On the northern most tip of Samar lies the island of Biri. Biri, in its tranquility, is a very laid back town in Visayas which is now starting to attract quite an attention for its famed rock formations.
These picturesque rocks are believed to have emerged in the coastal line of the island from the movement of tectonic plates several years ago. Its fine lines and curves were made naturally through time by strong gush of wind and forceful splash of waves.
But more than the science of its existence, I simply encourage you to go and have a look for yourself. The place is raw and I bet you will be more than fascinated.
Visiting the island may be a bit of a challenge especially when you go during the low/wet season – like what we did. HAHAHA. We had spent almost 24 hours of land and sea travel just to get to the place. It was all the more tiring because of the rain and lack of proper sleep (not to mention the waves!). But we didn’t have too many choices at that time. So here are some for you.
THIS HAS GOT TO BE THE MOST CONVENIENT. From Manila, take a flight bound to Catarman, Northern Samar. Philippine Airlines offer a daily flight to Catarman. The fare may be a bit pricey but you can get a better deal if you book your flight ahead or if you spot on a seat sale.
From the airport, ride a tricycle bound to municipal’s main terminal. The fare is around 100php for an approximately 5 minute ride. Then, take a jeepney going to Lavezares port for 50 php. ***The port going to Biri Island is near the wet market. If the weather is favorable, travel time can be approximated from 45 mins to 1 hour and the fare is around 50 php per head. From the jump off point you can just walk to your homestay/hotel or ride a habal-habal for 10PhP per head.
note: The boat can accommodate up to 15 passengers in maximum. Usually, the boat men will wait until the boat is filled up before it departs. During the low season, waiting for enough passengers can really take up your time, especially if you are on a tight schedule. You can opt to pay twice the regular amount so the boat can leave at once. Just negotiate with the boatman and other passengers if need be.
By Bus and Boat
From Manila, the nearest jump off point to Samar is Matnog, Sorsogon. There are buses offering a direct trip to Matnog (DLTB and Elavil, not sure with Philtranco Bus). We rode a DLTB bus in Buendia terminal (you can also try their terminals in Cubao and Alabang). The fare is 1000PhP for regular passengers and 800PhP for students, senior citizens and PWD. The bus leaves at 3pm and the travel time is around 13 to 15 hours.
From Matnog, you have two options:
a) Direct boat ride to Biri Island: The most convenient but not the most reliable way of getting to the island. The port is located in front of the public market. You can ask the locals if you will have a hard time locating the boat. The travel time is approximately 2 hours and the fare is 200PhP per head. However, the schedule of trips VARIES depending on the season or weather. They don’t do regular trips everyday. During the summer (March to June), they ply 2-3 times daily. The earliest departs from Matnog at 7am (sometimes 9am) and the latest is around 2pm. During the rainy season (Ber-months to February), the schedule may be unpredictable. Sometimes they offer only a single trip for the whole day and sometimes they don’t have any trips at all (like what we experienced).
b) RoRo or Ship: So this one is reliable albeit a longer route compared to the direct boat trip to Biri. You can have this as your last resort if the other one fails. You may catch a regular ferry (2 hours travel time) or a fast craft (30mins to 1 hour of travel time) bound to Allen, Samar. The fare for the regular ferry is 120php plus 30php terminal fee. From Allen, take a tricycle bound to Lavezares port for 25php per head (200php if you opt for a special trip). The travel time is around 20-30 mins. Then from Lavezares port, catch the boat going to Biri Island. (please refer to ***above).
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
Accommodations in the island are mostly homestay type that ranges from 150PhP to 300PhP per head for an overnight stay. The most fancy hotel available is probably the Villa Amor and the Biri Dive Resort. Their rate is still reasonably affordable but if you want to cut on your expenses, then the homestays are your best option. We stayed at Exequiel and Lynn’s Homestay. They offered a private room with a bathroom for 200PhP per head. You can contact them thru these mobile numbers +639192962408 / +639303798259.
There are no restaurants around the area. Just ask your tour guide or the locals for the nearest eatery (karinderya). There is one beside the registration area or barangay hall.
OUR TOUR GUIDE and DRIVER:
Your habal-habal driver will also serve as your tour guide in the island. Upon your arrival at the port of Biri, you’ll see plenty of them. We had Kuya Richie as our guide and I personally recommend him. Aside from being informative, he is also kind and accommodating. He helped us find a place to stay and he also helped us maximize our time since we are on a tight schedule and we arrived late in the island. He knows stuff about the rock formations and he also took most of our photos.
The standard fee for habal habal for an entire 8-hour tour around the island is 195PhP, maximum of 3 persons. The tour guide fee is 300Php for a group of 5 persons. Please do not forget to pay their environmental fee of 50PhP.
You may contact Kuya Richie thru his mobile number, +639503988482
THE ROCK FORMATION
There are seven rock formations in the island- Bel-at, Caranas, Macadlaw, Magasang, Magsapad, Pinanahawan, Puhunan. However, some locals considered only six. It may require more than a single day to be able to visit them all. So if you don’t have much time, you can just visit the major rock formations. Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we were only able to see Magasang and Bel-At up close. Both of them have a tidal pool beside them.
Our first stop:
Our Last stop:
Roundtrip Bus from Manila to Matnog (Student Fare) – 1,800 PhpP
Ferry to Allen and Terminal Fee – 120 + 30 = 150PhP
Tricycle to Lavezares (Special Trip) – 200/2 =100PhP
Roundtrip Boat ride to Biri – 200PhP
Tricycle from Lavezares to Allen – 25PhP
Ferry from Allen to Matnog and Terminal Fee (Student Fare) – 88 + 16 = 104PhP
Tourism Fee – 50PhP
Habal Habal Ride – 195/2 = 97.5PhP
Tour Guide Fee – 300/2 = 150PhP
Food – 281.5
TOTAL = 3,158PhP
- There are NO AVAILABLE ATM/BANK in the area.
- Electricity runs only from 10AM to 2AM.
- BRING AQUASHOES!
- Mobile signal and data are available.
- Stores and eatery are open until 10PM.
- Aside from visiting the 7 rock formations, you can also do snorkeling and scuba diving.
- Enjoy the ROCK FORMATIONS!! 🙂