banner pix
Sambawan Island view from hill top. This group of islets located in Maripipi, Biliran is slowly becoming a favorite among tourists who love to commune with nature. The local government of Maripipi is set to develop Sambawan Island to better serve the expected influx of tourists, said Mayor Uldarico Macorol. (ROEL T.AMAZONA)

MARIPIPI, Biliran- This island town of more than 7,000 people could become among Eastern Visayas top tourist destinations. Maripipi, considered to be the farthest town in Biliran, is home to an island known as Sambawan that is dotted with white and powdery sand that is also rich with marine life and aplenty of coral reefs as well as a stunning view during sunrise. Sambawan Island, which is actually composed of three islets which are all visible during low tide, is about 30 minutes away by boat from the town proper of Maripipi. While the island, which is about two-hectares in area, has been frequented by the locals and those coming from nearby towns for years now, it remains to be unknown and unexplored by the tourists at large. Aside from swimming and fishing activities, the island is good for snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving and camping. And with a mountainous coastline, trekking is another fun thing to do in the island. The island is owned by the municipal government and was officially opened as a tourist attraction back in 2001 although needed facilities like cottages and even comfort rooms were not available. And fully aware of the big potential of the Sambawan Island as a tourist haven and a source of income for the municipal government, Mayor Uldarico Macorol is planning to develop the less than 2-hectare island. Macorol said that he had just signed a memorandum agreement with a foreign developer to provide needed facilities in the island as part of the development. The needed facilities like cottages, comfort rooms and canteen (for food and water are not that readily available in the island), are projected to be fully operational by next year under the agreement. Macorol said that with all the facilities available, it would now be easy for them to promote and invite tourists to the island which was in the news after a fishing boat ran aground and hit the coral area of the island back in 2013. In 2012, Sambawan Island was ranked as number 23 in the list of most-visited tourist sites in all Eastern Visayas. And aware of possible destruction of its natural wealth once tourists start to visit the island in volume, the municipal government will craft ordinances and regulations as a safety net. Protection nets will also be put in place in the swimming area of the island for possible shark attack protection as tourist police will also be put in the island for security and assist the tourists, Macorol said. The regional office of the Department of Tourism last May 10 initiated a familiarization tour in the Sambawan Island with some members of the media, to include Leyte Samar Daily Express as a way to promote the island. (ROEL T.AMAZONA)