The need to get a bit ‘off the beaten track’ grew after being at Alona beach and Bohol. We also didn’t go and see the whale sharks in Oslob, we wanted to do it ‘the right way’ and decided to go to Pintuyan on the Southern tip of Leyte. Apparently the whale sharks are there strolling through the bay from March to June.
So Leyte it was…
We took off from Loboc and took 2 buses to Ubay, this took a while but we where still in good spirits because we where on time for the ferry to Bato. Apparently we weren’t on time… We where waaaay to early, or better said, the ferry left waaaay to late. So after spending some time in the port (1h), then a lot of time on the ferry (2.5h) at bay and at last 3,5 hours on the way to Bato, Leyte we could start searching a ride to Tacloban which would take another 2.5h. We took a van and were lucky enough to sit in the front (not a luxury with longer legs). Upside was that a nice hostel was waiting for us in Tacloban (Yellow doors hostel). Downside was that is was valentine’s day and that a lot of restaurants either sold out or where packed. Anyway, it was a long day so we left for bed immediately.
Leyte is (sadly enough) better known as the island that got hit by super typhoon Yolanda on november 8, 2013, the more common international name is Haiyan. Some villages where wiped out totally and lots of people lost their lives that day. The most famous image is the one from a big boats being washed ashore some 100 metres land inward. One of the bows now serves as a memorial.
(A picture found on the internet, not taken by us 😉 )
We stayed in Tacloban for 2 nights… We were planning to head to Samar to visit natural bridge national park but decided against it due to bad weather predictions. Good decision apparently because it started pouring rain in the late morning. So we left the same day to Hinunangan.
The main thing to do in Hinunangan is visiting the twin islands called San Pedro and San Pablo. But the weather was so bad we decided quickly that we wouldn’t stay longer then one night. So yeah, what can we say, some less pleasant days with a lot of travel hours and proof that you need the sun, but this was nothing new off course… We didn’t see any tourists btw except for a lone French guy.
Next stop: Pintuyan! We wanted to see whale sharks in an ecologically responsible way, so we followed the lonely planet’s advice to go to this spot. We didn’t do it in Oslob, where the sharks are hand fed and are visibly suffering from the presence of the hordes of people visiting them.
Pintuyan isn’t a thriving town build around the whale sharks tourism… At all! Anyway, I contacted the local spokes persons to be able to go out on a whale shark watching tour. All in all this went quite smooth. Only big variable would be the weather, so when we woke up with the sun on our face we where quite thrilled to go to Son-Ok, the neighboring village where the boats leave from.
The tour itself was quite interesting. Our crew consisted out of 6 spotters on their own boat and us. We would spent 3 hours and would search for the tiki tiki starting from San Ricardo. The ‘spotters’ are locals who paddle with a boat, put their head in the water with their diving mask on, check if they see a whale shark, and then paddle some meters to start it all over. While we waited for them to spot a whale shark, we did some snorkeling. Our boat was a small pumpboat without rain cover and yeah, it rained again 🙂 The big question is, ‘Did you see one??’, NOPE, we didn’t… So it was actually just a nice boat ride! Ok, we where disappointed, but as some wise men said, you can’t always get what you want (aaargh…)
Do we regret not seeing the whale sharks? Yes. Do we regret trying to see them in a ‘right way’? No. Do we regret not seeing them in Oslob? No.
After trying to see the whale sharks we packed up our stuff, enjoyed a stunning sunset and left the day after to Surigao, a mandatory stop before going to Siargao Island, a surfer’s paradise and our second to last stop in the Philippines…
Yellow doors hostel (Tacloban): Beautiful hostel in the center of Tacloban. Owners are very nice and did their part in helping out with the rebuilding after Haiyan by letting volunteers stay for free. Definitely worth staying here!
La guerta lodge (Pintuyan): Basic lodging for about 600 php per night for a room.
DD Lodge (Pintuyan): Basic lodging where we stayed at, 700 php per night for a room with aircon.
Getting there and away:
We took a bus from Loboc (Bohol) to Loay (20 mins) and from Loay to Ubay (more then 2 hours). From there on you can take a ferry at 12.30pm (hour to be verified) to Bato, Leyte. In Bato you can take a van to Tacloban (2 hours). Even though everything connected well, it was still a loooong day.
To go south from Tacloban to Pintuyan you can a/ take a van (fast and reliable), b/ take local buses (slow and less reliable). The fun way is definitely the buses, but it is also a bit of a hassle.
Sunzibar (Tacloban): Really good mexican style food. The ribs are awesome.
There is a lot of good snorkeling around Pintuyan, we were not lucky with the weather so we where not able to enjoy the beauty of the fish sanctuaries. It is definitely recommended to explore this a little bit more.