A month before Rann and I’s trip to Kalanggaman Island in Eastern Visayas, we were still having
doubts whether to push through with it because we had another trip the following week. We thought we couldn’t afford to go on both trips and that Rann’s work won’t allow him go on a leave. But as I always say, just think positive! A week before our backpacking adventure, we somehow managed to save enough money for both our trips and Rann was allowed to go.
Going around Tacloban, Leyte
We arrived around 6:30pm at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (Tacloban Domestic Airport) via Cebu Pacific on a drizzly Saturday night. We didn’t know how to reach our hotel so we asked the police officer on the help desk of the airport to explain to us how to go there. He said that we had two options: to ride an airport taxi or to ride the jeepney to downtown as the same will pass by our hotel.
He was eager enough to even ask the taxi companies how much they would charge us for a trip to our hotel, turns out it would be 300.00php (6 USD) for the both of us. Rann and I were a bit hesitant with this amount since we were traveling on a budget. However, the kindly policeman recommended that we take the jeepney instead. He told us to just walk a few meters outside of the airport and ride the jeepney that had a “Downtown” sign at the front. Note: There is a direct route for jeepneys from downtown Tacloban to the airport. How convenient!
The fare from the airport all the way to downtown was only 13.00php (0.30 USD) each. We sat on the front seat of the jeepney and Rann paid 26.00php (0.60 USD) for the both of us while I was checked on Google Maps the distance and route between the airport and our hotel.
After about 15 minutes, we finally saw a big sign along the highway which read “Basic Rooms Hotel“. True to its name, the hotel was pretty basic – but that was our purpose anyway as we just wanted a room to sleep for the night as we will be leaving early in the morning. The check-in was a breeze and we went to our room right away. The room was quite decent: it had 2 double beds, an air conditioner, a cable tv and hot and cold shower. Our only issue was that the
bathroom had a foul smell when we arrived.
Going to the mall from the hotel was quite easy too as we only had to ride the same jeepney route. We had our dinner at SM Tacloban at Sizzling Steak then bought our chips and water for our trip to Kalanggaman.
Going to Kalanggaman Island from Tacloban City
Upon doing my research, the first van trip that plies directly to Palompon (the jump off point to Kalanggaman Island) from Tacloban leaves at 7am. Since we made a reservation for 9am at the Kalanggaman Eco tourism Office and the travel time to Palompon takes about 4 hours, we had to take another route to arrive on time and that is to travel via Ormoc.
We woke up at 4 in the morning to get ready for our trip to Palompon. Lucky for us, we saw on our jeepney ride the night before that the van company we intend to take is just at the back of SM Tacloban. We took the same jeepney route from our hotel to VS Grand Tours (one of the various van companies that offer rides from Tacloban to Ormoc and other places in Eastern Visayas) and got our tickets for 110.00php (2.30 USD) each for the 5am trip to Ormoc.
We asked the driver whether the van will leave on time, he said that it depends whether there are enough people in the van. The van left Tacloban around 5:05 am, it was generally a smooth ride with a few stops along the way for alighting and picking up of passengers.
It was about 6:55 am when our van arrived at the Ormoc terminal. The van terminal was near the ferry terminal of Ormoc. Upon alighting we immediately searched for the van with a “Palompon” sign at the front. We had no trouble finding it as the vans were quite organized. We paid 120.00php (2.30 USD) each for the ride to Palompon. We were quite pleased that it left Ormoc at exactly 7 am even though there were only 6 of us inside the van. However, not long after we left, we realized that the driver drove
really slow. He picked up a lot of passengers on our way but the annoying part was that when passengers alight or board, the driver would always go down to open the door and close it for them. I mean, why can’t the passengers do it themselves? It was such a waste of time and effort!
Anyhow, we finally arrived at Palompon town at 9:15 am. We asked a few locals where the jump-off point to Kalanggaman was and one guy willingly guided us to a small yellow building in front of the town’s Church.
Crossing Kalanggaman Island
I immediately went to the information desk to inform the tourism officers that we made a prior reservation. The place was packed with local tourists! It turned out that that weekend was the town fiesta that’s why a lot of locals were going to Kalanggaman.
Rann and I made a reservation for day tour only as we had to travel the next day again to – actually at this point we didn’t know where we will go the next day. We had no other plans aside from visiting Kalanggaman Island! The tourism officer made us sign our names on a manifest paper together with the names of the other group where we will join and then paid 150.00 php (3 USD) each for the entrance/conservation fee. We waited for about 40 minutes for our ride as limited pumpboats take turns to sail to the island which takes about an hour per way.
We were 16 passengers on the boat divided into three groups, one big group of friends from Cebu including 2 kids, Rann and me, and another couple and then there were 3 boatmen. Our group agreed that we would return by 5:00pm back to Palompon proper from the island and that we would pay the boatmen upon our return. Before the boat left, a representative from the tourism office boarded the boat and gave us instructions. Apparently there are areas on the island where it is prohibited to swim due to strong rip currents. Also, they provided us two plastic bags with different colors for our garbage and to separate the biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable waste. It was a good policy in order to keep the island clean. Good job Palompon LGU!
Can’t get enough of Kalanggaman
It took us about an hour to reach Kalanggaman Island from Palompon, Leyte. When we were near enough to see the entire stretch of the sandbar from the island, I can’t help but squeal with delight upon seeing how beautiful the island was! The sand was unbelievably white and the color of the sea was so stunning my mermaid heart almost burst with happiness. I did not expect that Kalanggaman Island was THIS BEAUTIFUL!!!
Upon alighting the pumpboat, the group of friends asked us if we wanted to share a cottage with them. Since we were on a budget trip, Rann and I happily agreed to the offer. Unfortunately all cottages were already occupied so we rented a table and 12 chairs instead and found ourselves a cozy place under the shade of a coconut tree. As Rann and I prepared our “lunch” which was a
burger and spaghetti meal from Jollibee that we bought the night before (HAHA! I know! But we didn’t have the time to prepare decent food), our new found Cebuano friends took pity on us and insisted that we share with their food because they brought lots!
After having our lunch, Rann and I immediately went for a walk to the sandbar part of the island. We grabbed the opportunity when only a few people were roaming around since it was mid noon and everyone was looking for shade. It was quite a magnificent sight to explore! It was a joy to walk on the famous sandbar that stretched out beautifully to the sea. Thereafter, we walked back to the island and went to the part where it was safe to swim and indulged ourselves in the crystal clear waters of Kalanggaman Island.
Later in the afternoon we had our coffee fix at the only sari-sari store on the island that only sold 4 things: coffee, water, soft drinks and tanduay. We got to chat with the assigned policeman who was in charge for the peace and order of the island. He told us that we should try to walk to the other side of the island as it was more peaceful there and it also had a sandbar. So after our afternoon coffee, we walked to the opposite side of Kalanggaman and found a beautiful and serene sanctuary. There were no other people on this side except for a local that warned us to be careful if we intend to cross to the sandbar as it was already high tide and the water would now be as high as our shoulders.
We started packing up around 4:45 pm as we had to leave by 5pm, however our pump boat arrived quite
late as it was already past 5:30 when our boatmen fetched us. There was also an issue regarding our payment with the boatmen as the other couple who went with us in the morning didn’t show up anymore when we went back in the afternoon. Rann and I didn’t mind just paying a share for their part but the group of friends that we were together with really insisted that they won’t pay for the couple’s part. So they ended up reducing the amount of the couple for their “one way” trip from the total amount of the boat ride. We paid 232.00 php (4.70 USD) each for the boat ride.
A place to stay in Palompon Town
After a long day of basking under the sun, we asked a local if there were inns where we could stay and he told us that we could stay at PACCI Hotel just beside the Church. We walked our way to the hotel still
drenched in saltwater but we were told that they didn’t have bedding and towels available yet because they were full the day before. The woman on the reception however told us that we could stay in Love Travellers Inn which was a few meters away from there. Finally we checked in at Love Travellers for 1,200 php (24.20 USD).
The room was VERY VERY SMALL – I could not emphasize that more. There was just enough space for the bed, about half a meter of space to walk on, and the bathroom was so small than when I sit to pee my knees touch the wall! But we had no other choice as we were already tired and still wet from swimming.
In search for food
It was only 8pm but most stores were already closed in Palompon town. The only places that were open were Mercury Drugstore and two bakeries. Luckily, there was a “food fest” a few blocks away from our inn which was put up because of the town fiesta. Rann and I found a street full of ihaw-ihaw goodies. We happily dug in to the grilled chicken, pork and chorizo that we ordered together with about 9 pieces of “puso” or rice wrapped in palm leaves to our hungry tummies’ delight. All in all we paid less than 200.00php (4 USD) for our hearty meal.
Finally our day is done. We went back to our inn to get some rest to embark on a new adventure the next day… the Province of Biliran!
Kalanggaman Island Travel Tips:
-Make a reservation a few days before your trip to Kalanggaman as you may not be allowed to go there if it is already full. Call them as they do not entertain text messages!
-Bring your own food when visiting the island as there are no food sold there, not even chips! Bring water and soft drinks as it is very expensive to buy on the island.
-Last direct trip to Tacloban City from Palompon is 12 noon.
-Last direct trip to Ormoc City from Palompon is 5 pm.
–Direct trips from Tacloban City to Palompon and vv is cheaper than the alternative route we took.
-Go on a joiners trip for the boat instead of hiring it exclusively when you’re traveling solo or in a small group in order to save money.
Other helpful information:
-If you’re looking for other groups to join you for the boat rental, go to Kalanggaman Island Forums
-If you’re coming from Cebu:
Cebu-Palompon Boat Schedule
Cebu-Leyte Boat Schedule
Our Kalanggaman Island trip expenses:
Note: For the fare back to Tacloban City, just add another 230 php (2.60 USD) if you intend to ply the same route. However, if you can catch the direct van to Tacloban, the fare would be lower. Also, you can still lower the expenses for choosing cheaper accomodations.
For those who are curious how much my airfare was (Rann’s ticket for Mnl-Tac was more expensive as we booked it a month before), I booked it on a promo fare from two different airlines:
–Manila to Tacloban via Cebu Pacific: Less than 250.00php (5 USD) (I really can’t remember how much as I used my GetGo points from Cebu Pacific during their promo so I only had to pay the terminal fee and web booking fee!)
–Tacloban to Manila via AirAsia: 152.32php (3 USD) during their Red Hot Piso sale.
My total airfare: 402.32php (8 USD) only!