A last minute suggestion and insertion in our itinerary, the Kalanggaman Island sidetrip turned out to be the star of our Leyte trip. Located in the municipality of Palompon, it is an hour-long drive from the city of Ormoc (by private car).
Unspoiled and every bit a beach denizen’s paradise, Kalanggaman is pristine and well-kept by the local tourism office. Its powdery white sand compete with those of Boracay’s. It has two long stretches of sandbars jutting from its eastern and western portions. The sandbars are visible and do not inconveniently (as a whole) disappear with the tide.
Cottages dot one side of the island with bigger huts located in the middle. There are two sets of clean restrooms and grilling areas on either side of the island’s main structure (that I assume houses the office and store of the keepers). They provide the usual beach activities like snorkeling and kayaking. They also have affordable scuba packages for beginners.
As if a good omen, we were treated to the sight of playing dolphins while we were on our hour-long boat ride to the island. The best experience Kalanggaman offers would be its superb sunset and sunrise views. Arriving just in time when the sun set, we dashed to the western side to witness the play of purple, pink and red above our heads. Since we were camping overnight, we pitched our tents near the island’s lone watchtower that was fronting the east. By the break of dawn, we lumbered towards the top of the wooden tower and waited for the sun to rise.
To get there by public transportation, there are passenger vans from the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc that ply the route. From our Amindiwin dayhike and Ormoc lakes trip, we went to the Ormoc Public Terminal to catch the vans bound for Palompon. The trips leave the city every hour (Php110.00). Since we were flying out from Tacloban, we took the direct trip on our way back (Php150.00).
Tourism in the island is managed and maintained by the municipality and the DENR. They have an office at the port where boat rides are arranged and local fees are paid. Guests on a day trip or staying overnight pay an environmental fee of Php150.00 and Php225.00 respectively. The boat rental is standardized at Php3,000.00 for small boats (up to 10 pax) and Php3,500.00 for big boats (up to 20 pax). Adjacent to the office is a tourism lounge with toilets and shower rooms where you can wash up after the beach trip. The Palompon Tourism Office can be reached for inquiries and reservations at +63 916 9464612 (Tope).