Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a workday, daydreaming about an island with white sands and turquoise waters? Chances are you’re probably fantasizing about somewhere identical to Kalanggaman Island in the Philippines. This place is a postcard come to life. It’s actually difficult to describe without using all the typical island cliches, because honestly they just apply so well: clear turquoise waters abutting soft white beaches lined with swaying palm trees. Seriously, it’s nothing short of paradise.
Kalanggaman Island is not only a phenomenal beach, but it’s super secluded and amazingly untouched. It’s everything you want out of places like Maya Beach in Thailand or Cancun in Mexico. These places are gorgeous, yes, but the overrun of tourism spoils the natural beauty. Maya Beach, for example, is touted as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Pinterest photos show deserted sands with towering limestone cliffs jutting out of the green water. What they don’t show you is the influx of boats filled with tourists who ruin any shot of the picturesque view you were expecting. Every traveler has experienced this situation and it can be really disappointing!
But fear not fellow travelers! Kalanggaman Island is just as pristine in person as in photos. In fact, none of the photos included in this article have been edited. That’s right, the water is actually that color. The Philippines have made a conscious effort to preserve the stunning natural beauty of this island. After spending a month hopping around the touristy islands of Thailand, it’s refreshing to see a restraint in over-development. Forget high rise hotels and resorts, if you want to spend the night on Kalanggaman Island you’ll be spending it in the luxury of your tent. You won’t find any over-priced restaurants or bars selling cold beer at twice the normal price. Instead barbecues and picnic tables are available to snack on any food you’ve brought over, and sometimes fishermen sell their fresh catch for grilling up.
The island is tiny, running just over 700 meters, with two long sandbars that span out far into the sea. These sandbars are some of the longest you’ll find in a country made up of over 7,000 islands, so that’s seriously saying something. In fact the name Kalanggaman comes from the local Cebuano language meaning ‘birds’ because the two arched sandbars make the island like the wingspan of a bird from above.
On one side of the ocean the water is shallow and calm. Perfect for swimming or laying lazily stretched out for a cool dip. The other side is lined with large rocks, creating rough waves in the deep blue water. Some of the activities you can enjoy include taking a kayak out for a lap of the ocean or gliding across the ocean’s smooth surface on a standup paddle board. The calm clear water creates the perfect opportunity for snorkeling. Or enjoy our favorite activity, kicking back on the sand with a good book. If you get out to the island at the right time in the morning or evening there’s also the chance to spot dolphins!
How to Get There
Kalanggaman is located just off the coast of Palampon, in Eastern Leyte. Both Cebu and Tacloban have international airports, so you’ll be able to arrange transport once you arrive in either of those cities. As for the island, only a limited amount of people are allowed to visit per day, so it’s best to call ahead to the Ecotours Office in Palampon to make a reservation, especially in the high season. Once you’ve got your tickets it’s about a one hour boat ride from the beautiful city of Palampon.
What to Bring
There are really limited options as far as what’s available to buy on the island, so it’s best to bring pretty much everything you think you’ll need in terms of food, water and supplies. If you’re staying overnight you’ll all need supplis for a fire, shelter, etc. If you’re still unsure of what to pack, check with the Ecotours Office for some handy advice.
There is a cost for entering the island for the day. International tourists have to pay 500 pesos (about 11USD/10EUR), which may seem a bit steep for an island, but it’s totally worth it! Staying overnight costs 750PHP (includes your day pass), and if you’ve got a solid crew together this would definitely be the place to come and have a wicked beach sleepover.
Have you been to this island paradise? Anything to add to the Kalanggaman Island Travel Guide? Drop us a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter!