It all started as a casual plan to escape the searing Philippine summer heat and hie off to a beach destination to cool off. The unanimous, top pick by common friends was a pure, unadulterated island in central Philippines, Kalanggaman Island. Where is Kalanggaman Island? First, we need to locate the Philippines in the world map.
The Philippine archipelago, made up of 7,107 islands, is located in Asia just above the equator. It is directly south of Taiwan, southwest of Japan, southeast of China & Hong Kong and west of Vietnam and the South China Sea. Manila (its capital city) and Cebu (its oldest city) are the Philippines’ main international gateways.
Kalanggaman Island is located in the Philippines’ Visayas region (islands marked in green).
Kalanggaman Island is situated between the islands of Leyte and Cebu (another tourist island destination). It is nestled off the shores of Palompon town in Leyte and can be reached in 1 hour by boat from Palompon jetty terminal. How can one go to Palompon? Here are the options.
- From Ormoc City, Palompon is 1-hour drive away. Ormoc City can be reached from Cebu City via a 2.5-hour ferry ride.
- From Tacloban City, Palompon is 3-hour drive away. Tacloban City can be reached via a 1-hour plane ride from Manila or via a 35-min plane ride from Cebu City.
Kalanggaman got its name from the word “langgam” meaning bird in Cebuano, a Philippine dialect spoken widely in Central and Southern Philippines. With its two sand bars at its western and eastern tips, when viewed from above it looks like a bird with its wings fully spread out.
We took the boat from the jetty in Palompon. It was already pre-arranged by my friend who was from the town.
Introducing the cast of the island escapade: Cristina and her son, Kyle. Phines and his niece, Angel.
Bambi, myself and Adam.
Clockwise from left: Romana, Lea (our friend from Germany), Jonas and Adam.
From left: Jonas, Gay , Adam, Cristina, myself and Romana. We were all excited to go. Among the group, only Jonas has been to the island. He grew up in Palompon and his last island visit was many years ago. He was our hero as he arranged mostly everything we needed for this trip from our transportation (van and boat), food and other overnight needs.
An hour after leaving Palompon, we finally caught a glimpse of the tiny island.
The light blue horizon line at the right was actually the submerged eastern sandbar. It was noon and high tide time when we arrived.
Yes, that’s Kalanggaman Island in the background! The approach to the island was absolutely thrilling!
A quintessential island paradise, Kalanggaman is surrounded by turquoise waters so tempting for anyone to quickly jump off the boat upon the final approach to the island.
This was the view of the northern part of the island where the white sand beach is located and where boats usually dock.
We initially camped at the northern part of the island near the immaculate beach less than a mile in length.
For lunch, we feasted on the food that we brought. Shown here is a popular Philippine beer, one of the boozes we brought into the island.
Just as we were busy munching on our savory food, tourists from nearby Malapascua in Cebu, a diving haven two hours away by boat, were arriving in the island past lunch time. A 1-hour Kalanggaman stop is usually included in Malapascua diving tours itinerary.
Afterwards, most of us immediately went to dip in the beach under the scorching heat of the midday sun. The sleepy heads went to take the needed nap.
Then, we had the group jump shot; well some could not really jump!
The ladies jump shot.
The men jump shot.
Around mid-afternoon we relocated to the eastern tip of the island near the sand bar as the hut fronting it was vacated by day trippers. There are only about less than ten huts that island visitors can use. The Palompon town government needs to be advised if you are visiting the island as they need to make sure there is no overcrowding in the island wherein everyone needs to pay the 200 pesos per person environmental fee that goes to the maintenance of the island. There is no developed resort, no potable water & no electricity in the island. Only two squeaky clean toilets, the island police and the huts including the one where the police camped. The island police are always ready to help cook freshly-caught seafood and they can give you advise on anything you want to do in the island.
Our camping site was surrounded by the blindingly white sand that was a few steps to the…….
…eastern sand bar, shown here with the high tide slowly receding. If you want to truly experience the island’s beauty specifically its two sand bars during high and low tides, you need to spend overnight in the island which we did. Unless you visit the island very early in the morning and leave in the late afternoon of which the latter is usually not possible as the waters become dangerously choppy.
We spent more time having fun on the beach waiting for the perfect time to visit the western sand bar.
Even if you can visit the western sand bar via a speed boat during high tide it is still useless to go there as it is completely under water. As the high tide receded, we ventured into the western part of the island via its southern slimy rocky enclave…..
…passing by colorful shells.
We arrived at the western part of the island just as the sun was about to set. This view (the camera) was facing south.
This was taken with the camera facing east with the sun setting in the west providing excellent lighting to expose the island’s finest white sand. Yes, the western part of the island has the best sand.
And so we had the group jump shot again.
Well, with the camera facing northwest, it just had to be me, alone.
And finally with the camera facing west, the sun created a sensational golden, dramatic & endless backdrop . And that concluded our tour of the western sand bar.
A short downpour and the fast approaching sunset prompted us to race back to the tip of the eastern sandbar….
…to catch and watch the sun finally disappear behind the beautiful island.
So captivating a sunset that without myself in the portrait would be a grave personal mistake.
With the sand bar completely visible, it was a joy to just sit on its banks…..
..and watch the sun completely allow darkness to set in.
And so it was night. This was the main hut where the island police stayed.
Time to party and drown in the music of our deafening stories and laughter…..
We shouted, we jumped, we danced, we created our own music, we did whatever we wanted as we had the island to ourselves!
And suddenly we were on the beach….
then back to our hut.
We lost track of time and in just a wink of an eye, we were…..
We were stunned by the early morning view! This absolutely took my breath away! I almost cried in disbelief that I was seeing this!
With or without me, the view of the slowly submerging eastern sand bar was truly amazing!
With the amazing view, it was just fitting for everyone to be truly crazy capturing those memorable shots.
Being thrilled was an understatement of the emotions I had then to see the glaring white sand meeting the turquoise waters and clear blue skies!
This was the cove leading to the eastern sandbar. I had to race against time before it became submerged again so I had to….
…slowly move away from the main island until….
.. I fainted (just kidding).
Back to the other characters, many were having fun….
…others were just lazing in the crystal clear waters….
…and some were just contemplating and enjoying the amazing views realizing we would be leaving in just a few hours. And most of us did the “jump”! Here’s how everyone fared.