2D1N DIY Guimaras Experience

After the success of our Gigantes Trip, we went for lunch right at Tagbac Terminal together with Flo and Lea. I remember my wife asked for patis (fish sauce) but they gave us toyo (soy sauce), we said it’s soy sauce but they insisted it’s fish sauce. Oh my! Really?! It was really funny I even said to the woman “may toyo ka ba?” of course it’s a joke but I don’t think she got it. Not sure if she got offended but she didn’t react at all. Maybe they don’t have patis that’s why.

Since it’s four of us this time, we took a cab going to the port right after lunch. Instead of going to Ortiz Port we went to Parola Port to get to Guimaras. Parola Port was used as an alternative entry point for Guimaras because of strong waves at Ortiz Port making it difficult for boats to dock and for passengers to board the boat. If I were to choose which one is better I’d go for Parola. Ortiz Port doesn’t look nice, looks very crowded and disorganised.

At the port, we paid our tickets and waited for the 3pm boat to Guimaras. Boats here leave almost every 30 minutes and fare costs just 14 pesos. Shortly after we arrived at Guimaras and registered at the local tourism booth inside the port. Nothing much to see yet but the port looks organised and clean. A lot of construction was going on when we arrived, a sign of development in the area.

We met up with Kuya Charlie, our tricycle driver and tour guide, he was referred to us by Kuya Gerald (his brother) who was already booked at that time. We started late in the afternoon so our tour was a little rushed but we managed to get the most out of every minute we have. It’s best to arrive in Guimaras in the morning so you have more time to enjoy the tour.

Our first stop was The Smallest Plaza in the Philippines. It’s really small that even a crowd of 50 would not fit in. This looks more of a monument for me not a plaza. 🙂

Smallest Plaza in Guimaras

We also did a quick stop somewhere along the way where you can see the vastness of the island.

Overlooking View

 Excited over Mangoes, we stopped at a fruit stand along the road. To match our mangoes we also bought bagoong (shrimp paste). Yum! They also sell mango hopia and mango piyaya.

Fruit Stand

Next stop was Museo De Guimaras but unfortunately it was closed for renovation. We did some jump shots instead. 🙂

Jump Shot in front of Guimaras Museum

Flo and Lea Funny Shots

Flo and Lea’s Jump Shot

This one I love! Our next stop: The Pit Stop Restaurant. What’s best to try here is their very own Mango Pizza. They also have Mango Ketchup to match your pizza.

The Pit Stop Restaurant

The Menu

Family Size Mango Pizza – The Best!

Mango Ketchup

After having a great snack, we went straight to the Trappist Monastery. It was past 4pm already so souvenir shop was already closed. They sell Mango Jam, Guava Jelly, Pineapple jam, Mango Bar, Otap, Biscocho and Pulvoron. They have vast greenery in the area perfect for relaxation and meditation for those who want to stay overnight here.

Trappist Monastery

Before heading to our next stop we asked Kuya Charlie to take a picture of us.

Our mode of transportation in Guimaras. Thanks Kuya Charlie!              Land Tour costs 1200 pesos, thats 300 pesos / head.

Somewhere along the way, we noticed an interesting view and asked Kuya Charlie to stop.

Wide Shot

The Tree with No Leaves

Feeling like a Kid

We also stopped at Camp Alfredo to check their rates/facilities but unfortunately there is a minimal fee required for you to get in. This is an adventure camp at Brgy. Ravina, Sibunag, Guimaras, Nueva Valencia they have ziplines, high rope obstacle course, hanging bridge, campgrounds, cabins, tree house, trails, infinity pool and rappelling facility.

Camp Alfredo Guimaras Entrance

Glaring Sunset taken along the way

At around 530 pm, we finally arrived at our last stop before heading to our hotel. The Guisi Lighthouse is an 18th century Spanish Lighthouse at the Guisi Point of Barangay Dolores in Nueva Valencia. It is known as Faro de Punta Luzaran and is the second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. They close at 5pm but Kuya Charlie managed to get the key for us to get in. We also didn’t pay the entrance fee anymore.

Guisi Light House Entrance

Rusty Stairs going up the lighthouse

Sunset View

After sunset, we walked back going to our tricycle and travelled more than 30 minutes to get to Raymen Beach Resort. People were so hooked up watching TV at the reception area. This was the only time we realised the magnitude of the earthquake we experienced back in Gigantes Island. Right after checking-in we called our relatives to let them know we’re safe. Thank God!

Raymen Entrance – Taken the Next Day

Room Rates

After check-in we went to JM Carinderia for dinner. I recommend you to eat here. You can ask what fresh catch they have and they’ll cook for it you right away. We requested the fish to be cooked as Sinigang and Fried and requested for Pork Liempo as well. It’s worth the wait I’m telling you. Yum! It was really delicious!

Since the water was very calm and it’s still very early for us to sleep we went to the beach for a swim.

The following morning we went back to JM Carinderia for breakfast before we start our Island Hopping tour.

JM Carinderia

JM Carinderia

To arrange an Island Hopping Trip, simply speak to the receptionist of your chosen hotel/resort. Sometimes boatmen will also offer you the service while at the beach. For us, we arranged it at Raymen the day before. They have a flat rate of 500 pesos for the first 2 hours plus 150 pesos for every succeeding hours. To save, ask if you can join any existing scheduled trip that day. Lucky for us, 5 people shared the same boat making it less expensive.

Our Island Hopping Trip started early and our first destination was SEAFDEC or Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center. Here they study and breed different species of fish funded locally and internationally. Once docked at their floating station you’ll be welcomed by one of the staff who will tour you around. Lapu-Lapu here is extremely big! For a different experience instead of just fish feeding, you can get to feel the mouth of the milkfish here by dipping your toes in the water (a fish spa experience like no other)

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Right after SEAFDEC, we went to a snorkelling area just few minutes away. Sorry I don’t have an underwater camera to show you what’s underneath.

Snorkelling Time

Snorkelling Time

On our way to the Turtle Sanctuary we saw these beautiful Islets/Rock formations.

Finally we reached the Turtle Sanctuary. We expected many of them but there’s only one. Still lucky to see at least one of them.

After seeing the turtle, we continued and circled the nearby islands. Most are privately owned now so all we could do was to just see them from the boat.

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After a little over two hours we’re back in Raymen for a swim before check-out

More pics at Raymen Beach Resort

Last glimpse of the beach before we left.

Raymen Beach

Raymen Beach

After checkout we went to JM Carinderia for lunch. We really LOVE the food here because it’s not only good, it’s also not expensive so we didn’t have the chance to try the food at other restaurants. Maybe next time.

Kuya Charlie picked us up at the resort to get to the port with few stops at the Pasalubong Center and Pit Stop Restaurant. It was a memorable experience with the randomest couple we have ever met. Thanks to Kuya Charlie for being nice. Goodluck on your studies!

Back in the mainland, Flo and Lea took a cab going to Iloilo Airport. For us, instead of taking a jeep to get to the closest Biscocho Haus to grab some pasalubong we took a cab going to the closest mall to get new flipflops for my wife. For some reason it got cut off whilst in the boat from Guimaras to Ortiz Port. On our way to the mall, heavy rain started to fall making it impossible for us to walk around to get some pasalubong. Still raining, we took a cab going to Tagbac terminal. Not really sure of the last trip to Kalibo, we decided to be there early. We had a choice between a Ceres bus and UV express van but the van offered to bring us directly to Kalibo Airport so we booked for the van. It was almost 6pm when the van was about to leave when we realised we still don’t have the Butterscotch from Biscocho Haus. Oh my! We ended up buying Toasted Mamon right at the terminal.

You might be wondering why we’re heading to Kalibo. It’s because we only bought our return tickets less than a week before this trip and Kalibo flight was the cheapest to get to Manila. We’re scheduled to return to Manila only 3 days after but I find it too short for the trip so I ended up booking for a later flight.

So after 3 hours, we finally arrived at Kalibo International Airport. It was still early for our 330 am flight, we decided to look around to see if there’s any place we can sleep or stay whilst waiting and ended up staying at the Kalibo Airport Lounge in front of the terminal. The lounge is actually an airport hotel and restaurant being operated by Discover Boracay Travel & Tours. They have rooms and they also offer spa services and transport services. They also have waiting area similar to the airport boarding area.

Kalibo Airport Lounge

Check my previous entry about our Isla Gigantes Trip here: Isla Gigantes 3D2N 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.

Sample Itinerary: Coming from Isla Gigantes below was our Itinerary

DAY 1
0600 Breakfast
0730 Prep for Check-out (Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort)
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
1350 Lunch at Andoks
1430 ETD going to Parola Port
1445 ETA Parola Port (Alternative to Ortiz Port)
1500 ETD Boat to Guimaras (14 pesos per head)
1515 ETA Guimaras Port
1530 Start of Land Tour (1200 pesos good for 4)
1830 End of Tour
1900 Check-in Raymen Beach Resort (700 pesos/room good for 4)
2000 Dinner at JM Carinderia
2200 Night Swimming

DAY 2
0530 Breakfast at JM Carinderia
0710 Start of Island Hopping -1st 2hrs 500 + 150/ succeeding hr
0930 End of Island Hopping
1000 Free Time/Swimming
1110 Prepare for Check-out
1200 Check-out Raymen Beach Resort
1215 Lunch at JM Carinderia
1300 Tricycle to Port (300 good for 4)
1330 Pasalubong Center
1400 Pit Stop
1440 ETA Port
1500 Boat to Ortiz
1515 ETA Ortiz Port
1530 SM Stopover
1615 ETD to Tagbac Terminal
1630 ETA Tagbac Terminal
1800 ETD going to Kalibo
2100 ETA Kalibo Airport
2130 Dinner/Stop Over at Airport Lounge
0100 Check-in going to Manila
0330 ETD Flight to Manila
0500 Back in Manila

Summary of Expenses: For 2 pax from Tagbac Terminal

DAY 1
180 Lunch
80 Taxi to Parola Port
28 Boat Fare to Guimaras
25 Lanzones
100 Mango
60 Mango Hopia
135 Snacks at Pit Stop
600 Land Tour
350 Dinner

DAY 2
160 Breakfast
940 Raymen Total Bill (Room accommodation for 2 + extra towels + Island Hopping & Snorkeling Rental for 2)
290 Lunch
150 Tricycle to Port
407 Pasalubong Centre
234 Pit Stop
28 Boat to Ortiz Port
80 Taxi to SM
15 Snack
190 Taxi to Tagbac Terminal
650 Van to Kalibo Airport

Total Expenses: 4,702 Pesos

Contact Information

Kuya Charlie: +63946 196 6887
Kuya Gerald: +63908 474 8122 (Alternate Contact – Tricycle/Tour)
Raymen Beach Resort: +63918 520 7271

For a quick link about Guimaras, simply visit http://www.guimaras.gov.ph/tourism/

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3D2N Enchanting Isla Gigantes Trip

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).

Tagbac Van Terminal. Further to the right is the Bus Terminal

Estancia Van & Bus Terminal

Estancia Tricycle Terminal in front of Van & Bus Terminal

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. 🙂

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.

Getting ready to ride the raft. You see that mountain of scallop shells over there?

Slowly but surely

On the raft

Along the shores of Brgy Asluman

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.

Our Room

Mini Pool

Food Hall

Tree House

Main House – AC Rooms are here

Cottages facing the Sea

Coffee Area

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.

Parola

The Light

Group Pic – Flo was too scared to stand up.

To have a group pic, we sat beside Flo

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
   Rice 30.00   
Total 366.00

Day 1 Dinner

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.

Good Morning Gigantes

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).

Coffee Time

Plated Breakfast

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.

Shells Shells Shells

Jump Shot

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!

Wasay-Wasay

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.

Left to Right: Lea, Flo, JayR, Cleo and myself

For our last night here, we asked our guides to set up a bonfire near the shore. It was lovely!

Kuya Joeneber setting up our Bonfire

The next morning, we packed all our things then had our breakfast.

Breakfast – Day 3

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!

JayR, Flo, Lea, Cleo and myself plus our 2 guides. Joeneber – in yellow short.

With a bigger boat this time, it only took us less than 2 hours to get to Estancia port.

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.

Sample Itinerary

DAY 1
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)

DAY 2
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)
0940 Tangke
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

DAY 3
0600 Breakfast
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

DAY 1
77 Breakfast
150 Taxi Fare to Tagbak Terminal
300 Van going to Estancia
20 Tricycle Fare to Port
20 Water
160 Boat Fare to Gigantes
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
120 Habal Habal to Light House

DAY 2
100 2 Buko at Cabugao Island
140 Snacks at Antonia Beach
100 1 Sack of Wasay-Wasay
20 Habal Habal to Hideaway
52 Toiletries

DAY 3
3480 Hideaway Total Bill
600 Tip
20 Habal Habal to Boat
160 Boat Fare to Estancia
40 Water
103 Food
30 Tricycle to Van Terminal
300 Van to Tagbac Terminal

Total Expenses: 6,012.00 Pesos

Tips:

  • 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:

Joel Decano
Proprietor/Tourism Officer
09184685006 / 09155796612
Facebook: Isla Gigantes
Email: isla.gigantes@yahoo.com
Joel Decano is a tourism office who also owns Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Resort. He will arrange everything to make sure you enjoy your stay in Gigantes. If DIY is not your thing, he can also create a package/itinerary for you.
Alternative 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.

Mt Isarog: Hiking at the Heart of Camarines Sur

Soaring at 1966 MASL, Mt Isarog is a paradise at the heart of Camarines Sur. It has rich biodiversity with its very own mossy forests and verdant crater, an overview of Bicol Peninsula, and a glimpse of majestic Mt. Mayon. Mt Isarog is the second highest mountain in Bicol.

View from Mt Isarog Peak

After 1 week of stay here in Bicol seeing once and again the jaw-dropping view of the white sand island of Calaguas and visiting my relatives and friends from different parts of Bicol, my last stop was Naga. Our group REDM or Relax, Extremely Daring Mountaineers, made this hike possible lead by Dio with help from Jojo Villareal of Kaddlagan Outdoor Shop in Naga. Jojo took care of our permit, guides and transportation going to the jump off at Panicuason. (See details of Itinerary and Expenses of this hike by clicking here.)

Since I was already in Bicol before the event, I stayed in Naga the night before.  I stayed at Sunny View Hotel and paid just 450 pesos. It was an air-conditioned room with cable TV, hot & cold shower and a comfy bed. It’s located just passed the bridge after you turn left coming from SM Naga. Their cheapest room costs just 250 pesos, perfect if you’re on a tight budget and is looking for a place to sleep.

Contact Details: (054) 473-9848 / 473-8771

Room Rates (per night)
Single Fan Room P 250
Matrimonial Fan Room P 350
Singe Air-con P 450
Matrimonial Air-con P 550
Twin Air-con P 550
Triple Air-con P 800
Family Room P 1200
Extra Person P 100
Extra Mattress P 100

Photos of are available on my other entry. Simply click here.

The following day, I met up with them at Naga Central Bus Terminal who all came from Manila. We went for a quick breakfast at a nearby food stall then went to buy return tickets for Manila then off we go!

After securing our tickets, we went to Peñafrancia Shrine for a quick stop as well as to get some supplies from a nearby grocery and market place.

 

After getting all the supplies needed and some picture-taking, we then head to Brgy Panicuason which served as the jump off of our hike. Travel time is around 30 minutes. We secured guide and fixed all our stuff before the actual ascend.

Off course non-stop picture-taking on our way up going to DENR for registration…

After registration, our trek began. The ascend was very gradual and relaxed. The only challenging part was actually seeing Limatiks (bloodsuckers). Everyone was conscious or should I say paranoid of having a close encounter with the little creature. Haha! Despite this everyone managed to stop whenever there’s an opportunity for a quick snapshot along the trail.

Limatiks were more active during the first 2 hours of trek and as you get higher the less chance of getting a close encounter. We decided to have lunch at Camp 1. The trail is mostly mossy forest-covered with big trees. Few more stops at Camp 2 and Camp 3 until we decided to stop at Camp 4 at around 5:30PM where we pitched our tent. We wanted to go to Camp 5 but water source were closer at Camp 4.

After pitching our tent, dinner was prepared then finally we had a chance to eat a full meal.We had Pasta and Bicol Express. Yum! Dinner was followed by Socials where we talk about all sorts of things, experiences, plans, and to simply have some fun. Camp 4 is pretty much safe from Limatiks. Luckily!

During our socials we managed to finish 7 bottles of GSM Mojito and 1 bottle of Emperador Light but no effect to everyone. It was cold that night but pretty much manageable as long as you have jacket.

The following day, wake up call was 6AM. After coffee and light breakfast, we started trekking the summit. Trail was easy because we didn’t have any backpacks but it would be quite challenging if you have one as you have to crawl at some point and go under or over some branches or roots to move forward.

We reached the summit 2 hours after at around 9AM. We didn’t manage to see the crater view as it was all covered with clouds, we went further up and climbed the trees to see the view from the top. It was magnificent! Thank God!

Slowly the clouds covered the view so after almost an hour after few snapshots and group photos we hurriedly descended to reach the Campsite to prepare for brunch (breakfast and lunch). Some took water whilst some started cleaning and cooking.

After brunch, we started packing our things and cleaning our surrounding following the “Leave No Trace” policy. It was a bit challenging going down since the trail are slippery and are all covered with trees, you won’t see any beam of light touching the ground.

It was around 3:30PM when we reached the DENR station. Whilst waiting for the rest, we decided to go to Malabsay Falls which is roughly 15 minutes walk. Entrance fee is free of charge if you hiked Mt Isarog but if not, you have to pay 10 pesos.

We just wanted to see the falls out of curiosity but due to its grandeur and beauty we decided to take a dip on its ice-cold water. It was a relaxing feeling. The enjoyment didn’t last as we had to immediately go back to get to the jump off. After taking some photos we went back to DENR to get our things and trek back to  jump off station (GSP Camp Maria Aurora).

Due to lack of area where we could shower and tidy up, we went to Sulat Pool to clean up and change clothes before heading back to the main city. Entrance fee costs 50 pesos and cottage rental costs 150 pesos. The don’t have a descent restroom or shower room so don’t expect anything. Water is abundant as it all comes from the mountain.

We managed to leave Panicuason at around 6PM and arrived at Naga City Bus Terminal at around 6:30PM. Our scheduled departure was at 7:15PM and with so little time to spend, some decided to have a quick dinner and some just bought food. We wanted to catch a later departure but since most are fully booked we had no choice but to get the 7:15 bus

Only if we had more time to spend here…

This was my very first hike here in Bicol and is definitely going to be one of the most memorable. More than the Limatiks, cold breeze of air, beautiful flora and fauna, amazing view from the top, good friends, warm smiles and happy faces, it’s the unexplainable feeling and contentment only nature can fulfill that makes it memorable.

Camarines Sur has indeed a lot of things to offer. I know haven’t seen much about this place but simply having the opportunity to hike at the heart of Camarines Sur, you’ll surely fall in love and ask for more. Undeniably one of the best in Bicol and a must visit.

For details of the Itinerary and Expenses, click here.

Calaguas Island: The 1.9K Challenge

Among the Calaguas Group of Islands, Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga Island is the famous for many campers and backpackers. They said Boracay was like it decades ago before establishments and hotels flourished. Powdery White Sands, Crystal Blue Waters, What more can you ask for?

It was three years ago when I first laid my eyes on this wonderful island and for some reason kept me coming back every year afterwards. It was just last May when I visited this island for the 3rd time. To get here for the last 2 years I booked for a package worth 3.2K covering all expenses from Tranporation, Food, Tent and all and it was all fine but what difference would it make this time if I continue doing the same thing?

A thought came to me while at work. Why not do it as a challenge? I am sure others have tried it so why not? With the help of Simang Gala, we tried researching and asking friends for advise and finally agreed to do a 1.8K challenge. We thought it was impossible knowing how much we spend on food so we raised it to 1.9K to give ourselves some room for adhoc expenses. To make it more achievable we invited some of our friends. A lot have shown interest but only 11 of us pushed through.

May 25, we booked for the 745PM bus going to Paracale via SuperLines. Since they only have few AC bus bound for Paracale, we managed to secure tickets in the morning. It was originally just 9 of us till 2 decided to join few minutes before the scheduled departure. Lucky for them, there were 2 extra seats. Haha.

It was a long 9 hour journey with few stops along the way. The bus has spacious leg room considering the fare price is just 515 pesos. This is the cheapest way to go if you want to visit Calaguas on a tight budget, even less if you ride an ordinary bus.

Upon our arrival in the Town of Paracale, some of us waited in the Superlines Ticketing area to secure tickets going back to Manila, while other went to the Market and bought supplies. Each of us had a share of 200 pesos to cover for lunch, dinner, breakfast, snacks and booze. We then met up with Ricky our friendly boatman. He was very accommodating, he managed to secure all cooking utensils, block of ice, big ice box and our drinking.

It was half past 8 in the morning when we left the port. I was quite surprised by the calmness of the sea. I was sort of expecting a rough ride and lucky for us considering the size of our boat, it was quiet all throughout. The view was just spectacular on the entire 1 hour 45 minutes ride going to the famous long white beach of Calaguas Island in the town of Tinaga.

It was a jaw dropping view, though this was my third time here it feels like seeing it again for the first time. A big Wow!

We immediately jumped off the boat and walked along the white soft powdery sand sparkling under the heat of the sun. It was an amazing feeling. We chose a nice spot under the trees which served as a shed under the torturing heat of the sun. We rented a cottage which served as our cooking/dining and resting area.

Not wasting any time, some pitched their tents, some started cooking and well the rest just stared blankly at the horizon.

After preparing food and pitching our tents, we then had our lunch.  Yum!

So whats best to do after eating? Sleep… Haha.. It was siesta time for most us. Life is a Beach!

It was time to hit the beach and do lots of cam-whoring, haha.. super excessive..

Whilst some are having some fun, Simang Gala busily prepared our Snack. Pancit!

Much to our surprise, a sand castle was made near where we were staying. We waited for some people to finish having their pictures taken there then we took the spot. It was Free!

Time flew so fast that we didn’t notice it.

Just before sundown, dinner was prepared for everyone to enjoy. Guess what?

I don’t remember how much I ate. It was delish!

After dinner, we then had our socials near the shore. We had some few drinks, lots of laughter and endless storytelling. In the middle of all the happenings, a big surge of wind came, then the stars disappeared. Imagine whats next. Yes, the rain.. It took a while for the rain to stop until the following morning. Some even managed to sleep in the cottages. We thought of the rain as a blessing after seeing how wonderful it is to wake up seeing the beach.

Not even done with Breakfast, some headed to the rocks for more pictures.

And so a vibrant breakfast was served. Dig in!

After breakfast, it was time to hit the water again. Heaven!

Yes they were using umbrella. It was scorching hot!

Oh well, after all the fun it was time to leave. A place you’ll definitely comeback. A place you’ll always miss. A place where you’ll find peace and happiness. A place you’ll fall in love with over and over again. Yes, this was my third time and it won’t end there.

Saying goodbye is hard once you set foot on this paradise. So it’s definitely a till-we-meet-again. Agree?

So we thought it’s over. Our nice boatman offered to bring us somewhere before heading back to Paracale. We tried asking but he doesn’t seem to know that name of the place.

We immediately jumped off the boat wearing our life vest. Hahaha. I love the beach but I still don’t know how to do threading in the water. LOL

It was all fun. Around the island, you’ll get to see colorful starfish, big and small coral formations, blue jellyfish and sea urchins. We even had our lunch on the boat. Yes, the rice and dried fish was cooked whilst we are on board. Cool!

She doesn’t want to leave…

Oh well, we really needed to leave to catch the last trip to Daet. Yes, my Bicol trip is not yet over. Whilst the rest of the gang are all booked for Manila, me and my girlfriend are going to spend the rest of the week in Bicol.

In order to tidy up, we went to Malayan Tourist Inn.  This place is just near where the buses stop and it’s in front of a gas station and van terminal.

With so little time, since the last van going to Daet leaves at 5PM and all shower rooms are being used,  Ate Karina of Malayan Tourist Inn openly offered her house for us to take a bath. Her daughter even brought us to their house via motorbike. It was the quickest shower we had ever. In just about 5 minutes we’re back. Haha!

We repacked all our stuff as quickly as possible but then we were told that the last van already left. So what now? Ate Karina gave us option to get a bus or tricycle passing through Talobatib then get a bus going to Daet. Luckily another passenger was left who was also on his way to Daet so we took the chance and left.

Check the continuation of our adventure after Calaguas on my next entry.

Indeed 1.9K is definitely possible specially if you’re on a tight budget. It was a bit hard for some of us to stick to the planned budget but that’s where we had so much fun. Imagine the urge of buying tuna for dinner, a big No. Imagine buying loads of booze and soda, a big No. Adhoc expenses in the island, also a big No. But it was all OK. Everyone enjoyed every single minute of the trip, we all gained new friends, experienced something new, faced some of our fears and realized that there’s more to life than work.

Total Expenses = 1870 Pesos / Head
1100 Bus Fare vv / Head
400 Boat Fee / Head
150 Resort Entrance Fee / Head
20 Brgy Tax Fee / Head
200 Food (5 Meals) / Head

Contacts:

Ate Karina: 09157959350 (for accommodation and bus reservation in Paracale going to Manila) – Ate Karina can try to help you book for a ticket back to Manila during peak season. Try their restaurant, food is really nice. You can also take a shower for just 20 pesos or even get it free. â˜ș

Kuya Ricky: 09127365717 (boatman) – you can get a boat for as low as 3K depending on the number person. Kuya Ricky can also take care of your cooking utensils, drinking water (you just have to pay 50 pesos/5 Gallon), block of ice, icebox and grill at no extra cost. Text him for help.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 0 Day 2
1945 ETD Superlines Cubao 0700 Wake Up Call
Day 1 0730 Prepare Breakfast
0530 ETA Paracale Terminal 0830 Breakfast Time
0600 Market 0900 Free Time/Swim
0730 Secure Tix for Manila 1100 Break Camp/Tidy Up
0830 ETD Paracale Port 1200 ETD Calaguas
1015 ETA Calaguas Island 1230 ETA Unknown Island
1100 Prepare Lunch 1400 Lunch
1200 Lunch 1530 ETD Unknown Island
1400 Swim/Free Time 1645 Paracale Port
1600 Merienda 1700 Shower/Tidy Up
1630 Free Time 1800 Dinner
1800 Prepare Dinner 1945 ETD Paracale Port
1900 Dinner Time Day 3
2100 Socials 0400 ETA Manila

Cagayan Trip: Visit to Our Lady of Piat & Exploring Callao Cave

After the memorable experience in Palaui Island and seeing the majestic beauty of Nangaramoan Beach, we arrived back in Tuguegarao after more than 3 hours of travel. We were picked up at the van terminal and went back to Brgy Bagay to freshen up a bit.

Around half past 10, we’re back on the road. We went to Central Terminal along Buntuan Highway to catch a van going to Piat. It was an hour ride. Note: It’s an ordinary van, No airconditioning. Fare Cost: 60 Pesos.

Since most vans just stop at the terminal, you need to walk to get to Our Lady of Piat. It can easily be recognised by a marker along the road. Turn left going up to get to the basilica. If you go straight you’ll reach the local market.

For more than 400 years the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Piat has been a significant event in the lives of devotees of the people in the Cagayan Valley.

Feeling hungry and tired, we decided to look for a place where we could eat Pancit Cabagan. Instead of walking, we took a tricycle going to the market area because it was too hot. We went to Carmela’s Panciteria. You won’t get lost on your way here because most people know this place. Simply ask for directions or ask where to get Pancit Cabagan.

It was a delicious treat! Not bad if you imagine us travelling all the way here just to try an authentic Pancit Cabagan. You’ll get a Super Special Pancit Cabagan for just 50 pesos. Yummy!

With no time to waste after lunch, we immediately went to the van terminal to catch a ride going back to Tuguegarao.

This time it took us less than an hour to get back to Central Terminal.

Just before 3PM we rode a tricycle going to Callao Cave. Callao is pronounced as “Kalaw”. It is a cave with seven chambers located on the Province of Cagayan. It is one of the best known tourist attractions of the province. It is located in Barangays Magdalo and Quibal, Peñablanca, near Tuguegarao City, the capital city of the Province of Cagayan. It has a natural cathedral located at the first chamber, which was turned into a chapel by the local people.

Turn Right to get to Callao Cave.

Once you arrive in the place, you have to few along this road to get to the registration area.

There’s a 20 pesos charge to get in.

It takes 184 Steps to get to the Cave Entrance.

Finally Inside Callao Cave.

After Caving and before heading back home, we decide to treat ourselves with a yummy HaloHalo.

It was almost sundown so we decided to get closer to Cagayan River and witness yet another beautiful sunset.

An hour after leaving Callao, we’re back in Tuguegarao. Before going back to Brgy Bagay, we stopped at the nearest Alcala Carabao’s Milk Candy.

Back in Brgy Bagay, we washed up and packed all our stuff and went straight to Florida Bus Terminal. Luckily there were few bus still offering seats for 3. Only to realise we’re 4. Haha. Since seats available are only at the back, we took it. Lex who joined us in the trip decided to squeeze in but not all the way to Manila. He was able to book a flight from Cauayan to Manila. I didn’t even notice him leaving. Haha. It was a quick bus ride. We reached manila around 5 in the morning.

 

Cagayan Trip: The Unexplored Beauty of Nangaramoan Beach

Nangaramoan Beach. a highly recommended place to relax, unwind, escape from city life and feel the wonders of nature. This is located in Sta. Ana, which is at the tip of the province of Cagayan. The beach is very accessible via commute (quad-cycle) or private vehicle because of the newly cemented road leading to the beach area.

After an hour or so boat ride from Palaui back to Sta Ana, we went straight to Dampa Seafoods & Restaurant where they gave us free breakfast again.

We wanted to visit one of the famous beaches in the area so we asked them for recommendation. We only wanted to get direction on how to get there until they’ve decided to join us. Yes! Another free treat! Not only we got the chance to go there free, they also brought with us food for lunch. Fresh Sea Foods! Haha! Big Thanks to Tito and Tita.

It was a quick and easy ride because of the newly paved road leading to the beach. Once you get there, you’ll fall in love with the place.

Untouched… Peaceful… Clear...

Tito immediately spoke to the resort care taker to give us discount. I think we paid roughly 400 pesos. We started preparing for Lunch where we had Grilled Fish. Few hours after we arrived, Tita and Tito together with their kids decided to leave. Still full, we rested for a bit.

The sun on its peak, some of us decided to explore the beach and seriously get tanned. I don’t know how long we were out walking along the beach and exploring the caves and rock formation but we definitely enjoyed every minute of it.

More Pictures of Nangaramoan Beach

Just before sunset, we decided to cook for dinner. Cleo our official chef prepared for us Gatang Sitaw Kalabasa and Fried Tilapia. Whilst cooking, Simang Gala and I decided to visit the last marker we know. 651!

It was a bit dark already when we came there and barely noticed it. Haha! Just after few shots, we decided to go back.

Back at the beach, dinner was ready. We ate loads! It was a yummy treat!

After dinner, we had socials. We rented a Videoke machine to make the night more fun while having few shots and munching on a specially prepared Spicy Sizzling Pork by Cleo.

We didn’t sleep at all only to realise it’s almost 3 in the morning. Our service was early but because of the heavy rain around 3AM, we didn’t manage to prepare and fix our things up. It was a chilly morning when we left at around 5AM.

Last Photo taken before we left the beach.

We arrived in the van terminal at around 6AM and officially left Sta Ana going to Tuguegarao at 630AM.

The adventure continues as we travel back to Tuguegarao and visit Piat and Callao Cave. See full story on my next entry.

Subic Bay Trip

Quick Trip to Subic

Date: May 05, 2013
Location: Halfmoon Beach Resort, Subic Bay

HOW TO GET HERE: 

Travelling by Land from Manila
Subic Bay Freeport Zone is 110 kms. North of Manila, the Philippines’ capital city, where Saulog Transit and Victory Liner air-conditioned buses provide passengers regular transport services to and from Olongapo City terminal. A short jeepney ride takes you from the Victory Liner terminal to the Freeport, while Saulog Transit terminal is just a stone’s throw away from the vicinity.

Travel via Victory Liner Terminal
Main stations from Manila are Pasay (Edsa, Pasay), Caloocan (713 Rizal Avenue Extension, Caloocan City) and Cubao (EDSA, Cubao). Buses’ schedule (either Zambales or Olongapo) is from 4:00 AM with 1 hour interval.

Travelling by car via Lubao and rural road (Approx. time of travel: 3 hours)
From Manila take the North Luzon Expressway all the way to San Fernando exit and pass thru towns of Pampanga (Bacolor, Guagua, Lubao) and Bataan (Dinalupihan) to the Subic Bay Freeport Expressway (Tipo Road, Bataan).

Travelling by car via SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) (Approx. time of travel: 1.5 hours)
From Manila and any point in Luzon. Take the North Luzon Expressway all the way pass San Fernando through Dau and exits to the Subic Bay Freeport Expressway (Tipo Road, Bataan).

(Source of above information: subic.com)

Of the many options we had when we came here few months ago, we chose Halfmoon Beach Resort. It is roughly an eight (8) hectare beach property formerly known as Kale Beach Resort. With its long stretch sand and 30 big big cottages, is a perfect place for total escape from crowded and spoiled beaches. This place is also perfect for team building.

Address:
Purok 6 National High Way Road
Lower Kalaklan
Olongapo City Zambales 2200 Philippines

Hours of operation:

Tuesdays to Sundays :
6:00 am to 6:00 pm

Mobile number : +639334100455

GALLERY

Burot Beach Gallery

Burot Beach Calatagan Snap Shots

Better Beach – Burot Days from Kuneho Ohenuk on Vimeo.

Burot Beach – Time Lapse from Kuneho Ohenuk on Vimeo.

Planning a getaway here?

Click: Burot Beach Guide

Read Simang Gala’s entries about Burot Beach…

Mt. Sicapoo Traverse

Approx Budget: Php3,500

MASL

  • Balbalitok Hill: 1100+masl
  • Saulay: 1286masl
  • Bubuos: 1410masl
  • Balbalite: 1585masl
  • Pakpako: 1620masl
  • Matalindong: 1685masl
  • Sicapoo: 2354masl
  • Timarid: 1527masl
  • Simagaysay: 1341masl

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course
 Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek
 LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

see Mt. Sicapoo Traverse.

Mt. Napulauan Traverse

ITINERARY (HUNGDUAN-HAPAO TRAVERSE)

*Observe Basic Mountaineering Course
 Please put all candy wrapper/chocolate wrapper/cigarette butt in your packet during trek
 LEAVE NO TRACE!

***Extracted from Relax Extremely Daring Mountaineers Archives

via Mt. Napulauan Traverse.