THE ISLAND OF GIANTS
Also known as Islas de Gigantes (island of giants), the Gigantes Islands is a remote group of islands found on the northern tip of Iloilo province, off the coast of the towns of Carles and Estancia. The group consist of about ten islands with the two largest known as Gigantes Norte (North Gigantes) and Gigantes Sur (South Gigantes).
In addition to the two main islands, the Gigantes group includes the islets of Bulubadiang, Gigantillo, and Gigantuna found southeast of Gigantes Norte and Antonia, Bantigui, Cabugao, Tanguingui, and Turnina to the south of Gigantes Sur.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT IT
Despite an increase in tourist arrival, Islas de Gigantes is still a relatively new destination. For this reason, you can still find pristine beaches, beautiful seascapes and a more laidback feel.
The islands boasts of white beaches, lagoons, rock formations, caves, lighthouses, fresh and bountiful seafood, plenty of sights to behold and activities to do.
Some of the activities you may want to do are island hopping, beach bumming, caving, and feasting on the fresh bounties of the sea. For more on these, you can check out Explore Iloilo’s 11 Best Things to Do in Gigantes.
The main sites include Cabugao Gamay, the Tangke salt Lake Lagoon, the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Bantigue and Antonia, Pawikan cave, the ruins of a Spanish colonial era lighthouse on Gigantes Norte, and “the Boulevard”, a steep rocky trail in Gigantes Sur that leads to a vantage point where you can see a 360-degree view of the Gigantes islands.
If you are a food lover, then you will find delight in the abundant supply of shellfish, fish, squid, crabs, shrimp and other sea food, all at very affordable prices.
And if you are someone just looking to unplug, then you will find solace in the place’s solitude.
According to Biyahe ni Drew host Drew Arellano” mas nakita ko [dito] ang kahalagahan ng mga simpleng bagay. Magandang tanawin, masarap na pagkain at masayang mga kasama. Ang mga taga-rito…kahit walang kuryente, walang TV at walang internet, hindi sagabal sa pagkakaroon nila ng masayang buhay.”
HOW TO GET THERE
The towns of Carles and Estancia are considered jump off points for an Islas de Gigantes tour. Both towns are accessible from Iloilo City and also from other points in Panay such as Roxas City and Boracay. According to the travel website Explore Iloilo, travel time to Gigantes (via Carles) takes around 5-6 hours from Iloilo City, 3-4 hours from Roxas City, and 6-7 hours from Boracay/Caticlan. Public transportation consist of utility jeepneys, buses and vans.
At Carles, the most convenient way to the islands is via Bancal port. Island hopping requires primarily renting a boat. For more on getting around the islands, check out Explore Iloilo’s How To Get To & Around Gigantes Islands.
- Transportation – Bus or van fare from Iloilo City to Carles and Estancia costs around P150 to P180 per way.
- Accomodation – Fan cottages can go for P200/night while airconditioned ones start at P1,500/night.
- Island Hopping – A chartered pumpboat for a one day island hopping tour will cost around P1,500 to P2,000 for up to 10 people and an additional guide fee of P500.
- Entrance fee of P20/person for Cabugaw Gamay and Antonia beach
- Bakwitan Cave Tour – P500 for the cave guide and P200 for the roundtrip motorcycle fare.
DID YOU KNOW?
- According to local legend, coffins were found inside Bakwitan Cave that contained gigantic sets of human bones, perhaps fueling the name “islas de gigantes” or island of giants.
- There are 73 caves found throughout the islands, the most famous being Bakwitan cave.
- If you are staying in either of the two big islands, buy enough food at Estancia as there are only sari sari stores in the Gigantes Sur and Norte.
- For the freshest seafood, visit the selling area early in the morning. Or you can also arrange with your resort if possible.
- Electrictity runs on a schedule, usually from 3 pm to 11 pm. Check with your accomodations.
- There are also affordable tour packages available. Mervz of pinoyadventurista.com has a highly recommended organizer which you can check out here.
MORE TRAVEL GUIDE TO GIGANTES ISLANDS
- Gear up! Make sure you come prepared. Visit our Outdoor Gear section to know what you need to bring.
- Safety first! For outdoor safety tips and reminders, visit our article on Outdoor Safety.
- Always remember to Leave No Trace (LNT). For more responsible outdoor practices, visit our Leave No Trace (LNT) article.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu