Once the pearl of Leyte, Tacloban became forever associated with natural disaster on 8 November 2013. This was Typhoon Yolanda's 'ground zero'. Walking through the centre of Tacloban today, it's impossible to imagine the post-apocalyptic tableau that greeted its citizens on that fateful morning. Since then, the city centre has been largely fixed up, physically at least.
The hillsides surrounding Ormoc Bay make a scenic backdrop for those arriving by boat from Cebu, but otherwise it’s a typical busy port city. Its saving grace is its breezy waterfront promenade with some decent restaurants and bars. Some of the bloodiest WWII battles in the Philippines took place in Ormoc Bay in 1944.
Padre Burgos & Around
Laid-back Padre Burgos (just 'Burgos' to locals) straggles for about 3km in a lazy green line along the edge of the lovely Sogod Bay. It’s considered to be one of the premier diving spots in the Philippines for its pristine hard and soft coral reefs, deep wall, cave and current dives. There’s an internet cafe near the pier but the closest ATMs are in Maasin and Sogod.
Maasin & Around
Maasin (mah-ah-sin) is the bustling capital of Southern Leyte, a laid-back, picturesque province that offers a wealth of natural attractions and great diving in Sogod Bay. Maasin is a suitable base for some hikes and also has a beautiful early 18th-century church, but for travellers it's mainly a transport hub.
A good day trip from Ormoc is to Lake Danao Natural Park, a beautiful body of fresh water in the hills 18km from town. There's some great hiking around the lake and on and around the undermaintained Leyte Mountain Trail. Keen hikers should get in touch with Kim of the Eastern Visayas Adventure Team, who can organise treks and ascents throughout Leyte and Biliran Island.
Sogod & Around
The busy little town of Sogod, at the mouth of Sogod Bay, has a picturesque forest backdrop and trekking opportunities at nearby caves and waterfalls; contact the tourist officer, Robe Estillore for more information. Metrobank has an ATM, and may be your last chance to get money for a while.