For the past four years, Kalanggaman island has risen to fame. It started when German luxury cruise company Hapag-Lloyd made a stop to this small island in Palompon, Leyte back in 2013. The MS Europa, considered as the “most beautiful” of its luxury cruise ships unloaded about 400 passengers on this 6-hectare large island. They only stayed for a couple of hours but it was enough for visitors to be awed by this small island with a beautiful white beach, coconut tree dotted island and picturesque sandbar. Soon, photos and videos of the island went viral in the internet dubbing Kalanggaman Island as one the most beautiful sandbars in the world and has one of the best beaches in the country.
Jump-off at Palompon
Is the hype real? I wondered for a time as many curious tourist were set on visiting the island. Good thing, the Palompon Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) was able to put place an infrastructure to manage visitors of the island before it gets too crowded. Advance reservation is required to visit the island as they limit visitors to only 500 per day.
Our journey to Kalanggaman Island started in Ormoc. Then we had a 1.5 to 2 hours drive to this coastal town of Polompon that serves as a jump-off to the island. The town itself looks like its progressing from the tourism. We had a brief walk around town to buy some goods and saw what looks like a newly built town hall.
We rode a large private pumpboat which can be hired from the eco-tourism office. Travel time is one hour. Kalanggaman Island is about 8 nautical miles off Palompon, sandwiched by Cebu on the other side. Fairly a small island with a 365-meter long sandbar extending on one end. It was exciting to see the sliver of white against the blue hues from afar. More so when the clear waters and white sand beach was more evident as we approach the island.
There were more people than I expected but it’s spacious enough to find your own spot. There are several cottages in the area and curiously, they made a large concrete pavilion at the center of the island. It kinda feels out of place and ruins the island for me. They should have kept native and tropical as it is. I’m expecting that they made this structure so they can accommodate events.
We only had at least a couple of hours time to stay on the island. And it is not enough time to really fully enjoy the island. The sand isn’t as fine as I thought. It’s grainy and has mix of crushed corals but it still looks good against the beautiful shade of blue of the sea. Kalanggaman Island is one of those islands I wouldn’t mind going back to and spending a night in a cottage or tent. It’s about going back to nature. Kalanggaman got its name from the Visayan word “langgam” which means birds as the island’s tranquility makes this places as favorite stop for winged feather friends. And I hope we keep it as it as as we visit the island with them being displaced.
A visit to Kalanggaman Island requires advance booking as they can only accommodate 500 visitors a day. Make sure to contact Palompon Municipal Eco-tourism through the following channels:
Landline: (053) 555.9731
Visit Guide to the Philippines to plan your Leyte tours.
Visit to the island have corresponding entrance fees for conservation purposes:
|Non-Palompon College Student||P40||P60|
|Non-Palompon High School Student||P30||P45|
|Non-Palompon Elementary Student||P20||P30|
|Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen||P120||P180|
Private Pumpboat Fees
P 3,000 – 15 Capacity below
P 3,500 – 25 capacity below
P 4,000 – 30 capacity below
Cottages – P200, P500, P700
Going to Palompon
- From Manila, fly to Tacloban. From Tacloban City Terminal there are vans heading straight to Palompon. Travel time is three hours fare is P170.
- From Ormoc, there are also vans heading straight to Palompon. Travel time is 1.5 hours. Fare is P110.
Tips when visiting the island
- Bring your own food. Though there are some sari-sari stores on the island, there are no restaurants or eateries. Visitors can cook.
- There are no fresh water on the island. Bring your own as well.
- Visitors can stay overnight. Bring your own tent or rent one of the open cottages. There is one resort, Jeter Beach Resort, (0917-5874984) but facilities are bare.
- Playing loud music is not allowed.
- There are no bathing facilities since water is scarce on the island. Soap and shampoo is also not allowed.
- There is no electricity on the island.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.