Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Travel Guide: Islas de Gigantes (DIY)


One of the islands in Islas de Gigantes
Few kilometers away from the world renowned Boracay lies a hidden, pristine, and unspoiled group of islands  that exudes impressive beauty known as Islas De Gigantes. These islands are situated off the coast of Carles and Estancia in the northern part of Iloilo province. Since it is somehow difficult to access the said part of Iloilo, many Ilonggos are still not aware of this beautiful piece of land which they own.



Islas de Gigantes comprises mainly of two bigger islands known as Gigante Norte and Gigante Sur while various beautiful islets surrounds them. Collectively they exude an air of concealment and mysticism. The place is sublime, as a traveller I rarely see such grandeur. Every corner of the surrounding islet is a taste of paradise; exquisite, enchanting.

How to Get to Islas de Gigantes

Islas De Gigantes is part of Carles, Iloilo but the main jump-off to the island is the port of Estancia, the primary sea port in the Northern Iloilo. There are various ways to get to estancia port and provided below are two of the most commonly used by travellers:

via Roxas City

  1. From Manila take a flight to Roxas City.
  2. Take a tricycle to Ceres Bus terminal and take the bus or van bound for Estancia. The trip will cover roughly 2 hours.
  3. Take another tricycle ride (5 minutes)from Estancia bus terminal to Estancia port.
  4. Take the 2-hour boat ride (passenger boat) to either Gigantes Norte or Gigantes Sur.  Many locals advise tourists to take the boat to Gigantes Norte as many resorts are located there.
  5. When you reach the island, ride the habal-habal or motorcycle and tell the driver to bring you to your respective resort if you have reservation or ask them to help you find a place where you can stay for the night or two.

via Iloilo City (the one we took)

  1. From the city, ride the jeep with Leganes signage and tell the driver to drop you off at Tagbak Terminal.
  2. Take a bus or van bound for Estancia. the trip will take  3 to 4 hours. Yes, Estancia via Iloilo is farther than via Roxas City.
  1. Take a tricycle ride from Estancia bus terminal to Estancia port.
  2. Take the 2-hour boat ride (passenger boat) to either Gigantes Norte or Gigantes Sur.  Many locals advise tourists to take the boat to Gigantes Norte as many resorts are located there.
  3. When you reach the island, ride the habal-habal or motorcycle and tell the driver to bring you to your respective resort if you have reservation or ask them to help you find a place where you can stay for the night or two.

Projected Expenses

Bus/van from Iloilo or Roxas to Estancia  
Php150 - Php200 (one way)
Tricycle from Estancia bus/van terminal to port
Must only be Php8 (per head) but they charge Php15 (per head) if they know you’re not from the area. Do not tolerate them.
Environmental fee
Php10 per person
Boat Fare from Estancia Port to Isla Gigantes
Php80 (passenger boat)
Php5000 - 6000 (chartered boat)
Accommodation
Resorts usually charge Php200 per head
Boat rental for island hopping
Php2000 (4-5 islands) start early as the other islands disappear during hightide (11AM onwards)
2 private islands (Cabugao and Antonia) charge Php20 per head entrance fees
Php40 for the 2 islands / head
Habal-habal ride
Php10 per head

*Prices may change in the next few months as the place continues to be known and tourism in the area starts to prosper.

Sample Itinerary

Day 01

08:00 AM – Board bus/van (from Roxas or Iloilo City) bound to Estancia, Iloilo
10:00 AM – ETA Ceres Bus Station Estancia
                     *If you have a chartered boat, you can go directly to Estancia Port. If none, you can spend  
                       some time exploring the place, buying provisions, or taking your lunch as the only trip that
                      goes to Gigantes Island leaves around 2PM.*
01:00 PM – Trysicle ride to Estancia Port.
     *Sometimes the passenger boat leaves earlier but never later than 2PM. This given, if you
       miss it, you have to wait the next day. Don’t worry there are transient available nearby
       Estancia port. *
02:00 PM – ETD Estancia Port.
04:00 PM – ETA Gigantes Island.  Take habal-habal to the resort.

*If you arrive early, you can opt to visit the Parola.

Day 2

07:00 AM - Breakfast
08:00 AM - ETD for island hopping. Bring packed lunch so that you do not have to go back to the resort.
05:00 PM - End of Island hopping.

*If you finish early, you can do spelunking. Check out Bakwitan Cave if you want a little taste of adventure.

Day 3

06:00 AM - wake up. Fix/pack things
07:00 AM - breakfast then check out
07:15 AM - You can take habal-habal to the port or walk.
09:00 AM - Board the boat back to Estancia. Again, there’s only one trip daily, make sure not to miss it.
11:00 AM - ETA Estancia Port. Take your lunch then ride a tricycle going back to the bus station.
11:30 AM - Board the bus/van bound to Iloilo or Roxas City (whichever you came from)
02:00 or 03:00 - ETD Iloilo or Roxas City.

Travel Tips

  • Remember, there is only one passenger boat trip each day. If coming from Estancia Port to Gigantes island, its 2PM. If coming from Gigantes island back to Estancia Port, its 9AM. Do not miss that, else you have to stay for another day or rent a boat that will bring you back or to Estancia Port and/or Gigantes Island.  How much it cost? Php5,000 to Php6,000.
  • When you reach Estancia port, there are people who will offer carrying your bag, or ask your name. Be friendly but do not mind them much because you’ll end up at Hideaway Resort. The resort that monopolize tourism in Isla Gigantes. There are other resorts in the area you can go to. Some place better, a resort that is near the beach, a place that won’t rip off your money. We stayed in hideaway resort that’s why I know. I will make a separate entry onWhy I do not like Hideaway resort in Islas de Gigantes.

Things to Do in Islas de Gigantes

  1. Island Hopping. Never go home without trying this. After all, the beauty of Gigantes can only be witness when you laid your eyes to its beautiful islands and islets. Make sure to take a dip in the hidden lagoon better known as Tangke Island.
  2. Spelunking. The island has a total of 73 caves. Don’t you think checking out at least one is a must try? We visited Bakwitan Cave and I can say that the crawling, jumping, and sliding is all worth it. Tell your guide that you’ll do the “exit” okay? The “entrance” is not as exciting eh.
  3. Take part of the history. Know why it was called Gigantes Island. Look for the giant bones. Unveil the reason behind the sour water of Asluman. learn about all the treasures and enchanting folklores of the locals.
  4. Visit the Parola - the lighthouse with no other name but Parola.

Interesting Facts

  • The northern part of Iloilo Province is known for having one of the richest fishing grounds in the Philippines.
  • Islas de Gigantes is the Scallops capital of the Philippines.
  • The potable water of Brgy. Asluman has a tinge of acrid taste. Asluman means sour, thus the name of the Brgy.

Two Cents Worth of Thoughts
Someday, Gigantes Island, like Calaguas will be known because of its marvelous appeal. There will be tourist influx in the area. The people will learn to do business and the community might prosper in  expense of the environment.  The the place will be known and as fame envelopes it, then its mystic beauty will fade. I hope that someday never comes. 
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This entry is part of our Islas de Gigantes Epic trip which happened last JULY 13-17, 2013 (JUST CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ EACH ARTICLE)





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9 comments:

  1. Hay naku, traumatic ang experience namin jan sa Bakwitan Cave na yan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh baket? Ang saya nga. Very exciting! :D

      Delete
  2. Eh kasi, bukod sa naka-experience kami ng paranormal eh yung mga 'guides' namin eh parang walang kasama. Yung flashlight, halos maubusan ng battery eh diba may dalawang pit dun? Paano kung di namin nakita, edi nahulog na kami. Tapos hindi man lang kami alalayan or i-check kung kasunod pa niya kami. Yung isang kasama namin, nahulog tapos tinitigan lang ng guide. Saka sana may briefing bago pumasok dun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. kumusta naman po ang mga resort dun sa area?i mean the electricity kasi as far as i know nagkakaron lng 7pm up to early morning. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When we're there, electricity is available only from 5PM to 11PM.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for your post. I have this as one of my references for my trip to Islas de Gigantes this Saturday. :-)

    Ferdinand
    TheAwkwardTraveler.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is it safe for solo traveller?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the place and I love the scallop overload! We booked with Hideaway Resort and the island hopping, accommodation, food and transportation :)

    http://www.travellingthephilippines.info/isla-gigantes-island-hopping/

    ReplyDelete

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