The island of Samar, between Bicol and Leyte and 320km from top to toe, has yet to take off as a major tourist destination, which is both a shame and a blessing as large parts of the island remain unspoilt, wild and beautiful. One reason not to miss it is the marvellous Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, a prehistoric wilderness in Western Samar province, full of caves, waterfalls and underground rivers, while further north around the towns of Calbayog and Catbalogan lie some of Southeast Asia’s biggest cave systems. There are also dozens of relatively untouched islands off the north coast. In Eastern Samar, Borongan, and further south, Guiuan and the beautiful island of Calicoan are deservedly popular stops on the surfing circuit. On a historical note, Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar is where Ferdinand Magellan is reputed to have set foot for the first time on Philippine soil in 1521.

Samar has a different climate from the rest of the country, with a dry period in May and June only. Apart from that, rainfall is possible throughout the year. Most of the rain falls from the beginning of November until February when there can also be fierce typhoons. The best time to visit is from May to September, although the growing number of surfers who come here to take advantage of the swells that rip in from the Pacific might argue that the typhoon season is best.

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