Sometimes, when you’re too excited, things can go the way you didn’t plan or anticipate – 90% most likely. That happened when I made my first attempt to see Kalanggaman Island. Yes, I did plan (aka booked) this trip twice. Oh well…still a beauty on Earth I just couldn’t resist! Did I make it on the second try? Of course!
Going to Kalanggaman Island kindled my yearning desire to travel. Since then, I couldn’t wait to go to next destinationssssssss! Here’s my experience & some tips.
“There it is! I can see the island,” I thought with excitement as we perched ourselves onto this 12-inch wide wooden seat of a pumpboat, the smallest but can accommodate as many as 15 people. The island looks very close from the dock that is situated at Palompon’s tourism office in Leyte, Philippines, but it’s an hour boat ride.
It took like forever to reach this paradise where I was looking forward to seeing since summer last year. Kalanggaman Island was giving me that “close yet so far” feel. I knew that it’s going to be worth it though.
Wearing my clear-framed, brown lens Sunnies, I soon found my eyes getting heavier. I kept closing them from time to time since we got up very early like 3 in the morning. From Tacloban to Palompon, you have to be patient sitting in a moving vehicle for 3 hours. All of a sudden, this familiar grey-coloured fish started flipping in front of our boat. A quick second later, one came out and then another. OMG it’s a friggin’ school of dolphins! Feeling extremely happy like a kid, I almost forgot I was carrying a camera – the only excuse I could think of regarding the bad photos and blurred video I took. How can you not be stoked when there’s not only one, not two, but probably more than a dozen beautiful sea creatures giving you a spectacular 3-minute show for free? What a fantastic way to start our little adventure!
Last April of 2016, my friend and I missed our early morning flight. I also have a friend in Tacloban who was waiting for us. Bummer, I know – not just a disappointment to myself but also to them. I didn’t want to re-book as I was on a very (really, seriously) tight budget at that time. If I did, there would have been limitations as to where we would go or what we could do (trust me, there are many unpopular but unspoiled and beautiful spots to see in Leyte and its 1-hr drive neighbor Samar). I made a promise to take my friends here, so yeah, most of the expenses were on me. The best option was to re-schedule this getaway. Besides, you find cheaper tickets when you book several months ahead.
After 6 months, we were folding our clothes, choosing our swimwear and testing our cameras. We’re definitely ready to go. This time we made sure not to miss our scheduled flight. It was November. And what’s ironically good about not having winter in the Philippines? Sunny weather and pristine beaches! 😛
It was worth trying the second time. As soon as our flip-flops made contact with white sand, I realised this is it! It didn’t take long before we began sauntering the area and finding good spots to make endless Instagram-worthy photos. Wish I had a drone!
We’re fortunate to be among the early birds. Hence, the “we have the islands all to ourselves” kind of photos. This small island can be quickly swarmed by both local and foreign tourists before lunch time (maximum 300 people per day), but only 10 to 20% stay for the rest of the day and spend the night here. We did sleep on this island without tents. My very versatile friends stayed in the cottage, which you can optionally rent for PhP 250 to PhP 700 pesos depending on the size, and I chose the beach lounge (a little too scared of the geckos in the hut). I brought a hammock (which I forgot to take home BTW) but not that comfortable to sleep on. Regardless, the whole Kalanggaman Island experience was amazing! If you go there, stay overnight.
Swimming and capturing underwater photos or videos are equally awesome! I noticed many of the tourists were taking most of their time clicking their cameras and tapping phones on the sandy areas. When there were people in the water, they didn’t seem like enjoying it as they rose up after an hour and didn’t come back (or so I thought?). Probably scared to get burned skin? Not a good swimmer? Each their own I guess. I’m barely a level one swimmer but I love being in the water. Even though the outcome is to become too dark, it’s a good risk to take.
To see more photos from our Kalanggaman Island trip, click here.
How to Get to the Kalanggaman Island?
1. Book plane tickets or take a ferry boat.
If you’re from Manila, it takes only less than an hour to reach the city of Tacloban by plane. Drive off (about 3 hours) from the capital city to Palompon.
If you’re from Cebu, Malapascua Island, and other nearby islands, you may take a boat or a fastcraft. Cebu to Palompon takes 4 hours by boat.
I think there are tour packages (island hopping) that includes Kalanggaman Island on the itinerary. Some of the people that came on and off the island quickly stayed for 2 to 3 hours only. After a quick research, I think it’s a Malapascua and Kalanggaman Island tour. Sorry, can’t be certain nor more helpful regarding this one.
2. Register at the tourism office.
Upon reaching Palompon, directly head to the tourism office and register. You’d be provided a pumpboat with at least 2 personnel to take you to the island. Day and overnight visits vary in fees. There’s also a slight difference on how much to pay based on your nationality, local address and age. Check the link below for more details.
What to Bring
1. beach travel essentials – swimwear, clothes, sunscreen lotion, flip-flops, etc.
*life vests are provided by the boatmen assigned by the tourism office.
2. tent with blanket and pillows (optional: hammock)
4. first aid emergency kit
Care to know what I always (or must) bring to a beach trip? Here’s my list.
5. food and water
P.S. wearing white Bohemian crochet tunic dress – details here
Thank you for reading – until my next trip!