Northern Samar Travel Guide

Overview of Northern Samar

Northern Samar covers a land area of several square kilometers from the Pacific Ocean in the East to the Samar Sea in the West. The “Balicuatro Islands” of Biri Island, Capul Island that highlights the lighthouse that was built in 1893, San Antonio and San Vicente offer an amalgam of adventure and nature – each with their own unique tourism jewels.

Biri Island’s attraction are the seven geologic rock formations that are breathtaking similar to Australia’s Twelve Apostles. Capul Island on the other hand, is replete in history as an anchorage for the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade in the 17th century.

San Vicente prides itself with its "Pink Sand" beach. San Antonio is the most developed of the four island-municipalities with a chain of resorts spanning the entire eastern shores of the island.

Where to Go

Biri Island Rock Formations

Marvel at the stunning rock formations in Biri Island, particularly the iconic "Magasang" and "Magsapad" rock formations. These natural wonders have been sculpted by the relentless waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Capul Island

Visit Capul Island and explore its historical sites, including the Capul Church and the Capul Lighthouse. The island is known for its well-preserved colonial-era structures and picturesque landscapes.

Lavezares Sohoton Natural Bridge

Discover the enchanting Sohoton Natural Bridge in Lavezares. The bridge is a natural limestone formation that spans across the Sohoton River, providing a scenic spot for nature lovers.

Pambujan Cold Spring

Take a refreshing dip in the Pambujan Cold Spring, a cool and clear spring nestled in the midst of lush greenery. It's a relaxing spot for locals and visitors alike.

Mondragon Church

Explore the Mondragon Church, officially known as the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church. This centuries-old church showcases Spanish colonial architecture and is a testament to the region's historical and cultural heritage.

Mapaso Hot Spring

Relax in the soothing waters of Mapaso Hot Spring in Catubig. Surrounded by tropical vegetation, this hot spring is known for its therapeutic benefits and tranquil ambiance.

Palapag Dam

Visit the Palapag Dam, an artificial reservoir that provides irrigation to nearby agricultural areas. The dam is surrounded by scenic landscapes, making it a peaceful destination for nature enthusiasts.

Gamay Beach

Enjoy the pristine white sand of Gamay Beach in Lapinig. This secluded beach offers a serene environment, perfect for a quiet getaway.

What to Do

Rock Formation Tour in Biri Island

Take a guided tour to witness the impressive rock formations in Biri Island. Marvel at the natural sculptures created by the relentless waves of the Pacific Ocean, including the famous Magasang and Magsapad rock formations.

Historical Tour in Capul

Explore the historical sites in Capul Island, including the Capul Church and Lighthouse. These structures provide insights into the province's colonial past and offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Sohoton Natural Bridge Adventure

Embark on an adventure to Sohoton Natural Bridge in Lavezares. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the natural limestone bridge and take a boat tour along the Sohoton River, discovering caves and unique rock formations.

Relax at Pambujan Cold Spring

Unwind and cool off at the Pambujan Cold Spring. This natural spring surrounded by lush greenery provides a refreshing escape from the tropical heat.

Visit Mondragon Church

Immerse yourself in history by visiting the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Mondragon. Admire the architectural beauty and learn about the cultural significance of this centuries-old church.

Bathe in Mapaso Hot Spring

Experience the therapeutic benefits of Mapaso Hot Spring in Catubig. The natural hot spring surrounded by tropical foliage is an excellent spot for relaxation.

Explore Palapag Dam

Take a scenic trip to Palapag Dam and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The dam offers a picturesque setting, making it a great place for nature walks and birdwatching.

Discover Gamay Beach

Enjoy the tranquility of Gamay Beach in Lapinig. The pristine white sand and clear waters provide a perfect backdrop for relaxation and seaside activities.

Cultural Immersion

Engage with the local communities to experience the warmth of Northern Samar's culture. Participate in local festivities, try traditional delicacies, and interact with the friendly locals.

Nature Trips

Explore the province's lush landscapes by going on nature hikes, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty that Northern Samar has to offer.

When is the Best Time to Visit Northern Samar

The best time to visit Northern Samar is during the dry season, which typically spans from November to April. This period offers favourable weather conditions with minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and exploring the province's natural wonders.

The wet season in Northern Samar typically brings life to the province from May to October. During these months, the region experiences increased rainfall, enhancing the lush landscapes and turning them into vibrant, breathtaking scenes. This period adds a refreshing touch to the surroundings, making it an exciting time to witness nature at its most vibrant.

How to Get to Northern Samar

By Air

The most convenient way to reach Northern Samar is by air. The province is served by two main airports: Catarman National Airport and Calbayog Airport. Domestic airlines operate regular flights to these airports, with connections from major cities like Manila and Cebu. Upon arrival, travelers can easily access different parts of Northern Samar through local transportation, making air travel a swift and efficient option for reaching the province.

By Sea

For those who prefer a maritime adventure, Northern Samar is accessible by sea. The province has several ports, including the major one in Allen. Ferries and passenger ships operate routes connecting Northern Samar to various ports in the Visayas region. The sea journey provides a scenic approach, offering travellers the chance to enjoy the coastal beauty and seafaring experience.

By Car / Bus

Traveling by land is another option for reaching Northern Samar. The province is connected to the Luzon mainland by the San Bernardino Strait, and buses ply routes from Manila to various towns in Northern Samar.

The scenic journey by land allows travellers to witness the changing landscapes and immerse themselves in the local culture. Additionally, those with a preference for driving can rent a car to enjoy the flexibility of exploring Northern Samar at their own pace, especially when venturing into more remote or less accessible areas. Roads are generally well-maintained, providing a comfortable land travel experience.

How to Get Around

By Taxi / Ride-Sharing Services

Getting around Northern Samar using taxi or ride-sharing services may require a bit of planning, as these options may not be as prevalent as in more urbanised areas. In the main towns like Catarman or Allen, you may find local taxi services. Ride-sharing apps may have limited availability.

By Car / Motorcycle

Exploring Northern Samar by car or motorcycle offers the advantage of flexibility, allowing you to visit remote areas and picturesque landscapes. Renting a car from major towns like Catarman or Allen is an option, and travellers can navigate through the province using main roads and highways.

What to Eat

Local Food

Delight in the flavours of Northern Samar by savouring local delicacies at notable restaurants like Kainan sa Balud, Mango Lounge & Estates, and Rawis Restaurant.

Fresh Seafood

Along the coastal towns and beachside areas, travellers can discover a multitude of seafood restaurants and eateries that showcase a diverse selection of ocean-fresh delights. Notable establishments in the area include Dencio's Seafoods and Grill Hauz, Taba's Lechon & Seafood House, Fishville Restobar, and SH Dine Inn.

Western Food

In Northern Samar, several restaurants offer a delectable array of Western cuisine, providing a delightful contrast to the local flavours. Notable establishments include Summer's Kitchen, Verana's Restaurant, Ructhel's Eatery, and Michz Cafe.

What to Buy

In Northern Samar, immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring handwoven mats known as "banig," renowned for their intricate designs and vibrant colors. Additionally, indulge in the region's rich tradition of crafting products from abaca fibers, ranging from sturdy bags to stylish accessories. Discover unique local handicrafts, including skillfully carved wooden items, intricately designed shell craft, and beautiful beadwork.

Where to Stay

In Northern Samar, there are several accommodation options catering to various preferences and budgets. In the capital town of Catarman, you can find hotels ranging from mid-range to budget-friendly, offering comfortable amenities and proximity to key attractions. For a more serene experience, consider beachfront resorts along the coastal areas, providing a relaxing atmosphere and beautiful views of the Philippine Sea.

In smaller towns like Allen, guesthouses and inns may offer a more intimate setting, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local community. Additionally, exploring homestay options can provide a unique opportunity to connect with the warmth of Northern Samar's hospitality.

What to Bring

  • Bring sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun's rays.
  • Comfortable sandals or flip-flops are ideal for beach outings, while a pair of sturdy walking shoes may be useful for hiking or exploring.
  • If visiting during the wet season, a compact umbrella and a lightweight rain jacket can come in handy.
  • Stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle, particularly if you're engaging in outdoor activities.
  • Ensure your electronic devices stay charged by bringing the necessary travel adapters.
  • While there are ATMs in urban areas, having some local currency can be useful, especially in more remote locations.

What to Wear

When visiting Northern Samar, it is advisable to pack lightweight and breathable clothing due to the tropical climate. Opt for comfortable and casual attire such as shorts, T-shirts, and sundresses.

Don't forget to include swimwear, as the province boasts beautiful beaches and natural attractions. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential for protection against the sun. If planning to explore inland areas or engage in outdoor activities, consider packing sturdy footwear like sneakers or hiking sandals.

Things to Note

  • Stay hydrated, especially in the warm weather, and use sunscreen to protect against the sun. Consider bringing insect repellent, particularly if you plan to explore nature reserves.
  • The local currency is the Philippine Peso (PHP). While ATMs are available in urban areas, it's advisable to have some local currency on hand, especially in more remote locations.
  • Keep a list of important contacts, including the local emergency numbers, contact information for your accommodation, and the nearest embassy or consulate.
  • Filipino and English are widely spoken, but learning a few basic Filipino phrases can enhance your travel experience and interactions with locals.

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