"The first impression was of emptiness," traveller Julie Brouillard told Spain's El País newspaper.
"The island has been left without trees, without houses, with nothing left."
Brouillard made her comments after travelling across the island of Leyte in the wake of 'super typhoon' Haiyan.
She said the situation worsened as she approached the city of Ormoc, home to some 191,000 residents.
The highway itself was strewn with fallen power cables and palm trees, while Ormoc itself had "descended into panic", the Spanish traveller told El País.
"Any shop with bread, rice and water was literally being assaulted."
The images of television were nothing compared to the reality on the ground in Leyte, Brouillard said.
Up to 100,000 people are feared dead after Haiyan swept through the central Philippines, with the city of Tacloban, battered by huge waves, perhaps the worst affected location.
No Spaniards are thought to have been killed.
Spain will send two airplanes with emergency supplies to the Philippines on Monday, Spain's Secretary of State for International Cooperation Jesús Gracía has said.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, which made landfall in Vietnam early on Monday, was a category 5 typhoon — the highest level — when it hit the Philippines on Friday.
Wind gusts of 389kph (235mph) were recorded by the US navy, making this the fourth largest typhoon ever recorded.
It may be the strongest to have ever made landfall, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper.