White sand and blue sea in Canigao Island, Leyte

Canigao Island (Leyte): Hidden in Plain Sight

Life plays tricks on us. Always. Remember those times when you were looking for a pencil and it was right there, stuck on your ear, all those time? Or looking for the love of your life and she/he was by your side all those years? It’s along those lines that we’ve encountered an island close to the coast of Leyte — Canigao Island. Join us in exploring the reasons why Canigao is hidden in plain sight.

Off the Island of Leyte

Here’s the amazing thing about the Philippines — it’s a wonderful collectivity of more than 7,107 islands. Some islands are huge, some are little, and the “mainland” is really just the bigger island. This island diversity is, in fact, part of the new tourism promotion of the Philippines. [Click to watch this great video about the Philippines]

What comes to mind with “Leyte”? There was once a time when the first thing that comes to mind was either the landing place of General Douglas MacArthur in World War II or the origin of First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Now it’s largely known as the place that took the brunt of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Whatever your first thoughts on Leyte, we’re almost certain that beaches and white islands are very far from the top of the list. Really, Canigao Island is not supposed to be there. But this gem is there, alright, just waiting to be “discovered”.

Transpo and Hotels

Canigao Island is a little island off the island of Leyte, accessible by airplane mainly through Tacloban City, by RORO through the San Juanico Bridge, or by boat mainly through Cebu City. The mode of transportation can have variations, like selecting an overnight 6-hour trip from Cebu to the town of Hilongos or a fast 2-hour craft from Cebu to Ormoc City.

No matter the mode of transportation, the goal is to get to the home of Canigao Island — the sleepy town of Matalom, Leyte.

There’s not much schedule of public transportation through Matalom so the better option, at least for those who doesn’t want to wait for the next bus/jeepney trip, is to hire a van. Matalom is around 4 hours from Tacloban City or 2 hours from Ormoc City, both cities hosting the bigger hotels.



Life is a Beach

It’s not surprising to hear that a foreigner “discovered” a beautiful beach or tourist spot in the Philippines. Foreigners discovered Boracay decades ago. Non-Filipinos “discovered” Siargao more recently compared to Boracay, solidifying Siargao’s status as a bona fide surfing destination. The reason for these “discoveries,” we think, is the same reason why Canigao Island is hidden in plain sight.

The Philippines, if it’s not yet obvious to you, has a very extensive coastline. The Philippines is ranked as FOURTH in the whole world in terms of length in coastline, next only to Canada, Indonesia and Russia. Filipinos encounter the beach on a regular basis and what happens to things (or people or places or what-have-you) that we encounter on a regular basis? Yep, we take them for granted. This propensity can hardly be debated, cemented in sayings like “we appreciate things only when we lose them.”

A white beach in Leyte? Great. So? Really, it’s great that the white island is there but we don’t really jump for joy and go out of our way to check it out. Just a normal feature of our daily lives.


But there’s nothing normal about a beach. Boredom has no place in the normally repetitive nature of our daily lives. Any beach, more so a white beach, offers a lot of rich experience. Time to see and embrace the experience offered by Canigao Island.

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