Southern Leyte Diaries (Part 4): The Historical Limasawa Island

Arriving at Limasawa Island
There are destinations that I thought I would only be able to see in history books and postcards; places that I thought would be impossible for me to set foot on. In my grade school days, my teacher would always ask the class to bring postcards of famous destinations in the Philippines; of different bodies of land and water. I would always submit several sheets of bond paper with glued postcards of the Chocolate Hills, Magellan's Cross, and El Nido, among others. Back then, only the rich and the famous could afford to buy plane tickets, so in my mind I already accepted the fact that I could never go that "far" and that I could only see these destinations in my dreams. You can't blame me--I was not born with a golden spoon, so needless to say, I am one of those "who can't afford". The same teacher taught me things like Magellan's voyage to the Philippines, the first mass, the battle of Mactan, and so on. In the course of the discussion, she would always mention the islands of Homonhon and Limasawa, how Magellan and his troop sailed through the unforgiving seas of the archipelago, and how Christianity eventually spread throughout the nation.

Fast forward to the present time when riding a plane is not too much of a luxury anymore; when you could buy a plane ticket with the price of an Uber ride. I am privileged to have the opportunity to visit these places up close and personal. I remember the first time I got to see the Chocolate Hills in Bohol--it was as if I was entering a postcard, I was entering a forgotten dream. The same feeling consumed me when we saw the beautiful limestones of El Nido and when docked our boat on Limasawa Island. Alas, I arrived! I finally arrived!

Our boat to Limasawa Island
How to go to Limasawa:
By Air
From Manila, take a one-hour flight to Tacloban. Domestic airlines such as Airasia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines fly daily to Tacloban City. From the airport, ride a jeepney or a tricycle to the downtown. If riding a tricycle, you may ask the driver to bring you directly to either Duptours or Van Van's terminal. These shuttle services both have regular trips to Maasin City, your jump-off point to the many destinations in the province. Travel time from Tacloban to Maasin is about four hours, passing through Dulag, Baybay, Inopacan, Hindang, and Hilongos, among others. Fare as of writing is Php 220.

By Sea (from Manila)
There are buses that ply the Manila-Maasin route like Philtranco.These will pass along the provinces of Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Legazpi and Sorsogon where it will board a barge from Matnog to Allen in Northern Samar. The journey continues on to Samar and Leyte, and off to Southern Leyte. It's a long, butt-numbing ride! Fare as of writing is Php 220.

By Sea (from Cebu)
From Cebu, take a ferry to Ormoc City and from there board a van shuttle to Maasin City. Travel time from Ormoc to Maasin is around three hours. Fare as of writing is Php 220.

From Maasin terminal, take a multicab to Padre Burgos. There are regular public boat trips to and from Limasawa via Padre Burgos. However, the schedule is a bit tricky, so it is best that you ask around first. If the boat schedule does not fit your itinerary, there are boats at the port that you can charter to go to Limasawa Island.

Approaching Limasawa Island



Limasawa is a municipality on an island of the same name in Southern Leyte. Though it was not as touristy as the Chocolate Hills or the Magellan's Cross, it's fast becoming popular for its dive sites and historical value. If you could remember, it is on this island where Ferdinand Magellan held the first mass in the Philippines, a game-changer in the country.


Evashore Resort
Where to stay in Limasawa:
There are only a few resorts and inns on the island and the newest one is the Evashore Resort just a few meters away from the Limasawa port.

The rooms at Evashore are clean and spacious. There are options for every budget: Php 1,000 (single occupancy, non-aircon), Php 1,200 (double occupancy, non-aircon), Php 1,500 (double to quad occupancy, aircon), and Php 2,000 (three double beds, aircon). Rooms have cable TV and hot and cold shower. Breakfast not included. For inquiries, you may call +639178741302.

The three-bed room
The bathroom
Evashore Resort's location is very convenient, not only because it is near the port, but because infront of it is a nice snorkeling site. You can also enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding here. From the resort, you can walk a few blocks away to the nearest sari-sari store and eatery (Tessie's Restaurant).

What to do in Limasawa Island:
Aside from snorkeling and diving, you can check out the shrine of the first mass in the Philippines where you can learn more about our history, how Christianity started in the country, and even about disputes between Limasawa and Butuan on where the first mass was originally held. There is a tour guide stationed on the shrine who can give you facts and figures about Magellan's voyage to the Philippines.

After checking out the shrine, you might want to check out the spot where Magellan erected a cross in the Philippines for the first time. It will require endurance as you will have to go up through 450 steps. Prepare your legs!!!

First Mass Shrine


The stairs to the cross

Magellan's voyage map
Where to eat in Limasawa:
There are no fancy restaurants in Limasawa but there are eateries around town. We had all our meals at Tessie's Restaurant a few blocks away from Evashore Resort. Meals here are "lutong-bahay" and it reminds me of the eateries in Sabtang Island in Batanes albeit it is not as expensive.

Pork Menudo
Fried Fish
A local shellfish dish
Dried squid
I am really glad to have the chance to explore Limasawa Island. The island's raw beauty and rich history are definitely one for the books.

This tour was made possible through the assistance of the Region 8 Tourism Office as well as the Provincial Tourism Office of Southern Leyte. For questions, you may reach them at dotreg8@yahoo.com and tourismsouthernleyte@gmail.com.

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