What to do in Victoria, Northern Samar

Secluded coves, dramatic rock formations and unspoiled beaches await those who learn of the underrated Northern Samar.  The poster boy of the province, Biri Island, known for its jaw-dropping rock monuments, has attracted tourists in recent years.  But there is more to discover in this region, try exploring neighboring places and you will surely be fulfilled with more pleasant surprises.

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The emerald green water of Victoria Port flanked by stilt houses.

On a recent attempt to cover the forgotten Capul Island, I did a spur-of-the-moment side trip to Victoria, an unassuming municipality in Northern Samar sandwiched by Allen on the north and San Isidro to the south. A decent shoreline here is Spice of Island Beach situated in Brgy. Buenos Aires.

From the bustling Looc in Allen, a major wharf for inter-island transport between South Luzon and Eastern Visayas, I took a tricycle to Buenos Aires for about 15 minutes. Alternatively, one can fly from Manila to the nearest airport – Catarman and then ride a passenger jeep or van en route to Allen.

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                                 Tropical beach cliche.

It was a balmy day; the azure beach delighted me upon arrival. Spice of Island offers a postcard-worthy panorama set against a beautiful backdrop of massif including Mount Bulusan of Sorsogon. It is a hotspot among locals for its accessibility; an ideal place for lazing while enjoying the sea breeze, picnic under the shades, a leisurely walk, playing some beach games and even snorkeling!

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villager geared up for fishing.

Interestingly, despite being promoted as a beach for holiday makers, Spice of Island Beach still offers a glimpse of the villager’s way of life. I chanced upon a group of local fishermen aboard a small outrigger boat while their families patiently wait for them at the humble shacks dappled along the coastline. “We trawl tuna here around 6:00 to 8:00 A.M everyday and we sell our catch for Php 100 per kilo to the local buyers,” revealed Robin Manlangit, one of the Jubasan divers who deploy seine net to catch skipjack tunas. They are usually found in warm tropical waters and often served grilled, braised, adobo style or cooked with coconut milk here in the Philippines. You can watch these fishermen unload their catch of the day or maybe fancy buying the fresh tunas, and you can grill them for an unforgettable lunch by the beach.

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                   Local fishermen all set to try their luck in the sea.

Just off the coast is Dalupiri Island, one of the four declared eco-tourism zones in Northern Samar, another stunner. “There’s a passenger boat here that runs daily to the island. In case you miss it, you can also charter one of our boats for Php 300 (one-way trip),” added Robin while pointing to the docked fishing boats. Dalupiri Island in the neighboring town of San Antonio is a tropical island cliché, coconut trees fringe its powdery white sand lapped by crystal clear cerulean sea. The rolling hills here are home to uncharted caves and Lagbangan Lake. Staying overnight won’t be a problem since resorts are available to cater to the needs of the visitors.

Spice of Island Beach and its neighboring attractions truly rewards the unscheduled traveler. Maybe in a few years more resorts will mushroom on the area but so far not so bad.

How to get there:

From Manila, you can ride a bus bound for Matnog or Samar.  Ro-ro ferries connect Matnog, Sorsogon and Allen, Northern Samar. From Allen, take a tricycle to Spice of Island Beach located in Brgy. Buenos Aires in the town of Victoria. You may also fly to Catarman and take a jeep bound for Allen.
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