EXPLORING BIRI ISLAND: God’s Masterpiece in Northern Samar

BIRI ISLAND.
BIRI ISLAND. This island is one of the best travel destinations I’ve ever been to!

Any traveler who’s been to Biri Island would probably say it is beautiful. And indeed, it is! But beautiful is actually an understatement. Biri is gorgeously and stupendously beautiful!

WHEN THE SEA WAVES SEEM TO MEET THE SKY.
WHEN THE SEA WAVES SEEM TO MEET THE SKY. Such gorgeousness… where else can you see such a thing?

I had high expectations before going to this famed island located north of Samar island, and experiencing it for myself has exceeded all of my expectations! Its main features, the rock formations, resemble as a painter’s canvas that constantly changes with every wave that hits the rocks, wind that blows through the land and light that shines upon them. With unparalleled splendor and beauty, Biri is God’s masterpiece!

WHERE IS BIRI?

MAP OF BIRI
MAP OF BIRI. Here’s the location of the municipality of Biri as part of Northern Samar province. (Map courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Found up north of Northern Samar, Biri Island is one of the islands of the municipality of Biri. Its rock formations face the Pacific Ocean, which is why humongous waves can be expected when you see them. But don’t worry, it’s safe to visit as long as you remain in safe areas as indicated by your travel guide.

Speaking of travel guide, I prepared reminders shall you decide to go here in Biri. Please take note of them.

How to go to Biri Island?

  1. Best way to go to Biri Island is via plane to Catarman (before eventually traveling to the island via boat). It is in Catarman, Northern Samar’s capital, where the nearest airport to Biri is located. However, only Clark and Cebu have daily flights going to and from here via Philippine Airlines.
  2. If you’re coming from Manila, you can fly first to Tacloban, Leyte before heading to Biri. Vans going to Catarman are available, and if they’re not, you should opt to cut trips so you can eventually go there. Example, you can travel first to Catbalogan or Calbayog before traveling to Catarman.
  3. Travel time from Tacloban to Catarman would depend on the type of transportation you’re going to use. Van is the best and fastest way, but even so, travel time can take about 6 to 7 hours or more.
  4. After reaching Catarman, go to their transportation terminal and ride a jeepney going to the town of Allen.
  5. Ask the driver to drop you off in the port of Lavezares.
  6. Ride the boat going to Biri.
WELCOME TO BIRI!
WELCOME TO BIRI! This facade isn’t actually made by the tourism office of Biri. It’s part of the design of Lawud Park and Restaurant, said to be the only restaurant of its kind in the island.

REMINDERS BEFORE GOING TO BIRI:

  1. Bring a dry bag. Secure your gadgets and cameras before riding the boat going to the island. The weather may seem fine, but huge waves can still wet you and your belongings while sailing.
  2. You are not allowed to go to the rock formations by yourselves. You need to have a guide to avoid accidents or untoward incidences. By the way, your guide will also be your habal-habal driver.
  3. Prepare cash. The island doesn’t have ATM machines.
  4. Due to rise in popularity and implementation of new regulations in the tourism office, fees and tour guide rates have dramatically increased in Biri Island. My friends and fellow travelers who have been in Biri Island before said the rates they had to pay years ago were much lower compared to what’s being asked for the tourists now.

Actual rates:

  • Day tour – P500 (P200 guide fee, P300 habal-habal)
  • Sunset activitiy – additional P350
  • Sunrise activity – P850
  1. It will be cheaper if you go here in Biri Island with a group than solo. Why? You will be asked the same rates given above whether you go here solo or in a group.
  2. Biri Island has two ports: Palhugan Port, which is found in Bgy. Santo Nino and Biri Port, which is found in Bgy. Poblacion, where the tourism office is located. Boats going to Biri usually drop their passengers in Palhugan Port so you have to ride habal-habal going to the tourism office. If your boat will also go to the port in Poblacion, you may just choose to head there instead.
  3. Accommodations in Biri comprise mostly of homestays and lodging houses. There is one hotel in the island, though expect to pay a lot more if you want to stay there. Fees in homestays/lodging houses range from P300 to P400 per room.
  4. Electricity is already available for 24 hours, unlike before when it is only available from 12 nn to 12 mn.
  5. There aren’t too many restaurants in the island. If you’re on a budget, you can eat in the local eateries or carenderias. You can also bring your own food from mainland Samar.
  6. Globe has 4G/ LTE reception in the town proper of the island. I was a bit worried I won’t be getting any while staying inside the lodge where I was staying, but I did!
  7. Don’t hesitate to ask your guide should you have other concerns. They’re willing to help you as best as they can.
  8. Be a responsible traveler. Do not throw your trash anywhere. Do not get anything from the places you’ll be visiting. Be extra careful when going to the rock formations. Listen to your travel guide as he or she gives you instructions and precautions.
  9. Most importantly, enjoooy!

WHAT TO EXPLORE:

The island’s major features are its rock formations. Let’s find out what they are here.

Magasang Rock Formation

Named after “gasang,” which means corals, Magasang Rock Formation is most likely the first rock formation that you’d be visiting in the island. Simplistic from afar but intricate at close, this rock formation resembles a small hill covered with green and brownish grass. On its sides are rocks with otherworldly designs, which were most likely brought about by the elements. Meanwhile, hundreds of small boulders litter the sides of Magasang Rock Formation.

MAGASANG ROCK FORMATION.
MAGASANG ROCK FORMATION. Hundreds of small rocks litter the surrounding of Magasang Rock Formation.

MAGASANG AND MAGSAPAD

MAGASANG AND MAGSAPAD. These are the first two rock formations that you’d be visiting in the island. The one on the left side is Magasang and the one on the right is Magsapad.

AWESOME ROCK FORMATION.
AWESOME ROCK FORMATION. As the first rock formation you’d be seeing, Magasang wouldn’t disappoint!

Magsapad Rock Formation

Lying relatively near Magasang, Magsapad is probably the most photographed rock formation in Biri. Magasang is easier to reach because of its proximity, making it more accessible. As a probable result, Magsapad is the one being photographed by travelers while they’re stating in Magasang. Besides, this rock formation which means grassy in Waray is a such a pretty sight!

Featuring similar brownish gray layers of rocks and bright green grass on its top, Magsapad is Magasang’s twin rock. The two are only separated by a natural ground pool that is constantly filled by the spattering waves of the Pacific. These ginormous rock formations as well as the adjacent colorful pool made me stop and reflect for a while. I thought about how I should be grateful at that moment in time as I was looking at God’s masterpiece. My heart was full, my mind was at ease and my soul was thriving to what I was witnessing.

PROBABLY THE PRETTIEST SIGHT
PROBABLY THE PRETTIEST SIGHT I’ve seen in whole of Biri, this picture features the Magsapad Rock Formation. Look at all those colors!
GOD'S MASTERPIECE.
GOD’S MASTERPIECE. I wanted to cry when I was witnessing this work of nature here in Biri. Just look at how everything seemed so perfect: the splashing of the waves, the formidable rock formations, the brightness and the magnitude of colors.

Macadlaw Rock Formation

This rock formation got its name from “adlaw” or sun, as it is said to be the best place to be when viewing the sun as it rises in the morning. One of its defining features is a sole coconut tree, which you can see in the picture below.

MACADLAW.
MACADLAW. The rock formation at the background is Macadlaw, noted for its location during sunrise. One of its other features is the sole coconut tree as you can see in this photo. In the foreground are young mangroves.
THE WOODEN BRIDGE.
THE WOODEN BRIDGE. This is the wooden bridge that connects the main road to the rock formations of Bel-at and Caranas. It is surrounded my mangroves.

Bel-at Rock Formation

Bel-at is a huge block of layered rocks with beautiful edges at the sides. Its color varies from very dark hues to lighter shades of brown. Near this beautiful rock formation is a natural pool where people can enjoy swimming!

IS IT A SNAKE OR A CROCODILE?
IS IT A SNAKE OR A CROCODILE? This rock feature that resembles a reptile head welcomed us as we enter the area where Bel-at and Caranas rock formations can be seen.
ON TOP OF BEL-AT.
ON TOP OF BEL-AT. This is one of the views on top of Bel-at. The nearby Caranas Rock Formations can be seen.
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It was pretty to be on top of Bel-at, but it was prettier at its sides. Just look at this and tell me if I’m wrong!
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SURREAL. Among all the rock formations I’ve seen in the country, Biri’s rock formations are the most beautiful!
BIRI'S NATURAL POOL
BIRI’S NATURAL POOL. This is the pool that exists between the rock formations of Bel-at and Caranas. Mangroves can be seen surrounding the area.

Caranas Rock Formation

Near Bel-at Rock Formation is the sloping rock formations of Caranas. Mountain goats can be seen lurking on its top, which is covered with vegetation. Meanwhile, huge and small boulders lie at its sides.

CARANAS ROCK FORMATION.
CARANAS ROCK FORMATION. Just look at how the blue waves come towards the sloping rock formations of Caranas.
HIGH TIDE.
HIGH TIDE. This is how it looks like during late afternoon when the tide’s beginning to go up.

Puhunan Rock Formation

Is it just me or do you also see a giant canine lying down while facing the Pacific? That’s what Puhunan Rock Formation seemed to be when I saw it. This rock formation lies between Bel-at and Macadlaw. Its layered rocks are similar to that of Bel-at, but it seems liked more vegetation and trees can be seen on its top.

PUHUNAN ROCK FORMATION.
PUHUNAN ROCK FORMATION. This is one of my favorite pictures in our trip: standing in between Puhunan and Bel-at with Puhunan at the background.
DRAMA CAUGHT ON PICTURE.
DRAMA CAUGHT ON PICTURE. Every wave that crashes on the rock formations features such drama that makes the shot being taken alive.

Giron

Said to be the perfect place to chase sunset in Biri, Giron features a beach side of the island that nestles coconut trees and some small rock formations.

SUNSET IN BIRI.
SUNSET IN BIRI. I’m very grateful for a very good weather the day I went to Biri. I have witnessed a beautiful sunset that I would clearly remember for quite some time.

WHO TO CONTACT:

Ricky Bobier – Kuya Ricky is my friendly travel guide in the island. Don’t hesitate to contact him when you plan to go to Biri. He sure knows where to spot good places for photographs! Here is his contact number: 0946-736-3436.

WHERE TO STAY:

EXEQUIEL & WYN LODGING HOUSE – This is where I stayed while in Biri. It is a good location as it is near the tourism office, stores and eateries as well as the Biri Port. Their contact numbers are 0919-2962-408 and 0930-3798-259.

EXPENSES IN BIRI ISLAND:

These are the expenses I’ve had while staying overnight in Biri. Be reminded that it would be much cheaper shall you go here with someone or a group.

P25 – “environmental fee” issued in Lavezares Port – P25

P100 – boat ride from Lavezares to Biri (Fee for boat ride varies, especially with the size of the boat as well as the number of passengers. It can go as low as P60 up to P100.)

P50 – environmental fee issued in Biri tourism office

P500 – day tour (P200 for habal-habal, P300 for guide fee)

P350 – sunset activity (additional P150 for habal-habal, P200 for guide fee)

P300 – accommodation (Exequiel & Wyn Lodging House)

P100 – dinner

P60 – boat ride from Biri to Lavezares

TOTAL EXPENSES: P1,485

Notes about the expenses:

  1. You can definitely make your expenses in Biri a lot cheaper if you travel in a group. One travel guide can accommodate 3 to 4 pax.
  2. Exequiel & Wyn Lodging House is a winner for an accommodation. A whole bungalow is being rented here, with one single bed, about 2 to 3 beddings, a small table, a wooden sofa, a kitchen area with sink and its very own bathroom/ toilet.
  3. If you want to save up for food, you can bring your own food when going to Biri. Or, if you don’t want to eat in their restaurants, you can avail their local dishes in the carinderia.

***

I hope I am able to help you in your travel plan to Biri. Don’t hesitate to hit me up should you have comments, questions and suggestions. Thank you, guys!

A WORLD OF CONTRASTS.
A WORLD OF CONTRASTS. Biri Island has been described as surreal, dreamlike, fantastic. I’ll also use those descriptive terms and a lot more. In hindsight, I’ve thought of the island as a world of contrast. As a product of huge, scary waves, its rock formations are splendid to look at. When I asked my guide, Kuya Ricky, when does he find the place most beautiful, he answered during the dry months of summer. While I can somehow agree to a certain extent to his reasons, I find it perfect if the place isn’t so dry, much like what I have witnessed in the first week of February. Meanwhile, in this picture, the side of the Bel-at emanate a dark hue of brown, while Caranas is glowing courtesy of the sun.

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