Biliran off Leyte's north coast is a nice island to explore for a couple of days. You'll get a taste of the real rural Philippines without many tourists and even much less foreign tourists. Biliran has a lot of natural wonders to offer, the rice terraces are reminiscent of a smaller Banaue, several waterfalls make it the perfect place to relax and cool down for a while and the many islands off Biliran's coast are offering paradise-like beaches. Here are some of the best Biliran tourist spots and things to do:
1 - Island hopping in Biliran
Biliran offers some great island hopping opportunities not far from its coast. The beaches there are amazing and the islands offer some nice snorkeling spots. Here are a couple worth visiting :
The island has a beautiful beach and offers an amazing view of the neighboring islands. To get to Sambawan Island, you can hire a boat directly in Kawayan. For travelers on a budget you can ride the public boat in the morning (departing from Naval) to Maripipi and from there hire a boat to take you. You can either camp on Sambawan (bring enough food and water) or stay at the only hotel in Maripipi, Napo Beach resort, for 500 pesos per night (starting price). The return trip is the next morning.
Higatangan island is famous for its shifting sandbar, moving along with the tides. You can include it with island hopping in nearby Dalutan and Caygan islands. For the three islands, you'll pay around 4500 pesos for a small boat. You can arrange it through your hotel or directly in Kawayan Beach. The prices are pretty expensive, if you can arrange it in advance you can ask the operators to group you with other travelers. Otherwise, you can go only to Dalutan and Caygan, they're closer to the coast so the price won't be that hefty.
2- Do go chasing waterfalls
There are maybe 20 waterfalls to visit in Biliran, you can swim in most of them and the water is usually really clear. Amongst the most famous one are: Bagongbong, Tinago, Tomalistis, Casiawan, and Balaquid falls.
Before going always ask your hotel first about the water conditions there. Sometimes some of them have no water especially at the end of the dry season or after a bad storm. Since the last storm in December 2017, which badly hit the island, Tinago Falls (the most famous one) is only a trickle.
The entrance fees vary but are usually around 50 pesos.
3 - Enjoy the beach
Unfortunately, Biliran is lacking some nice beaches. The shore is mostly rocky and there are not many sandy beaches. But don't worry, there are still some options. Kawayan beach is pretty nice and good for swimming. There are a couple of resorts there if you want to stay near the beach. It's also from there that you can arrange island hopping.
Looc in Culaba is also supposed to have a nice beach. The only thing I found there that could be called a beach was more like a vision from hell. Picture a small rocky beach with dozens of nippa huts all super close to each other, and each having a karaoke machine. Imaging now all these nippa huts full of people having a good time, Filipino style. That's the supposedly "nice" beach I found.
I guess the beach I had read about is somewhere else nearby but I didn't see any signs of a beach on my way. So to be on the safe side maybe just stick to Kawayan beach.
4 - Take a bath in a hot spring
Ma-Init hot springs
Biliran being a volcanic island, you'll find several hot springs there. The nicer one is Ma-Init, unfortunately, the December storm destroyed most of it. They are rebuilding the pool (they're digging up a hole in the river so it looks natural, not like a tiled pool). It should be ready in a couple of months. The place is still nice even if you can't swim. It's surrounded by rice paddies and buffaloes. There's also a waterfall nearby.
Another hot spring is Libtong. It's also really nice and you can swim in the river there. They built a natural pool. It's the best place to finish a day after exploring the island.
5 - Visit Canaan Hill Farm and Honey Garden
This organic farm and garden offer some delicious food and home-made products. It's the perfect place to have lunch or a snack before continuing exploring the island.
Closed on Sundays.
6 - Explore the rice terraces
Biliran's interior also has a lot to offer, driving up to Palayan or Iyusan will give you a breathtaking view of the coconut farms and terraced rice fields. The road to the viewpoint is also spectacular and definitively worth the trip. You can get a map at the tourism office or at your hotel. The road to Palayan is ok for a motorbike, I'm not sure a tricycle can go though.
Where to stay in Biliran :
There are plenty of accommodation options in Biliran, the easiest way would be to stay in Naval. It's a central location and it's easy to arrange your trip from there. There are also some resorts on Kawayan Beach, a good choice if you plan on doing island hopping.
I stayed in Chamorita, a couple of kilometers south of Naval, it's a nice place and you can rent a motorbike there, it might be more complicated to find a bike rental in town.