Thursday, October 25, 2012

Palompon, Leyte ~ Kalanggaman Island & Tabuk Marine Sanctuary

The Priceless Treasures of Palompon
by: Marion Erika Macapagal

Seeing the sunrise and sunset in the beach is like heaven everytime. Oh I so love that moment! ❤ It reminds me that there’s a beginning yet there’s an ending for everything which makes me appreciate life more. In this trip, I won’t let the moment pass without seeing a picturesque sunrise and sunset in Kalanggaman Island.

Kalanggaman is an island in Palompon, Leyte. Its pure white sand and two long sandbars make it visible from afar. Bloggers’ often describe this island as a “paradise”, “Leyte’s hidden gem” and so forth. And I definitely agree! Though not as popular as Boracay or Caramoan, for people who are seeking for peace with a twist of ala-Survivor experience, go for a vacay here and love nature at its best.

It took us 3 hours via van to reach Palompon from Ormoc City, and an hour via boat from Palompon to this beautiful island.

One interesting fact about this place is that, the locals are serious in preserving its beauty, and the tour there is quite organized. When we arrived in Palompon, our group gathered in their Eco-Tourism Office and there, we settled our payment for our tour. The Kalanggaman entrance fee was 225 Php per head, Tabuk entrance was 100Php per head and a roundtrip boat rental was 3,500Php. (Rates are lower for Palompon residents and more expensive for foreign guests)

We left our backpacks for a while and headed off to the nearest restaurant for we haven’t eaten lunch and it was already three o’clock in the afternoon. After an hour or so, we left Palompon after a short briefing about the island and their waste segregation. We were given two garbage bags, one for non-bio and the other one for biodegradable wastes, and we needed to take these with us once we leave the island. Cool! I wish the government can implement that in every part of the country.

Thanks to your free wifi Franz cafe :)

While sailing, the weather was not so good. The rain poured and good thing, Ivan brought our group's big trapal (tarpaulin) and our bags and gadgets were safe.

And after 15 minutes of continuous rain, I was already disappointed that I will not be able to witness the sunset. But before we could reach the island, a spectacular view of the sun going down made us stand in awe. We took a lot of pictures and made sure every second counts while everyone’s attention was captured by this amazing creation of God.

It was already twilight when we set foot in the island’s white sand. We were all so excited to explore the island and discover its hidden treasure.

To those who would like to stay in the island overnight, make sure to bring your own food, water (for drinking and cooking), tent, flashlights and anything you would need for “camping”. Yes! You’re right! No hotel, no electricity, no water source, only cottages, free gasera (lamp), torches like those in Survivor, and two gallons of water (for washing up). There are two bathrooms, and the water stored in their pails & drum are sea water.

It was too dark, so I guess it was not safe to stroll around that night. Hence, we set up our tents then cooked our food. Since we invested in our own cooking equipment that we usually use when we climb mountains, the food preparation was trouble-free. While others were busy in preparing the dinner, others were taking some rest and others went for a swim.

Dinner was served and everyone, though seemed to be tired, was saving their energy for a long night.

Ooooppps! not mine  :)
The “socials” began early.

BP Chons' speech after her birthday shot

The night won’t be complete without the birthday shot of BP Chonz and the one-on-one session of BP Lead Ivan and our guest Sheryl. Sheryl had been joining our minor climbs and said to be the only one to beat Ivan in any drinking session. Hehe

I went to sleep while the others were having good time chatting and drinking…

Birthday girl BP Chons, our guest Sheryl, BP Ralph and BP Percy
BP Percy, BP Weng and BP April
It was about 6 in the morning when I woke up. Everyone was still asleep. I changed my clothes, got my tab & camera, then went off to the beach, and there he was... Mr. Sunshine saying hello.

It was a nice walk in the long sandbar. The sun was smiling at me and the clear water was showing a reflection of the majestic sunlight. The blissful silence and magnificent view made it a perfect morning.

After few minutes, the others came and spent some time there enjoying the view too.

Walking in the sandbar ~ BPs Marion, Percy, Weng and April

What else to do in this island?

The calm and clear blue water was very alluring that you wouldn’t think twice to jump in the water. Though the white sand was not as soft or as fine compared to the other beaches in the country, we enjoyed swimming and playing in the water. I brought my goggles with me when we went for a swim, and dipping in the water you’ll see some little fishes. Cute! The other side of the beach is said to be the best spot for snorkeling, but we decided to go for kayaking instead. Kayaking for an hour cost us 150Php, good for two persons. With our rented kayaks, we wandered around the whole island, reaching end points of both sides of its long sandbars. When we reached the other side (the one I mentioned as the best snorkeling spot), we saw a lot of blue starfishes. I wanted to go underwater and get some but I was warned that there are sea snakes there. Aaawww!

It was very tiring to paddle but it was worth it.
BP Girls: April, Chons, Marion & Weng

BPs April, Chons, Weng and Percy posing before the swim
BP Ivan playing in the sand
BP Chons sunbathing
Sheryl and Ralph fell in love with Kalanggaman
My "me" time at the end of the sandbar  :)
Argh! I forgot to put on some sunblock but I didn’t mind because I enjoyed playing and swimming. And seeing my friends enjoying too made me stay longer under the scorching heat of the sun. It was around 10 in the morning when we decided to leave and continue our tour. Our overnight stay was well spent and though leaving saddened me, I thought there’s more to see other than this dazzling island.

The Backpackers in Kalanggaman Island

Next stop: Tabuk Marine Sanctuary

Bat Kingdom

The boat was sailing slowly when we were near an area called “Bat Kingdom”. But I didn’t know that it was called such until we were there. Also, I thought it was another way out going back to Palompon because all I can see the first time were mangroves. But looking at it carefully, there were big creatures hanging in almost every branch of the mangrove trees. I got frightened at first when a flock of these creatures flew around. The Mangrove Islet has become a home for these thousands of fruit bats. It was really amazing to see that kind of BIG bats.

Fish Kingdom

Just a few meters away from the bat sanctuary, the boat stopped and our boatmen told us that we could feed fishes there. “Really?” was my first reaction. When we threw tiny pieces of bread in the water, there came different kinds of fishes in different colors and sizes.

I felt like I was in a big aquarium. To my delight, I jumped towards the water because I wanted to see them face to face but I drove them away. Me sad face. I waited for few more minutes but the small and big fishes were gone. Aaaaawww!

BPs Chons, Marion and Weng jumped in to get a closer encounter with the fishes

Mangrove Kingdom

The last stop which is just a few meters away from the bat and fish kingdom is the mangrove kingdom. These three are part of the Tabuk Marine Sanctuary.

There's a not-too-tall lighthouse on this islet and a footbridge made of bamboos

The mangroves serve as shelter for different kinds of animals like birds, fishes, bats, and even sea snakes. In every 200 meters of this footbridge are landing stations where you could take some rest. At the second station, all were startled by a sea snake crawling in the bamboo shaft while everyone was supposedly relaxing. At least it was harmless and we were able to move forward.

Hello sea snake!

There are three landing areas; the last one I think is a good spot for picnic and relaxation. We only spent few minutes there then we headed back to Palompon for we were all so hungry after an exhausting but very rewarding island tour.

The BACKPACKERS in Palompon, Leyte

To check for the availability and make reservations for a trip to Kalanggaman Island and Tabuk Marine Sanctuary, contact Palompon's Tourism Officer: Miss Cleofe P. Rivera @ 0917-303-7267

The island may not always be available. As a matter of fact, this was supposed to be in Day 1 of our Eastern Visayas Adventure, but the island was closed by the Vice Mayor of Palompon due to a regional celebration so we adjusted our itinerary.

back to Eastern Visayas Escapade index
Go back to >>> Zipline in Sogod, Southern Leyte
Go to next >>> Tacloban City Tour

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