Guys, don’t you wanna swim?! I exasperatedly asked my companions as they lazed under the midday shade of coconut trees, munching on crispy pork lechon and guzzling litros of warm Red Horse beer. Check the water first if it’s any good then come back and convince us some more, was their reply.
|UNDER KALANGGAMAN’S WATERS|
Frustrated, I went off to Kalanggaman Island’s cream-colored sand and dove beneath its azure waters. It enveloped me, warm and crystal clear with nary a current to fight with. The sand beneath, rippling with the filtered rays of the sun, was very fine and soft under foot. I swam farther out, passing beds of sea grass and clumps of corals. I totally forgot about getting back to my friends.
|SPENT THE NIGHT AT ABIJAO LANE BEACH RESORT IN VILLABA|
The night before, huddled on an open hut at a resort in Villaba, I was asking M’s aunt why the island is called Kalanggaman. Is the place a hotbed for ants? She replied with a laugh, she said that the word langgam in Cebuano means bird, not ant. She was a bit puzzled though why they named it such when the bird population on the island isn’t really that notable.
|EARLY MORNING AT THE FREEDOM PARK BOARDWALK NEAR THE ECO-TOURISM OFFICE|
Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, we proceeded to the hour drive to the town of Palompon in Leyte where the jump off point to Kalanggaman Island is located. It took about an hour to process our papers, pay the fees and wait for our boat at the eco-tourism office before we were finally able to board. In between waiting, C was able to buy our lunch at the nearby market.
|DOCKING AT KALANGGAMAN ISLAND, NO RESORTS HERE|
It took another hour through a fifteen-seater outrigger boat before the outline of the kilometer-long island sprang into view. The ride was easy enough, although I did get a few wet splashes at the third of the way to Kalanggaman. The waves get worst during late afternoons, our boatman said.
|KIDS PLAYING ALONG THE SHORE OF KALANGGAMAN’S BEACH|
Finally, our boat slowed down and we disembarked on the western end of beach. The sand is cream-colored but a bit course. Kalanggaman from above is a long stretch of an island and can be divided into four parts from west to east; the deserted west sandbar, the bushy area, the camping grounds (they have clean toilet and baths, by the way) and the popular eastern sandbar.
Of the coconut-shaded camp grounds, the northern side is very rocky (swimming is prohibited here) while its reverse side is sandy. This is where most tourists swim and snorkel since the beach stretches about and the water is calm.
|TOURISTS ALONG THE EASTERN SANDBAR|
For photo-ops the sandbars on both wings of the island are more picturesque though. And it is quite apparent at the number of people swarming the nearby eastern sandbar. Swimming is also prohibited in the area though due to strong currents.
|TENTS ALONG THE MIDDLE PART OF THE ISLAND|
After setting up our tents and borrowing plastic chairs, loungers and tables from errr… well, we really didn’t know who owns this stuff but they’re just lying around free for anyone to use them without any fees (or at least, no one asked as for fees), we decided to have a look-see at the western sandbar.
|BINDWEED ALONG THE WESTERN SIDE OF KALANGGAMAN|
It took at least ten minutes to reach the other side of Kalanggaman under a scorcher of a day. We were baked by the time we arrived but it was all #worthit. While the main beach area was very crowded, there was absolutely no one here but us.
|THE WESTERN SANDBAR|
|HAPPY TO MADE IT ACROSS THE WATER|
The sandbar, disconnected from the main island by blue green mercurial waters, is paradise on Earth. This was the Kalanggaman Island I saw on my mind’s eye. Swimming is also not allowed in the area, and rightly so, the water separating the sandbar has a very strong current. C, being a strong swimmer, did not even attempt to swim all the way through, she crossed it by walking and treading on deeper parts to reach the bar, which looked nearer than it seemed.
I really don’t recommend doing this for people who’re not good swimmers.
|A HUT SURROUNDED BY BINDWEED AND THE WESTERN SANDBAR BEYOND|
We relaxed and rested a bit under a shade of another coconut tree and took in the view in all its deserted glory. We should’ve made camp here! Other more adventurous tourists started to arrive, we packed our things and started our way back (baked alive, once more).
|ALMOST DEVOID OF TOURISTS|
My travel mates started on the beer as we sat beside our tents. Me, I took a few gulps and munched on some lechon before heading straight to Kalanggaman’s main beach.
|SNORKELING AT KALANGGAMAN ISLAND|
|THERE’S INTERESTING MARINE LIFE IF YOU SNORKEL FURTHER OUT|
While beer and beach really go well together, I totally forgot about that match as the waters of Kalanggaman enveloped me. I swam, I dove and I swam some more, watching the sun dance on the pristine white sand below as I floated above. It was heavenly. I swam some more.
Address: Palompon, Leyte
Eco-Tourism Contact Number: (053) 555-9731
(0917) 303-7269 | (0917) 303-7267 | (0998) 555-0572
Entrance, Conservation, Cottage & Boat Rates: Click Here
Eco-Tourism GPS Coordinates Map: 11.048577, 124.381980
Kalanggaman GPS Coordinates Map: 11.114854, 124.253313