(This would mark another solo backpacking trip, lugging on my back a pack that weighs almost 7+ kg. my stop before I proceed to Virac, Catanduanes where I’ll be spending my birthday. My stay in Biri was special because I welcomed 2017 solo, backpacking, devoid of the fireworks of the new year and not much food to gobble)
If you’ve been around the Philippines, it is easy to write off Biri Island as just another island in the country but I urge you to include this island on your itinerary when doing the Visayas Circuit. I’ll tell you one thing, this island is special.
What sets it apart from any other islands is its gigantic rock formations. So huge that you’ll feel dwarfed, crane your neck to see the end of it and have to walk far to get a rock formation on the screen of your phone or camera whole.
It would be a tragedy if you have fear for heights as the view is best when standing on top of one of the rock formations but you can of course still enjoy it. They have 7 awesome rock formations, each beautiful on its own.
But before that, you need to get down and get wet. You would need to walk the canopy of mangroves then get down and get wet again. Isn’t that interesting? I enjoyed best the mangrove top walk and I am sure you would too. On another, you’ll need to walk maybe a kilometer of knee-high deep water just to get an up close view of its splendor.
It was fun!
How to Get to Biri Island
You can access the island from Lavazares Town, Northern Samar or check out the direct boat from Matnog, Sorsogon if the sea is calm at php200. But the main route would be via Lavazares where small boats ply to and fro as early as 5am until 11am. However, depending on the number of passengers, the boat can already leave the small pier anytime as long as the boarders are willing to shoulder the remaining slots. Bangkeros claims that the capacity is 15pax, fare if at 15pax is php60. For arkila, it would cost php750.00 or more depending on your haggling prowess.
If you are flying from Manila, the nearest airport is at Catarman. Ride a tricycle bound for Lavazares town or a jeepney. Same if you are coming from port of Allen.
Where to Stay
Three years ago, accommodation in the island was limited. Well, it is still is but homes have gradually been converted to homestays, lodges and inns to cater to the rising number of local tourist frequenting the island during the summer.
Once you have disembarked at their small pier, just ask the driver of the habal-habal about the cheapest lodge or inn in town and they will drive you around and help you find one that would suit your taste.
I stayed at Gloriavista known before as Ate Glo, the proprietress was friendly enough. Their standard fan room cost php 300 / night with 1 wide bed that can accommodate 2 person and a common t&b shared by sereval rooms. I’ll give it 2 stars out of 5 because of the musty smell, lack of ventilation, rusty fan and I felt I was not welcomed enough. When I went around other homestays, standard rooms similar in dimensions are of the same rate but the rooms were airy.
Biri Resort and Dive Center would be the best place to stay if you are looking for a much better accommodation. Room rates starts at php1,500, best if you have a travelling companion.
How to Get to Biri Rock Formations
The DOT-Samar has established a system to account visitors. When you disembark at the small pier one needs to ride a habal-habal to get to your lodge, they then proceed first to register you to the small tourism office where you pay the necessary fees. They too will pick you up on their habal-habal and serve as your guide to the rock formations.
For those habal-habal drivers who won’t abide will be penalized and won’t be able to service tourist for a certain length of time.
registration fee: php 50.00
guide: php 300
habal-habal: php 200
tour cost: php 1,300 (includes sunrise viewing at php200 on 2nd day)
What to Do in Biri Island
Visit the rock formations
There are seven rock formations in the area as I have earlier mentioned and each has its own beauty and appeal – Magasang, Bel-at, Magsapad, Caranas, Macadlaw, Puhunan and Pinanahawan. If I have to choose, Magasang and Bel-at are the best ones.
From atop one of the rock formations, one can see the wrath of the pacific being broken by the rocks. With these same painful process that the rock goes through day by day, the formations were borne, beautiful ones.
Snorkel, Scuba and Free Dive
I was not able to do any of these activities because I was on the wrong month of the year, for you to be able to enjoy it, visit during the dry season or summer (March – May) but one can enjoy sunbathing and swimming at Magasang and Bel-at.
What to Wear or Bring
Wear swim attire or easy to dry shorts or pants if you aren’t planning to swim. Wear sandals that has a good traction on wet rocks because rocks underwater are slippery. Bring also your snorkeling equipment if you would be planning to take some dives
Headlamp or Flashlight and extra batteries since electricity is until 2am, you’ll need it to pack-up, to bath etc.
Dry Bag for your camera, phone and other gadgets
Other Useful Information
Electricity runs from 10am to 2am.
Eateries are rare at the poblacion where most of the inns, lodges and homestays are located. My go-to for lunch and dinner is at Mila‘s, a small eatery managed by an elderly. Not much on vegetables, more on meat and fish depending on the catch. Their is also one beside the tourism office where visitors are encouraged to buy their food or packed lunch, they serve silogs. If you are doing day tour, you can ask the owner of the small hut to cook lunch for you at the junction where the guides will park their habal-habal before proceeding to Magasang.
Cellphone signal and mobile data is good anywhere around town especially at the rock formations so you can point, shoot, edit and upload right away!
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Backpacker friendly.
Special tip: You can visit the rock formations all in one day to maximize your stay and minimize your cost. Here is a sample itinerary,
6:00am – board the boat at Lavazares town, you’ll reach the island at around 7am
7:15am – check in at your preffered lodge, get ready for the tour
8:00am – proceed to register, pay 1 day fee, buy packed lunch at tourism or as suggested, ask the habal-habal driver to notify the hut owner before going to Magasang to cook lunch for you
9:00am – start tour, cover 3 rock formations
12:00nn – lunch
1:00pm – resume rock formation adventure; sunset viewing
6:00pm – proceed back to lodge; dinner, start packing up
5:00am – wash-up
6:00pm – check-out at lodge, walk a few meters and have photo ops at their small church, Biri Signage and the Municipal Hall; walk back to the small pier near Mila’s eatery
8:00am – board boat back to Lavazares Town
Total estimated budget = php1,300
Hope this post will encourage you more to visit Biri Island! Watch out too for my blog on my backpacking trip to Virac, Catanduanes..
Have questions? Write it up on the comment box or drop me a message on facebook!