SAMBAWAN Island in Maripipi, Biliran has captivates tourists with its white beach. Sambawan offers white beach which is not only good for swimming but snorkling and even diving. (ROEL T.AMAZONA)

MARIPIPI, Biliran- The stunning views down under the Sambawan Island obviously made him fell in love with the place which is fast emerging as a top tourist draw of this island town.

Martin Bailey, a Scot, said that while he has seen and dived in some of the world-and the country’s- known diving sites, Sambawan offers a different kind of experience reason why he keeps coming back. “Still a virgin dive site; truly a gem which your government should protect so this won’t be abused by the people,” Bailey said.
According to him, out of the 11 diving sites of Sambawan, he went to seven of them, giving him up close encounters with its natural inhabitants. In his countless dives to these sites, Bailey encountered fishes of various varieties and kinds such as yellow tail, pick handle and great barracudas, fusiliers, blue spotted stingray, cuttlefish, huge tasseled scorpion fish, pinnate batfish and surgeon fish.

The Scot had also seen with reef sharks, nurse sharks and bull sharks during his dives in Sambawan, a strip of rocky islets which is rich of marine life and coral reefs.
Bailey, a master diver, said that he learned about Sambawan through surfing the internet looking for diving sites in the country.  He said that aside from doing his dives in the morning, he also does dives even at night time. “Night diving is better than going into the water in the morning because the true color of corals can be seen at night. They illuminate when lights flash unto them,” Bailey explains.

Sambawan, composed of rocky islets with white sand beach and rich marine life and coral gardens lays on the western part of Maripipi town. It was declared as fish sanctuary by the municipal government of Maripipi to preserve its rich resources to include its colorful corals. “You can still see damaged corals. I hope that people who will visit this place are more responsible in protecting the environment. I can say that this is a virgin place that needs to be taken care of and protected so more people would enjoy,” Bailey added.

Fishing has been prohibited in the island especially on areas declared as fish sanctuary, said Sonia Alavera, designated tourism officer of Maripipi. Since the promotion of Sambawan as one of the tourist destinations in Biliran, it is slowly but steadily attracting tourists. Snorkeling and camping are other activities that can be done at Sambawan. A private developer was tapped by the local government unit to develop and provide more facilities in the island for tourists to enjoy.