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Kalanggaman Island, also known as Calangaman, is a pristine islet in the Philippines with gorgeous white-sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. It’s nearly impossible to put into words how incredibly beautiful this speck of land is. It left me absolutely speechless.
Already the first glimpses of the white sand and abundant coconut trees in the middle of the ocean will give you goose bumps.
Everyone on our trip fell in love immediately upon arrival, we ran from one side of the island to the other to see the beauty with our own eyes and to capture it on all the devices we brought.
After several rounds of jumping into the water and relaxing on the beach, the strong sun will force you into shade. That’s no less pleasant, though, as the coconut palms provide the most beautiful shade.
No matter how long you might stay in Kalanggaman, it’ll feel too short.
Learn about Kalanggaman and the Philippines from a Lonely Planet Guide. Click here to see it.
Heading out to Palompon, about 2-3 hours from Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, and then hopping on a pump boat for another 40 minutes might seem like a lot, but once you see this paradise with your own eyes, you won’t doubt that it’s worth it. As a bonus, you might even see some dolphins on the way like we did! :)
The pristine stretch of white sand along the coast of Leyte makes it undeniably one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen.
Haiyan (Yolanda) storm on Kalanggaman
You’ve surely heard about the catastrophe the tropical storm Haiyan caused in the province of Leyte in the Philippines in November 2013. Unfortunately Kalanggaman wasn’t spared either. The storm destroyed what little had been built on the island, but a swift cleanup process took place and you almost wouldn’t recognize that the typhoon had even been there.
There used to be sand bards on both sides and the island’s shape resembled a bird when viewed from above, which is how Kalanggaman got its name. However, Haiyan washed one of the sandbars away.
The very last reminders are a few trunks of coconut palm trees and a worn out sign.
Layout of Kalanggaman Island
Kalanggaman is a tiny island, just 753 meters long! You can walk around it in an hour or so. There’s a gorgeous sandbar on one side of the island. A long stretch of perfect white sand full of tiny seashells where opposite-going waves crush into each other and caress the sandbar.
This particular place on the islet presents a photo opportunity that you won’t experience elsewhere. A perfect spot to pose, jump, do headstands, kiss your loved one or whatever you feel like.
Things to do in Kalanggaman Island
Obviously, the most recommended thing to do is just chill by relaxing on the smooth white sand and jumping into the crystal clear waters whenever your heart desires. Walk along the shore, collect seashells, observe shy crabs of all sizes and marvel at what a masterpiece Mother Nature has created.
You can also snorkel and dive, but you have to arrange everything in advance, unless you have your own gear and can dive independently.
There may be kayaks and paddleboards available for rent but there’s no guarantee, so don’t fully count on it.
Check out also this local guide on all things Philippines travel.
When I visited, we stayed on the island from noon until about 4 pm. I can only imagine what it feels like there when the day trippers are gone and you have it mostly to yourself. To wake up on an island like that must be a dream come true.
So staying overnight is possible but there are no accommodation facilities on the island. At the time of my visit (October 2016), however, they were building a tree house and a few huts for overnight visitors to stay in.
You’re always welcome to bring your own tent or just sleep under the starry sky. There are no animals on the little island, so nothing should bother you at night.
Things to bear in mind
- Bring your own water and food.
- Don’t forget sunscreen!
- Take your own trash back from the island (you’ll be given two bags: one for biodegradable waste and another for all else)
- There are toilets and shower facilities
- Don’t swim along the end of the sand bar, there are strong rip currents
- If you plan to stay overnight, a blanket is handy
- There’s no electricity and a very weak mobile signal on the island
- Bonus point: there are no mosquitoes!
Getting to Kalanggaman by yourself
Visiting the islet via Palompon is relatively easy. From Palompon you’ll simply need to take a pump boat to the island.
A few days before you arrive to the area, you’ll need to book a visit to Kalanggaman Island via Palompon’s Ecotours Office (the local tourism board). Here they control the number of people heading to the island, they collect fees and arrange boat transportation as well as accommodation for those planning to stay overnight.
The high season is from April to May. To travel to Kalanggaman during that time, you should arrange everything far in advance, just to make sure.
If you’re less than 15 people and want to save money on the pump boat by sharing it with others, enquire about it at the Ecotours office in advance.
Some travellers prefer contacting others planning to visit Kalanggaman to share a boat on a specific date. There used to be a forum for that, but it’s no longer available. Alternatively, once arriving at the Ecotours site, wait for a boat to fill up.
Once in Palompon, visit the Ecotours office, pay the necessary fees and hop on a pump boat. After that, the paradise is only 40 minutes away!
Of course, you can also choose to stay overnight in Palompon. If you’d like to do that, you can check some good accommodation facilities on Booking.com. Alternatively, use the deals finder below:
Ecotours contact information
Palompon Municipal Hall, Libertad Street, Magallanes, 6538, Palompon, Leyte, Philippines
[email protected] | [email protected]
Land line: +63 (053) 555 – 9731
Mobile phone: +63 (0917) 3037 267 / 269 (Globe), +63 (0998) 5550 572 (Smart)
If you prefer arranging all online, there’s also a Facebook page for booking a visit to Kalanggaman via the Ecotours office. But I have no idea how well it works.
From Tacloban to Palompon
Possibly the easiest way to get to Kalanggaman is from Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province. Tacloban has its own airport with frequent flights especially from Manilla and Cebu. As I wrote in my other post, I think Tacloban is the best base for exploring the whole Leyte.
From Tacloban, get a bus or a minivan to Palompon. It should take 2-3 hours. Buses and vans depart mainly from Tacloban’s New Bus Terminal, also referred to as Tacloban City Land Transport Terminal in Barangay 91 Abucay.
From Ormoc to Palompon
There are Palompon-bound vans departing from Ormoc Terminal. It takes about an hour.
From Cebu to Palompon
The easiest is to travel from Cebu to Ormoc and take it from there. You can fly (from Mactan International Airport), take a van, or even take a boat from Cebu City Pier to Ormoc. There are also boats going straight to Palompon. The trip length differs depending on what type of vessel you choose.
Getting to Kalanggaman without going through Palompon
There are Palompon-approved tour operators that can take you to Kalanggaman from Malapascua island withouth having to stop in Palompon. You pay all fees to the tour provider. The voyage by sea takes about 2 hours.
I know, it’s a little difficult to get to, but that’s surely the main reason why the island still keeps its off the beaten path status and rarely hits the limit of 500 visitors per day.
Kalanggaman Island: Fees
The rates for international visitors are at P500 per day, or P750 to stay overnight.
The pump boat currently costs P3,000 with a capacity for up to 15 persons.
The beauty of Kalanggaman Island honestly took my breath away. To such extent, actually, that I looked into having a wedding there! I definitely want to return one day. Till then, it’s your turn to explore its splendor. Will you rise up to the challenge?
Have I enticed you to visit Kalanggaman? What other paradise on Earth have you come across?
And here are some Pinterest-friendly images for you to pin for later:
Disclosure: Veronika was hosted by the Philippines Tourism Board on a trip to Leyte. All opinions presented are her own and unbiased.