This is the third and last entry for the Matalom Diaries series about my vacation trip in my mother’s hometown of Matalom, Leyte during the last week of May. You might want to skip the text and focus on the colorful pictures, this is a photo post after-all. I’ve mentioned already about the girl, the bike and now it’s time to show the town’s pride – the Canigao Island.
Canigao Island is very small island with a circumference of 1.1 kilometer (based on my calculation via Google Earth). It is located near the town proper and can be accessed through small boats. The place has always been considered the mini-Boracay of Leyte. And it seemed valid with fine white sands, a sand bar during low tides and crystal clear waters, minus the resorts and maddening crowds of tourists. It’s really great to be there swimming and having fun under the summer heat. The beach is perfect to play frisbee and beach volleyball – the stuffs I missed about Boracay.
I’ve been to Canigao Island several times already since childhood to college getaways and it never failed to impress me. It’s always lovely and relaxing to soak up under the sun out there. On the last weekend of May I was back again on the island in a family gathering celebrating my Uncle Ernesto’s birthday and I was really surprised by the improvements and developments in the island. It’s only the past few years when the island took center stage when talking about the best places to visit on summer in the region. Lots of people went there too.
To reach the island one can land in the Tacloban airport if you’re from Manila then hire a van going to Maasin City and drop off at Matalom’s port, which is located at Brgy. Itum, a few kilometers from the town proper. If coming from Cebu, you can ride a ship towards Hilongos Leyte, and go for a short bus ride for Matalom. Upon reaching the port grab a boat! The boat ride usually costs P45 for a back-and-forth package. If you’re with a group I believe the transport rate is negotiable. Four years ago there was a Fil-Hawaiian surfer who swam the whole 2 kilometer boat trip, that was certified bad-ass material.
The island is owned by the town and there’s no resort in there, yet. Thanks God the accommodations are available at very cheap rates. Nipa huts are rented for P300 per day plus P200 if you decide to stay overnight. Small tents are also available at even cheaper rates. But tourists are allowed to set-up their own tents. There are restrooms and bathrooms setup in the island, with a small charge. Perhaps what makes the island more enchanting at night is because there are very limited electrical supply there, only for charging cellphones and a few lights. The night belongs to the cold tropical breeze illuminated by the stars and the moon. Romantic. Simple. Mesmerizing.
Canigao Island, with the fun and colors it promises, is definitely a top tourist destination in Leyte. I do hope the local government will develop it more but most importantly it needs to be protected.