Kalanggaman Island, Philippines
One of the famous islands right now making rounds on Philippine social media is Kalanggaman Island of Palompon, Leyte, Philippines. I myself knew about this island through the various travel blogs and pages on the internet last year. I have never heard of the island before but I was curious why the sudden influx of tourists, locals and foreigners alike. When I had the chance to read up and browse pictures from other blogs and articles I was mesmerized of the sandbar and how the sky, water and sand all join together to form a picturesque scene! I just knew that I had to visit this Island.
So fast forward to June 2016, our scheduled trip to the island. It was no easy journey but we got there! For our trip, we had to fly from Manila to Tacloban. There are several flights from Manila to Tacloban via Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Philippine Airlines. We bought our flight tickets when Air Asia had their seat sale promo. Yay! We were scheduled to go to Kalanggaman Island the day after our arrival in Tacloban. So during our first day, we just roamed around and went to other landmarks in Tacloban.
Trip to Kalanggaman
The following day, we woke up at around 3:00 AM to prepare for our trip. Yay! We went to the New Bus Terminal really early since we wanted to ride the earliest van to Palompon. The trip costs around 150 pesos per person and lasted around 3 hours.
Palompon signage outside the tourism office
Since we woke early, we caught some sleep in the van. When we woke up, we were greeted by the bright sunshine in Palompon. We then headed to the Tourism office where we secured our boat slots and paid our overnight fees. The boat fee would vary per person since it would depend on how many you are in the group and what boat you would be getting. For us we shared a 20-seater boat so we paid around 300 PHP per person. As for our overnight stay, we paid 225 PHP each. The complete set of rates can be found in the Palompon Tourism Facebook Page.
The island from afar
So after settling in our boat and arranging our departure time from the island the next day, of we went to Kalanggaman Island. From a far, you can already see the small island and its trees peeking. It was a smooth 45 minute ride. We arrived around lunch time. We saw that there were a lot of people but we soon found out as well that most of them are day trip visitors and would leave the island in the afternoon.
Arriving in Kalanggaman Island
Once we stepped on the island, we quickly searched for a spot to pitch our tent and start cooking our food. We chose to pitch just near the start of the sandbar so that we would be able to easily go and take our pictures. We also wanted to be near the sandbar so that we can go stargazing at night and hope to catch the Milky Way on camera!
Kalanggaman signage welcoming visitors
While we were fixing our things and cooking our food, we looked around the area. There are lights situated in certain areas (we were near one post so yay!). There are mini bathrooms but the water is salt water. But don’t fret. Each group staying overnight gets a container of fresh water for rinsing sand and saltwater after swimming. There are trees where you can tie your hammocks to as well as tables and chairs for rent. We did not ask about the rates of the tables and chairs since we opted not to rent any.
After having our lunch, we wasted no time in exploring the place. We placed our bags inside our tents and brought along with us our valuable items then we walked to the start of the sandbar. That time, there were only a few groups taking pictures on the sandbar. Most of the other guests were already preparing to leave the island. We took advantage of this and instantly started taking as many pictures.
There was this cute white chair along the sandbar. We took turns taking pictures (even though we had a few photo bombers!) on the chair. Then we walked along the sandbar but stopped almost every minute to take pictures. It was all too beautiful to take in and I would not allow myself to pass this moment to take many, many pictures! The water along the sandbar was noted as a no swim zone area due to the waves around the area. We can walk and take pictures on the shoreline but not go swimming.
Once we reached the end of the sandbar we again took our time to take pictures, since the other groups were still far behind us.
After taking tons of photos, we decided to take a dip in the waters of Kalanggaman Island. Since the water around the sandbar was off limits, we went to the area in front of the camp areas. We were only allowed to swim in the middle part of the island, the part where the boats drop off the visitors. There were not much people swimming so it felt like we had that part of the beach all to ourselves. It was a refreshing afternoon, not too hot but gladly not raining. After probably an hour of swimming, we went back to our tent to wash up and start cooking dinner.
We took turns rinsing and changing our clothes then after we started cooking our dinner. We were really tired that day so after cooking and eating, we instantly fell asleep (hehe!). Before dozing off, I set my alarm to 2:30 AM since we wanted to try if we can see the Milky Way that morning.
So as promised, my alarm set off and I woke up at around 2:30 AM. I went out of our tent to check the sky but no luck with the Milky Way. There were even no stars that morning. We just went back to sleep anyway.
At around 5:00 AM we woke up and went to the sandbar again. When we went there, there were already a number of groups taking their respective group photos and selfies. So without further delay we started to take ours too. We did not have much time since we did not eat breakfast yet and we were set to depart the island at 7:00 AM.
Taking pictures at 5:00 AM
After taking photos on the sandbar and at the Kalanggaman Island cemented sign, we ate our breakfast and hurriedly fixed our things. At exactly 7:00 AM, we boarded the boat that would bring us back to the Palompon tourism office. Again, it was a smooth 45 minute ride.
Trip back to Tacloban
Once we arrived back, we washed up and went straight to the van terminal going back to Tacloban. We chose not to take a bath anymore at the tourism office since it would take more time and we needed to catch the van back to Tacloban.
Indeed it was a short but memorable trip. If asked, I would definitely go back. It was not an easy trip but the journey was worth it until the end. I just hope and pray that the people visiting the island will help keep its beauty and help promote this beautiful island. Until the next trip!