Travel Guide to Canigao Island for First-time Travelers
So, where are you going this summer? With more than 7,000 beautiful islands, deciding can be very hard. Why not go somewhere lesser-known but is equally magnificent just like the other famous beach destinations in the country?
Everyone in the Philippines has been waiting for the summer season, especially the students (No more class! It’s 3 months vacation! Yehey!). And by now, many are very excited about their out-of-town beach getaways, friends and family alike. Sparkling crystal clear water, shimmering powdery white sand, warm blue skies, jaw-dropping majestic sunrise, postcard-perfect backdrop, and gorgeous beach bummers — Oh! Summer is love, don’t you agree?
Hear ye! Hear ye, everyone! Introducing — an island paradise in the province of Leyte, Canigao Island.
Once known as the fishermen’s sanctuary in the municipality of Matalom, Canigao Island has become a major tourist destination in Eastern Visayas since 2005 and has gained overwhelming popularity recently.
In this 2019 Canigao Island Travel Guide Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY Canigao Island Trip. We also included Canigao Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.
Canigao Island Location
The islet is located in Eastern Visayas. The nearest town is the municipality of Matalom in Leyte.
Best Time to Visit Canigao Island
Just like most islands in the Philippines, the best time to visit the island of Canigao is during the summer season from February to May but you can still visit the island from October to June. Avoid the rainy and typhoon season which is from the months of July to September.
If you hate a crowded beach, avoid visiting the island during the summer season, national holidays, holy week, and long weekends.
How To Get There
Traveling to this island paradise in Leyte is easy. Here’s how.
1. Take a morning flight bound for Tacloban (D. Z. Romualdez Airport) so that you have enough travel time towards the municipality of Matalom. Manila (MNL) to Tacloban (TAC) flight is about an hour long.
2. When in Tacloban airport, ride a taxi or van for P50-100 to take you to the downtown bus terminal. Alternatively, you can ride a jeepney for only P10, but you have to walk 3 blocks before you can find one.
3. Once you’re in the terminal, ride a van or a bus going to Matalom (that’s about 4 hours) and tell the driver to drop you off to the municipal plaza of this town. A one-way trip can cost P150.
4. When in Matalom’s municipal plaza, ask the locals around about the pier going to Canigao, which is just a walking distance from there. So you don’t need to ride a tricycle. But if you insist, it can cost you P7.
5. In the pier, you will pay P60, which covers your back and forth boat fare and entrance fee to the island. Travel time is 15 – 20 minutes.
- Entrance Fee: Php 20 for children 6-12 years old and Php 40 for adults.
- Boat Fare: Php65 per person
- Open Cottage Day rental: Php500
- Open Cottage overnight fee: Php700
- Rooms for rent: Php1,500
- Tent pitching: Php100
Things To Do in Canigao Island
Believe it or not, there is so much you can do in Canigao Island that will truly test your love for travel. Are you a certified globetrotter?
Well, becoming a traveler is not just about setting foot in a new place and taking selfies, but discovering and experiencing the beauty of nature — the essence of traveling, as they say.
So when in Canigao, you can:
1. Set up a hammock in any of the sturdy trees. Once done, lay down, close your eyes, feel the cool sea breeze, listen to the soothing sound of ocean waves and chirping of migratory birds, and doze off to sleep for a few minutes to rejuvenate your senses. Alternatively, you can get your favorite book and read with the sea breeze on your face. Or, you can just lay down and look at the beautiful surrounding — different types of tree species, clear turquoise water, sparkling white sand, warm skies, rare cloud formation, and so much more.
2. Tour around barefoot. Canigao is one of the islands in the Philippines with the finest white sand. On the way, you’ll see awesome sand and rock formations, a variety of plants (flowering or not), endangered tropical and subtropical trees (fruit-bearing or not), different types of shells, migratory birds, fisherfolk waving their hands to say hi, friendly and generous locals, and more.
3. Swim as long as you want. Actually, most of the tourists immediately go and take a swim once they arrive on the island. They just can’t resist the inviting sparkling crystal clear and cool water. It’s amazing because you can see the sun beating down hard but when you dip into its waters, it’s very cool. And when you come up, it’s very cold because of the strong sea breeze. Your eyes will be filled with excitement too as colorful fishes swim along.
4. Try sunbathing on the beach. From time to time, you can take a break from swimming and go sunbathing. It’s the perfect way to even out your skin tone.
5. Snorkel or dive outside the protected area. The north and west part of Canigao is a sanctuary. That is why the island has abundant, rich marine life. Snorkeling or diving in the middle of a bright day, you will be mesmerized by the extensive number of tropical sea creatures and enchanting ocean floors with dramatic and lush coral gardens.
6. Come with some fisherfolk to catch fish and get edible sea urchins, shells, and others. The locals on the island are some of the friendliest people on the planet. You can just approach the fisherfolk there or hire a pump boat especially for you. You can also try using a paddle boat for a more exciting adventure.
7. Go kayaking or ride a jet ski within the designated area. Although there is no kayak or jet ski available for rent on the island, the authorities allow anyone to bring their own watercraft and equipment.
8. Play beach volleyball or frisbee. There is a beach volleyball court for everyone and if it’s occupied, you can go somewhere where there is enough space. It is advised though that you bring your own ball and equipment just in case. There are regular tourists who play frisbee so you can join them too.
9. Join some foreign and local tourists playing instruments, singing songs, and having fun. Are you hesitant to approach them? No worries because it’s them who will invite you. The people there are the friendliest and most hospitable. Of course, prepare to sing along and show your talent. It’s fun! It’s one unique experience!
10. Visit the lighthouse and other landmarks. In the middle of the island, you can see one of the oldest lighthouses in Leyte. In the morning, they allow tourists to climb and have a panoramic view of the whole Eastern Visayas. You can also see the islands of Camotes, Cebu, Cagayan, Limasawa, and more. It’s gorgeous!
11. Go to the marketplace. Here, you can check out different souvenir items, including tee-shirts, bags, hats, mats, purses, pouches, accessories, home décors, and more (from P20 to P200). You can also buy something to eat as there are no restaurants, cafés or pubs on the island. When it comes to food, tourists are encouraged to bring their own provisions, or buy seafood (starts at P50) on the island and have them cooked by some locals or cook the sea creatures themselves (there is a kitchen for everyone). The stores in the marketplace only sell snacks, drinks, and other necessities (soaps, shampoos, tissues, etc).
12. Stay in a treehouse along the beach. Entrance is limited so be sure to ask permission from the management ahead of time. If there’s no one inside, you can bring your food there and eat while looking at the beautiful shimmering ocean, made more comfortable by the onshore breeze. You can also sleep here.
13. Watch the majestic sunset. By far, the island offers the best view of the sunset. At 5 in the afternoon, you are advised to find a place, prepare your camera, and wait for the spectacular natural scenery.
14. Pitch a tent (P100 – P200 per tent area). Although there are cottages (P500 to P700) and rooms (P1,500) for those who will be staying overnight, it is advised that you try camping, pitching a tent by the shore. Sleeping with the sand as your bed is certainly a must-try for first-timers. You’ll be surprised how comfortable and refreshing it is.
15. Watch shooting stars at night. In cities, it’s rare to see falling stars, even once. But in Canigao, you will lose count. It’s totally a mind-blowing experience! More stars, more wishes!
Do you want to know more about Canigao Island? Google “Canigao Island Paradise Facebook” so you will be routed to their official Facebook page.
*all photos courtesy of Canigao Island Paradise Facebook Page.
Where to stay in Canigao
As of this writing, there are no resorts, hotels on the island, however, there are native huts available if you are not into camping. You can bring your own tent or you may also rent from locals.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is there electricity on Canigao island?
Yes but since the island is only powered by a generator, electricity is turned off by midnight to save fuel.
Have you been to Canigao Island? Help us improve this Travel Guide to Canigao Island Blog by sharing your personal Canigao Island travel tips and recommendations 🙂