AFTER an hourlong plane ride to Tacloban from Manila, a two-and-a-half-hour van ride to Palompon and a 45-minute boat ride, we arrived in Kalanggaman, one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines.
It was a long journey, but as we looked at the blue, clear waters, it was easy to forget what it took to get there.
Our Kalanggaman experience was different from the usual beach trip we had been used to.
It meant sleeping in tents after we decided to spend the night there.
There are no resorts available as the tourism office allows a maximum of only 90 people per day. This is to preserve the place’s pristine beauty.
There are no stores selling food and drinks, which means you have to get everything in Palompon’s market.
And there is no electricity to charge your phones.
The trade off?
You’ll be treated to an exhilarating walk along the island’s long, picturesque and absolutely stunning sandbar, where you can spend the whole day enjoying the fact that you’re in the middle of the sea.
The options of what to do are limitless. You can spread your blanket and lay down, read a book, listen to music and take that long-deserved nap.
Then there’s just hanging out with friends under the sun, and bonding over a few drinks as you soak in the island experience.
You can also spend time in nipa huts set up by the local government, or hang a hammock on the tree.
And, of course, the water surrounding the whole island is so clear and inviting that there is no reason not to swim.
Come nighttime, after the tents are pitched and all you hear is the gentle winds, it is spectacular just to gaze at the sky.
Those are priceless moments getting lost staring at thousands of luminous stars.
We saw a handful of shooting stars that made the night even more magical.
The air was so fresh and clean that at that instant, there was nothing more to ask for.
The island experience builds up energies for the trip to Lake Danao in Ormoc, which is two-and-a-half hours away from Palompon via a rented van.
It is considered as one of the cleanest lakes in the Philippines, Ormoc’s natural main attraction surrounded by the Amandiwin mountain range.
Here, you definitely should rent the floating cottage which you pull to the middle of the lake. Bringing inflatables is highly suggested. You can float on it and drift into happy reveries.
The more energetic can rent bangka and kayaks to race with friends or simply wander around the vast waterscape. Otherwise, the kawayan house is just as good for exploring the lake.
These two remarkable places are among the treasures of our country. Being there heightens one’s sense of wonder and amazement at how truly naturally beautiful this land is.