Imagine gently sloping rice terraces forming the shape of an amphitheater, waterfalls that drop to refreshing pools where you can enjoy a dip, barbecue stalls along the wharf facing the sunset, and warm locals escorting you to tiny islands surrounded by white sugary beaches and amazing view of the mountains.
Blessed with fertile volcanic soil, Biliran is mainly an agricultural province situated north of Leyte, Philippines. Previously part of the bigger Leyte province, it became independent in 1992 establishing the town of Naval as its capital. Yet even today, many people haven’t heard much about it, making travelers clueless about what there is to see and explore.
Let me show you some of the bountiful attractions this little province has to offer, starting with things which you probably do not expect to find in Biliran — rice terraces.
The Rice Terraces Of Biliran
A mountainous landscape will greet people visiting Biliran Island, the province’s main island. Foothills offer perfect locations to put up farms where locals raise cattle and grow crops of various kinds. Placing these farms along the road, relatively far from the centers of human population provides easy access while preserving a quiet atmosphere.
What about exploring some of Biliran’s rice terraces? Unlike the ones in Cordillera which are largely tall, narrow, and steep, the rice terraces here are stocky, wide, and gently sloping.
To see some of the nicest rice terraces in Biliran, go to the outskirts of Naval in Barangay Lucsoon or head to the adjacent town of Almeria.
How To Get There
The easiest way to see the rice terraces of Naval and Almeria is to hire a habal-habal from downtown Naval. Feel free to discuss with any local habal-habal drivers the price for a full day exploration of the rice terraces in Barangay Lucsoon in Naval and Barangays Sampao and Iyusan in Almeria (should not cost more than ₱600).
The Waterfalls Of Biliran
With the tropical mountains come the waterfalls. From underground springs to surface runoff, these freshwaters combine to form streams that cascade roughly down steep slopes. Many of them empty on shallow pools hidden in the forest which makes for an exciting spot for nature travelers.
If you are planning to see some of these amazing Biliran waterfalls, you’ll be delighted to find many of them in the towns of Caibiran, Cabucgayan, and Almeria.
Tinago Falls in the town of Caibiran is one of the most accessible, making it a popular choice for locals and visitors. An easy 30-minute habal-habal ride from downtown Naval, it fills a narrow basin that reflects an enchanting teal color. Larger pools downstream also provide excellent swimming spots amidst the shade of centuries-old trees.
Conveniently located near Brgy. Casiawan Elementary School and only a short hike down the road, Casiawan Falls in the town of Cabucgayan is among the tallest in Biliran. The main waterfall drops thinly beside a densely vegetated cliff before connecting to a smaller tier that empties on a cool and refreshing pool.
Of all the towns in Biliran, Almeria is said to host the most number of waterfalls given its mountainous terrain; Bagongbong Falls, Kinaraha Cascades, and Ulan-Ulan Falls to name a few. All are accessible by taking a quick 30-minute habal-habal ride from downtown Naval plus a short 30-minute hike through the woods.
How To Get There
Each one of the popular waterfalls including Tinago, Casiawan, Bagongbong, Kinaraha, and Ulan-Ulan is reachable through a 30-minute habal-habal ride from downtown Naval then a quick 30-minute hike. It is possible to visit all of them in a single day, and the best option would be to rent a habal-habal in Naval for a full day tour which should not cost more than ₱700.
The Beaches of Biliran
If you love the sea, the bright sunny sky, and the sight of mountains, then get ready to be pampered when you stroll along Biliran’s stunning beaches. Some are owned and maintained by private resorts while others are free of charge; all of them offering an incredible beach experience.
A popular holiday destination for tourists and locals, Agta Beach Resort in Almeria houses basic resort amenities like swimming pools, restaurant, a billiard hall, umbrella huts, and private cottages that are all located beside a generous strip of cream sandy beach.
Then a short 30-minute boat ride from Agta Beach is Dalutan Island. Here, there are a number of open-air native huts erected under the shade of trees, making the island a great place for picnics and bonding with friends and family.
But to see the most breathtaking beach site in Biliran, one has to exert a little effort in terms of transportation.
A semi-private resort can be found in Sambawan Island, offering basic accommodation at a slightly steep rate of ₱2,500 per night, although open-air cottages are also for rent at a cheaper price of ₱500 per day. For day trips, an entrance fee of ₱75/person is collected.
When in the island, don’t miss climbing the concrete stairs that lead to a viewing deck. It’s here where you’ll have a magnificent view of Sambawan’s fine white sand beach, the clear azure sea, and the imposing cone-shaped Maripipi Volcano in the distance.
How To Get There
Agta Beach Resort: You may hire a habal-habal in Naval that could bring you to the resort for ₱100 one-way, or take the local bus going to Kawayan and ask to be dropped off at the gate of Agta Beach Resort beside the highway. You may call them via +63 927 977 2867 / +63 915 697 1823 or email them at email@example.com.
Dalutan Island: Rent a boat from Agta Beach Resort for a 20-minute ride to Dalutan Island, costing roughly ₱500 roundtrip. An entrance fee of ₱50 is collected in the island while cottages are for rent from ₱250 to ₱1,000 a day depending on the size.
Sambawan Island: Renting a boat from Naval direct to Sambawan is possible but will cost a minimum of ₱5,000 for a two-way trip. There’s an option to take the ferry from Naval Port to the town of Maripipi which leaves at 10:00 AM everyday except Sundays. Travel time from Naval to Maripipi is approximately 2 hours and costs about ₱100 one-way.
Once in Maripipi, hire a habal-habal (₱50 one-way, 20 minutes) to Brgy. Ol-og where you can rent boats to Sambawan (₱300 two-way, 15 minutes per way). For boat rentals and room reservations at Sambawan Island Resort, please contact +63 918 910 2141 or +63 926 410 4866. You can also check out their Facebook Page.
How To Get To Naval
From Tacloban, ride a bus or van heading to Naval from Tacloban Central Terminal or any of the van terminals located in downtown Tacloban (e.g. Duptours, Van-Van’s). Travel time from Tacloban to Naval takes roughly 2.5 hours and costs around ₱150 one-way.
Where To Stay in Biliran
TJ Lodge located at the town center of Naval offers budget accommodation for as low as ₱300 per night. Rooms are equipped with free wi-fi connection.