Caves of Samar Island


Deep underground, in the hollows of the mountains of Samar, where no light would go, is what Mr. Joni Bonifacio calls his home.

Joni is a refined, eccentric, eclectic, and fascinating man, and he really loves caves. “There’s something warped about a person’s interests to have a passion for caves. It’s in his genes.”

Joni says caves are a valuable, limited, and nonrenewable resource. “Once it’s destroyed, it’s gone.”

Caves are formed slowly over thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years. You can find serenity in a cave, its peacefulness is enveloping. It’s that kind of peace that you can’t find on the surface, where there is life and activity all around. It’s a magical place – the age of one, the shape and the form is wondrous. It’s like beholding a cathedral, albeit made of nature.

For many years, Joni’s organization, Trexplore (, has been leading caving trips; one of their favorite areas is in Samar Island. The tour that they run out of Catbalogan was actually featured in Lonely Planet.

Samar Island offers visitors a myriad of caves to explore. Located in the eastern part of the Philippines, the province has more caves than anywhere else, no wonder it is known as the Caving Capital of the Philippines. Some of the Caves in Samar are well developed with large passages and some are over ten miles long.

Caving is a great hobby for adventurers who aren’t afraid of tight spaces, heights, darkness, and bugs.

Joni once led a group of French and Italian cavers on a month-long expedition that included exploring the caves in Northern (Las Navas) and Western (Jiabong) Samar that led to the discovery of the Robin’s Cave in Las Navas that was documented to be the deepest cave in the country measuring six kilometers in length and 190m deep into the ground.

He also led another expedition in in Maslog Eastern Samar and San Jorge Samar where five caves were discovered: “Bagoy”, “Mercing”, “Jaime”, “Zoo” and “Baiang Caves”. And also visited the “Sulpan Pinipisakan Caves” in San Jorge Samar, and took some photos for documentation.

More than 100 caves have been explored and catalogued from those expeditions, and with more than a thousand more to explore and chart perhaps, hundreds more to discover, Samar Island boasts of more caves than any other country.

Rock formations will delight and excite the more adventurous visitor, too. There are organized expeditions in the area, and you can rest assured only the best equipment and most experienced guides are used. /

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