Leyte is an island in the Eastern Visayas island group in the Philippines. It is divided into two provinces, Leyte Province and Southern Leyte. Each province includes some nearby smaller islands. Leyte is connected by bridges across narrow straits to the larger Samar Island and to the smaller Biliran island. The two largest cities are the capital, Tacloban, on the east coast near Samar Island, and Ormoc on the western coast.
Cities and municipalities
Eastern part of Leyte
- Tacloban City – capital of Leyte Province
- Palo - The religious and historical center of Leyte Province, and suburb of Tacloban.
- Tanauan - The Skimboarding Capital of the Philippines.
Western part of Leyte
The island is divided into two provinces, Leyte province and Southern Leyte; the former occupying 75% of the island and the latter the remaining 25%. For practical reasons, we treat Leyte as one region with good transportation links.
To many, Leyte is best known as the starting point of the liberation of the Philippines during World War II in 1944. On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur made his landing to the Philippines, following his well-remembered promise that "I shall return" when he left the country, then a United States colony, during the Japanese invasion in 1942. After MacArthur's return and the ensuing battle to liberate the island, Leyte eventually witnessed one of the largest naval battles in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was an American victory despite kamikaze attacks.
Waray is spoken by people from the eastern part of Leyte, about 60% of the population of the province, including most of the people in the capital city, Tacloban.
Cebuano/Bisaya is the most common language in Southern Leyte and the western part of Leyte Province, with about 40% of the population of the province speaking it.
Tacloban's Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (TAC IATA) is the main gateway to the island and the entire region of the Eastern Visayas including the provinces of Samar (Western) and Eastern Samar. The following airlines have daily flights:
Maasin is served by Air Juan, with flights from Cebu.
- 1 Bato ferry port with frequent boats to Cebu city.
- 2 Port of Inopacan to Cuatro Islas.
- 3 Matalon port to Canigao Island.
- 1 San Juanico Bridge. At 2.16 km long, this is the longest bridge spanning a body of seawater in the Philippines. It spans the San Juanico Strait from Tacloban to Santa Rita on Samar Island.
- Agas-Agas Bridge, Sogod, Southern Leyte. The tallest bridge in the Philippines.
- McArthur Park. You can visit the historical landmark of Leyte, which is in municipality of Palo. This is where the Americans landed to begin retaking the Philippines from the Japanese during the Pacific War, making good on General McArthur's promise "I shall return".
- Hindang Cave and Wild Monkeys One of the most popular daytrips in Leyte: Hindang monkey caves. It is hidden below the peaks of mountain Bontoc where the caves is located and with wild monkeys can be found. If you are on the top you can find a 640-meter zipline.
- Lintaon Peak & Cave. It boasts a commanding view of the Camotes Sea, The Cuatro islas and surreal landscapes that go far as your eyes can see. The best time to view the thousands of roses is in the evening but we suggest going earlier to view the sunset.
- Lake Danao. National park in Ormoc. Pleasant ride to this lake in the mountains with cool air and cold beverage to escape the hot sun. Visitors can fish, kayak, or swim. Or arrange to camp, rent the cottages on rafts. Best to go by motorbike or car.
- Festivals - every town have their own celebration of Fiesta or Festivals in honor to their patron saints like Pasaka Festival of Tanauan, Buyugan Festival in Abuyog and Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival usually held in Tacloban City.
- Cuatro Islas.
Leyte is famous for it delicacies like:
- Chocolate moron - a sweet dessert made from glutinous rice with melted cocoa or tablea
- Binagol - a giant taro (taylan) cooked in the hard shell of coconut coated with the sweetening syrup.
Leyte is famous for tuba, a local wine made from coconut, and a so-called "red wine", rather made from fermented coconut nectar that they wrap in tree bark that give the wine its red color. Almost every houses have tuba stored, and is usually drank during occasions or just as a pastime.