Exploring Northern Samar – Capul, Biri and San Bernardino Islands

It’s true what they say about the most beautiful places on earth are located in the most furthest of destinations. It seems as if these places require some major effort from you in order to get there. Sure, we may all love the comforts of the city, but there are days when we just yearn for some peace and comfort in an unspoiled environment.

Well, that is exactly what you get when visiting Northern Samar – parts of it, to be more precise. You see, Northern Samar is a rural province with towns that are small and sleepy. You might not even enjoy the landscape when you first set foot in the land, but even in it’s not-so-picture-perfect-state, exploring Northern Samar a bit more will open your eyes to some of the best off-the-beaten path destinations in the Philippines.

Capul Island 

Capul Island, Northern Samar Image source: www.islandsweb.net
Capul Island, Northern Samar Image source: www.islandsweb.net

Capul Island is a destination only for the adventurous of heart. First off, it sits on the very tempestuous waters of San Bernardino Strait. Meaning, getting there is expected to be quite an adventure.

Second, exploring the island in depth means having to stay the night. Plus, the only way to get in and out of the island is through a pump boat. And getting around the island means having to hop on and off a habal-habal.

Lastly, electricity isn’t provided for 24 hours on the island. It is shut down by 12 midnight which means you have to be extra prepared and have your phone charged before then.


All that said, Capul is home to history. This is where you’ll find Capul Church (St Ignatius Loyola), a fortress church dedicated to San Ignacio de Loyola. It was built in the 18th century by Jesuits and renovated in the 19th century by Franciscans. Its presence is a reminder of how people defended themselves against pirates during the Spanish colonial period.

Another highlight in this island is the Capul Lighthouse. Although it may not look as good as it used to be, it does offer wonderful views. Especially when they waves are strong and crash into the rocks.

Of course, there are beaches to be enjoyed too such as Abak Beach, Acapulco Beach, Moro-Moro Point and Timon-Timon Rock Formation – just to name a few.

To get to Capul Island, take a motorized outrigger boat from the port of Allen in Northern Samar. Travel time is about an hour.

Biri Island 

Biri Island, Northern Samar  Image source: www.islandsweb.net
Biri Island, Northern Samar Image source: www.islandsweb.net

When you want to be wowed, Biri Island is the destination of choice. Why is that? Well, the island is home to the very spectacular Biri Rock Formations. Yes, there’s more than one of these magnificent looking structures – seven of them, in fact. It’s amazing to see such a splendid sight, especially when they came about because of ocean waves and winds.

Lying between San Bernardino Strait and the Pacific Ocean, Biri Island is reached through a 45-minute ride on a motorized outrigger from Lavezares port.

In terms of accommodation, you can choose from the pricier ones like Biri Resort or opt for the many other guesthouses and homestays.

Although the rock formations are the major attraction on the island, diving is quite the activity here too. There’s one dive operator, Biri Resort and Dive Center, who you can call to visit any of the island’s twenty known dive sites.

San Bernardino Island 

View of San Bernardino Strait Image source: www.panoramio.com
View of San Bernardino Strait Image source: www.panoramio.com

An hour travel from Biri town by boat, San Bernardino Island is located in the middle of the San Bernardino Strait. Just like many of the islands here, it may be difficult to dock depending on the weather.

What this island possess though is a lighthouse built during 1896. This lone structure stands on top if the island and makes for a lovely sight as your boat makes the approach.

Bird watchers will be delighted to know that the island is where you can find bridled terns and black-naped terns.

The beauty of these islands show that even in the most remote destinations in the Philippines, you can find unparalleled beauty.

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