Solo Birthday Travel: My Backpacking Itinerary in Northern Samar

NORTHERN SAMAR, PHILIPPINES — I have wanted to try something different for my birthday celebration. Something different from the usual party, booze or food coma. So I have searched for a place where I could travel. Alone. That’s when the otherworldly scenery of Biri rock formations came into view.

I stumbled upon a blog post featuring the rock formations of Biri. Fascinated by how nature sculpted these majestic rocks, I started my research. Apparently, only Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the only commercial flight carrier that flies to Catarman Airport, the nearest to Biri. Long gone were the days that the other major airline companies reach Catarman. The destination is very infrequently grazed by seat sale promos. During a travel expo, other destinations were very cheap yet Catarman remained fixed at ~2770Php for a single journey. Still convinced that there is hope, I searched for all of PAL’s seat sales in 2013 and in 2014. Upon extrapolating data, I have discovered that seats to Catarman is only up for sale during the 2nd to 4th week of the month of March. You’re welcome.

But then research can sometimes make you go crazy. I ended up wanting to include Capul in my destination. Another blogpost that I saw wanted me to go to San Antonio (for its white sand beach) and to San Vicente (for its pink beach). Then I added Kangpongkol Falls and Veriato Falls. I have even considered adding Pinipisakan Falls in Las Navas, but realized it was too far from the route and my trip date is too short. There are too many itineraries in my head, I almost lost my mind planning on how to congest these into a “long weekend”. Finally, because I ultimately wanted spontaneity, I just decided to forget about a detailed itinerary as long as my main destination is Biri.

When I came to Northern Samar, I have removed the Pink Beach from Sila Island (one of the Naranjo islands of San Vicente) from the itinerary because public transportation boats are scarce during the weekends. I might have problem getting back to the mainland Samar the next day if I will push through with this. So during breakfast at a local eatery in Catarman Proper, I have pulled out the brochure containing boat trip schedules that I got from the Tourism Office kiosk at the airport and checked which island to go first. And that’s were my adventure started. In an eatery. 



Day 1 (Saturday, July 11):

  • 0515   ETD NAIA Terminal 3
  • 0630   ETA Catarman Airport; tricycle from airport to Catarman Proper; breakfast
  • 0715   Tricycle from terminal to Bobon (Asia College)
  • 0730   Pedicab from Asia College to Brgy. Balat-Balud
  • 0745   Trekking to Lulugayan Falls
  • 0945    Habal-habal to Salvacion Crossing; wait for jeepney bound to Allen
  • 1000    ETD Bobon
  • 1045    ETA Allen; tricycle to Victoria Port (boat transferred from Looc Port to Victoria)
  • 1100    ETA Victoria Port; rode boat bound for Capul; waiting time & lunch
  • 1230    ETD Victoria Port;
  • 1345    ETA Capul Island; visit Capul church;
  • 1415    Checked-in at Capul Island Beach Resort; start tour
  • 1430    Visited lighthouse, bigfoot rock formations, century tree
  • 1545    Visited a local hilot (got sprained in Lulugayan);
  • 1615    Looked for a guide for a hike to Mt. Siber near Tourism Office (was advised not to continue because of my sprain)
  • 1630    Visited  Bañadero spring, paksol, Balwarte ruins & shopped for dinner
  • 1745    Back to resort; explore the beach
  • 1900    Rest
  • 2000    Dinner & socials with co-guests & resort caretakers
  • 2400    Lights off (literally, because electricity is only until 12mn)

Day 2 (Sunday, July 12): 

  • 0630    ETA Capul Port
  • 0700    ETD Capul Port
  • 0830    ETA Victoria Port; tricycle to Allen; tricycle to Lavezares
  • 0900    ETA Lavezares Port; waiting time
  • 1000    ETD Lavezares Port
  • 1100    ETA Biri – Brgy. Sto Nino; Check-in at Nanay Gaga’s homestay
  • 1130    Lunch near municipal hall
  • 1200    Register at Muncipal Hall (P50 environmental fee; P300 tour guide)
  • 1215    Magasang & Magsapad rock formations
  • 1500    Bel-at, Caranas & Tinimpagan rock formations
  • 1630    Puhunan rock formation
  • 1730    Back to Brgy. Sto Nino; looked for lobster, only got slipper lobsters (locally called kufafa); socials
  • 1900     Birthday Dinner

Day 3 (Monday, July 13):

  • 0530   Macadlaw rock formation
  • 0700   Back to Brgy. Poblacion
  • 0730   Started scuba diving (from Brgy. San Antonio to Brgy. Poblacion)
  • 0845   Finished scuba diving; breakfast
  • 1000   Trekked to Biri Falls
  • 1045   Back to homestay; packed things; no more public boat so I just took rest
  • 1330   ETD Biri via private boat (PhP 400)
  • 1430   ETA Lavezares; explored Lavezares town proper
  • 1530   ETD Lavezares
  • 1630   ETA Catarman Proper; check-in at a travel lodge near market; explored Catarman
  • 2200   Lights off

Day 4 (Tuesday, July 14):

  • 0615   ETD Catarman Airport
  • 0745   ETA NAIA Terminal 3


This post is part of my Northern Samar Solo Birthday Backpacking series that happened last July 11-14, 2015. Check out other posts for this series:

Powell Abogado

On weekdays, I wear a lab gown. On weekends, I hoist a backpack.

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