Friday, June 29, 2018

San Pablo Island, Hinunangan Southern Leyte - Travel Guide (from Tacloban)

blue sea, trees, islan, forest, ocean san pablo island hinunangan southern leyte

Did you notice that here in the Philippines we have so many beautiful places that people know nothing about? One good example is San Pablo Island located in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte which is approximately 2-3 hours away from Tacloban City.

Compared to the other islands in Leyte, San Pablo is cheaper and less crowded. It's simple, beautiful and worth your time however, I recommend you visit this place on weekdays as it tends to get crowded with locals during the weekends.

Things you should know when planning to go to San Pablo Island:

1. Cottage fee ranges from Php200 to Php650.
2. It's better to bring your own food or buy food in Hinunangan market. They don't have restaurants or karenderyas but they have a sari-sari store.
3. You can grill meat as long as you bring your own utensils.
4Activities include swimming, ramp diving, rope swinging (from a tree) and just relaxing.
5. I suggest you bring your own tent as they have limited cottages suitable for overnight stay in the public beach but if you explore the island a little more, you'll see resorts with concrete rooms.
6. You can also visit the fish sanctuary in the neighboring island known as San Pedro. (Warning: some of the fishes here looked scary. They were like villains in the ocean. We thought they were going to eat us.😅 But the smaller fishes were fine and cute. 😄)






I would like to call this island 'The Dead Sea of Southern Leyte' -- not because it is dead or something but because of its salinity. The famous Dead Sea in Jordan is known for its high salt content which makes it so easy to swim or float. That's the same feeling when we were swimming in San Pablo Island and that's actually my favorite part! Although I really know how to swim, I don't usually do it in an open water because of my fear of losing control, muscle strain or simply having a panic attack. But here, I was able to swim in the ocean without a floater (after a few hours of encouragement from my friends and forgetting about my trust issues). It's a pretty big accomplishment for me, yay!







HOW TO GO TO SAN PABLO ISLAND FROM TACLOBAN

1. From Tacloban New Bus Terminal, look for public vehicles en route to St. Bernard or Hinundayan Southern Leyte. Make sure that it will pass by Hinunangan because some would pass by Sogod instead of Hinunangan. 

2. Ask the driver to drop you off in Brgy. Canipaan. Just beside the New Life Church, there's a road going to the port (check the pictures below to see the exact location and you can also show this to the driver). 



3. Walk or ride a habal2 (if you see one) going to the port. I think it's a 5-minute walk away from the main road.

4. Approach the boatmen. The minimum fee to charter a boat is Php1000 depending on the capacity and the boat trip only takes 15-20 minutes. Check the photo below for the rates. If you are traveling alone, you can opt for the public boat which operates once a day only at around 12NN (if you choose this, you will have to stay in the island overnight as the boat will go back to Hinunangan the next day early morning.




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Some photos that might help:









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Friday, May 11, 2018

Tacloban to Siargao the Cheapest Way - Land Trip Travel Guide




While looking at the Philippine map, I noticed that Surigao City is just across Southern Leyte and it made me realize that travelling to Siargao from Tacloban would be possible. Since then, I wanted to go there alone even before the Siargao movie but I was hesitant because I was worried about my safety. Until one day I got an invite from two of my cebu-based friends. The plane ticket was expensive at that time so I just decided to go there via land trip. Little did I know that this would be the best trip I'd ever have (despite all the challenges I've faced on my way going there).


Today, I want to share this travel guide to everyone especially to people from Leyte and Samar but if you're not used to long trips, then this route might not be for you. This is more suitable for backpackers than tourists (there's a big difference).



How to go to Siargao from Tacloban:

 1.) From New Bus Terminal, ride a van going to Sogod. They don't have a fixed schedule so I suggest you go there early in the morning and expect to wait for a few hours since the driver will wait for the van to get full before leaving. 

2.) In Sogod terminal, ride a jeepney going to Liloan. Another option is to ride a van or bus going to Benit. This is closer to Surigao City but the bus was really crowded so I just opted to go to Liloan. 

3.) Tell the driver or conductor to drop you off in Liloan Ferry Terminal. This is just along the road but you might not be able to notice it right away. If you pass by the Liloan bridge, then you're already near. 

Another option to reach Liloan is to get into a Bachelor bus en route to Davao. This will pass by Liloan and Surigao City but it's more costly (P370 to Liloan). If you do my 'hassle-full' route, you'll save 170pesos. The summary of the costs is shown in the table below.

4.) Pay for your boat ticket in Liloan Port terminal and wait for the departure. The boat will arrive in Lipata (Surigao) after 3 hours. *See boat trip schedule below.

5.) From Lipata Port, ride a habal-habal going to Eva M. Macapagal Passenger Terminal in Surigao City. This is already your gateway to Siargao Island. Travel time is 30 minutes. There are many habal-habal drivers waiting outside the terminal even at night time.

It was already 10:50pm when I finally arrived in Eva Macapagal Port and while riding the habal-habal, I was a little bit scared because the driver seemed drunk (or maybe he used redhorse as his perfume haha) and the road looked deserted and dark. I can't help but think about worst case scenarios but I just kept my cool and took my time appreciating the beauty of Surigao City. We passed by the road beside the sea under the shiny bright stars - and it was amazing! I was just praying and holding on to my monopod just incase.

6.) In Eva M. Macapagal terminal, you can buy your ticket going to Siargao. I arrived here at around 10:50pm and luckily, the ticket booth of Yohan Express was still open (or maybe they are 24hrs open). I got in and stayed in the terminal for the night until my boat departure time at 6am the next day.

7.) At 9am, I am finally in Siargao! I've met my friends and boom, it was the start of my fun-filled vacation.


Route
Amount
Travel time
Tacloban to Sogod (Van)
P150
3 hours
Sogod to Liloan (Jeepney)
P50
1 hour
Liloan to Lipata (Boat)
P360
2-3 hours
Lipata to Eva M. Macapagal Terminal (Habal-habal)
P100
30 mins
Eva M. Terminal to Siargao (Dapa)
P280
3 hours
Total
P940

For boat trip schedule, you can check out these sites:
Fastcat Boat Schedule Liloan to Lipata Surigao City
Surigao City to Siargao Boat Schedule

Basically, you have to arrive in Surigao City before 11AM because there are no boat schedule anymore in the afternoon from Surigao to Siargao.






Inside the Eva M. Macapagal Terminal. It looks nice. 

The best thing about the Eva M. Macapagal Terminal is the normal retail prices of their food and apparel items.




I'm still working on the suggested itinerary or recommended activities but for now, you can check these videos below. :D





How to go back to Tacloban from Siargao:

1.) Book your ticket in Dapa Port going back to Surigao City. My scheduled trip was at 11am because I didn't want to leave yet. You can also book an early schedule so you can arrive in Tacloban earlier.

2.) From Surigao City, ride a habal-habal going to Lipata Port.

3.) Just outside the port, you can buy boat tickets going to either Benit or Liloan. I chose Benit (San Ricardo) because it was already night time and there are lesser vehicles travelling to Tacloban from Liloan at night.

4.) Just outside the port of Benit, there was a bus waiting for passengers going to Tacloban. I'm not sure if this is always the case but I think I got lucky that night.

5.) At nearly 12am, I arrived home and had a good night sleep.



Route
Amount
Travel time
Siargao to Surigao City (boat)
P320
3 hours
Surigao City to Lipata Port (habal-habal)
P100
30 mins
Lipata Port to Benit (boat)
P140
1 hour
Benit to Tacloban (bus)
P370
5 hours
Total
P930

For boat trip schedule, you can check these sites:
Fastcar Boat Schedule Liloan to Lipata Surigao City
Lipata Surigao to Liloan Southern Leyte
Surigao City to Siargao Boat Schedule

For booking, you can call these numbers


Inside Dapa Port




Feel free to charge your gadgets here in Lipata Port

This is inside the boat from Lipata to Benit


Photo courtesy of Surigaoislands.com website / Fast Cat

Photo courtesy of Surigaoislands.com website

Overall, it was a really loooong travel but surprisingly, I wasn't exhausted at all. I enjoyed the long bus trip, uncomfortable jeepney ride and lengthy waiting time in every port/terminal. 

If you have any other suggestions or information that you can share, please free to comment down below. Thanks! :)

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Higunom Island Travel Guide (Arteche Eastern Samar)


Sea, boat, sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island

Higunom is a naked island located in the municipality of Arteche Eastern Samar. Honestly, this is the first time that I've heard about this town. I was like 'really, there's a place called Arteche? Okay let's go there'. I wasn't really expecting much but when we went there I was quite impressed. Not only because they have this stunning island but because the town itself is smoke-free! We really didn't see anyone smoking and you will not find a store selling cigarettes within the town proper. The locals seemed happy as they would usually talk about it in an apparently proud way.

Building, colorful building, arteche, eastern samar


I was lucky enough to have a short talk with their young 'pogi' mayor and it seemed like he has this strong desire to make this town a better place to live in. Implementing a smoke-free initiative is never easy but they were successful. I'm like 'good job mayor!'


Arteche eastern samar, ambulance, mobile clinic, samar


Boat, kids, sea, town, arteche, eastern samar

Anyway going back to Higunom Island, this little paradise is definitely worth a visit. The fact that it's so bare and simple makes it more serene and relaxing. The other side of the island is facing the pacific so if you're into surfing, you might want to try it here. You can also do snorkelling (and probably diving) on the shipwreck spot a few meters away from the shore. 

Sea,  sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island, lpe, little pinay, girl, island

Sea, boat, sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island, little pinay

How to get there (from Tacloban):

1. Contact the Arteche Tourism office first (the island is limited to only 40-50 visitors per day) Contact Person - Jessel 09552500024 / 09192189014

2. Go to New Bus Terminal and ride a van going to Arteche (Php280, 4-5hrs travel time). Van trips are scheduled everyday at 8am, 10am, 12nn, 2pm and 4pm (according to the driver I talked to).

3. Charter a boat going to the island (Php1500 for the whole boat which is good for 40-50 passengers - yes it's a big boat). Travel time is 1 hour (boat fare might be subject to change without prior notice).

4. Keep in touch with the tourism officer as they will tell you where to go upon arriving in Arteche.

5. To go back to Tacloban, the earliest trip is at 2am until 7:30am. The tourism officer can give you the contact number of the van operator for reservations.

Reminders:

1. There are no cottages or other facilities yet. It's a naked island so you already know. It's bare. Bring your sunblock.
2. Other Activities you can do there -- relaxing, picture-taking and swimming (snorkelling will be available soon)
3. You can also visit the Lagoon to swim with the beautiful fishes before you go back to the main island.
4. Smart 3G and Globe 2G signal available.
5. Smoking and alcoholic beverages are not allowed
6. Be a responsible traveller and bring your trash with you.
7. Hostels and lodging houses are available in Arteche. You can ask the tourism officer about that as well.

Sea, boat, sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island, girl, dress, sand, little pinay

Sea, boat, sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island, boy


Sea, boat, sky, arteche, eastern samar, higunom, naked island, girl dress hat


This island is just one of the many beautiful places to visit in Samar. I'm happy I get to know this place and I hope other towns will follow the smoke-free initiative as well. To see more of the island, check out this 2-minute video below. 


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Friday, April 6, 2018

El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte

El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte

El Montaña Vista resort is located in Brgy. Gamay Burauen, Leyte. It's an hour away from Tacloban and 10-15 mins away from Burauen town proper.

Just pay the Entrance fee of 120 pesos and you can enjoy the amazing pool and a waterslide!

📌 They are open everyday from 8am to 10pm.
📌 No corkage fee for food and water except softdrinks and alcoholic beverages.
📌 Cottage fee ranges from 500 to 1,200 pesos.
📌 Make sure to bring appropriate swimming attire.
📌 No accommodation for overnight stay yet (as of December 2017)

El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte, pool, resort

How to go there:

1. From Tacloban, ride a van going to Burauen. You can do it with Skyliner (located across grand tours, back of Savemore). Fare is 50 pesos.
2. From Burauen terminal, ride a motorcycle going to the resort. Most of the drivers know this resort. (Fare is 10 pesos each)

For more info, call Tata at 09273741267 or check their fb page El Montaña Vista Resort

El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte, pool, resort


El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte, pool, resort


El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte, pool, resort

El Montaña Vista Resort, Burauen Leyte, pool, resort

San Pablo Island, Hinunangan Southern Leyte - Travel Guide (from Tacloban)

Did you notice that here in the Philippines we have so many beautiful places that people know nothing about? One good example is San Pab...