Isla de Gigantes is known as the “Islands of Giants” because of coffins of large skeletons found in Bakwitan Cave. It is a chain of islands off the coast of Carles and can be reached through boats. Our group decided to go there because at that it was somewhat a little famous for its white sands and we would like to go there before it goes mainstream.
If you are coming from Iloilo City, It would take you about 4-5 hours of traveling to reach Estancia. The long drive is worth it as the islands are pristine, clear blue water and with plenty of seafood.
How to get to Isla de Gigantes?
From Iloilo City grab a bus going to Estancia bus station but you could also opt for a van which is a
little cheaper but I would prefer a bus for extra comfort and space. The ride may cost you 150.00 pesos (Van) up to 180.00 pesos (Bus). Upon arriving take a tricycle (10 pesos per person) going to Estancia port where you will board a pump boat (90.00 per person) going to Isla de Gigantes.
Depending on where you are staying you may need to hire a motorcycle. Isla de Gigantes has no hotels so don’t expect any lavish suites. We ourselves stayed in an inn/house our colleague booked together with the island hopping for the next day which cost us about 2,200 pesos per head. If you plan to hire a boat together with a guide price range from 1,200 to 1,500 depending on your haggling skills with 500 pesos for the guide. Sadly, even though we booked our room I can’t for the life of me remember why we stayed in a tent, Anyways we just accepted it to not ruin our trip.
What to do in Isla de Gigantes?
First thing on our list is island hopping. Isla de Gigantes is famous for its white sand beaches so it would be weird if we don’t visit them all, right? This will usually take almost more than half a day. The visit may include Cabugao Gamay Island (Perfect for its picture perfect overview of the island), Antonia Beach Resort, Sand bar and Tanke. There are places that are great for cliff jump and snorkeling just approach your guide.
Also one of the most visited parts of Isla de Gigantes. It is best known for its magnificent clear blue salt water and for its rock formation carved by the wind and sea. When we went there it was jam packed of foreign and local tourist. It’s a good idea to go there during high tide especially if you love and know swimming If you don’t know how to swim though, your guide will surely provide you with a life vest.
If you like something more extreme tell your guide to bring you to Bakwitan cave for some spelunking or cave exploring. The area is majestic as clues found inside and outside the cave shows that it was once underwater, how cool is that? Make sure to prepare yourself going there. You will get down and dirty so bring comfortable clothes and shoes. You will not only climb but also crawl into some tight spaces. Always remember to be careful as the cave is muddy and slippery especially in rainy season.
We visited the old lighthouse at morning we are about to leave. 3 days was just enough to finish all this activity. The lighthouse can be reached by riding a motorcycle as it is a few minutes away from the shore. You will be welcomed by flowers and the old brick building that used to be the central base of the lighthouse. The steel solar powered lighthouse that was donated by Japan is standing in the center. You can climb up the stairs if you don’t fear the dizzying height that is. The place accepts donations also in case you want to help maintain it for future generations to come.
A bounty of seafood in Isla de Gigantes
The island has a plentiful supply of various seafood. For 3 days every meal we have consisted of a different recipe for scallops. I was able to try out Grilled scallops, Adobo scallops, Inihaw scallops and Curry
scallops. I was not able to eat scallops for a year or so because of it (haha na umay). Besides scallops, we were also served with different types of fish, shellfish and sea urchin. Sadly our guide was not able to capture a lobster which I was been praying for the whole stay (I was a bit sad). But he was able to redeem himself by giving us a crab feast while we were island hopping. The food was pre-paid and was included in our tour fee. Before you go home you should try to buy fresh seafood from locals because it’s cheaper than in the city.
If you are tired of the nightlife and commercialization of Boracay Island then Isla de Gigantes a good or even better substitute. Experience the life of locals, enjoy its bountiful seafood, Clear blue waters, white sands, and many more waiting for you to discover.