Southern Leyte belongs to one of my favourite regions in the Philippines. Above all - the Sogod Bay offers an awesome marine life. From world-wide 500 corals, 350 can be found here! With some luck even whalesharks can be seen around Pintuyan (onetime I met one just by snorkeling from the shore). I did not see anywhere else in the Philippines so many marine sanctuarys and also outside the protected areas, the underwater world is frequently better, than in other regions inside the sanctuarys!
Sand beaches are rare in Southern Leyte, you can find them only by Silago and Hinunangan and a few small bays at the pacific coast north of Liloan.
Touristically the region is still a sleeping beauty, only around Padre Burgos are several diving operators since approximately 20 years in business.
Boattrips to/from Cebu-City, Ubay/Bohol and Surigao /Mindanao.
No flights, best airline connection via Tacloban; from there, around 4 hours by van, bus 5 - 6 hours.
Inside the city is a nice old cathedral, an immigration office can also be found. At the mainroad are bank instituts with ATM's, bring enough money from here, the only other place, to get money with an international credit card from ATM, is Sogod.
Maasin does not offer much objects of interest. The population from the surrounding countryside comes for buying goods into the city, also some supermarkets are present.
Daytrips to the outback and the Island of Canigao (right picture) are possible. Canigao still belongs to the municipality Matalom (and thus to northern Leyte). But the trip however is well accomplished from Maasin. With bus/jeepney 1/2 hour, direction to Bato. From several places reasonable boats go to the island. The white sand beaches are visited much from locals, different sections are marked as protected areas.
Southern Comfort II, Tomas Oppus Str., situated 200 m north of the bus- and jeepney terminal, one of my favourite hotels in the Philippines. Good rooms with aircon and TV for 500 Peso, with warm shower for 600 Peso. I think, Southern Comfort I will offer the same standard, Demeterio Str.
GV Hotel, Tomas Oppus Str.,
Fanrooms for 350, airconrooms + TV for 500 Peso.
Padre Burgos lies a 1/2 hour east of Maasin at the western entrance of the Sogod Bay. Here you can find some diving operators with accommodations.
The Southern Leyte Divers are around 1 km west of P. Burgos, in San Roque, german management. When the Habagat is blowing (June - August), expect some waves there. Peters Dive Resort and the Sogod Bay Divers you will find in Lungsodaan (pic left side), 2 km north, inside the Sogod Bay, english/australian owners.
Not even there! Possibly a daily shuttle from Maasin is not a bad idea (30 minutes oneway by multicab).
At Peters Dive Resort they still have some fanrooms with common bath, per person 400 Peso.
At the Southern Leyte Divers, rooms with fan and bath starts at 1450 Peso.
In Padre Burgos you can rent rooms with aircon + TV for 1000 Peso, in a house close to the pier, but one stage upside there is a videoke.
Kinamot sa Abgao, Tomas Oppus Str.,
nice terrace to the sea, food is quite good, middle priced.
Avenue, Tomas Oppus Str., close to the Metrobank,
good dishes, cheap prices. If you like, they make american breakfast, free WiFi and a small stage for concerts.
In the evening, plenty of bbqs built up on the streets to the sea. Well-attended jollybee, also at the T. Oppus Str.
1 km north of P. Burgos is the Davliz travel lodge. Unfortunately the resort goes to seed (maybe the owner dying?). The restaurant ist not open anymore. Water is probably opened due to leakages only briefly. The place itself would be nice. Located on a small hill - downside you can snorkel very well! Roomes with fan or aircon and bath, in October 2010 I paid 3500 Peso for one week.
Around 12 km north of P.Burgos a swissman opened the Southern Leyte Cottages in Cantatag (belongs to Malitbog). Rooms with fan and bath starts at 800 Peso, restaurant, middle priced.
Moose & Squirrel, native house at the beach (by the fish sanctuary) of Lungsudaan, very good local restaurant with reasonable prices.
At the restaurants of the diveresorts you can expect good food, at the southern leyte divers in San Roque they offer also some german dishes. But if you eat there 3times a day, at the end of your holiday you have to pay quite a lot!
In Padre Burgos you can find some simple local restaurants with cheap rates.
Motorbikes can be rent by the australian guy Greg in Lungsudaan for 500 Peso per day. If you drive more than 100 km per day, you have to pay a little more.
Diving will be for the most people the mainreason for visiting the Sogod Bay. All diveresorts go with their boats to the interesting spots and marine sanctuarys. Snorkelers can join for a lower rate (but not very favorable), for the visit of the sanctuarys there will be an additional fee of 100 Peso or more. There are also boattours for snorkeling with the whalesharks (mostly from February to April). Diving is going all the year around, the most rain is falling in December and January.
Snorkeling is also possible just off the beach. Or better off the shore,because the beaches are mostly made from coral gravel or you find some dark sand with larger pebbles. If you go from P. Burgos the next 10 km north, inside the Sogod Bay, by a jeepney or a motorbike, you can stop anywhere between the small villages and you will find in the sea plenty of different corals, coloured fishes and turtles.
A kind of public swimmingplace is established at the Tankaan point, around 3 km south of P. Burgos, frequently visited from locals for picnic and "standing in the water". Snorkeling is not very spectacular there.
Limasawa Island plays an important role in the history of the Philippines. Here celebrated Magellan with his crew the first christian mass on the ground of the Philippines. The island of Homonhon (south of Samar) was the first stop after the pacific-crossing and the crew have done some recreation there. The second stop was on Limasawa, it's told, here they held a holy mass on eastern and before they traveled to other places, they built a wooden cross on the highest mountain.
For the memory of the historical events, there are every year on eastern, large openair-masses. You can find a small house with paintings and statues to the topic, which tourists can visit.
... and you can climb the mountain (450 stages) where the locals set up again a wooden cross, as it was described in the historical records. (In addition you have a beautiful view over the Sogod Bay, if the weather is on your side.)
From the pier in Padre Burgos are going boats to Limasawa, 50 Peso fare per person. If you wanna go back in the late afternoon, regulary you have to charter a boat for 500 Peso. Or stay a little on the island, in Triana (westside) they have a public guesthouse of the community, the rate is 500 Peso for one of the two rooms. I recommend to rent a motorbike-taxi (habal habal) for exploring the island.
Snorkeling is not very spectacular. I think they have to many fishermen and they use sometimes dynamit. Swimming is nice on both sides of Limasawa.
From the eastcoast an outriggerboat is going every second day to Surigao/Mindanao (early in the morning).
The road to the town of Sogod offers again and again attractive views to the bay, in Malitbog is another old church with a nice tower. Sogod itself, at the entrance of the bay, gives not much incentives for tourists. The mountains tighten the clouds from 3 sides magically and I cannot remember one day without rain (at least for some hours)!
It's a GV Hotel there (fanrooms for 330 Peso, aircon + cable TV for 530 Peso), in the evening bbqs built up, at the bus- an jeepneyterminal you can find a simple restaurant. An ATM is at the Metrobank, which accept international credit cards!
At the eastern side of the Sogod Bay you pass first many rice fields. In Libagon should be an impressive waterfall, with guides it's said, you can do an interesting but difficult trekkingtour up to the mountains. Already from the road you can see a very bizarre landscape.
Liloan is famous for his ferry terminal. It is an important part of the race parcour (specially for some busdrivers) from Manila to Davao. The passage to Lipata/Surigao needs 3 hours.
Liloan lies at the northern end of the island of Panaon. A huge bridge connects the island with the Leyte mainland, crystal clear pacific water flows with a strong current through the channel. Panaon Island is a not yet from the tourism discovered jewel. One of the reasons for that might be, just recently a new road was finished until the southern end to the village of San Riccardo.
Unfortunately Liloan offers only one very simple accommodation:
Ofelias lodge is situated in the middle of the small town, close to the jeepney terminal. They have one room with fan + bath for 350 Peso and 6 rooms with common bath for 250 Peso. As long as the energy not breaks down, it's okay for 1 or 2 nights.
A little in the outback on the pacific side there is the Anilao hidden valley resort. The accommodation could be a nice place, there is even a small pool, but the staff and the management are not really expecting tourists. Maybe it was any kind of ngo-project and the self administration of the locals didn't work? There is also no advertising and without any vehicle you sitting lonely at the end of the world.
At the backside of the market in Liloan you can find some simple philippino Eateries, nice at the sea. They cook or grill you also a fresh fish for some Peso, which you can buy at the market. And it's a place for information, ... for example you looking for a motorbike for rent, they help you to find somebody.
Some km north of Liloan (at the Leyte mainland) there is a marine sanctuary. Snorkeling is also interesting, if you walk to the southern end of Liloan and swim just outside to the reef edge.
Depending to the wind direction (Amihan/Habigat) you can change quickly from the Sogod Bay to the pacific coast (and vice versa) and then you have a calm sea without waves!
At the Leyte mainland, there are north of Liloan at the pacific coast, some white sand beaches. Ask a fisherman for a lift and arrange a backtrip.
Going to: Buses and vans from Sogod, Tacloban, Maasin. Ferryboats from Surigao.
The next village south of Liloan is called San Francisco. At the main road is a simple accommodation - Kamaliassa Habay - 2 airconrooms for 500 Peso.
From that place is going a turnoff to Napantao. Theroad is good for a motorbike or a habal habal - but expect some dirty off road conditions. At the seaside of Napantao you can find an awesome marine sanctuary, which will be visit frequently from diving operators. There is also some sandy beach (pic right side)). At the end of the beach is a privat diving resort with accommodation from the Coral Cay - Organisation, which also watch the sanctuary. In earlier times the resort should be open to the public, nowadays only announced guests and members of the volunteer program are welcome!
However the sanctuary is excellent for snorkeling and from the divers you can hear (and read) fascinating reports.
If you driving at the main road 2 km further to southern direction, you will arrive in the main village of San Francisco. In the middle of the barangay you can find a cheap accommodation and restaurant, nice situated at the sea: Ponce de Leon Ocean Resort. They offer 3 simple fanroom with bath, per person you have to pay only 150 Peso!
Since 2009 there is also another marine sanctuary 2 km south of San Francisco.
Another some km south you will reach Pintuyan. Before,you haveto climb a mountain with some spectacular curves on the new road, after that, you will be rewarded with a stunning view!
A little north of Pintuyan lies the small village of Son-ok. Here you find another great marine sanctuary. When I been snorkeling there in november 2010, a whaleshark was visiting me. It seems they come to the place frequently. In Son-ok they start now also a local project to bring tourists with boats to the whalesharks (link). Here the people call them Tiki Tiki.
Between Son-ok and Pintuyan opened recently a german diveresort with accommodations (pintuyan.com - not for budget tourists). Inside the village of Pintuyan you can find some simple accommodations:
La Guerta Lodge 4 small rooms with aircon + bath for 450 Peso.
Chad guesthouse 5 fanrooms with common bath for 200 Peso. There stay regulary some local pinoys, foreigner get an offer to stay at the very nice Kapamilya guesthouse, downside close to the sea. 2 rooms with fan with 1 common bathroom, for 500 Peso per room, if not foreign members of the family just in town. Common rooms, kitchen and fridge in the house, surrounded by a nice garden.
Some simple philippine restaurants can also be found.
The travel is possible by buses from Sogod about Liloan, unfortunately they are frequently overloaded, vans from Tacloban and Maasin go only until Liloan!
Daily connection with Surigao - except sundays - early in the morning by a larger outrigger boat (stops also in San Riccardo).
The backtrip from Surigao starts around 12.00 lunchtime, traveltime 2 - 3 hours. (Flight to Surigao and taking the boat should be the fastest way going to Pintuyan.)
Boats from and to P. Burgos must be chartered, but it would be a more pleasant (and time-saving) way, than the bus around the Sogod Bay.
From Pintuyan a road is going upside to the saddle of the mountain, to the small village of Buenavista. How the name is already telling, from there you have a teriffic view to the island of Dinagat and the surrounding sea by good weather.
Sportive enthusiasts can climb downside to the pacific coast for a swim.
A nice waterfall is waiting also for discoverer - needs some trekking from Pintuyan.
Some km south you can snorkel in the next marine sanctuary.
Like in Liloan, you can quickly change the side of the island, depending to your favorable wind and wave conditions.
The new road ends (February 2011) 3 km behind San Riccardo, which is situated on the southern cape of Panaon lsland. From here you can see already the mountains south of Surigao in Mindanao.
Another 3 km north on the pacific coastline, there is a fine bay for swimming (pic left side).
The building of the road to the next village Esperanza is just on the way.
Behind Esperanza you can find on the unpaved street some gold diggers, making their tunnels inside the mountain.
6 km north of Liloan there is a turnoff, leading to the small towns of St. Bernard and San Juan. The good road is crossing the mountain - upside you have a nice view to the Cabilian volcano, which is not active. Before it's going downside to the sea, there is on the left side a signposted path to a waterfall, in the following small barangays are beaches with sunhuts.
Some km further inland from St. Bernard is the village of Guinsaugon, where 2006 a landslide swallowed a whole school.
In St. Bernard is a resort with swimmingpool, airconrooms with TV starts at 1400 Peso.
The Cabalian Bay is going first - with a wide arc - again to southern direction.
After the village of Anahawan the road turns to the north.
Around 3 km south of Hinundayan you will find in the barangay Ambao another fish sanctuary. It is a very good place for snorkeling, the seaground is completely covered with corals and there will be also some larger fishes for watching. The female mayor is coming also on sunday, to catch from the still rare tourists, the 100 Peso fee!
The locals are proud for his sanctuary, recently they have won some awards for it.
By the installation 10 years ago, also the german GTZ-organisation helped. I saw there sign on many boards of sanctuarys in Southern Leyte. So - I really like to honour that kind of development aid projects!
In Hinundayan you will find sandy beaches, but rather dark. Once a week a small boat should go to the Island of Dinagat.
10 km north in Hinunangan starts a 8 km long sandbeach, the colour goes from dark brown to ochre yellow.
In the village of Hinunangan you can find a pleasant hotel with a good price rate and plenty of red tiles. Casa de Tia Pacita, room with aircon + TV for 550 Peso,
additional balcony and hot water for 650 Peso.
Simple Eateries can be found in the village.
Some km further north the hotel Las Vegas lies close to the beach, rooms with aircon and TV for 1200 Peso.
Here at the beach you can look also for fishermen, who like earn some money with a boattrip to the nearby islands of San Pablo and San Pedro.
Strangely enough, the whole area is visited until now only from few philippine tourists.
On the island of San Pedro (north) you can rent some sunhuts at the western coast. From afar the beach is looking like a fine white sand beach, if you enter them you see it's made from coral gravel. The sea getting deep already after some meters, swimming is nice - but have an eye for the sea urchins. From time to time you will see some corals and fishes, but all in all - it's mostly destroyed.
On the eastern coastline you can find sandbeaches - but if the amihan is blowing, there will be also strong waves. So it's difficult to go there by boat, because there are also many reefs and rocks in front of the beaches. An easier way would be, to cross the island on the narrow locations from the westside. Zoom the island on the googlemap (high resolution) to get an overview.
On the southern situated island of San Pablo I found a good place for snorkeling. Go to the north western tip, from there you have to swim around 50 - 100 meters to the north eastern direction. There you can see some nice coral rocks with attractive fishes.
Further upside the coastline you will reach the small town of Silago. Just at the bus terminal is a simple pension house with restaurant.
Airconrooms with TV and bath for 800 Peso, fanrooms with common bath for 500 Peso.
In Silago is another long and bright sandbeach.
A little north of the town you can find a kind of educational nature trail in the tropical forest.
The good (and new) road to Abuyog (40 minutes) heads over the mountains. On the way you can see (still) some impressive forest. Maybe it's a good place for some hiking and animal observation.
From Abuyog you can go in around 1 hour to Tacloban.