Kalanggaman Island: The Mesmerizing Sand Bar Island of Leyte
Kalanggaman Island is one of the most popular destinations in Leyte — and one of the most recognizable tourist spots in the whole of the Philippines. It’s an island featuring white sands and a long sand bar which can be seen during low tide. Here’s our trip to Kalanggaman Island including a guide + travel tips!
About Kalanggaman Island
The tropical island of Kalanggaman Island can be found just an hour away from the port in Palompon, Leyte. It has a white-sand shoreline, and contrary to popular belief, there are two sand bars, not just one! There are limited facilities in the island, including cottages and small stores.
Its name is derived from the Visayan word “langgam”, which means bird, in reference to the island’s shape.
Kalanggaman Island used to be one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Philippines. Sometime in 2015, photos of it started circulating in social media. Backpackers flocked to see the island for themselves and currently it’s one of the most established tourist destinations in the region.
Our experience at Kalanggaman Island
Hali and I visited here in 2016 during Holy Week. We took a long road trip from Manila with various stopovers in the Visayan region before eventually settling our backpacks in this island.
Here’s a tip: Don’t go here during holidays!
It was crowded during our stay, but the good thing is that the tourism office implemented a daily tourist cap. So while there were many people, it wasn’t that crowded compared to other tourist destinations (*cough cough Sagada).
After arriving in the island, we looked for a shaded area to pitch our tent. Then we laid out towels under a large umbrella stand and passed drinks around our road trip companions, exchanging stories about our backpacking travels. Kuya Ram told us this is the beach life — enjoying good drinks with friends on a nice beach.
Afterwards, Hali and I went over to the famous sand bar at the end. But there were too many people there and it seemed like they were a fixture. So we just decided to explore the rest of the island.
We checked out a stretch of rocky shoreline which is also the island’s snorkeling spot. We didn’t bring any snorkeling equipment, but we noticed that even in shin-deep water we could already see small fishes, black starfishes squeezing themselves underneath rocks, small crabs, and lots of snails. I have no doubt that the underwater scene is much better on the deeper parts of the ocean.
My favorite part of the island is the other sand bar at the end. It was a patch of sand separated by the island by shallow water. There were no other people here so it was quiet. We stayed in a cottage surrounded by wild grass and flowers.
By next day, Hali woke up before dawn to get a good photo of the sand bar. Sadly, there were already a throng of people there. So we just took it in good strike and enjoyed the rest of our time before heading back to the mainland.
So what are my thoughts about Kalanggaman Island?
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I love beaches. In my opinion, Kalanggaman Island is beautiful — but you should have real expectations about it. It looks a bit different in real life than online photos and what others claim it to be.
For one, the sand bar is gorgeous, but honestly to fully appreciate it you need to see it from above — as in with a drone or a long GoPro stick. On ground level, it just looks like a regular beach area. Also, like other islands in Leyte, the sand here is white but not fine — it ‘s large and coarse, with bits of broken corals. It will hurt your feet if you walk barefoot.
I’m saying these because there were so much hype when we visited and we were even expecting fine-white sand like that in Boracay.
One thing that really impressed me during our visit is how the tourism office managed the island. I believe it’s a prime example of ecotourism. Every guest should properly register and there is daily tourist capping to avoid overcrowding. Before we went to the island, our boat operators gave us two garbage bags: one for disposable and the other for non-disposable items. To me, everything seems regulated.
In general, Kalanggaman Island is one of the best islands you can visit in the region. I recommend going here, especially on weekdays so you can enjoy it without the usual tourist crowd,
How to get to Kalanggaman Island
Kalanggaman Island is located an hour away from the main port in Palompon, Leyte. Here are directions on how to get there.
If you’re coming from Manila, you can take a local flight to Ormoc City, Tacloban, or Cebu.
This is the fastest way to Palompon. Simply ride a van bound for Palompon. Travel time is 1.5 hour, and fare is around P120 per person.
A lot of backpackers go to Kalanggaman Island via Tacloban because this province is connected to other neighboring provinces, including Biliran so it’s easy to get around.
From Tacloban, ride a van bound for Palomon. Travel time is 3 hours, and fare is P170 per person.
From Cebu City, there are different ways to get to Palompon.
- (Option 1) Head to Cebu North Bus Terminal and then ride a bus bound for Bogo City. Travel time is 3 hours, and fare is P140 per person. Then ride a tricycle to Polampato Port. Travel time is 25 minutes, and fare is P150 per ride. Once at the port, ride a ferry to Palompon. The ferry has runs once a day at 12noon.
- (Option 2) Ride a ferry or fast craft to Ormoc City. Then follow the directions for Ormoc.
- (Option 3) Ride a ferry vessel bound for Palompon via Cokaliong Shipping. Travel time is 5 hours, and fare is P320 per person.
From Malapascua Island, Cebu
Kalanggaman Island is a popular day trip boat tour from Malapascua Island. Travel time is 1.5-2 hours. Rate for a tour is around P1000 per person.
Boat to Kalanggaman Island
Once in Palompon, head over to the port. Register at the Palompon Tourism Office and pay the appropriate fees. Then ride a boat to the island; travel time is 1 hour.
Kalanggaman Island FAQ
- The best time to visit Kalanggaman Island is during the summer months, from February to May or June. It’s best to avoid the rainy season due to strong typhoons, especially from July to September.
- Activities include beach bumming, snorkeling, and diving. There are also watersports available such as kayaking.
- It’s advisable to bring your own food and water. Another option is to buy fresh seafood at the local market in town and have it cooked or grilled once in the island (outdoor grills are free to use). There are also sari-sari stores in the island that sell basic goods and short-order food.
- There are cottages available for day tours or overnight stays. You can also bring your own tent.
- There are clean shower rooms and restrooms in the island, but water is limited. No worries — you can wash up in shower areas back at the Palompon Tourism Office.
- There is no electricity in the island.
- Mobile signal is available.
- Things to bring: food and water, beach towel, sunhat, eco-friendly sunblock, and a fully charged powerbank.
Where to stay
Currently, there is only one resort at the island: Jeter Resort.
The resort offers teepee huts for overnight stays. It also has a clean restroom and restaurant. Rate starts at P1000 for 2 people with complimentary breakfast. Other activities including snorkeling, kayaking, jetski, banana boat, and fat bike are also available for a fee.
Other than that, your next option is to stay in the town. Here are the most recommended ones:
- Liezel bed-and-breakfast | Book via Agoda
- Sergi’s Resort and Hotel
- Breadfruit Traveller’s Lodge
- Palompon Sugar Inn
- Whispering Beach Mini Hotel
There are also a number of Airbnb accommodations in Palompon.
Kalanggaman Island rates
Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):
– Locals: P150 for day tour / P225 for overnight
– Foreigners: P500 for day tour / P750 for overnight
*Entrance fee is waived for Palompon residents
– 15-Person Capacity: P3000
– 25-Person Capacity: P3500
– 30-Person Capacity: P4000
– 40-Person Capacity: P5000
|Others||Here are optional fees:|
– Small: 250
– Medium: P500
– Large: P750
– P250 for a 2-person tent
– P300 for 3-person tent per night
*Additional P200 deposit is required
Snorkeling equipment: 300 per day
If you’re solo or a couple, you can simply wait for other tourists at the port for boat sharing.
- Schedule your boat trip early in the morning for smooth sailing. You can start as early as 6AM.
- It’s best to go here during weekdays to avoid the crowd. Note that there is daily capping so there are only 500 people allowed per day. If you’re visiting on summer or holidays, it’s recommended to reserve weeks in advance.
- On rainy days, the coast guard may decide to halt boat trips to the island depending on the weather. One of my friends had been in Leyte thrice and on all occasions the boat trips were cancelled! So make sure to get updated on the weather and check with the local tourism office on your booked dates.
- I recommend staying here overnight if you can. In the late afternoon, most tourists are done with their day tour so you can enjoy the island for yourselves.
- There are other tourist spots you can visit in Palompon (Leyte), including Palompon Eco-Terrestrial Adventure Park, Tabuk Marine Park and Bird Sanctuary, Masaba Falls, and Lantaw, as well as old churches and beaches.
- There are similar island destinations in Leyte, such as Canigao Island and Cuatro Islas.
- From Leyte, you can also visit neighboring provinces. I recommend exploring the waterfalls in Biliran or island hopping to Sambawan Island.
- If you love visiting sand bars, check out our trip to Panampangan Island in Tawi-Tawi — considered the longest sand bar in the Philippines!
For inquiries and reservations, you can contact the tourism office at LGU Palompon.
Has this guide to Kalanggaman Island been helpful to you? If you have questions or comments, let us know in the comments section below!
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).