Overnight Camping Trip in Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte
It’s hard to believe that the temperature on the morning of the 18th of April was “just” 32 degrees Celsius seeing how the exposed part of my feet was toasted deep, deep brown by the time the van to Palompon arrived. We had been standing for over 30 minutes by then, and I was just a hair’s breadth away from pouring my cold bottle of water over my face and body, with only the suggestive image of TV ads in my head stopping me from doing so. And then when we were finally in the van and moving, I realized that my seat could only accommodate half my a*s – and it stayed that way over a 45-minute ascent and descent in a zigzagging road. Just my luck.
After what felt like forever, we were finally in Palompon, where the tourism office is less than five minutes by foot from the van terminal. Two of my friends volunteered to purchase supplies for our overnight trip, while me and another friend went straight to the tourism office for the boat arrangement. But before we could get to our boat, a shocker: entrance (including environmental) fee for Filipinos is Php225 per person! This allows you to stay in the island for 24 hours. Quite expensive. But no matter. The adventure continues!
Kalanggaman Island: Expectation vs Reality
You couldn’t possibly blame me for having VERY high expectations of Kalanggaman Island, what with the social media hype, those glorious aerial shots of the island, and – of course, some blog posts. I’m certain those drone videos and images are faithful representations of the island from 20 feet up, but up close – not so much. Perhaps it’s my fault. I got too excited and somehow believed through the photos that I’ll be coming to a fine, white sand beach in a relatively secluded island with no big hotels – hence imagined and expected a virgin-island version of Boracay, and booked the next (affordable) flight in a jiffy, only to see a crowded, cream-ish, seashell-ish beach. Aqua shoes recommended.
Don’t get me wrong – we had loads of fun! The island was certainly beautiful compared with other islands, especially if you have no pre-conceived image of it in your head. And there’s a section of the water where the saeabed is actually quite fine which makes for comfortable swimming and frolicking. In the sandbar area, the water gets deep quick, and the current could be quite strong so swimming is not allowed. But in the “swimmable” area, the Distance to Beach:Depth ratio is okay, i.e. doesn’t get deep as fast so you have a longer and wider area to swim about.
So, yes the island is beautiful, so this is essentially just a heads up – so you won’t go there with misplaced expectations and so you’d fully appreciate its beauty.
Would I go there again? If I’m in the Visayas area, maybe, but to specifically eye it for another trip where I’d be coming from Manila – quite unlikely, but I’m glad I was able to go there at least once!
Things and Activities to do in Kalanggaman Island
What would you do on a day or overnight trip to Kalanggaman Island? Swimming is a given. Here are more suggestions:
(1) Kayaking – Php150 per hour
(2) Stand up Paddleboarding – Php200 per hour BUT you have to pre-book in the Habagat office (the same one which rents out camping tents)
(3) Sunset and/or sunrise-viewing – Kalanggaman Island is one of those places where you have an unobstructed view of both the sunrise and the sunset!
(4) Beach volleyball – there’s a volleyball court in the island
(5) Cards and board games (bring your own)
(6) Cooking – might as well make an event out of this very important necessity!
(7) Getting a tan by the sandbar – if that’s your thing
(9) Stargazing – best during the New Moon
(10) Practicing your garbage segregation skills – the tourism office provides you with 2 garbage bags, one for biodegradable and the other for non-biodegradable
Back to Contents Summary
Kalanggaman Island: Challenges
As expected in any camping trip, the biggest challenges are:
(1) Where to sleep
You want to go camping, but you don’t have a tent. Also, you don’t want to invest in a tent (I recently inquired at a store how much a tent is – Php30k!) because let’s face it – how often do you go camping? So how do you actually do an overnight trip in Kalanggaman Island? Not to fret, there’s a tent rental called Habagat just beside the tourism office. Tip: To know which tent to rent, multiply the number of people by 2 – because somehow the Habagat people think that everyone is tiny. So, for example there are four of you, make sure to get the one that’s good for eight.
There are also cottages which you could rent – but I suppose it gets chilly at night.
(2) Where to buy food
There are no food vendors in the island. There is one store, but it only sells mineral water (P30 for the small one), and softdrinks (P100 for the 1.5L). No problem if you are a local there, you could pre-cook adobo and rice at home, put them all in airtight containers, and even bring some raw meat and put in an ice cooler to grill in the island (there’s a bbq station there). But if you’re coming from Manila, for example, your best bet would be (a) food take out from Palompon, (b) buy some puso rice and canned goods, or (c) bring your own cooking set. We were lucky that one of us is a camper and had access to the travel-sized cooking set (you could buy butane in Tacloban or in our case in Biliran).
(3) Access to freshwater
Every boat provides three containers of freshwater. We figured that wouldn’t be enough, so we asked for six. We were given five. So, for 19 hours that we were in the island, we had to budget and ensure that each person uses no more that 1.25 gallons of freshwater – including for bathing after swimming, for washing the dishes, etc.
(4) The most dreaded – where to do the deeds
No, not *that* deed – but “#1” and “#2”! With the influx of tourists, the currently installed toilets are just not enough – and of course the quality of the facilities, and the fact that somehow some people are just not disciplined enough, or not polite enough to do things as they should be done. Ah, well, if it’s just a night trip, I suggest you just keep it in! At least for #2. For #1 – it’s a wide ocean (you know it’s true). Haha. Call yourself unfortunate if nature plays a cruel trick on you and you really just have to go. I bleed for you. Haha.
Lights come on at 6PM, but they aren’t nearly bright enough. Bring your own flashlight to be sure. Bring powerbanks as well for your other charging requirements.
How to Go to Kalanggaman Island
Flight to Tacloban -> tricycle or taxi to Abucay Terminal -> Van to Palompon -> Pumpboat to Kalanggaman Island via Palompon Tourism Office go to Palompon
From Naval -> 2-hour van ride to Libungao (Php100/pax; ask the driver to drop you off at the crossing to Palompon) -> 1-hour van ride to Palompon -> Pumpboat to Kalanggaman Island via Palompon Tourism Office go to Palompon
Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc. (Cebu City – Palompon Leyte)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon: 8:00 PM (Mon, Thu)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon: 12:00 NN (Sun)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1: 8:00 AM Tue, Fri)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1: 10:00 PM (Sun)
Super Shuttle Ferry (Bogo, Cebu – Palompon Leyte)
– Bogo, Cebu to Palompon, Leyte: 12:00PM daily
– Palompon, Leyte to Bogo, Cebu: 7:30PM daily
Back to Contents Summary
Kalanggaman Island Budget
Entrance – Php225 for Filipinos, Php750 for foreigners – good for 24 hours
Tent – Php250 cheapest for 2pax (although I bet it only fits 1). Again, formula for appropriate tent size to get: # of people x 2
Food – we spent around Php800 for groceries for 4pax (dinner, breakfast). We had lunch at the tourism office – food is really affordable (less than P100 per pax). Buy enough drinking water (and softdrinks if you want) since these are overpriced in the sole store in the island
Land transportation to Palompon – depends where you’re coming from (Tacloban, Biliran etc) – but this should be between Php90-Php200
Boat to Kalanggaman Island – Php3,000 per boat for up to 15pax
Where to Stay in Palompon, Leyte
There’s a hotel in Palompon called the PACCI House (Rizal Street) which is very strategically located – near the market, the church, and the tourism office. We didn’t actually stay here, we just checked in for 1-2 hours to shower etc before going on our way back to Tacloban. They charged us Php150 per head for the shower, and let us use on of the dorm rooms. Overnight rate is Php650 per head . Contact them at +6353 338-2880
San Francisco St. cor Evangelista St.
P. Del Rosario Ext., Brgy. Guiwan I
+6353 338-2135, +6353 555-8045
Juan Titang Beach Resort
Brgy. Buaya, Sabang
+63917 741 0259
Other Travel Tips
– RESERVATION REQUIRED. Call the Palompon Eco Tourism Office at +63917 303 7269 or +63917 303 7267. Sometimes it takes a long time for them to respond to a message or take a call – just be patient.
– Latest boat trip from Palompon is 5PM
– Every person is allowed to stay for a maximum of 24 hours
– The boat does not stay in the island with you. They just drop you off and pick you up at a pre-agreed time
– Don’t pay the boat fee until you are back in Palompon. This is per the advise of the tourism officer, to ensure that your boat driver returns to pick you up. Don’t believe him if he says you are required to pay for half once in Kalanggaman Island
– There’s only one store in the island and it only sells water and softdrinks.
– You will be given separate bio and non-biodegradable garbage bags – DO YOUR PART IN ENSURING YOU LEAVE NO TRASH BEHIND
– There are designated areas for swimming – please follow these for your own safety. At the end of the sandbar, there’s a meeting of the currents – be very careful.
– The tent they rent out does not come with a sleeping bag. You will need to either bring your own, or make do with the tent alone
KALANGGAMAN ISLAND ENTRANCE FEES
Regular Rate (Day Tour)
International Tourists – P500
Non-Palompon Tourists – P150
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P40
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P30
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P20
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P120
International Tourists – P750
Non-Palompon Tourists – P225
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P60
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P45
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P30
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P180
P3,000 – max 15 pax
P3,500 – max 25 pax
P4,000 – max 30 pax
– MAKE SURE TO COME WITH FRIENDS WHO KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN AND HAVE THE INITIATIVE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GROUP. You will need to work as a team in terms of dividing the tasks, humoring each other, taking each other’s photos, providing moral support when one needs to do the deed (hahaha), etc etc. You get the picture.
Overnight Camping Trip in Kalanggaman Island a success!