I happen to be very lucky to keep going back to the Philippines. I also happen to be very lucky to know where to go. With 7,107 islands (I can’t keep track) my options (and yours!) are really endless. I’ve been to some of the most exotic looking islands with the most basic facilities and to be honest? I really want to keep most of those a secret. But, you happen to be very lucky right now because I’m about to give up one of my best kept secret, well at least I think it is a secret in the international scene.
I’m talking about those tiny islands, tucked away, in the middle of absolutely none of your radar!
I half grew up in the south of Leyte and spent my past years in high school in this charming part of the world; beautiful, remote and care-free.
Most of our weekend as a family were spent at the beach or up in the mountains and this fostered my love for nature. I also always saw the same group of people every day as the village I lived in had a population of 800 at the time. It was a Disney-esque childhood in the mountains!
Pretty small huh? But that is how this place remained a paradise in my memories. From it’s mountains, to the sleepy towns, to it’s beaches and surrounding tiny islands.
How do you get there?
If you’re coming from Manila or Cebu, you can take a plane to Tacloban City Airport (Daniel Romualdez Airport). The fares normally run between $30-$50 roundtrip. You can also take a boat from Cebu into Bato and Hilongos (two neighboring towns with Bato being the closest to Matalom where the island is located) via Medallion, Roble, or Gabisan Shipping Lines and fares usually start from $5-$10. Below is a complete list of the ferries that travel between islands:
Canigao Island is located in a neighboring town so from there you can ride a tuktuk/tricycle/jeepney/bus to Matalom Pier.
Once at the Matalom Pier, you have to register for a boat ride and entrance fee to the island at the Canigao Island Kiosk (at least that’s what I call it) and it’s about $3-$4 per person.
The boat will take you to the island, a short 10-15 minute ride away and will schedule your pick up if you’re leaving on the same day (some island-hoppers camp for the night).
The best time to go there is well, early. You beat the local crowd and the waters are always calmer.
There are huts that you can rent out for the day starting at $5 with the beach front ones setting you back at $10. This has to be arranged at the mainland Canigao Island Kiosk same day or even ahead of time.
The island has basic facilities but you can bring fresh food and grill on the spot. The island also sometimes have fresh seafood (from fishermen dropping by) that you can purchase.
There are so much to do in the small island:
You can snorkel (Bring your own gear)
Kayak (Bring your own kayak)
Dive (if you have the gear)
Camp for the night
Find the sandbar (located at the tip of the western side of the island during low tides)
You can actually explore the entire island in less than three hours!
Or if you’re like me, just swim all day!
Here are the island associate fees according to Canigao Island Facebook Page:
They really made the island local friendly (fee-wise) and the municipality of Matalom is doing its best to maintain the island’s ecosystem. Most of the islands visitors are also locals.
So there you have it! This is definitely one of those place I tend to visit at least three times every time I visit the Philippines. It is also really close to our house so it makes it for an easy one day trip. I hope you get a chance to visit Leyte, and when you do, come see this beautiful local paradise!