Kalanggaman Island: Leyte’s Piece of Paradise (Travel Guide)
It was another warm welcome.
By the time we stepped out of the coaster bus, the staff of the local government of Palompon, Leyte met us with their warmth and smiles.
They escorted us to the second floor of the municipal hall for a simple program and registration. It was actually a briefing before exploring the best kept treasure of the town, the world-renowned sandbars of Kalanggaman Island.
I was also excited for this island paradise. But surprisingly, I’ve found myself focused on the presentation. Moments later, the town’s Vice Mayor was introduced, stood before us and delivered her welcome speech.
Honestly, It was quite a different talk, not the usual speech we normally get from our usual politicians. She shared the detailed plan of tourism for the town. I must say, it has depth and backed up with facts.
In spite of their efforts in promoting their tourist spots like Kalanggaman, Vice Mayor was certain of one thing – environment protection and conservation. I remember eating, enjoying the sandwich they prepared for us (LOL!) when I began asking myself, “How? How it can be done?”
The answer came when the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Palompon, Raoul Bacalla, took charge of the presentation. Once Kalanggaman was put on the spotlight among major networks and media outfits, there was an increase in tourists’ arrival resulting to better income. But still it was clear, there was something non-negotiable.
They wouldn’t compromise Kalanggaman for the sake of commercialization. The island capacity is only 500, so they implemented a system to control the influx of tourists. All must coordinate with the local tourism office prior going to the island. No walk-in travelers. They would decline you, turn you away if needed and if you insist in going to the island without following the proper protocol. That’s how serious they are in protecting Kalanggaman.
The wait was over. At the back of the municipal hall is the port where you can find the boats going to Kalanggaman.
We boarded a huge one together with the Municiapl Tourism Officer of Palompon, Ma’am Cleofe Rivera. She said that this kind of boat can accommodate up to 30 people for only Php4,000 (back and forth). All local tourists must register and pay a fee of Php150 for a day trip and Php225 for an overnight stay camping style. There’s no accommodation on the island, but you can find toilets for the guests.
After a bumpy 1 hour boat ride, we finally arrived. Witnessing the island from afar is already a sight to behold. We were all excited!
The pristine beach, the white sand and the unbelievable sandbars caught my attention. At that moment, the first thing I wanted to do was just go there, explore and walk on the sand or maybe just lie there and enjoy. It was like the beach was calling me. Until I heard the beat of the drums, signalling the start of a fantastic dance number.
Oh my goodness! The local government has really made this tremendous effort to express their warmest welcome to us. I was just expecting a nice and sumptuous lunch. I know food will always be my top concern. LOL! But what they did was just so over the top!
I was overwhelmed by the presentation. But I must say, looking at the beauty that surrounded me, it made me realize what the LGU officers told us at the program.
Environment protection. Responsible tourism. All these echoed in my mind as I looked upon this vast and unbelievable beauty. So this is it, this is the result of what they call conservation.
It was time for lunch. I would love to enjoy the food and eat more, but my mind was thinking of something else, my mind was drifted towards the beach and the sandbar. Well, you know that Kalanggaman is truly worthy when I started to prioritize it over food right? LOL!
While everyone was busy taking their lunch, I finally had the chance to walk along the sandbars and explore Kalanggaman. It was another awe and jaw-dropping moment for me. The same feeling I had when I first set my eyes on Calaguas Island, a few months back.
Kalanggaman has its unique charm. It was high tide so the sandbars did not show in its best form, but still, it was beautiful. The crystal clear water and the white sand was perfect.
Beach bumming is probably the best way to enjoy Kalanggaman, but hey there are a lot of activities you can try. One proof is the line of paddle boats on the shore, you can do some kayaking and stand-up paddling.
After exploring the long stretch of sandbar, I saw our group on the side of the beach for some Clam Seeding. The place was instantly filled with laughter when some locals suggested they can put all the huge shellfish into the water and do a race. All cheered for their own shellfish, but nothing moved. LOL!
To instill the value of conservation of the ecosystem within the island, a turtle was also released into the ocean.
After the activities, we still had some free time so I took another chance of walking into this beautiful stretch of beach. Then finally, taking a dip into the blue waters, it was relaxing, the best way to beat the scorching heat.
I just couln’t help but appreciate Kalanggaman’s splendor. The local government (with DOT) has been doing a great job at preserving this island and they deserve a commendation.
We all have witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of commercialization. Look at what happened to Boracay. Look at the imminent future of Calaguas as the first resort was built on the island. Kalanggaman is a proof that Tourism is possible without compromising the environment, that conservation is non-negotiable. This is a realization for us to start thinking long term.
They might shoo away tourists who do not follow the proper coordination but look at the long term, tangible effects – an unspoiled paradise with rich ecosystem that can still be enjoyed by future generations.
How to get to Kalanggaman Island
Of course, if you’re coming from Manila you need to take a flight either going to Tacloban, Leyte or Cebu (Mactan International Airport). Another option is a flight going to Ormoc City, Leyte. You just need to ride a van from Tacloban or Ormoc going to Palompon. If you’re coming from Cebu, ride a bus going to Polambato Port in Bogo then take ferry going to Palompon.
Below is a more detailed guide in going to Kalanggaman Island.
From Tacloban – Take a flight going to Tacloban, Leyte. CHECK CHEAP FLIGHTS HERE
Tacloban Airport is quite far from the city proper, so you need to take a tricycle going to the terminal. There are also multi-cabs going to downtown Tacloban. Look for vans going to Palompon. Fare is about 150 pesos. Travel time is roughly about 4 hours.
Once you arrive in Palompon, you can walk until you reach the Palompon Tourism Office located at the back of Palompon Municipal Town Hall. It is easy to find since it is located at the public park.
Register and hire a boat going to Kalanggaman. It’s PHP 3,000 for 15 persons and PHP 4,000 for 25-30 persons.
From Ormoc – Take a flight going to Ormoc, Leyte, or flights via Tacloban. CHECK CHEAP FLIGHTS HERE
Go to Ormoc Terminal and ride a van going to Palompon for PHP 110. Travel time is about 2 hours. Once you get to Palompon, proceed to the Tourism Office. Register and hire a boat. Rates and expenses below.
From Cebu – There are several options going to Kalanggaman from Cebu. Please see below details.
Via Polambato Port in Bogo – Once you arrive in Cebu City, go to the North Bus Terminal and ride a bus going to Bogo City. Travel time is 3 hours for PHP 140. Then, take a tricycle to Polambato Port for only PHP 150 for about 15 minutes travel time. In Polambato port, take a Super Shuttle Ferry to Palompon. Please note that there is only one schedule of ferry from Bogo to Palompon and that is 12 Noon daily. If you’re going back to Bogo from Palompon, ferry’s schedule is 7:30AM.
Via Cebu City Ferry to Palompon – From Cebu City, ride a ferry going to Palompon. Travel time is roughly about 5 hours for only PHP 320.
Best time to visit Kalanggaman Island
Of course, the best time to travel to Kalanggaman Island is during summer within the months of March to May. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy Kalanggaman fully if you go there during rainy season like from July to October. Although there are times that even rainy season, the sun will show up right? But just to be sure, go there during summer.
Kalanggaman Island Boat Rates and Expenses
Once you arrive at the Palompon tourism you have to rent a boat going to Kalanggaman Island. Here are the boat rates as of 2018. Remember, that if you’re traveling with a small group, it would be better to look for other travelers and join them to save on the boat rates.
- Php 3,000 for 15 persons
- Ph 3,500 for 25 persons
- Php 4,000 for 30 persons
Day Tour Rates
Day tour is a more popular option in traveling to Kalanggaman, because the island still has no resorts nor hotels. Camping is the way to go and this is the local government’s way to preserve the island. Here are the day tour rates.
- Local Tourists – PHP 150
- Foreigners/ International Tourists – PHP 500
- College Students– PHP 40
- High-school Students– PHP 30
- Elementary Students– PHP 20
- Senior Citizen Tourists – PHP 120
Overnight Camping Rates
If you plan to go overnight, you have to bring plenty of water, food and of course tents. Camping is still the way to go for Kalanggaman. Here are the Overnight rates.
- Foreigners / International Tourists – PHP 750
- Local Tourists – PHP 225
- College Student Tourists – PHP 60
- High-school Student Tourists – PHP 45
- Elementary Students – PHP 30
- Senior Citizens – PHP 180
There are cottages in the island for your group to relax, eat and enjoy. Here are the rates.
- PHP 500 – up to 20 Persons
- PHP 700 – up to 30 Persons
Where to stay in Palompon
Just like what I’ve said, There’s no resorts nor hotels in Kalanggaman island. This is also the local government’s way to preserve cleanliness and also nature. So it more advisable to just stay in Palompon and then do a day tour to Kalanggaman. Here are some of the accommodation to choose from in Palompon.
Private Room in Palompon Town
If you’re looking for privacy and comfort, you can rent this Private room in Palompon. It is located in the town area near the municipal hall so it would be easy for you to coordinate with the Tourism office for the boat rental to Kalanggaman.
It’s like a small apartment and the entire place is for you and your travel companions to enjoy. It is air-conditioned with desk or work space for freelancers out there. It also has kitchen, hair dryer, iron and toiletries. It is a good way to relax in the comforts of a private space. CHECK ROOM RATES HERE
Here are other accommodation to choose from in Palompon, Leyte.
Address: Leyte Rizal St., Palompon, Leyte
Phone: 053 – 338 2880
Cor. San Francisco St. & Evangelista St., Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: (053) 338-3098
Kalanggaman Island Tour
If you are coming from Cebu, there is a Kalanggaman Island Day tour that you can avail there which is very worthy of your time and money. Aside from the fact that Kalanggaman is a beauty to behold, this tour will give you the total comfort that relaxation from pick up from your hotel going to the port then a spacious boat ride going to Kalanggaman then back.
The tour is complete with lunch, local English speaking guide, life vest and snorkeling gears! CHECK TOUR RATES DETAILS HERE
Where to eat in Kalanggaman
It is still much advisable to bring enough water and food in Kalanggaman. There are grilling stations on the island for tourists’ to use. There are a number of small sari sari store there but it’s a bit pricey because they need to transport the good to the island. It is still a bewilderment for me whenever I hear tourists complaining about pricey bottled water or food in an island. Hello? Try to transport those goods via boat from the town proper without additional costs? Can you do that?
So if you don’t want to actually spend more on food, bring your own baon! If you’re going to do it overnight go for Adobo and those types of food so it can last longer than the usual dish.
Kalanggaman Island Tips
Again, the very basic advice is to bring enough food and water on the island. There is no potable water there, so bring bottled water or in a container if you’re a big group. There is a supermarket in Palompon. You can buy food and supplies there before going to Kalanggaman.
- There’s no electricity in Kalanggaman. So make sure you have your power banks with you when you travel there.
- Again, there are no resorts in the island. Camping or through tent is the only option there. If you plan to stay overnight, be sure you have your tent and camping gears. You can find some tents to rent in Palompon town. If you need help with that, the local tourism office can assist you.
- Most of the boats going to Kalanggaman are big boats, that can accommodate at least 20 persons. So if you’re a small group, befriend some fellow travelers and join them to save on the cost.
- To set your expectations, Kalanggaman is a paradise on its own, but the sand there is not as powdery as Calaguas or Boracay. Okay? So don’t expect that. You can fully enjoy the island by exploring the sandbar, and also enjoy some water activities. Snorkeling is one of the best! Bring your snorkeling gears and if you don’t have one you can rent there on the island for 300 pesos for the whole day. Some of my travel friends did that and they enjoyed the underwater world of Kalanggaman.
- Shower and comfort rooms are available on the island. But these are very basic. Bawal daw po ang maarte. Hahaha!
- Cottages are for rent. If you plan to stay overnight, bring your tent and camping gears.
- Cleaner and more comfortable shower areas are available at the Tourism office in Palompon. Most day tour travelers do this.
- If you want to rent a cottage or gears on the island, bring enough cash okay? ATM’s are only available in Palompon town.
- There’s a mobile signal and data in Kalanggaman but it is not that strong enough. But hey, I was able to post a photo on my Facebook when I was there. I was using Globe.
- You have to be updated with the weather condition before traveling to Palompon and Kalanggaman. Tourism Office is not allowing boat rides when the weather is not that good. Always be informed and coordinate with the local tourism office.
- Most of all, Practice LNT always. Be a responsible traveler. Do not throw thrash everywhere on the island. Bring it back to mainland and dispose properly.
Kalanggaman Island Contact Details
Contact Details: Cleofe Rivera / Municipal Tourism Officer, Palompon, Leyte
Number: 09173037267 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Website: palomponleyte.gov.ph
Note: This trip was made possible through a Familiarization tour within Eastern Visayas sponsored by Tourism Promotions Board of the Dept of Tourism.
Thank you for the invite! So grateful for meeting some new friends from DOT Region 8, TPB, Media Partners, and Tour Operators.
First Published on December 5, 2015
Updated on December 16, 2018