On the northern coast of Iloilo in the town of Carles a hidden paradise of what we know as Isla Gigantes awaits all curious visitors. White sand beaches, clear blue waters and scallops. It’s not very easy to get here and it will take you a day to get to the island but its all worth the trip. The island was named as such as it was believed that giants once lived on the islands. Stay at least 3 days here to fully enjoy what the island has to offer
To get here you have different options. If you’re flying from Manila it’s best to go to Roxas as it’s only two hours away via Ceres Bus. Regardless of where you’re coming from as long as you reach Estancia Port before 1pm you’re good to go as there’s only 1 passenger boat plying Estancia-Gigantes route. Boat leaves between 1pm-2pm daily and to be sure which boat leaves for Gigantes, ask around.
Tip: Book the earliest flight as much as possible. Take a van to significantly cut your travel time but for a cheaper alternative simply take a bus.
1. From Iloilo (Max of 5 Hours to get to Estancia): Get a cab (around 400 pesos) going to Tagbac Terminal or take the shuttle to SM City Iloilo (50 pesos) then take a jeepney going to Tagbac Terminal. From Tagbac Terminal, take either Ceres Bus/HPQ Buss (4 hours) or UV Express Van (2 hours) going to Estancia. Fare costs around 150 pesos. From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).
2. From Roxas (Max of 3 Hours to get to Estancia): Take Ceres Bus (2 hours) going to Estancia. From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).
3. From Kalibo (Max of 5 Hours to get to Estancia): I’m not sure if there’s a direct bus or van going to Estancia but you can take Ceres Bus or UV Express Van going to Roxas (2 hours) then to Estancia (2 hours). From Estancia, take a tricycle going to the Port (10 pesos). Ride a boat going to Gigantes (80 pesos).
We checked-out from our hotel at around 8am and took a cab going to Tagbac Central Terminal. Between bus and van, we chose van for a much shorter travel time going to Estancia because they have fewer stops unlike a regular commuter buses. We had to wait though for all other passenger. We left at around 10am and arrived 2 and a half hours after. From the terminal we rode a tricycle going to the port. At the port, we hurriedly run to the nearest shed because of a sudden heavy rainfall. We waited for the rain to stop for like an hour before getting on the boat and lucky enough the sky cleared like it never rained.
At the port, we were welcomed by Joel Decano who guided us to the boat and introduced us to our guide Joeneber. It was a slow 2-hour boat ride. Instead of just staring blankly on the horizon, we started making friends and met a very nice couple. Meet Flo and Lea. 🙂
Since it was low tide when we arrived at Gigantes Norte, we had to transfer to a raft and balance ourselves while the boatman pushes it to get to the shore. Cool! From afar you can clearly see a mountain like pile of scallop shells along the shore.
We then rode a Habal-Habal to get to Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. We had coffee as our welcome drink under the shade of a Talisay tree. My ex-girlfriend and I together with Flo and Lea agreed to follow just one itinerary and go on one boat for our island hopping the next day. Since Joel originally arranged separate boats and guides for us, we agreed for a 2500 pesos boat fee for the island hopping instead of 1800 pesos per couple. That’s 650 pesos saving!
After the arrangement, our guide brought us to our cottage. Here, they have a fix rate of 200 pesos per head per night if you stay in a fan room. They have cottages/rooms for small and big groups. They also have a tree house and cottages facing the sea. The resort has a very wide open space ready for expansion and a mini pool.
Not wasting any time, we asked our guides if there’s any place we could go nearby. They suggested to visit Parola/Lighthouse. We rode a Habal-Habal then trekked for about 5mins to get to Parola. You also have the option to walk. If you’re not afraid of heights, you must go up. This is also a perfect spot to catch the sunrise.
Back in the resort, they served us the below for dinner. (To give you an idea how much it cost – this is good for 2)
Sizzling Scallop 110.00
2 Sticks of BBQ Scallop 36.00
Fried Fish 40.00
Squid with Chili Sauce 90.00
Grilled Pork Chop 60.00
They really serve a lot so if I were you forgot about your diet. Just let your guide know if you only wish to be served with 1 or 2 viands. You can also ask for coffee, soda or beer and they would only charge you depending on how much it cost at a nearby store. Yes I think there are 2 sari-sari store near the resort where you can buy some stuff like shampoo, soap, toothbrush and even crisps.
During our dinner we learned a lot about Flo and Lea, they were very open and it felt like we know them already for a very long time. We talked about almost anything under the sun. After dinner, instead of going inside our room we decided to take a dip in the mini pool and continued our bonding with the lovely couple. I am not sure but I think we finished past midnight.
The following day we woke up really early to catch the sunrise.
Breakfast was served at 7am. They gave us coffee first whilst preparing the table for breakfast. Everything was very organised here and it’s like having your very own PA. Since we requested for a smaller portion they served us light breakfast (still with rice).
After breakfast we prepped up for our Island Hopping adventure. We started past 9am already because of our amazement with the countless number of scallop shells near the shore.
Our first stop was Tangke Lagoon. It was a challenge for most of us to get in because of strong waves making it hard to cross a makeshift bridge from the boat to the lagoon. Going back was another story. I even forgot to wear my slippers which made it even harder for me to walk through the rocks. Inside, it felt like I was in Coron. If you don’t know how to swim, this place is perfect for you as it’s not too shallow nor too deep.
Our next stop was Cabugao Gamay Island. This is the most famous island here. I think the shape of the island adds up to its charm aside from its powdery white sand and pristine blue waters. Group shots, jump shots, selfie, wide shots, stolen shots. We did all of it here.
To even more enjoy the island, we decided to have our lunch here. We had crabs, stuffed squid and fresh coconut juice. Yum Yum! We even took a short nap under a shade of a tree. Once on the island you wouldn’t want leave. It has a strange charm unlike any other islands. 🙂
Just before we left, we were shocked to hear an explosion-like sound only to find out a fisherman threw a dynamite to catch some fish not very distant to where we were. I hope authorities are doing something to stop this madness. I’m sure they know it.
Our next stop was Bantigue Sand Bar. This served as a playground for us. The strong wind from an incoming rain triggered non-stop waves and made the water warmer. We played like kids jumping on every waves we see. We loved it so much!
Our last stop was at Antonia Beach. Whilst on the island, it rained heavily making it impossible for us to swim or snorkel. Instead, we stayed inside the kitchen of the island’s caretaker to have coffee and to eat spicy noodles. We met JayR here, a solo traveler who works in Singapore. After the rain, we immediately went to sea to snorkel and swim. Just before leaving the island, they sold us 1 sack of wasay-wasay perfect for dinner for just 100 pesos. Nice!
Our next trip was supposedly the caves but because of the rain and it’s almost 5pm we decided not to go anymore. There are more than 30 caves in the island so ask your guide and try to explore at least one. Just take extra care and make sure to bring insect repellant.
Back in the resort for dinner, they served us steamed wasay-wasay, fish escabeche and adobong squid. Brrrppp! We were so full after. JayR also joined the feast.
For our last night here, we asked our guides to set up a bonfire near the shore. It was lovely!
The next morning, we packed all our things then had our breakfast.
Kuya Joeneber showed us the ancient wood coffin known as “Longon” displayed at the back of the food hall whilst waiting for the details of the amount we need to settle before checkout. In total (3D2N food and accommodation + island hopping for 2) we paid 3,480 pesos.
We were almost ready to leave but then we suddenly felt dizzy and saw the water in the pool spilling over. We heard the staff shouting and couldn’t believe we just experienced an earthquake. It was scary! What if there’s a tsunami?Aftershocks? Where’s the epicenter? What made it worst is that we have no way of checking due to lack of internet and mobile network signal in the island. Thank God we’re safe!
We left still a bit nervous but we had to say goodbye to the nice staff of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. A trip we will never ever forget. Amazing island indeed. Very accommodating staff, well-mannered guides, endless supply of scallops, fresh seafood and picturesque white sand beach. Life is Good!
With a bigger boat this time, it only took us less than 2 hours to get to Estancia port.
Oh I forgot to mention, Flo and Lea joined us on the next leg of this trip. 4 is better than 2!
Check my next entry about our Guimaras Trip: <————>
You can also check my entry about Iloilo here: Iloilo 2D1N DIY Trip
This is part of our Iloilo 5 Day DIY Trip last October 12 – 17, 2013. See detailed Itinerary and Expenses HERE.
0700 Wake Up Call
0800 Check-out at Chito’s Hotel
0830 ETA at Tagbac Central Terminal via Taxi (150 pesos)
1000 ETD to Estancia via Van (150 pesos/head)
1230 Estancia Transport Terminal
1245 Estancia Port (via Tricycle 10 pesos/head)
1430 ETD Estancia to Brgy Asluman via Boat (80 pesos/head)
1630 ETA Brgy Asluman
1640 ETA Hideaway Resort via Habal-Habal (10 pesos/head)
1700 Check-in (200 pesos/head/night)
1730 Parola (via Habal-Habal 30 pesos/head/way)
1830 Back at Hideway Resort
2000 Dinner Time
2200 Night Swimming (Pool)
0600 Wake Up Call
0700 Breakfast Time
0830 Prep for Island Hopping
0900 Habal-Habal to Boat
0910 Start of Island Hopping (2500 pesos/boat good for 4 with 2 guides)
1100 Cabugao Island (20 pesos entrance fee/head)
1200 Lunch at Cabugao Island
1340 Bantigue Sandbar
1430 Antonia Beach (20 pesos entrance fee/head)
1630 Back at Brgy Asluman
1645 Hideaway Tourist Resort
1900 Dinner Time
2100 Bonfire by the Beach
2300 Lights Off
0730 Prep for Check-out (Total Bill: 3480 pesos)
0830 Check-out Time
0845 Boat to Estancia (80 pesos/head)
1030 Back at Estancia Port
1130 Van to Iloilo (150 pesos/head)
1330 ETA Tagbac Central Terminal
Breakdown of Expenses
150 Taxi Fare to Tagbak Terminal
300 Van going to Estancia
20 Tricycle Fare to Port
160 Boat Fare to Gigantes
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
120 Habal Habal to Light House
100 2 Buko at Cabugao Island
140 Snacks at Antonia Beach
100 1 Sack of Wasay-Wasay
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
3480 Hideaway Total Bill
20 Habal Habal to Boat
160 Boat Fare to Estancia
30 Tricycle to Van Terminal
300 Van to Tagbac Terminal
Total Expenses: 6,012.00 Pesos
- Mobile networks are not available in the island so forget about checking your facebook or instagram. Forget about calling or texting, just enjoy and have fun.
- Bring a nice camera with you all the time and capture every moment.
- Electricity is only turned on late in the afternoon until 11pm then it switches to power generator. So don’t be surprised if you wake up the following day with no electricity.
- Be sure to arrive at Estancia Port before 1pm-2pm or else you’ll wait for the next trip the next day.
- From Gigantes Norte, boat leaves for Estancia at around 8am so make sure to tell your guides to avoid being left.
- If you wish to stay in an air-conditioned room check with Joel first for availability. During peak season, make sure to book ahead of time to secure a good room. If you own a tent, you can also bring it and set camp inside the resort.
- Guides don’t have a fixed income/salary so give them the tip they deserve. They solely rely on the tip.
- Cooking Charge is up to you as well so if you have any request for lunch or dinner feel free to tell them but don’t expect any vegetable dish as they don’t really have a market to buy vegetables on the island.
- If you sleep late, your guides too. 🙂
- Each cottages have its own toilet and bath.
- If you’re looking to have a massage, they have 2 local masseuse in the area but don’t expect it to be a spa-like experience. Just ask your guides if you’re interested.
- If you are travelling solo and want to spend less, be friendly and join other groups.
- Local water may taste weird for some so better bring your own supply of mineral/distilled water.
Schedule of ferry from/to Isla Gigantes:
Estancia Port to Isla Gigantes : 2pm (80 pesos)
Isla Gigantes Langub port to Estancia: 8:30am (80 pesos)
Carles Bancal Port to Isla: 10am (75pesos)
Isla to Carles Bancal Port : 2pm (75pesos)
From Roxas City you can take bus going to Estancia and alight in Balasan, then take a tricycle going to Carles Port if you want to catch the morning ferry.
Contact Jedden, one of the tour guide and he will assist you. +639468516513
Isla Gigantes Contact Information:
If you are not able to reach Joel you may contact the below that was given to me by a friend who visited Gigantes May 2014
Remia Pesta of Arjan Resort at 09199314248 or
Boy Pestaño at 09999918643 and get Glenn as ur guide.
*Arjan Resort is located at Gigantes North and is along the shoreline. They also have boats plying the route of Estancia and Gigantes North. Boat departs between 12 to 1pm. For more information please contact Remia directly.