Samar is the third largest island in the Philippines, and the first island that was sighted by Ferdinand Magellan. However, he did not land and continued with his journey thinking that he sighted an archipelago.
Sharing with you the activities we did + some personal stories that I hope you will find entertaining/inspiring/helpful. Grab your favorite snack before you continue reading.
Had to make a stop at the San Juanico Bridge!
Touristing in my own country
Where to Stay in Samar
Lola Rosa Inn Bed and Breakfast
We love this home in Calbiga, Samar! It is a restored 1930s house with 5 rooms, kitchen, and main hall. It is old but modern. We love our stay here where we even had the chance to play sungka. You can stay here if you are visiting Lulugayan Falls.
SC Hotel in Catbalogan, Samar
Standard Double – P1,450
Standard Twin – P1,650
Deluxe Room – P2,350
Superior Room – P2,550
It comes with complimentary breakfast
SC Hotel has become our home in Catbalogan. I love that the place is in the city center near restaurants, coffee shop, ukay-ukay stores and plaza.
They take housekeeping seriously that when we got back in our room after caving, we found our stuff neatly folded and arranged. It sounds nice. But honestly, I do not feel comfortable to know people touching my stuff. 😁
Nonetheless, I love that we were comfortable during our stay in Samar. It is nice to have a hot shower after a very physical activity.
What to Eat in Samar?
I was quite surprised when our hosts unwrapped a lechon during the Secret Kitchens of Samar Dinner. Samar is also very popular for its roasted pig (lechon) and I am telling you it has its own charm and flavor. A totally different one from Cebu’s.
Samar is also very popular for its kinilaw (seafood dish marinated with coconut milk, calamansi or lime, onions and tomatoes topped with local chili pepper.), and fresh shrimps (usually covered with batter and fried). The tinapa is also very tasty and not salty. Spanish cuisine has also influenced the Samar flavors evident with its signature Kaldereta, Embutido and other saucy food.
Other dishes that you have to try are tamalos, suman-latik, black puto, and native snack, Roscas.
Sohoton Natural Bridge Park is an 841 hectare protected area located in Brgy. Guirang and Brgy Inuntan. Exploring Sohoton Natural Bridge Park would take you to cathedral-like cave, calm river, lush green forests, rock formations and enchanting views.
We love Buko Juice
We explored the Sohoton Cave (Basey, Samar) and it was my first official caving experience where I got really close to stalactites and stalagmites (I actually first tried it in Indonesia but didn’t get inside). Stalactites are mineral formations that hang like icicles from the ceiling or sides of a cave while stalagmites are the ones that rise from the floors.
I don’t know what I am feeling when I saw this
They say that Sohoton Cave was inhabited thousands of years ago based on the findings of bones and their possessions. Our visit was very relaxed and fun as we used our imagination in exploring the cave.
We had lunch while we listen to local songs sang by a father-and-son duo. Ah, the provincial life!
We then rode a kayak and cruised the Sohoton River to get to the hidden cave. It was a calm and relaxing expedition – I felt like we were out to look for a treasure! The view of the lush forest, green river and edgy cliffs is just mysterious and beautiful. I love that I got to travel “alone” and just inhaling every moment of it.
Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park is one of the most popular eco-tourism spot in Eastern Visayas and I am just so honored to be experiencing both the work of nature and man.
Dubbed as the mini-Niagara Falls, Luluguyan Falls in Calbiga Samar made me fall in love with nature once again. It was a little challenging going to the site because of the rough road which is (good news!) now under construction (thank you to tourism. The local government funded the road construction so more tourists can visit!).
We had to ride a truck to get to Lulugayan Falls.
I recorded a last will video addressed to my friend (she knows my secrets) just in case something happens. I also did the same before my sky dive in 2015. Haha 🤣🤣🤣
We had to truck-pool (my first time! and I enjoyed it!) to get to Lulugayan Falls. The other option is to ride the habal habal.
From the entrance point, we had to register and meet up with the tour guide. We hiked for 20 minutes. Imagine the background sound of the strong waves and falls while walking the terrain.
Lulugayan got its name from the word “lugay”, to loosen one’s hair. It is said that a fairy once lived here and she loosens her hair which then became the falls. Lulugayan Falls is truly Samar’s best kept secret.
I love folklore’s and stories! This makes a visit to every Philippine Tourist Spot a lot more interesting.
Ulot River Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride
Ulot River Torpedo Boat rates: 1 boat good for 5 pax – P1,825/boat (excluding food)
Ulot River Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride is managed by Tour Guides and Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization (TORPEDO).
The boat used in this activity is a long, motorized canoe resembling – a torpedo! What makes the ride more exciting is you get to be splashed with water. I was actually scared of this ride before going – I thought that the river is going to be wild and I would be thrown out of the boat – it appeared to be a very calm and relaxing experience – except for the parts where there are rapid waves and streams of water.
To ensure safety of the ride, tourists were provided with life vest and helmet. We were also reminded to use a water-proof bag for our stuff.
This is one of the rare times I wish I had a Go-Pro.
When we got to Deni’s Point, we had to trek and walked through slippery rocks and cross the raging water of Ulot River to get to the other side where the real adventure was waiting.
The highlight of the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Ride is taking the plunge and jumping off the waterfalls!
When I saw them, tourists taking the plunge, I knew I had to do it!
I didn’t think twice and I just jumped! All I needed was someone to record the experience.
(so that’s what it felt like inside a washing machine!).
I was impressed to see the tour guides making sure that each tourist is safe. There are guides who were standing on the sides, and jumping to the water to “save” tourists who got swayed near the boulders and rocks.
I jumped twice!
with the When in Manila Team and Page One
JP, Dani, Jake Darlyn, Christine, Carl, Justin and Dessa
Now, are you waiting for the touching story of Ulot River? Well, it appeared that these boatmen and guides used to be illegal loggers and they used to carry logs in their boats. It is a good thing to know that more and more tourists are coming to Ulot River and helping these boatmen, saving one tree at a time.
Going back, I risked my camera and took this photo!
Explore Lobo Cave for Beginners
The itinerary noted that it is an “extreme” caving adventure. For beginners like me, it would totally be a real hardcore experience. For pro spelunkers, Lobo Cave may sound intermediate.
Going to the entrance of the cave, we had to hike for an hour. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes (while they say, Atom Araullo did it for 27 minutes. I know I could not be his girlfriend).
Here’s my funny story: have you ever felt that you did a bad decision in your life and you realized that you couldn’t turn back and you are out to risk other people’s lives?
That was exactly what I was feeling during the trek to Lobo Cave. I knew it was a bad decision to go. I was feeling weak and sore from the activities we did the previous days. But I had to continue.
I tried to make fun of my whole journey and struggle. I kept on telling them that I am not really for this type of adventure; I am more of the bubble-bath-and-champagne-kind-of-girl. We walked up and down the steep and muddy terrain. I was thinking, if I slip, I just want to die immediately. No more suffering, no more nursing inside the hospital.
We continued until we reached the entrance of Lobo Cave.
They set up and gave us our helmet, headlamps, gloves and gears for navigating inside the cave (I felt so legit wearing the gears!). Lobo Cave appears to be small from the outside but there is a whole new world inside and down under.
If you are not used to walking in rocky terrain, muddy surface and just being in a dark (with flying bats, insects and what-nots), you may find caving a real challenge. I took them all in. For the experience. And writing about it now, I am happy to say I conquered the most beautiful cave in the Philippines.
Inside the Lobo Cave, there are no flat surface. You have to navigate through tunnels and walked through sharp rocks. There are parts where you have to do Spiderman-moves; or swim deep river.
When they say, I should be able to get through this because I already did the most extreme thing – skydive. But I told them, skydiving only requires you to be brave – you survive or die. Spelunking needs strength and endurance. You have to survive.
In my defense, I was feeling a bit heavy at that time because of my weird bowel movement during the trip. We explored the cave and the terrain for 5 hours.
When we reached the end of the cave, we had to trek for another 30 minutes and waited for the boat. The terrain going to the river is so beautiful, calm and enchanting.
But just like my other life successes, I didn’t do it on my own. I am forever thankful to the people who helped, believed and cheered for me so we can all finish the journey (and these are people I just met! Huhhhh. I am so touched!).
I really enjoyed this trip. I was somewhat scared, but was looking forward to it – because I wanted to “travel solo” and just be away (will try to post a separate post about this).
It was amazing to explore Samar and discover its hidden beauty.
If you made it to this part of the post, thank you so much for reading my #SparkSamar experience. This trip truly changes how I see Samar. Hats off to people who are working hard to protect the environment and provide jobs to the locals. Thank you to the guides and boatmen who make sure that we finish the journey safe and alive. Thank you #SparkSamar and the Provincial Tourism Office of Samar for the invitation. ❤️
Check out the videos in my IG Highlights
This summer, please add Samar in your summer destination (especially that Boracay is set for a close down for rehabilitation).
Please, please share this post and help eco-tourism in Samar.
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