Updated: Sep 30
Apart from spending a lazy day at the beach, there’s another reason tourists flock to the Philippines – to go diving. The Philippines has a lot of great diving spots. There are many proclaim as they are the best in the world. Malapascua Island in Cebu City, for instance, is a great hit. Every year, thousands of divers brave the water of Malapascua to see Thresher Sharks – and they’re rarely disappointed.
The only problem with Malapascua is that it has become so popular that getting accommodation, especially during the peak season, can be a problem. If you’re the kind of person who’d rather experience the road less traveled than go mainstream, you might want to consider heading to Biri Island in Samar. It is also in the Philippines and perfect for a tropical vacation.
What Language Does, Biri Island In The Philippines Speak?
The native language that Biri Island's population speak is Tagalog. It is the most spoken language in the Philippines Islands. However, Tagalog is only spoken as a first language by a quarter of the Filipino population, and the majority speak it as a second language.
Where Is Biri Island And How Do You Get There?
Biri Island is located in Biri – a fifth-class municipality in Northern Samar, Philippines. Northern Samar is a very simple, laid-back province. Upon arrival, you’d notice that it doesn’t have the busy vibe that Manila does. People are amiable, and you’d find that they are generally trustworthy. Like most Filipinos, the people of Northern Samar are more than happy to assist foreigners, so don’t hesitate in asking for help.
The easiest way to reach Biri Island from Manila is to travel by air. PAL Express (formerly AirPhil Express) has daily flights to Catarman, which is Northern Samar’s capital. Fare varies depending on the season but expects to pay around Php3,000 or around the US $75 for a one-way flight.
Upon arrival at Catarman, take a jeepney ride to the town of Lazarus. Fare per head is Php60.00 or the US $1.50. Travel time is around one hour. Get exclusive deals on vacation packages and cheap flight fares with Delta Airlines Reservations to Biri Island, Philippines
If you haven’t tried riding a jeepney yet (which is the most common form of transportation in the country), let me set your expectations. A jeepney has two long seats inside, which can usually fit 9 or 10 persons on each. You’d have to sit beside strangers, and if you have bags, you’d have to either put them on your lap. Or for long drives, the driver will help you strap them on the roof.
There’s no room to stretch your legs, and you can’t tell the driver to stop just because you have to pee. So, wear comfortable clothes, comfortable footwear, pee before taking the ride, and bring a bottle of water because you could get thirsty.
Want to know more about what a jeepney is? Go here:
Once you arrive at Lavezares, head to the Lavezares Port by riding a tricycle. Here, ride a boat to take you to Biri Island. You’d have to wait for the ship to get full. If you don’t want to wait, you can hire it for Php500 or around US $12.50 to take you to the island. Travel time from the port to the island will take another hour.
Because Biri Island has just been known as a tropical vacation destination, there are no companies offering tours to the island yet. I think a DIY trip adds a sense of adventure to your tropical vacation.
Diving at Biri Island:
The best thing about diving in Biri Island is that many areas are yet to be discovered. In Biri, you’re not only going diving once you jump into the water, but you’re setting out on an adventure too.
Bringing your diving equipment is too much, especially since there are no private trips to the island. Not to worry, as there are several diving shops in Biri.
One that I recommend is Biri Scuba. Managed by Richard Ewen, it’s one of the newest dive shops on the island, but it has been gaining popularity ever since it opened. Biri Scuba offers different diving packages.
The Biri Island's Rock Formations:
As if diving at Biri Island is not reason enough for you to come, let me introduce you to the Biri Rock Formations.
The Biri Rock Formations is made up of seven beautiful rocks molded by time, nature, and circumstances. According to the study conducted by the University of the Philippines, these rock formations were deposited 18 to 24 million years ago and were formed by the movement of underwater tectonic plates.
The rocks are named Magsapad, Bel-at, Pinanahawan, Macadlaw, Caranas, Puhunan, and Magasang. The Biri Rock Formations are huge, and they have this aura that makes you travel back in time – like when there were still dinosaurs on Earth!
Of all the formations, people love Magasang the most. This huge rock has beautiful designs all over it, and the wind suddenly becomes almost tangible when you look at how it carved the stone to its current shape. As you climb to the top, a picturesque view of the San Bernardino Strait, Mt. Bulusan and nearby Sorsogon will take your breathe away. Traveling to Biri is not easy, but this spot alone makes the journey worth it.
Another must-visit is the Bel-at rock formation. From where the motorcycle stops, tourists have to walk through a walkway (about 500 meters long) with beautiful mangroves underneath. What sets Bel-at apart from the other rock formations is that it’s surrounded by tidal pools, which are all perfect for swimming.
Seeing Biri’s Rock Formations is free – there are no entrance fees or something, but you’d have to pay for a motorcycle to tour you around. There is no fixed rate, but giving the motorcycle driver Php700 or around US$18 is fair payment.
Where to Stay in Biri?
Biri Resort is considered the most upscale accommodation in the island. They feature plush air-conditioned rooms, a bar, a diner, and a couple of billiard pools.
One of the things that guests love most about it is that the place is accessible and clean. Staff are also amiable and are more than happy to help out with whatever guests need.
They also offer activities such as island hopping, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, mountain treks, and rock formation tours.
Room rates are from Php1,540 or US $38.50 to Php3,150 or US $79 per night.
Affordable tropical vacation:
Another popular choice for accommodation in Biri Island is Villa Amor. It’s a humble lodging house with three fan rooms and one air-conditioned cottage room. It’s owned by a lovely Filipino-Australian couple and is the only seaside resort on the island.
You might be wondering why Villa Amor only has one air-conditioned room. That’s because the electricity in the island only runs from noon to midnight. Guests staying in the fan rooms can open the windows and let the breeze from the beach come in. While the resort has its generator for the air-conditioned room, there’s an extra fee for the generator’s fuel if you insist on having the AC turned on.
Room rates as follows:
FAN ROOM (2 PERSON) = 700P PER NIGHT.
FAN ROOM (4 PERSON) = 1000P PER NIGHT.
AIRCON ROOM (2 PERSON) = 1200P PER NIGHT.
AIRCON ROOM (4 PERSON) = 1500P PER NIGHT.
* There’s a 10% discount for guests staying 6 nights or more.
Tips for traveling to Biri Island:
For a hassle-free tropical vacation to Biri Island, Philippines, here are some tips:
Upon arriving at the Catarman airport, walk outside the airport and get a tricycle there so the fare’s only Php10. If you ride at one of the tricycles millings right at the entrance and you let them carry their bags for you, you’d be legally charged Php100 as mandated by the Tourism Office.
Since you’d have to ride a boat from Lavezares to Biri Island, waterproof your gadget so they don’t get wet. The waves can be quite strong, even on a hot day.
Before agreeing to a verbal agreement with a guide, make sure that you decided on a price first.
Things to Bring:
Don’t forget to bring a bottle of mosquito repellent. Be a tropical country, mosquitoes abound in the Philippines—a trusty pair of flip-flops for walking around. Comfortable, loose clothes – the weather can get pretty hot.