To be honest, there’s so much buzz about Kalanggaman Island in Leyte that I had to immediately snag a ticket when seat sale came and fly to Tacloban. Initially, it was supposed to be a trip with my college friends, but life happened so I was frantically looking for someone else to come along. Now, I’ve always wanted to do solo backpacking, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for that for this trip. Luckily, Ice, who was my roommate during my board exam review, and eventually have become a great buddy, was up for some backpacking in Visayas province.
Kalanggaman Island is located in Palompon, a municipal in Leyte. From Tacloban Airport, ride a cab or tricycle going to the bus or van station heading to Palompon. Travel time is usually 3 hours by van. Alighting in Palompon, straight ahead to the Ecotourism Office, where you will have to confirm your reservation, register, pay environmental fees, and hire a pumpboat going to Kalanggaman Island. Make sure to inquire beforehand and make a reservation on your preferred dates as the tourism office do not allow walk-in guests. Pumpboats to and from Kalanggaman island have scheduled trips, so it’s also best to make arrangements for your desired time of departure from the sandbar.
It took us 1 hour to get to Kalanggaman Island. The sun was about to set for a few hours by the time we arrived. We stayed at JeTer Resort, located at the west wing of the island. We rented one teepee hut that is good for 2-3 person (but based on their website, the hut is good for 4 pax!) for PHP 1,000. This includes 1 gallon of tap water for shower.
“Langgam” is a bisaya word which translates to “bird” in English. In aerial, the sandbar appears to be shaped as a bird, hence the name. It was because of MV Europa Cruise Line that made Kalanggaman Island famous. In 2013, the cruise ship had to stop over at the sandbar, and that was the beginning of its popularity.
The sandbar is truly unspoilt as the tourism office only allow up to 500 tourists per day to stay. When we got to the island, there were less people around day time and even lesser by night. I could compare the travel time going to Gigantes in Iloilo the same as the travel time to get to Kalanggaman Island– it’s one hell of a long ride, but if you’re looking for something raw and peaceful, Kalanggaman Island is surely worth the travel. If you want to extend your trip, you can also visit Malapascua in Cebu as it’s already near Kalanggaman. There are several tours around the internet that offer this packaged tour, or you can simply ask the tourism office instead. The best time to visit the island is during the summer months in the Philippines, starting from March until May, although you can visit as early as February already, in my opinion.
When you get to Kalanggaman Island, do not expect any grand resorts or restaurants. In fact, the place is so laidback that people are encouraged to just set-up a camping tent to enjoy the quaint environment. There’s no electricity around, so it’s a perfect place to take some Milkyway photos at night. Alternatively, you may visit Kalanggaman early in the morning for a day tour, and head back to Palompon late in the afternoon. There are resorts at the mainland that have air-conditioned rooms. I’d definitely recommend everyone to put this on their must-visit places, especially if you’re a fan of camping or just want to experience some wilderness.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Manila, ride a plane to Tacloban. Travel time is about an hour. Ride a cab or tricycle going to the van or bus station and alight in Palompon. Travel time is ~3 hours. Head to the Palompon Ecotourism Office to confirm your reservation and register. Ride a pumpboat to Kalanggaman Island. Travel time is ~1 hour.
Palompon Ecotourism Office: (053) 555 9731 / +63 926 8164005 / +63 926 8164007 / +63 998 5551421
JeTer Resort: +63 917 587 498
For more information such as entrance and conservation fees, visit this website.