Summer will always be defined with a visit to the beach, basking under the sun and getting soaked in the vitamin sea of salty water. To some extent, summer seems to be quite predictable.
A visit to an island, however, is not. Especially when you realize that the place you’re about to visit, namely Kalanggaman Island, is everything you’ve hoped for while at the same time, it’s everything that is not.
Our boat leading towards Kalanggaman Island, with changing sandbars from either side of the island and coconut trees lining the middle
Getting closer to Kalanggaman Island
Doing it on a day trip: another man’s rejection is another man’s opportunity.
The opportunity to visit this gem came up when we just got rejected that Tuesday night by our boat guide that day (because apparently those who were managing their boat will have a fiesta) and a guide/”middle man” happened to be hanging out at our hostel caught our attention. The timing was somehow perfect. His name is Eddie, an overly enthusiastic who in spite of, subconsciously tested (or not?) our patience as he couldn’t help but say the exact same thing over and over again over a million times. Even my friend Flashback who barely speak Filipino felt it. And I’m not kidding.
With the price of Php 800 per person, the promise of having boat ride, sumptuous pork and chicken lunch, mask and snorkel, everything felt just about right.
The beauty of the sandbar that stretches far on either side was so inviting, with its shape varying with respect to the tide of the water. And yet, everyone was discouraged to swim far along–around the sandbar with the danger of being taken by strong currents and rip tides.
Arriving at Kalanggaman, the agreement and contradiction of expectation and reality.
That day, there was only one boat that left Malapascua at 9 am. With more than 20 guests tagging along, I was feeling quite confident that we were the only ones to find ourselves there.
Remote, isolated, empty… Beautiful, exotic, and pristine…
These are the adjectives that are normally attributed to the definition of an island. With expectations meeting reality (as always), it is a matter of having agreements and contradictions both at the same time.
Everyone could barely contain their excitement as the boat started to approach the island.
The water couldn’t get any clearer, to the point that it was more than embarrassing to pee (we actually talked about this!). There’s no denying that this island is beautiful.
It’s remoteness and isolation make it quite a task to visit while at the same time, limiting the habitation. With no development in tow, one can still call this pristine island exotic.
But empty? Far from it. But it wasn’t crowded either.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but still it was.
As we arrived in the island, I’ve noticed that there were a few who got there prior to us, and a few tents have been set up as well. I guess I initially failed to realize that some probably came from Leyte, while some have probably stayed there overnight.
Where are the masks and snorkels?
When we finally arrived in the island, me and my friend were both geared up to submerge ourselves in the water before we get burnt from the sun. But first things first, we had to get our masks and snorkels before we swim away.
Much to our dismay, there wasn’t any. The boatman said that their only role was to transport us with their boat for Php 500/person.
And an even bigger disappointment came to our new found friends (and allies!), as they were ripped off with the promise of an amazing snorkeling destination, plus lunch with an unlimited rum for a price even higher than ours.
It was a lost cause. Almost. Because our so-called guides/middlemen were left in Malapascua. It’s a good thing that our boatman was generous enough to lend us their own gear (even if they didn’t have to!).
Since we haven’t paid yet in full, we are set to settle what is due when we eventually go back. The right one.
After the so-called talk, it wasn’t long when we’ve finally decided to jump into the water. The heat was extreme and going to the far end of the sandbar would toast us before we could even reach it! Plus, the knowledge of swimming there with the risk of getting taken by rip tide isn’t my idea of taking a dip.
Midday in an island: lunch, small talks, and some rum.
Before midday, bottles of rum and coke were provided at our convenience as it was promised to our new friends by their guide. Half past midday, delicious chicken and pork barbecue found its place in our stomach while the rest of the group had small talks mostly about travel.
On the western side of the island lies another sandbar that is smaller in comparison. The shallow water made it rather a little difficult to swim while at the same time, trickier to walk at. It was due to the fact that we were minding the corals and the probability of stepping over the sea urchins too.
And then there were bottles. The broken ones.
If there was something really bad that I’ve noticed here, it was the presence of a lot of broken beer bottles scattered towards the sandbar. And mind you, there were a lot of it, that it was so hard to miss them!
There really wasn’t much to do in that tiny sandbar. Our new friends have decided to snorkel for a bit while me and my friend Flashback took some yet-to-be-uploaded gopro shots.
If time wasn’t being honest with us, I’d swear it played a trick on running so damn fast! I still wanted to go far to the other end of the island and perhaps snorkel on the “safe sides”.
Going past the coconut trees as we tried to find our way to the otherside, our boatman came to fetch us, as it was almost 3pm.
It’s one of those rare occasions when a mishap (in this case, the absence of masks and snorkels) that you find new friends along the way. And I couldn’t help but capture the moment of the cool crew that one afternoon.
The 3-minute bargain.
Being there until 3 pm surely wasn’t enough. It doesn’t take a genius to admit that we don’t know if and when we would be able to come back there.
So, I bargain for another 15 minutes.
No, just make it 10.
Actually, 3 minutes. Just 3. Because we wanted to take one last look at the sandbar, capture it in a photograph and perhaps, put it in our pockets too.
Just 3. We promised there would be no “selfies.”
And so, we had 3. We ran past the coconut trees and tried to “hide” from our boat (only to later find out that they actually saw us and had kept calling us when we thought they didn’t see us) to get to the sandbar.
Just… One last closer look.
As beautiful and as tranquil this island seemed to be, it is starting to gain a lot of popularity. For sure in no time it will be even more hyped and probably, gain more crowd.
So, if you get that chance to come visit, grab it quickly and savour every moment of it. Who knows what it will be in the next few days, weeks, months, or years? We’ll never know.
But please, just take photographs and leave nothing behind.
**This trip is part of my visit to Malapascua Island in Cebu last April, 2016.
Good to know:
1. Daily boat trips are available from Malapascua to Kalanggaman.
Php 800/person (boat ride+ lunch + “snorkel & mask” if this is promised by your guide a.k.a. the middle man)
Duration: Leaves Malapascua at 9am; Leaves Kalanggaman at 3pm
2. There is an Island fee (environmental fee).
Filipinos – Php 150
Foreigners – Php 500
College students – Php 40
High school students – Php 30
Grade school students – Php 20
Senior citizens – Php 120
Filipinos – Php 225
Foreigners – Php 750
College students – Php 60
High school students – Php 45
Grade school students – Php 30
Senior citizens – Php 180
There are a few set of toilets in the island
4. Food & Water
Bring everything that you think you’d need, as there are no stores there to buy it from
5. Electricity does not exist.
6. Be responsible. Clean up after your own mess and please, don’t tarnish this beautiful island!