jeepneys going to the towns of Victoria and Allen.
From the town of Victoria in Northern Samar, unlimited number of passenger boats make the crossing to San Antonio with last trip normally around 6:00 PM. Travel time from the port in Victoria to San Antonio is 20 minutes with fare costing ₱30.
Alternatively, if you are coming from Allen (the first town of Northern Samar arriving via ferry from Sorsogon), there is a direct boat trip to San Antonio leaving Dapdap Port in Allen around 12:00 noon every day. Travel time from Dapdap Port to San Antonio is 1 hour with fare costing ₱30.
Where to Stay
Capul, Northern Samar
Another island municipality almost the same size and shape of San Antonio is Capul. This island played a crucial role in the Acapulco-Manila galleon trade during the Spanish occupation.
Samar island was the first Philippine island spotted by Spanish trading ships as they approached the end of their long voyage from Acapulco, Mexico.
They would make a quick pit stop on Capul, offer thanks for a safe crossing at the Jesuit church, and then head towards Manila, their final destination.
Capul was also the last stop before the ships would start their long journey back across the Pacific ocean to return to Acapulco.
Only 30 minutes away by boat from San Antonio and an hour from the main island of Samar, the people in Capul are proud to have a distinct language called Inabaknon, one that is not related to Cebuano, Waray or Bicolano but rather to the Sama language of Sulu Archipelago in Mindanao. A runaway king from the Sinama tribe of Tawi-Tawi named Abak, is said to be the bringer of the peculiar language to Capul, and with phrases often spoken in a fast-paced manner, expect most locals in Capul to talk like they are late for a meeting!
A few meters from the port in Capul just beside the municipal hall, Capul Church was established by the Jesuits in 1596. Constructed using piles of coral and rock, the high walls of the church also functioned as a garrison against Muslim fighters in the 1600s. Separated from the main structure is a towering belfry which ushers a 360-degree view of the quiet neighborhood.
Taking a 20-minute motorcycle ride north along the scenic coastal road leads to the most popular landmark in Capul, the island’s old historic lighthouse. Erected at the corner of a grassy slope, the time-torn beacon was first lit on December 1896.
Standing at a height of almost 15 meters, it provides a wide panorama of San Bernardino Strait with the clear outline of Bicol and Samar in the distance.
How To Get There
From Manila, RoRo buses (e.g. Philtranco) bound for Tacloban and the rest of Mindanao will pass by the town of Allen in Northern Samar. Travel time from Manila to Allen takes around 14 hours.
PAL flies daily from Manila to Catarman, the capital of Northern Samar. From Catarman, there are vans and jeepneys going to the town of Allen.
From Looc Port (also known as Balwharteco) in Allen, there are two passenger boats bound for Capul leaving at around 12:00 noon everyday. Travel time is 1 hour and fare costs ₱50.
Where to Stay
Antique House located a few meters from the Port in Capul is a nice place to stay. Rate at ₱150 per night in a single fan room.
Biri, Northern Samar
People do not often go to Biri to look for beaches. They come to look for rocks. Yes rocks…stunning rock formations! Rock formations that will make you appreciate nature’s magnificent work of art.
Situated off the northern shores of Samar, Biri is an angular island lying at the mouth of San Bernardino Strait, facing the Philippine Sea. Gigantic waves matched by strong winds coming from the east helped in shaping a landscape atypical to most islands in the country.
Characterized by layers upon layers of sandstone, siltstone and mudstone sharply exposed on the surface, the rock formations of Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Bel-at and Caranas offer some of the most incredible views on the island.
From the vast field of pygmy mangroves which separate Magsapad from Macadlaw, to the natural infinity pools of Bel-at and Caranas, a tour along the rugged coast of Biri will definitely leave one speechless.
How To Get There
From Manila, RoRo buses (e.g. Philtranco) bound for Tacloban and the rest of Mindanao will pass by the town of Allen in Northern Samar. Travel time from Manila to Allen takes around 14 hours. A quick 20-minute jeepney ride from Allen brings one to the town of Lavezares.
PAL flies daily from Manila to Catarman, the capital of Northern Samar. From Catarman, there are jeepneys going to the town of Lavezares.
From the public market in Lavezares, passenger boats to Biri are available between 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Travel time is 1 hour and costs ₱50.
Where to Stay
Ate Glo’s Homestay, being one of the first guesthouse in Biri, is popular among backpackers. Rate starts at ₱150 per night in a single fan room.