Leyte and Samar are two of the most underrated provinces in the country. These big islands is home to a number of fantastic beaches, breathtaking rock formations, and glorious waterfalls. The sad part is that not many people know about them. It was not a surprise that during our stay in Tacloban and Marabut, we always found ourselves the only non-locals in the area.
Perhaps one thing that’s going against Leyte and Samar is the weather. Located on the easternmost end of the Visayas, they are at the frontline — almost always the first to be hit by typhoons that get spewed by the Pacific towards the Philippines. On the upside, many of the natural wonders of Eastern Visayas remain pristine, unspoiled, and absolutely enchanting.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Booking Tickets to Tacloban
All this started when we availed of the PISO FARE promo by Cebu Pacific Air. It was a massive sale, covering thousands of seats on flights to all domestic destinations. The sale happened in 2010 but we confidently booked seats to Tacloban, scheduled a year ahead, in February 2011. Quite frankly, the only reason we booked Tacloban tickets was that it was the only destination with available on-sale seats on our chosen dates. Although we had no idea what was in store for us in Tacloban, we were happy snagging a great deal. We never expected violent storms to rattle our travel plan that month.
The flight to Tacloban we booked was scheduled to leave Manila at around 04:20am while our return flight at 6:20pm two days later. That gave us three full days to explore the region.
The total cost of our roundtrip tickets for all 3 of us was only P292. Divide that by 3 and that’s a bit over P97 per person. Great deal, indeed!
Creating a 3D/2N Tacloban Itinerary
We had completely forgotten about the flights we booked until mid-January, two weeks before the trip. That’s the downside of booking a year in advance, LOL. When we remembered, we got worried because it was raining almost non-stop. But as mentioned above, we decided to just push through with the trip.
Immediately, we knew we wanted to tour Tacloban City and see the many tourist spots there such as the Sto. Nino Shrine and the San Juanico Bridge. We chose to devote the last day to the city tour so we won’t have to hurry catching our flight. What to do in the first two days needed some meticulous online research.
We initially wanted to go to Cuatro Islas in Inopacan, Leyte (hours from Tacloban) but we feared the roads going there could be difficult because of the heavy rain. But after browsing a few websites, the first thing we agreed on was to visit the Sohoton Natural Bridge Natural Park in nearby Basey town in the Province of Samar. It was less than an hour away from Tacloban City. Second day, check.
For our first day, we thought it would be best to stay at the beach. After checking out several websites of beach resorts around Tacloban, we decided to stay at Marabut Marine Park Beach Resort in Marabut, Samar, a full hour drive from the city proper of Tacloban.
This is how our itinerary looked.
Day 1: MARABUT MARINE PARK BEACH RESORT
03:10 am – Rendezvous at NAIA Terminal 3 check-in counter
04:20 am – ETD NAIA Terminal 3 (Manila)
05:35 am – ETA Daniel Romualdez Airport (Tacloban)
06:15 am – New Tacloban Bus Terminal
07:15 pm – ETA: Marabut Marine Park Beach Resort Check in
07:40 pm – Swimming, Snorkeling
12:00 pm – Lunch
01:00 pm – Rest
03:00 pm – Kayaking
07:00 pm – Dinner
Day 2: SOHOTON NATURAL BRIDGE NATURAL PARK
06:00 am – Wake up call
07:00 am – Go to National Highway and wait for bus/van to Basey
07:30 am – Go to Basey Tourism Office
08:00 am – Start Tour: Sohoton Natural Bridge Natural Park
05:00 pm – Return to Basey Tourism Office
06:00 pm – Return to Marabut Extreme (Marine Park Beach Resort)
07:00 pm – Dinner
9:00 pm – Sleep
Day 3: TACLOBAN CITY TOUR
06:30 am – Wake up call
07: 30 am – Go to National Highway and wait for bus/van to Tacloban
08:30 am – San Juanico Bridge
09:30 am – Breakfast
11:00 am – Start City Tour: Sto Nino Shrine, Leyte Landing (Palo),
04:15 pm – Go to Tacloban Airport
06:20 pm – ETD Tacloban Airport
07:35 pm – ETA NAIA Terminal 3 Manila
Note that this was our INITIAL itinerary. What really happened is a different story. It turns out that the rain would still get in the way. Check out my next posts as I will be narrating what happened to our trip in detail.\
To give you an idea on how much we spent, here’s the list of my expenses for this Tacloban-Marabut trip.
P880 – Marabut Extreme Adventure room
P500 – Caluwayan Beach Resort open cottage
P500 – Total transportation
P2000 – Total food
P230 – Total terminal fees
P70 – Santo Nino Shrine entrance fee (P200 divided by 3 persons, rounded off)
P30 – Santo Nino Shrine camera fee
P4,210 – TOTAL EXPENSES
Note that airfare and pasalubong expenses are not yet included. You’ll also notice that I did not include the fee for Sohoton Cave Tour. That’s because in reality, we failed to visit because of the rain. You’ll find the full story and detailed chronicling of the events here.
But overall, it was a great trip that was spoiled by the rain. You might also want to visit when it’s not typhoon season. But I already said that.