Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Island Hopping at Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Islands) of Iloilo

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Islas de Gigantes (popularly known as Gigantes Islands) is one of my dream destination among the provinces of my country. It is located in the northernmost part of Iloilo province in the municipality of Carles. Gigantes Islands are known for its beautiful islands and islets packed with crystalline-like beaches and panoramic views. And just recently, I was able to crossed this place out on my bucket list and explored the province of Iloilo... specifically, Gigantes Islands.

How did I got there?
I strongly recommend that you book a flight going to Roxas as it is closer to Gigantes Islands. Unlike us, we booked our flights to Iloilo for which its airport is situated far away from Gigantes. Once you alight either of the airports, take any ride routing to Estancia Port. It is 2.5-3hrs away from Iloilo city. Since we went there as a big group, we hired a private van which we met in the airport. The Iloilo airport to Estancia port trip costs us 2,500 Pesos. Estancia port serves as the jump-off point for Gigantes Islands go-ers. You can avail public boats or you can also rent a private one to take you to any part of Gigantes.  We already had a contact that would take us to Gigantes Islands prior to our visit. We found a resort that is located on one of the islands that offered us a package which includes: 2-way transfer on Estancia Port to Gigantes North (where the resort is located) plus a 1-day island hopping tour at the price of 7,500 Pesos. This is a good price knowing that we're (9) nine on the group who will split up the said value. By the way, there is also a 5 pesos environmental fee per person at the port of Estancia.

Update: Here's my blogpost about the resort where we stay-in during our visit at Islas de Gigantes [click this link]

The Estancia Port
Random island during our tour
Moving on, the island hopping offered to us includes a visit to: 1) Gigantes North 2) Cabugao Island 3) Bantigue Sand Bar and lastly, 4) Antonia Beach. Usually, a visit to Tangke Lagoon is included on the tour, however, the lagoon is restricted to visitors until October due to rehabilitation activities.

Gigantes North

Gigantes North (Norte) is one of the mainlands of Gigantes Islands. Most of the resorts are located here which offer basic accommodation to travelers and explorers. A community is starting to grow in the island. Establishments such as schools, courts and halls are can be seen in the area. As for island activities, you have a choice whether you want to enjoy the beach while watching the sunset, enjoy the simple things on your resort, or do an in-land tour. In-land tour covers a trip to the lighthouse and Bakwitan cave. Again, another blog will be posted for our detailed in-land tour at Gigantes North.

Update: Here's my blogpost about our inland tour at Gigantes North [click this link]

A little sandbar at Gigantes North

As you enter the island, you need to pay 150 pesos per head for the purpose of environmental fee. This is good for your whole stay in Gigantes North. The main transportation in North is the habal-habal (motorbike). A ride can carry 2-3 heads at the expense of 20 Pesos each.

Cabugao Gamay Island

I would say that Cabugao Gamay Island is the most popular and an Instagram-famous among the different islands of Gigantes. I haven't seen anyone who visited Gigantes Islands that did not post a photo (selfie or non-selfie photo) like the one below:

Group shot at the view deck

Yes! That is taken at Cabugao Gamay of Iloilo! It is characterized by two islands connected by a sandbar. Gamay is a local term for small. This island has two white sand beaches lined up with coconuts trees so visitors will not run out of shades when the sun strikes up. Both sides of the island is swimmable. Therefore, visitors have a wide area to do their swim.

Just landed at Cabugao Gamay
Yes, it has creamy white sand beach!

Cabugao Gamay has a viewing deck where tourist can climb to have a bird’s eye view of the whole island. The deck is too small and can only occupy a couple of persons (an estimate of 15 persons at a time). As per our tour guide, this island has the tendency to be overly crowded during lean season due to its popularity. So please be very patient waiting for your turn while others are taking their photos. In our case, we went here during off-season (August) and I can say that we’re lucky because we had the chance to explore the island freely and took as many shots as we could at the top of the island without the hassle as there were only few people touring that day.

Lastly, please take note that there is a 50 Pesos per person fee upon visiting Cabugao Gamay. 

Bantigue Island (Sandbar)

Bantigue Sandbar (some spelled as Bantigui) is the third stop of our tour. Before we got there, I have no any expectations considering it is just a sandbar. However, as we reach Bantigue, I was surprise of its size. It is enormously big and long compared to other sandbars I've been to. As soon as our boat landed, everyone jumped out of the boat and started taking pictures! Our photo op were hold off when the rain started to pour hard.

Rain already started falling during this shot. Haha

While raining, we rested in a nipa hut to grasp some rest. Locals of Bantigue just ask for some donations for the use of nipa huts. In parallel, our boatmen started to prepare our lunch. We ordered our lunch on the resort where we checked in and just ask them if we could have it while having the tour.

Thea (author of The Prettea Traveler) and Kris also documenting our trip
Claire and Donna having their own photoshoot at Bantigui
Finally! A clear shot of the island

The rain didn't stop even after we have took our lunch. So if we can't beat it, we just went with it! We swim and explore the area while raining. It was indeed a fun experience! It brought out my childhood memories back. We stayed in the island longer than I expected. Every one enjoyed the stay and just played around and swim our hearts out. As soon as we're off the island, the rain also stopped. What a freezing welcome we had at Bantigue Island!

My Iloilo travel buddies

Antonia Beach

If Cabugao Gamay has that breathtaking view and Bantigue Island boasts its long and enormous sandbar, well, Antonia beach has is its gigantic rock formations. Those rock formations are found on different parts of the beach that compliments the island and makes it a picturesque site. If you have a hammock, I suggest that you bring it here. There are bunch of sprawling coconut trees in the area where you can set it up.

This area looks more beautiful in person

We were already tired when we got here so it was nice that there were benches near the beach. We just sit down, relaxed under the coconut tree, had a few drinks, and enjoyed everything our eyes can reached. By the way, there are tents available in the area in case you want to spend a night at Antonia beach. You can also find a small (sari sari) store and a working toilet room in the area.

Simple things available at Antonia's Beach
I had a good walk here
The other end of the island

Aside from camping, other activities available are: Banana boat, jet-skiing, beach volleyball, spelunking and snorkeling. Snorkeling gears are available for rent at 50 pesos. Also, There is a 40 Pesos per head fee upon entering Antonia Beach.

Equipment rentals at Antonia's Beach

My overall experience at Islas de Gigantes was exceptional. It was fulfilling that I was able to visit one of the top places on my (travel) bucket list. Each island we gone through has its special characteristics which makes it more interesting. Although it was off season and raining (on some part of our tour) during our visit, it didn't bother me much because the positive side is, there were only few tourists doing the island hopping. There were times where we felt like we rented the whole island because no other tourists were on it. Taking selfies and pictures of the views were easy. We seldom experience being photobombed. Lastly, I got the chance to have a selfie on top of Cabugao Gamay Island which is my ultimate goal for this tour!

Breakdown of Expenses:
Van transfer from Iloilo city/airport to Estancia port - 2,500 Pesos (good for 10 pax)
Estancia port to North Gigantes (two-way) and Island Hopping - 7,500 Pesos (good for 9 pax)
Estancia port environmental fee - 5 Pesos per head
Gigantes North environmental fee  - 150 Pesos per head
Cabugao Gamay entrance fee - 50 Pesos per head
Donation for nipa rental at Bantigue Sandbar - **.**
Food - **.**
Antonia Beach entrance fee - 40 Pesos per head


  1. Ang ganda! Dream ko magpuntang Gigantes kasi sabi nila ibang iba daw sya from Iloilo proper. Just curious, DIY trip ba ito or nag-avail kayo ng package tours upon arrival? Let me know if may recommendations ka :)

    1. Hi! Salamat sa pag visit ng blog ko. Bale yung resort na tinuluyan namin nag ooffer sila ng tours sa Gigantes so yun ang kinuha namin para one transaction nalang.

      Here's my blog entry for that resort in Gigantes: http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2016/09/rosewood-place-resort-gigantes-islands-iloilo.html

  2. Hi! Thanks for this informative blog. Would like to ask if meron ka pang contact ng nagpa-rent ng van from Iloilo to Estancia port? Thank you!

    1. Sorry pero wala na. Di ko din kasi recommended ung nakuha namin kasi medyo may pagka kaskasero sya. Anyway, madami sa terminal na pwede nyong kausapin, kayo na bahala makipag tawaran (ng tama).


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