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Leyte is a relatively unexplored island of the Philippines known for its blue lakes, high mountains and excellent scuba diving.
|lars, © Author: Lars Hemel
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Leyte is an undeveloped island in the eastern Visayas, east of the much more touristic islands Bohol and Cebu. Padre Burgos and San Roque are well established diving destinations for many years. Maamo Beach is one of the most stunning white sanded beaches where you can only get by banca from San Roque. You can visit the beauty of Limasawa Island, said to be the birthplace of Philippine Christianity, easily reached by ferry from the Padre Burgos jetty. Malitbog is a nice colonial town where you can see the Escaño family mausoleum, a great Spanish church and some watchtowers preventing the village from being attacked by pirates. Maghusot Park, near Sogod, is a fantastic park with the high Lum-an and Mahayhay waterfalls. On the eastern side of Sogod Bay you can find the long island of Panaon, separated from Dinagat, Mindanao by the Surigao Strait and connected to the mainland of Leyte by the Liloan Bridge. Some of the more spectacular dive areas are drift diving below the bridge and wall diving within the Napantaw Fish Sanctuary. Another upcoming dive destination is Hilongos.
Leyte is not only popular for diving and snorkeling. Its wild rainforest offers some of the best hikes and National Parks in the Philippines. Pantag Daku is a hard guided climb across valleys, dense in vegetation such as ferns, moss and grass. Near the capital Tacloban City you can find the Mahagnao Volcano National Park, Mount Kankahanay, many pristine blue lakes (Mahagnao, Malagsum, Casudsu-ran and Danao), waterfalls and excellent hiking. In the village Maasin you can visit the Maasin Cathedral which is one of the oldest architectonical remains of the Spanish era and the two beautiful waterfalls Guinsohotan and Busay Falls. Macrohon is another small touristic town where travelers relax at Kuting Beach or enjoy the tranquility of the Wawa Strait. Furthermore there are many fish sanctuaries such as Sun-ok Fish Sanctuary, Tabugon Fish Sanctuary, Napantaw Fish Sanctuary which are going to be stunning dive sites, if they aren't already.
There are also many memorials and battle fields for visitors interested in Japanese - American war history. Red Beach, Palo, is where you can find the Macarthur Landing Memorial, considered to be the spot where the Americans first landed in 1944 to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. Other war sights are Hill 522 (Guinhangdan Hill), Hill 120 (Catmon Hill) and the Buga-Buga hills where some fortified remains remember at the once heavy and important battles that were fought.
The nutrient tropical waters around Leyte are clear, sheltered and filled with aquatic life. Muck diving is one of the most rewarding dives as you can spot colorful nudibranchs, small ghost pipefish and dragonfish. Between November and May, many tourists book tours to see the many whalesharks that come here to feed. You can also spot manta rays, dolphins and many other species of sharks. It is an unexplored region with caves, steep walls, shallow snorkeling bays; in a few words, a paradise that has something for each one of us.
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