Samar.

What do you know about it? Some know it as the island next to Leyte, which was ransacked by a horrible typhoon in 2013. Others know it as a huge caving destination, and the home of the longest bridge in the country. Whatever the case, many Filipinos and foreigners alike don’t often make their way to Samar. Unless it’s one’s hometown, or you have business in the area, Samar is pretty underrated as a travel destination.

I wanted to change all that. There’s so much more to Eastern Samar that many Filipinos just don’t know about. So I grabbed my board, booked a rental car, and flew out to Tacloban. It’s a great jumping point to Eastern Samar, especially if you don’t mind the drive. It takes less than 3 hours to drive to Guiuan, which isn’t too bad.

Eastern Samar is known to be a surfing hotspot. So my main focus for the first part of the Going Coastal series was surfing. The waves here did not disappoint at all. With the help of my guide, Abdel Elecho, we were able to hit surf spots that weren’t too crowded. We hit up Calicoan Island before heading back up north.

Anyone a fan of surfing with a short board??

If you love active vacations, Eastern Samar is for you. Besides surfing all day which is sure to knock you out when bedtime comes, there are also other activities to do like caving and diving. 

Of course, I couldn’t leave Samar without tasting the food. Lloyd, surfer and chef, was kind enough to cook us a mud crab and coconut dish, which goes so perfectly with a whole day of catching waves. 

Crab cooked with chunks of coconut meat and a broth of coconut water. Yum.

I had to get something sweet afterwards, and I couldn’t resist the rice crepe-like dish of Samar: salukara. This pancake-puto hybrid was made fresh by a manang right on the beach. 

This is the perfect way to end a day full of surfing.

Watch the full first episode here:

Free diving is another activity that’s a must in Eastern Samar. With a team of free divers from Tacloban, surfers, and videographers, I was able to witness Samar like never before.

A 3 hour drive up North from Borongan and a 40-minute boat ride later, we were at a reef ready for some diving. We tried to catch some fish but it just wasn’t our lucky day.

More driving up the coast of Samar led to us to what I know is paradise. When one talks of Philippine beaches have pristine white sands and roaring waves, they’re talking about Samar. I was stunned.

Paradise. All to myself!

I couldn’t believe that we had found something like this in Samar. Forget Boracay, forget Palawan. If you want a true experience of Paradise Islands, head to Eastern Samar.

Check out the second instalment of the series below:

I wrapped up the series by going caving and chasing waterfalls in Samar. This was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. 

It was a challenge to get to the waterfalls, but the reward was definitely worth it. Nothing’s better than jumping into cool, refreshing waters after a hike through the forest! 

Caving involves more swimming than you think.

The underground river and caving experience was something else. That was the longest I’ve ever spent without natural light. I loved the thrill and adventure of it, but it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone. Definitely only do this if you’re physically and mentally capable. The darkness and tight spaces can easily cause claustrophobia. 

Watch out for the guano!!

Where words fail me, video will provide. Watch the last episode of the Samar series below.

Erwan Heussaff
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