Hidden gems : An Underwater exploratory dive in Sambawan Island

Mission : to see the Coral Cat Shark in Sambawan Island.

Our preference when scuba diving : Simple, uncrowded places, semi remote-remote area (because in most case these places are unspoiled),friendly locals, simple accommodation no luxury and awesome deal for dive packages.Plus cute critters (were macrophotography lovers) but we love Sharks and pelagics too 😉 ))

What’s more exciting than planning a dive trip for your Christmas holidays. Once upon a time sometime in June 2015 I saw a very beautiful landscape picture online, it was called Sambawan Island- a literal Paradise 🙂 a crescent shaped and skinny island just next to Volcanic Maripipi.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.52.10 AM

When we found out that diving is possible in the island and there is one dive Centre available, with no hesitation, Sambawan become our top choice.We negotiate and book a dive package with Sir Nestor Macorol owner and developer of Sambawan Dive and Camp Resort  and as usual by the power of my dive buddy’s lucky charm we got a good deal, Yay !!!

Getting to Sambawan Island :

First we took the night boat to Naval via Roble Shipping Lines departing Cebu @830pm and arriving Naval 130-2am.From Naval town we will have to take a 2hr van to the place where we take the boat to Sambawan island. There are two options getting there. First is via maripipi island, atleast 3public boats are available going there or head to Kawayan port where private boat for rent is available-this is best for groupsof 6-10people since boat rental is pricey.We choose option 2 and hop in the small cab going to Kawayan port (1hr).

We are lucky since our dear friend Sir Patrick brings his lucky charm with him and he found another group of young travelers who can share with us with boat rental.


Approaching the island feeling the excitement already with the Maripipi view which look like a volcano with clouds kissing its summit.


We arrive at Sambawan island around 2pm and greeted by their staff with warmth smiles and bright disposition.They look so happy to have us, the Dive team immediately introduce themselves and ask us what we want for lunch, sounds a good question. ”We want rice, we proclaimed” rice and veggies.While the Kitchen staff prepared our lunch, our dive guide bring us to our hut where we will be staying for 3nights, we put our bags, test the bed , savour the freshest air and wander around.

simple hut

The island has no supply for fresh water so resort staff fetch it everyday in a nearby Maripipi island (15mins via small boat). Electricity source is from a solar panel located on the top roof of one of the huts and runs from 6pm-5am the following morning. The dive team are friendly locals from Maripipi headed by Kuya Rodel. When he knows I am from Cebu he immediately knows we will have lengthy discussion and exchange of stories, later I found out from him that the people that help them set up the Dive Centre is a Filipino instructor from Cebu, they were the ones who trained them to be dive master and good dive guides.

Diving in sambawan is not crowded hence the remoteness of the place. There are occasional divers from Malapascua which do excursion dives  after Kalanggaman island in Leyte and another groups could be from mainland Maripipi which has atlas 2-3diveshops.

We spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling and planning for a night dive at 530pm. The night dive is in quest for the Coral Cat Shark, however we didn’t find her.But we find some cute nocturnal critters, cute gobies and smiling crabs.

The next dive days are filled with different topographic seascape, from boulders to boulders as in huge  of them inhabited with endless nudibranches from smallest to the tiniest of them. Sunken City is the prime dive site in the area it is a beautiful reef garden filled with colours, schools of fusiliers, sweetlips being nibbled by cleaner wrasse a couple of hefty golden trevally zooming around in the midst of it all and thousand of Anthias are enveloping the whole scene.

Another dive site is called Black forest, I know what you are thinking, must be creepy down there , and dark, but opposite to how it is called , the black forest in Sambawan island is a dive site sloping to huge boulders from the shallow 5meters to a sandy slope to 30meters. Down there is a forest of soft corals in white that you felt like wading in between snow or cotton covered bushes.

Sorry no photos for those mentioned, my dive buddy has macro lense at the moment and no chance for wide angle shots.

On last day in the island is a rest day. we went walking around the island and the small islets interconnected to each other. The north view is Biliran while south is Maripipi. Maripipi looks inviting , we ask the Kuya Rodel if it is possible to climb up to the summit of Maripipi he said he never have done it yet only to almost halfway since the water source and a reservoir that supplies the island is there.

All in all this trip is like a dream come true, all preferences is achieved except seeing the Coral Cat Shark :p :p :p yet another reason to be back 🙂

For more info just click the Link : http://tourism.biliranisland.com/sambawanisland.php

Photo credits to his highness 😉 Mr Uwe ”awesome” Michaelis (UnderWaterExplorer)

Other photos are from the gecko babe too 😉







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