The Enchanting Island of Kalanggaman, Philippines

In Philippines, Travel Guides
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For a few hours, we were able to experience the pure bliss Kalanggaman Island has to offer. Its immaculate white sands, the inviting turquoise water, the sun shining brightly in the serene, crystal clear day. What an exquisitely beautiful island!

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Trivia: Kalanggaman Island is also a dolphin sanctuary.

Our family started planning this vacation to our hometown (Leyte) last year, and we’ve decided we’d want to go somewhere else, either Sambawan or Kalanggaman, before heading to Leyte, Leyte. After seeing a lot of great reviews and photos of Kalanggaman Island online, I persuaded my family to go there! It was on Instagram when I chanced upon a photo of its sandbar, a captivating shot of the long stretch of sand and shells and boy, it was such a beautiful image! Since it wasn’t really a “vacation” and we had a lot of things to do in our town, we decided to go on a day tour in Kalanggaman instead of staying overnight (strongly recommended!). If only we had more time, we’d spend the night in the island as suggested by the locals and some of our relatives.

We arrived in Tacloban Thursday morning and spent half of the day touring the city. We then headed to Palompon in the afternoon via van. Travel time from Tacloban City to Palompon town takes 2-3 hours, depending on what route the driver takes. Ours took just two hours, Kuya driver took the shortest route because he wanted to be back in the city by sundown. It was a bumpy ride as there were a few dirt roads along the way and the roads are also very very curvy – so it was kind of fun! We decided to stay in Palompon for the night to recharge. We wanted to get rest and sleep and settle a few things before going to Kalanggaman (like plan our food and other items to bring in the island).

Good thing we have relatives in Tacloban who took care of the reservations at the Eco-Tours Office before we even flew in. All we had to do was confirm and pay for the fees on the day itself! It’s really a time saver!

HOW WE GOT THERE

We stayed overnight at Juan Titang Beach Resort, some 10-20 minutes away from the town proper where the Eco-Tours Office is located. The LGU of Palompon through the Eco-Tours Office controls the number of tourists in Kalanggaman Island per day, that’s why it’s best to coordinate in advance if you are going on a trip to the island especially during the peak months of April and May (summer vacation, people!)

Ecotours

The Palompon Eco-Tours Office

It’s highly recommended to stay in the island overnight, but since we have very limited time (this Kalanggaman tour was only a side trip), we went in for a day tour only. Conservation/Entrance Fee per person is PHP150.00 (Non-Palompon Tourist) while overnight fee is at PHP225.00 only.  You will pay at the Eco-Tours Office for the Conservation Fee, but the Official Receipt will be given to you on the island afterwards.

Pumpboat rental for a maximum number of 15 persons is at PHP3,000 (roundtrip). Tourists may join other smaller groups to split the fee, but they should also consider and agree on the time of departure from the island. As much as we wanted to wait for other tourists to share the boat with and to lessen our expense, we noted that we should leave the island by 2PM to catch the last trip to Ormoc. Two other tourists joined in as they are also going for a day trip so we kind of lessen our expenses. Payment to Kuya Bangkeros are given at the end of the trip, upon return in Palompon.

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On our way to the island. We can see its immaculate white sands!

THE ISLAND 

Kalanggaman Island is a beach paradise located in Palompon, Leyte in the Visayas region of the Philippines. It is famous for its powdery white sandbar and clear blue waters, not to mention that it is not as crowded as the other beaches in the archipelago. The island’s name, Kalanggaman, was derived from the word langgam in Cebuano which means bird – because Kalanggaman island looks like a bird in flight when viewed from above. The sandbars on each side are the wings, however, during Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the left sandbar had been washed away by the current.

It gained its international popularity when MV Europa, a cruise ship, docked into its shores and some 400 people spent a couple of hours in the island way back 2013. Since then, a number of photos and videos are posted and shared online via social media by travelers who experienced the beauty of this gorgeous island.

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Kalanggaman has a gorgeous 135-meter long sandbar found on the southern part, and the stretch itself is a magnificent view. I challenged my siblings to a race up to the tip of the sandbar (I WAS ON FOOT!) and realized midway that it was a fault to not wear slippers. In photographs, it looks as though you can walk on foot in the sandbar, BUT WAIT! Put on those slippers and you’ll thank me for it. The sandbar is a collection of sand, washed up shells, seaweeds, and dead corals. There were also glass bottle fragments scattered together with the shells – which makes it more dangerous/painful to tread on. Apparently some travelers left it behind – and I hope it was the last time they leave behind such trash in the beautiful island.

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Look at that stretch!

At the tip of the sandbar with the family. Having a really good time!

Upon reaching the sandbar tip, we noticed that the current is really strong and there is a sudden change in depth. It is prohibited to swim near the tip for tourists’ safety, and there are lifeguards who will remind you when you try to dip into the waters. We just spent a good 20-30 minutes there, listening to the sound of the waves and being grateful that I’ve shared this moment in this amazing island together with my family.

While Papa was preparing food for us, Maan and I went into the rocky side of the island. The eastern part features interesting rock formations where rocks are concrete slabs stacked on each other in layers, with beautiful chocolatey-emerald color, and the view is equally as wonderful as the sandbar that is commonly photographed. It’s a good place to shoot photos, and less people were there during that time. :)

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Rock baby, Rock

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Stacked upon each other

AMENITIES 

Though Kalanggaman Island is a campsite, it is equipped with the necessary facilities and amenities that make island life a bit easier:

  • A registration center which doubles up as a store is available, we bought soy sauce and salt here, but they sell very limited items so make sure that you already have what you need before going to the island. What they do sell are limited number of soft drinks, snacks, soap, and some condiments.
  • There is a concrete barbecue grill provided for those who want to prepare barbecues, just bring your own charcoal, okay? We also had a hard time borrowing cooking utensils such as knives, metal fork, etc. so it would be better if tourists can bring their own.
  • Not far from the barbecue grill is a functioning toilet and bath – the catch is this: supply of fresh water is scarce. Tourists are provided three to four containers of fresh water (per boat) by the LGU. These can be divided by the tourists amongst themselves.
  • Kayaks and paddle boards are available for rent at affordable rates.
  • There are tents for rent at the registration center, not sure though how much the rental fee is. Cottages are also for rent.

 IMPORTANT NOTES

  • Eco Tours Office may be reached through the following mobile numbers: 0917-3037267 and 0917-3037269.
  • Pumpboat rental rates (roundtrip)
    • P3,000 – for 15 people and below
    • P3,500 – for 25 people and below
    • P4,000 – for 30 people and below  
      • As mentioned, if travelling solo or in a small group, you may opt to join other tourists with the same schedule as yours.  
  • Conservation/Entrance Fee as of March 4, 2016:
    • Regular Rate (Day Tour)
      • International Tourists – P500
      • Non-Palompon Tourists – P150
      • Non-Palompon College Tourists – P40
      • Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P30
      • Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P20
      • Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P120
    • Overnight Rates
      • International Tourists – P750
      • Non-Palompon Tourists – P225
      • Non-Palompon College Tourists – P60
      • Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P45
      • Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P30
      • Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P180
  • Cottage rental fee at P250 (small), P500 (medium) and  P700 (large). We rented the medium one, and it can accommodate 10 persons at the same time.
  • For overnight stay, bring your own tents. Choose a good spot (shady and flat surfaced) when setting it up. Malanggam sa Kalanggaman, so better if you’d check the ground for ants as well.
  • Kayaks are rented for P150 an hour. No snorkeling gears for rent in the island so if you are planning to, bring your own snorkel gears.
  • Bring lots of sunblock! The sun’s scorching heat + salt water are recipes for damaging the skin. Even though I applied a generous amount of sunblock before dipping into the waters, I still got grilled. LOL! Always, always re-apply.
  • Waste management is a top priority of the LGU. They will give you two plastic bags (one for biodegradable and another for non-biodegradable) during orientation. Yes, there is an orientation at the boat before they tell you, “Off, you go.”  Make sure you have it when you leave because boatmen will ask you for it.
  • Remember that open water currents are strong and unpredictable – so please stay on the safe side of the shore.
  • Last trip from Palompon to Tacloban  is at 12NN, so if you are heading off to Tacloban after Kalanggaman, make sure you take note of this detail. There are other alternte routes though, like taking the van to Ormoc, then Ormoc to Tacloban. Last trip from Ormoc to Tacloban City is at 6PM.
  • The boatmen said that tourists have a higher chance of spotting dolphins during morning. So if you want to lay eyes on these sea creatures, travel either going to or from the island in the morning, around 6 to 7AM.
  • No signal, no electricity in the island. Reconnect with your family/friends, or yourself. Reconnect with nature. This is the best time and place to do so.
  • Enjoy your stay in the island!

This Kalanggaman trip has given me a downtime amidst the busy schedule and uber-connected life in the city. I will always remember Kalanggaman Island, it’s where I first and last saw my father be really happy away from home, with our company, and the clear blue waters.

The island is a great place to be with family and friends, and just marvel at the beauty of nature. Indeed, it was enchanting to be at Kalanggaman Island.

I hope you found the information here helpful, or if you’ve been there recently and I missed anything, let me know by dropping a note.

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