Our trip from Manila to Ormoc is mainly for work, but we already had a secret agenda of extending the trip to make way for our much needed getaway to Kalanggaman Island, situated in between the western Leyte and northern Cebu. Armed with knowledge that the island does not offer any restaurants and lodging for overnight stay, albeit overnight stay is allowed, we packed our bags not only with our work and beach attires, but brought camping paraphernalia, as well.
We’ve also read that making a reservation at the Palompon Tourism Office is recommended if you are planning a trip to Kalanggaman Island as boats are limited. Once in Ormoc, we called up the Tourism Office only to find out that all boat schedules are already full on our intended date of travel.
Incidentally, typhoon Dodong was forecast to hit the Philippines, somewhere in Visayas, on the day of our planned trip. Because of this, we crafted our Plan B but our discussions always lead us to sticking with our original plan due to insistent self demand. Fate was on our side because the day before our planned trip, we called up the tourism office again and learned that some local tourists had cancelled their reservations due to the typhoon, which leaves space for three of us. Hurray! The only thing to do now is hope and pray that the weather would let us sail through the island.
Spell L-O-V-E in Kalanggaman Island
Getting to Kalanggaman Island
We traveled to Kalanggaman from Ormoc City through a private vehicle, but from Ormoc, one can take a public van at the Ormoc Terminal for P110 each, to Palompon, Leyte. The ride from Ormoc to Palompon takes about one hour or less. There was a slight rain on our way from Ormoc, but it changed to a sun shiny day when we reached Palompon.
If coming from Manila, you can take a flight to Tacloban then travel to Ormoc by land via a public van. The trip will take about two hours. Alternatively, you may fly to Cebu then take a ferry to Ormoc, which will take around 2 hrs 45 minutes. Check latest ferry schedules here:
The yellow-painted Tourism Office can easily be spotted
We registered and paid our fees at the office. Rates are as follows:
We were reserved on a 15-capacity pump boat scheduled to leave at 11:00 AM, together with a group of Cebuanos. Since we'll be staying overnight in the island, we used our free time to buy food at the nearby market. There is no source of potable water in the island except for bottled drinking water sold at the island’s municipal hut, but this comes in 500 ml sizes only, so bringing larger volumes in bulk is better – less packaging, less waste!
Passing by the St. Francis Xavier Church, just across the Palompon market
Before the boat left from the mainland, the tourism staff gave an orientation about the swimming, snorkeling and kayaking sites, most especially areas where swimming is strictly prohibited due to strong rip tides. The staff also gave each group two plastic bags, one for biodegradable wastes and one for non-biodegradable wastes. She instructed to leave no waste in the island and to bring back the garbage to the mainland, for proper disposal. Good to know that the municipal government has initiated policies on eco-tourism.
Our Overnight Camping in Kalanggaman Island
The boat ride was thankfully not as rough as I’ve expected. We finally reached the island in 1 hour 15 minutes. We were greeted by the clear waters of the island, the white sand beach, along with the sight of a pack of other tourists, mostly locals. Not what I wished for, but the island was packed at that time, which is kind of expected because it’s summer and a weekend. I noticed numerous boats loaded with passengers were leaving the island, but there were also a number of incoming boats to replace leaving tourists.
Dubbed as Leyte’s hidden gem, Kalanggaman Island may not be that hidden anymore, but its natural beauty is definitely still a gem to relish.
We pitched out tent in between the dwarf coconut trees lined along the sands, perfect for providing us with enough shade. It’s already past 12 noon when we started grilling the fish we bought from Palompon. A grilling station is available at one side of the island, but you have to bring your own charcoal. We also rented a beach bench, which we converted into a dining table during our meals.
Kalanggaman Island's Eastern Side
The east side of the island leads to the longest island sand bar I have ever seen.
A warning sign is posted at the point from which swimming is prohibited. One of the tourists who is also from Visayas told us that someone has drowned just a week ago when we were there. Better follow the guidelines or you’ll never live to tell the story of how a beauty Kalanggaman Island is.
I just wish that the municipal office correct their spelling of rip tide (spelled as reptide in the sign). This might be wrongly interpreted as red tide or reptile. Seriously!
Warning sign on rip tide has been ripped apart
Strong waves at the end of the sand bar
Kalanggaman Island's Western Side
Before the super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), both ends of the island apparently have sandbars. Unfortunately, the sandbar at the west end was swept away by Yolanda. But because sandbars are built by waves offshore from a beach and thanks to rip currents which help pick up sand, the sand bar will eventually rise again in time.
Check out other island destinations in the Philippines:
The Northern Shore
The northern shore is lined with flat rocks and is a good snorkeling area. We also saw other visitors doing stand up paddling at this side of the beach.
The Southern Shore
The southern side is also good for snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving and kayaking. We didn’t dip on this side, however, because the waves were stronger at this side that time. The north shore was calmer so we did our snorkeling on that area instead.
The island is small with no structures other than some wooden cottages and a few huts. As such, great views of sunrise and sunset can easily be witnessed from the island’s east and west faces.
Restrooms/shower area are located beside the grilling station. A water pump, which draws seawater, is available for flushing the toilet and for rinsing. I was dismayed though that some of the island visitors did not even care to flush the toilet after peeing, even if pails are provided. Every time I use the toilet, the bowl yuckily contains dark yellowish liquid, obviously a sign of accumulation from several users.
But then, I appreciate the environmental policies of the tourism office about responsible waste collection, segregation and disposal. However, the pictures below depict that there are still irresponsible tourists out there. I even saw a tin can and a few plastics trying to belong with the corals while snorkeling. Someone takes care of the sweeping, as we saw during the morning.
I know the efforts and good intentions are there on the part of the municipality. Nevertheless, there might be a need to think of other strategies that will impact a change in the behavior of other pasaways (hard headed people). Kalanggaman Island is a great tourist destination and a great way to experience nature. We can preserve this island if together we’ll be responsible tourists.
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