(A view from the hilltop of Sambawan Island to the northeast facing the main island of Maripipi. The roofs of beach houses and cottages and a 60 pax capacity boat are visible in the shore below.)
Far from the crowd of busy resorts, Sambawan lets you enjoy an island as it is – a stroll in the beach, a dip in the clear blue sea, a hike in the hills, or just take on the vista of a tropical paradise on its highest vantage point.
Sambawan Dive Camp and Beach Resort is a string of four islets which are as if haphazardly strewn on the blue sea. Its irregular shape adds to its uniqueness, the larger islet boasts a strip of white beach on the leeward side, and is connected by a rocky bridge to the smaller islets accessible only during low tides. A series of steps lead to a viewing deck on its peak.The island is located at the coordinates 11°45’57.53″N and 124°15’48.82″E southwest of Maripipi, an island municipality to where it belongs and one of the 8 towns of Biliran province. A SeaKnight expedition established the presence of Buga and Puntod reefs adjacent to the island. Sightings of dolphins, manta rays, sharks and a variety of fishes have been reported.
It is 15-20 minutes by motorboat ride from Brgy. Ol-og, the nearest jump-off point from the town, it is also 30-45 minutes from the port of the nearby town of Kawayan, and 1-1.5 hours from the port of Naval, the provincial capital.
Sunrise at the island is serene and quiet, as seen in this view from the beach area up to the hilltop where the viewing deck stands clearly visible against the sky.
In an effort to protect the pristine environment of the beach area, this footbridge was installed to provide access to another part of the island designated as landing site for boats.
Boatloads of tourists flock to the island to marvel at its clear waters and enjoy the unique ambiance of Sambawan Island.
The beach houses and kiosks are lighted by solar powered LED lights at night to reduce carbon footprints and harmful gas emissions.
(The sandbar located at the southern end of Higatangan Island shifts along with direction of sea current of the monsoon season.)
Higatangan offers anyone the comforts of an island resort, without the noise and the crowd, and the security and safety of a place known for being relatively peaceful with zero insurgency.
The island is located at the coordinates 11°34’7.62″N and 124°15’50.85″E, about 9 nautical miles west of the main island province of Biliran. It is 45 minutes by motorized banca from the Port of Naval, the island’s nearest jump-off point and to where it belongs as a political jurisdiction. The island has an area of 342.5 hectares and is elongated in shape. It follows a north-south orientation, with two barangays namely, Mabini and Libertad, located at either ends. There are less than 2,000 residents living in the island, but it boasts its own church, an elementary and a high school, health center, and power supply from 6 PM to 12 MN.
The island’s prominent features include a sandbar stretching 200 meters from its south-eastern tip, which periodically shifts eastward or westward from its shore-base according the monsoon currents, rock formations and cliffs on its western side facing the open sea, and beaches on its leeward side. The islanders are very friendly. There are regular trips plying the Naval Port – Higatangan Island route. Boats leave Higatangan between 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM and arrive at Naval Port 45 minutes later. They leave back to Higatangan at around 11:00 AM to 12:00 NN, and would stay in the island until the next day. Regular fare is P50.00. Higatangan has 3 resorts, namely: Higatangan Island Beach Resort and Emponet Barton Beach Resort on the eastern side and Hagdan Beach Resort nestled among the the rock formations on the western side. The resorts have motorboats of their own at 25-30 passenger capacity, which can be chartered by arrangement with the resort operators.
Higatangan Island Beach Resort
Higatangan Island Beach Resort in Brgy. Mabini boasts a large open area adjacent to the shore suitable for group activities and various room accommodations from family size to dormitory. Contact: Le Ann – 09309491046
Emponet Beach Resort
Emponet Beach Resort in Brgy. Libertad has room accommodations for staying guests and kiosks for day tourists, and guests have the option for European, Continental and Filipino dishes pre-arranged with the chef during booking. Mostly favored by foreign tourists who want a quiet and secluded place. Contact: Mrs. Imelda Pragas – 09394876311
Hagdan Beach Resort
Hagdan Beach Resort in Brgy. Libertad offers a unique ambiance as it is nestled amongst the rock formations. Facing the open sea and away from the populated area of the island, seclusion and privacy is guaranteed. Contact: Mrs. Rizza Ningasca – 09176042273
Local Culture and Livelihood
Mat weaving from fronds of a local plant called romblon is one of the livelihood of the womenfolk of Higatangan, while waiting for the men to come up from the sea with the day’s catch.
A platter of freshly caught fish means an income for marginal fishermen of Higatangan. The bigger catch is usually sold to buy basic household needs, while the smaller ones assure food at the family’s table.
A locally famous strip of a sandy beach in Brgy. Talahid in Almeria town is home to four summer getaways, namely: Agta Beach Resort, VRC Beach Resort, Coco Grove Beach Resort and the Paradizu Beach Resort. The Talahid Beach Area is about 12 km from Naval, the provincial capital. The resorts adjoin with each other, thus it is easy to transfer from one to the other to look for fun and friends. The swimmers enjoy the safety of a natural cove protected with rock barriers that are visible during low tides.
The area is highly accessible along the Naval-Almeria-Kawayan highway. Passenger jeepneys and multicabs leaves Naval Bus Terminal towards Kawayan every 30 mins or at least when passenger capacity is reached. Fare from Naval to Talahid area varies from P25-P30. For those who wanted a faster ride, “habal-habal” or converted passenger motorcycles are available at main corners in the downtown area or at the corner exiting Naval towards Almeria, for a fare of P100 one way good for up to 3 passengers.
Agta Beach Resort
Agta Beach Resort offers a Dive Shop with a PADI accredited dive instructor, food and beverages, rooms and function halls for seminars and conferences. A rock climbing facility is available, as well as kayaks and motorized boats for hopping to nearby islands. If requested by guests, the resort also arranges hiking or local tours to waterfalls within Almeria town or province wide. Contact: Melo Sabitsana – 09156971823
VRC Beach Resort
VRC Beach Resort has a large function hall and rooms for accommodation for meetings and conferences. Food and beverage is also available. When the sea gets rough, the resort has a saltwater pool with slides, adjacent to an outdoor bar. Rides such as kayaks and paddle boats are also available. Contact: Myrna Sabitsana – 09164665809
Coco Grove Beach Resort
Coco Grove Beach Resort offers the most number of cottages built of native materials for a small group of 5 up and up to 50. A sari-sari store provides most needs such as beverages and snack foods, and anyone may order “lehon manok” or roasted chicken fresh from the oven.