Canigao Island is the hidden paradise of Leyte, and it has quite surely the best white sand beach in the entire Eastern Visayas. By hidden I mean it's spared from western tourism and development, but beware, the local "tourists" can be of much nuisance as well.
We took a local bus from Maasin City towards Matalom (25 pesos per person). Shortly before Matalom we asked the driver to stop at the boat terminal (Super Ball), where a bangka boat crosses the sea to Canigao Island. The normal price for a return ticket is 50 pesos for the 10 minutes boat ride. There were no other passengers waiting there, so that meant we had to charter the boat to get across immediately. For that we had to pay a total of 500 pesos return. But that meant we could go immediately, and when we wanted to come back the next day, we could just send them an SMS to pick us up at the island.
When we arrived the island, I was a bit shocked to see the many day trippers there. But this was Sunday after all, when a lot of local Pinoy go to the island. We had to pay an entrance fee of 20 pesos each, plus a 100 pesos fee for pitching our own tent on the island. We found a nice spot under a palm tree next to the beach, where we pitched our tent. We left our luggage (but not valuables) inside the tent, and then went for a walk around the small island. As we left the busy area of the beach and came to the western side of the island (a sanctuary), we were completely alone. We continued to the south tip of the island, and found the perfect white sand beach for swimming, also here we were completely alone. This was like the paradise I have been searching for. We spent probably a couple of hours there, swimming in the warm ocean and relaxing on the beach.
We went back to the busy north-eastern part of the island, where we bought some simple food. We recommend you bring your own food, because the small eateries at the island only serves very basic dishes (like cup noodles). Bonfires are not allowed on the island, but there is a dedicated place where you can grill your food, so just bring your own cook set and coal.
Most of the day trippers left the island before 4pm and it became indeed very quiet as the sunset was approaching. We actually thought that the island would be tranquil and relaxed during the evening and night, but we were wrong. Almost 50 people descended the island after dark by 3 fully loaded boats. These were mostly young local people, who frequently use this island for drinking and partying with friends, often the entire night through. They were not here to enjoy the silence at all, they were here to have fun and thus bring the city nightlife to the island. The noise kept going until 3am, when most of them were so dead drunk that they fell asleep on the beach.
The sun hit our tent before 6am, and it eventually became intolerable hot inside. I had only slept for a couple of hours, but I had to get out to find a cooler shelter under a palm tree. Here we sat eating our breakfast, before we packed our stuff and sent an SMS to the boat-guys to pick us up.
We are now heading for Ormoc City, and eventually the very secluded and remote Alto Peak, a mountain which the party crowds surely will stay far away from......