Beaches, Philippines, Visayas

Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte: A Balance of Tourism and Conservation

 

It was another warm welcome.

By the time we stepped out of the coaster bus, the staff of the local government of Palompon, Leyte met us with their warmth and smile. They escorted us to the second floor of the municipal hall for a simple program and registration. It was actually a briefing before exploring the best kept treasure of the town, the world-renowned sandbars of Kalanggaman Island

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte
LGU Palompon welcomes Tourism Promotions Board.                                          Photo Credit: LGU Palompon

 

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte
Registration.  Credit: LGU Palompon

 

I was also excited for this island paradise. But surprisingly, I’ve found myself focused on the presentation. Moments later, Vice Mayor Georgina Arevalo was introduced, stood before us and delivered her welcome speech.

Honestly, It was quite a different talk, not the usual speech we normally get from our usual politicians. She shared the detailed plan of tourism for the town. I must say, it has depth and backed up with facts.

In spite of their efforts in promoting their tourist spots like Kalanggaman, Vice Mayor was certain of one thing – environment protection and conservation. I remember eating, enjoying the sandwich they prepared for us (LOL!) when I began asking myself, “How? How it can be done?”

The answer came when the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Palompon, Raoul Bacalla, took charge of the presentation. Once Kalanggaman was put on the spotlight among major networks and media outfits, there was an increase in tourists’ arrival resulting to better income. But still it was clear, there was something non-negotiable.

They wouldn’t compromise Kalanggaman for the sake of commercialization. The island capacity is only 500, so they implemented a system to control the influx of tourists. All must coordinate with the local tourism office prior going to the island. No walk-in travelers. They would decline you, turn you away if needed. That’s how serious they are in protecting Kalanggaman.

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte
MENRO (Palompon, Leyte), Mr. Raoul Bacalla

 

Palompon Leyte
Interview with Vice Mayor Georgina Arevalo. Courtesy: LGU Palompon

 

The wait was over. At the back of the municipal hall is the port where you can find the boats going to Kalanggaman.

We boarded a huge one together with the Municiapl Tourism Officer of Palompon, Ma’am Cleofe Rivera. She said that this kind of boat can accommodate up to 30 people for only Php4,000 (back and forth). All tourists must register and pay a fee of Php150 for a day trip and Php250 for an overnight stay camping style. There’s no accommodation on the island, but you can find proper toilets for the guests.

After a bumpy 1 hour boat ride, we finally arrived. Witnessing the island from afar is already a sight to behold. We were all excited!

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte
Nice group picture with the Tourism Officer taken by the photograoher of LGU Palompon. Composed of DOT Region 8, Tour Operators and Media Partners.

 

Kalanggaman Island
Approaching Kalanggaman Island

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The pristine beach, the white sand and the unbelievable sandbars caught my attention. At that moment, the first thing I wanted to do was just go there, explore and walk on the sand or maybe just lie there and enjoy. It was like the beach was calling me. Until I heard the beat of the drums, signalling the start of a fantastic dance number.

Oh my goodness. The local government has really made this tremendous effort to express their warmest welcome to us. I was just expecting a nice and sumptuous lunch. I know food will always be my top concern. LOL! But what they did was just so over the top!

Kalanggaman Island
Welcome dance!

 

I was overwhelmed by the presentation. But I must say, looking at the beauty that surrounded me, it made me realize what the LGU officers told us at the program.

Environment protection. Responsible tourism. All these echoed in my mind as I looked upon this vast and unbelievable beauty. So this is it, this is the result of what they call conservation.

It was time for lunch. I would love to enjoy the food and eat more, but my mind was thinking of something else, my mind was drifted towards the beach and the sandbar. Well, you know that Kalanggaman is truly worthy when I started to prioritize it over food right? LOL!

While everyone was busy taking their lunch, I finally had the chance to walk along the sandbars and explore Kalanggaman. It was another awe and jaw-dropping moment for me. The same feeling I had when I first set my eyes on Calaguas Island, a few months back.

Kalanggaman has its unique charm. It was high tide so the sandbars did not show in its best form, but still, it was beautiful. The crystal clear water and the white sand was perfect.

Kalanggaman Island Palompon Leyte
Beautiful Kalanggaman Island. No Filter
Kalanggaman Island
Well, Look at that! 😉
Kalanggaman Island
Again, Selfie is necessary in this beautiful place. Blue is the color of the day.

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Kalanggaman Island
Going back…

 

Beach bumming is probably the best way to enjoy Kalanggaman, but hey there are a lot of activities you can try. One proof is the line of paddle boats on the shore, you can do some kayaking and stand-up paddling.

After exploring the long stretch of sandbar, I saw our group on the side of the beach for some Clam Seeding. The place was instantly filled with laughter when some locals suggested they can put all the huge shellfish into the water and do a race. All cheered for their own shellfish, but nothing moved. LOL!

To instill the value of conservation of the ecosystem within the island, a turtle was also released into the ocean.

Kalanggaman Island Palompon
HAPPY! 🙂 Tourism Promotions Board and the Tour Operators. Thanks for the photo LGU Palompon
Kalanggaman Island Palompon
Goodbye Turtle! Credit: LGU Palompon

 

After the activities, we still had some free time so I took another chance of walking into this beautiful stretch of beach. Then finally, taking a dip into the blue waters, it was relaxing, the best way to beat the scorching heat.

Kalanggaman Island
The JUMP SHOT! LOL! Thank you LGU Palompon for this awesome photo!

 

I just couln’t help but appreciate Kalanggaman’s splendor. The local government (with DOT) has been doing a great job at preserving this island and they deserve a commendation.

We all have witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of commercialization. Look at what happened to Boracay. Look at the imminent future of Calaguas as the first resort was built on the island. Kalanggaman is a proof that Tourism is possible without compromising the environment, that conservation is non-negotiable. This is a realization for us to start thinking long term.

They might shoo away tourists who do not follow the proper coordination but look at the long term, tangible effects – an unspoiled paradise with rich ecosystem that can still be enjoyed by future generations.

 

 

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Travel Guide to Kalanggaman Island

How to Get There:

Book a flight to Tacloban, Leyte. From the city proper, there are vans going to Palompon for 2 to 3 hour travel time. Please do not forget to coordinate with the local tourism of Palompon prior to your trip (contact below). Walk-in travelers are not allowed because they need to ensure that the visitors will be within the limit.

At the back of Palompon Municipal Hall is the port where you can find boats going to Kalanggaman. Price of the renting of boats can be cheked with the local tourism office.

Contact Details: Cleofe Rivera / Municipal Tourism Officer, Palompon, Leyte

Number: 09173037267 / Email: cleo_rivera@yahoo.com / Website: palomponleyte.gov.ph

 

Note: This trip was made possible through a Familiarization tour within Eastern Visayas sponsored by Tourism Promotions Board of the Dept of Tourism.

Thank you for the invite! So grateful in meeting some new friends from DOT Region 8, TPB, Media Partners and Tour Operators.


19 Comments

  1. Ace Sedfrey Ong Lear

    Kalanggaman is truly a gem! I got the chance to experience the island back in 2014. That time you can still access the island via Cebu. It was already evening when we arrived, the moon was quite full, the sky vividly black. Even before reaching the powdery beach, the island was already showing us its beauty. The shallow water was glowing turquoise, the moon’s light reflected by the white sand floor. That night I slept with the soothing sea breeze, the moon, and the stars. The following day, the island revealed to us its wonder. We went snorkelling on the rocky side of Kalanggaman where we saw giant clams! Navigated the isle through kayaks and swam the pristine blue waters. Sadly, part of its sandbar was destroyed due to Yolanda the previous year but that didn’t devalue the majesty that is Kalanggaman. It was indeed a very memorable trip. I’m happy to know that the local government has put into its priority list the conservation of the island and I hope others would follow suit soon.

    Reply
  2. What a fantastic, beautiful place! With views and nature like these, I understand the urge for tourism to flood these beaches but it is great that there are conservation efforts and real awareness of how fragile ecosystems really are. People are often too shortsighted and greedy to see that the real wealth is this beautiful nature: I hope to read many more posts like this one, with positive, inspiring, sustainable travel stories!

    Reply
    1. jontotheworld Author

      Hi Ate Nieel,

      Kalanggaman is really beautiful.

      Dati ate pwede pumunta Kalanggaman from Cebu, ngayon mas mahigpit na kailangan may permit before going there from Cebu, kung wala kailangan muna to travel to Palompon, Leyte

      Reply
  3. Kat

    Hi Jon, we had just visited Kalanggaman Island this month and I had the exact same thoughts. That is, I was happy to see that the island is properly conserved despite the boom in the number of tourists visiting here. Just before our boat left the port, we were given two plastic bags where we can put non- and biodegradable garbage. The tourism office is also firm in implementing the daily tourist cap. 🙂 I hope other islands in the country will follow suit.

    Reply
  4. All I can say is, you are one lucky guy Jon. Oh my good look at that beautiful stretch of white sand, and look at that blue water. It’s so beautiful it’s so surreal! I first heard about this island from Cai, since then I’ve been wanting to go and I sure as hell going to wait for a seatsale to get my ass there. I definitely approve of DOT’s conservation efforts to maintain the beauty of Kalanggaman!

    Reply
  5. Myra

    Hi! Nice to have read about your Kalanggaman Island experience. The place is so beautiful. I, myself, have always wanted to go there. Is it safe for a solo lady traveler to go there and can you please refer a tour operator?

    Reply
  6. Mae Pauline

    May I ask if you, sir, are willing to provide us a lecture for our upcoming conference on environment and tourism? If it is possible, you can talk about the tourist behavior/practices towards a destination-both negative and positive. Given that you are an experienced traveler. This conference will be on February 18, 2016 in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

    However, since this is a part-charity event, my team will only be able to provide you with a 1night accommodation (with food throughout the program) at Crimson Hotel Alabang. Thank you and we hope for your immediate response/acknowledgement of this comment. God bless.

    Reply

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