Southern Leyte

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The Blessed Land of Southern Leyte Province

Limasawa Island

Overview

Southern Leyte is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Maasin City is the capital of the province. Southern Leyte was once a sub-province of Leyte before it was divided from the latter. Limasawa, an island to the south is part of the province where the first Christian Mass was held and is said to be the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines.

The province ranks as the second least populated area in the region. According to the 2007 census, the province has a population of 390,847 a 1.13% growth compared to last 2000 census with a population record of 360,160. Southern Leyte's geological features created several issues in the province after the flooding of Subangdaku River and the awful mudslide in Guinsaugon. Organizations warned the province as susceptible to natural occurrences like landslides and floodings.

Southern Leyte contributes to the economy of the country. It forms an important part of the inter-island transportation system of the country, with ferries transporting people and goods between Liloan and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao. The province is well known for its quality abaca products and the country's major producer of abaca fiber.

Filipinos stake a large claim on hospitality, just sort of making it a national treasure, and the Leyte’s from the small province of Southern Leyte are no different. There is a warmth that begins with the lilt and caress of welcoming voices. Most of the locals, you see, speak Cebuano, a dialect that seems naturally nurturing.

Even the land is naturally welcoming, as evidenced by the lights that beckon from homes that hug the coast and the waving fronds of coconut palms.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Limasawa Island

Location: Southern tip of Southern Leyte; a 45-minute pumpboat ride from Padre Burgos to the island.

Attraction: Site of the celebration of the First Christian Mass in the Orient when Ferdinand Magellan came in 1521; historical and cultural viewing of the Magellan Shrine / Marker.

It is also a diver's paradise. It boasts of magnificent walls and sheer drop-offs decorated with a variety of lovely fan corals which never fails to awe even the most traveled and experienced diver. The island also has sites for novice divers and beginners, as well as excellent reef communities on a gradual slope. It is ideal for open water diving and underwater photography. For the more daring and adventurous, there are numerous holes and cavelets where one may encounter a passing sea snake or a couple of squids.

Travel Tip: Best time to visit the island: March to early June/October to December. Trips can be arranged by the Southern Leyte Governor's Office or passenger pumpboats are available at Padre Burgos wharf.

Bitu-on Beach

Location: Barangay San Roque, Liloan, Southern Leyte; can be reached only by banca with outriggers; a 30-minute boat ride from the townproper.

Attraction: White sandy beach; shells of various kinds and colors; good for picnicking, swimming; fishing and shell hunting.

Kuting Beach Resort

Location: Macrohon, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: Wide stretches of sandy beach favorite for swimming and picnics

Magsuhot Park

Location: Sogod, Southern Leyte; only 3-kilometer from Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway.

Attractions: Has a forested area of 500 hectares. It has 4 waterfalls falling into a common basin and is 20 meters high. Other sights 12 kilometers away are Lum-an and Mahayhay Falls with a 60-meter fall.

Wawa Strait

Location: Macrohon, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: The often invisible strait is a sight to behold from this town; one could simply while away his time and get a relaxing feeling by going to this point to get a glimpse of its beauty.

Tancaan Point (Sta. Sofia Beach)

Location: Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte.

Facilities: Concrete stairway to a watchower overlooking the deep sea and historic Limasawa Island; natural shades and picnic tables.

Tancaan Point/Buenavista Fish Sanctuary

Location: Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte; about forty five minutes from Maasin by land.

Description: A real stand-out when it comes to diving, snorkeling or just plain beachcombing or swimming; offers total exhilarating underwater tour - excelent corals, drop-offs, holes and cavelets, canyons, mini-trenches; rich variety of fishes like napoleon wrasses, groupers, sweetlips, snappers, parrotfishes, butterflyfishes eagle rays, sea trurtle, barracudas, sea turtle and pelagic fishes.

Travel Tips: Best time to dive: October to May, private boat can be hired from Maasin or Padre Burgos. Divers should bring their diving equipment and food.

Guinsohotan and Busay Falls

Location: Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: Clear waters good for swimming and picnicking.

Sulphur Spring

Location: Anahawan, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: Sulphur spring water with curative power.

Maamo Beach

Location: Barangay San Roque, Liloan, Southern Leyte; can be reached only by banca with outriggers.

Attractions: White sandy beach; good for swimming and fishing.

San Pedro and San Pablo Beaches

Location: Hinunangan, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: White coral beaches ideal for swimming, surfing and skiing; can very well accommodate a variety of activities related to diving and other water sports/recreation.

Panaon Island

Location: Liloan, Southern Leyte.

Attractions: A part of Mindanao Deep, the second deepest body of water in the world; one of the most mystifying dive destinations in Southern Leyte. It is where one may encounter a school whales or dolphins.

SUN-OK FISH SANCTUARY

Location: Pintuyan, Southern Leyte; situated below an imposing rock edifice, this sanctuary can be reached by motorized banca in about two hours from Maasin upon prior arrangement with private operators.

Description: Hosts a variety of marine life; the underwater contour is actually a terrace full of distinct coral formations inhabited by large species of fish. Fully rehabilitated soft and hard corals along cracks and crevices provide an appropriate backdrop that sums up a totally interesting dive experience; the rock edifice is ideal for rock climbing.

Travel Tips: Best time to dive: October to May; fishing and collection of shells and others is strictly prohibited.

TABUGON FISH SANCTUARY

Location: Liloan, Southern Leyte.

Description: The coastal town of Liloan, with its protective bay, has also one of the biggest reef areas recommended by the Silliman University Marine Laboratory as proposed marine reserves; regularly visited by the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark.

ILIJAN POINT / NAPANTAW FISH SANCTUARY

Location: San Francisco, Southern Leyte; can be reached by motorized banca in about two hours from Maasin upon prior arrangement with private boat operators.

Description: Healthy corals, clear water, rich marine life; the highly diversed underwater terrain in the area promises to be a challenging and exciting dive that a resident school fully grown surgeon fishes welcomes the "intruder" to a celebration of marine bliss and tranquility; hideout full of huge sea fans and soft corals; the place is virtually intact.

Travel Tips: Visitors should bring their own equipment and provisions (water, foods, etc.); bathing/swimming/snorkeling is allowed in nearby beaches and adjacent reef areas; best time to dive: October to May.

SOGOD BAY

Location: 124 kilometers from Tacloban City via the Maharlika Highway.

Description: Have already established big fish sanctuaries which will someday become excellent dive sties. The whole of Sogod Bay and parts of the Pacific area, including the islands of San Pablo and San Pedro can very well accommodate a variety of activities related to diving and other water sports and recreation.

PATAG DAKU

Location: Libagon, Southern Leyte; to reach Patag Daku, one has to ride a bus or private vehicle from Maasin to Libagon. The trip may take about 2-3 hours. While in Libagon, arrangements can be made with the municipal government for guides/porters, especially for first time climbers.

Description: Patag Daku, in English, means big plain. It is certainly big but is never quite plain. It is actually a valley so dense in vegetations that novice campers and mountaineers will never come in or out without an experienced guide leading the way. But the trek to the valley comes big in every way. In mountaineering parlance, it is a major climb. Not the leisurely stroll that one might expect, the climb is an arduopus six hour journey through a maze of trees, ferns, moss, grass and big trees.

Travel Tips: Start the tour at about 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning; bring potable water; climbing / camping equipment is a must especially if the group wishes to stay overnight.

Maasin Cathedral

Location: Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Facilities: Catholic Church situated in a beautiful park, with recreational facilities such as swings, slides, tennis court.

Attractions: Image whose art and architecture dates back to the Spanish era are still found in its altar and ceilings.

MALITBOG, SOUTHERN LEYTE

Location: 253 kilometers from Tacloban City by land transport.

Attraction: One of the oldest towns in the province of Leyte which was once the center of trade and commerce; old big Spanish houses and church; canopy of century-old acacia trees at the town plaza; the prominent Esca’s family mausoleum built in 1928 with its dome towering over a catacomb; fine beaches and unexplored caves.

Accessibility

Southern Leyte may be reached by land via the Pan Philippine Highway or, as most prefer, by sea. Either way, one finds oneself in Maasin, the provincial capital. Maasin is hardly your idea of a bustling town; it has maintained a pace that is welcome after the hurly-burly of city life. It is also blessedly situated between sea and forest. The former provides virtually untouched beaches waiting to be discovered, and the latter, virgin growth still unexplored.

From Manila, tourists can reach Southern Leyte by riding a plane via Tacloban. Local airlines from Manila have trips going to Tacloban - the gateway to Southern Leyte.  Next from Tacloban, take an FX van going to Hinunangan - one of the town in Southern Leyte. 

There are buses from Manila particularly in Pasay or Cubao that have direct trips to Hinunangan.

Southern Leyte

Mantahan, Maasin City