Islas de Gigantes - A Hidden Gem in the Philippines
Finding flawless beaches, enchanted lagoons and fresh scallops in Iloilo. Here’s your quick tour guide for a memorable adventure!
Budget: $300 CAD
Duration: 3 days
Booking information: see comments at end of blog
“Lagaw ta!”means let’s go on a trip! It is often used by Illongos to invite friends and family to go out and explore. On our recent trip in southeast Asia we were not only excited to reconnect with family and friends but also visit low-key and underrated paradise. Top of our list is the clustered islands of Islas de Gigantes. Located offshore of the farthest town in Iloilo called Carles, these islands are unspoiled, flawless and well preserved.
If you are coming from Iloilo City, there is public bus transport (Ceres Bus) for about $3-4CAD (P120-140 Pesos) . This will take approximately 3-4 hours. If you are coming from Roxas City, there is a bus/van for about $5.00CAD (P200 Pesos) . This will take about 1.5-2 hours.
LEX GO TRAVEL
We travel from Iloilo to Carles for approximately 4 hours.
We were so excited for the island tour day. We arrived at Carles Port around 7:30am. My cousin facilitated the check-in process with the Department of Tourism and arranged a private boat through them as well. I as ease that the prices for the boat were regulated by the tourism department. We did not have to worry about paying too much or too little. Once all the communication were settled, we met with our boat captain and guide. The helped us on-board the boat and set the sail to go. Check out our itinerary on our island hopping adventures!
You can book a pre-packaged tours with Las Islas Travels and Tours. They have all inclusive packages where you don’t have to worry about boat arrangement and island fees when you get to the port. Check them out! Click link to access their website. http://lasislas.ph/
1st Island - Pulupandan Island ( One Coconut)
The boat ride to the islands is about 40-50 mins from the port. This small island with only one coconut growing serves as the gateway to your adventure. We did a quick stopover for pictures and got our feet wet in the water. The beach here is a little rocky but the the water is so clear and blue.
2nd Island - Cabugaw Gamay Island
The most iconic island of Islas de Gigantes. We embraced the heat and enjoyed the sunshine along the white sand beach. You can climb up a small hill to capture a bird’s eye view of the island and gaze on the panoramic landscape of the Pacific Ocean. This is the best spot for that iconic photo you see everywhere( see my cover photo on this blog) I don’t blame people for using this to market this island as it is truly and honestly beautiful.
3rd Island - Bantigue Sand
One of my favorite island on our tour. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever been. I was in total awe when we got off the boat by how prestine and clear the water is. It was my first time to set foot on a sandbar and it is such an incredible feeling to look left and right and see water so clear. We enjoyed a good swim to ourselves in this beach. It felt like we rented a private island.
Our boat captain had pre-arranged food to be cooked upon our arrival . Enjoy fresh seafood and seashells cooked by the locals.The highlight of our meal were the $.40 CAD cents/scallops ( P1.00 Peso). How can you go wrong with fresh, delicious and cheap scallops! It was joyous!
Also: There is a functioning washroom on this island for $.025 CAD (P10 Pesos)
4th Island - Antonia’s
Another beautiful beach to explore. We had a relaxing time swimming and collecting seashells. There is also a small rocky hill where you can hike and take good pictures. We explored the seashores of this island and was mesmerized by the rock formations along the coast. There are some seaweeds washed up on shore. It’s a different sign to see and reminds you of how abundant is sea life in this area. They also serve food such scallops, local seashells and other seafood in this island.
5th Island - Little Boracay (Tinagong Dagat/Hidden Beach)
Our captain literally just pulled to the side of this remote area and we jumped off the boat and had fun. We did a little bit of snorkeling but some areas can go very deep. Our boat captain was such an expert swimmer. He took Ericson around and guided him swimming under big rocks located beside the beach. I did not want to leave! The beach here is so organic it will make you forget about the hustles and bustles of the city. We had the beach almost to ourselves the whole afternoon except for a few local kids enjoying the sun and water as much as we do.
6th Island - Tangke
Saved the most amusing part for last. After consistently hoping from one beach to another it is refreshing to see something so unreal. “Tangke” is a term used by Ilonggos pertaining to a big water container. This is usually set up on houses during the rainy season to collect rainwater for later use. This place resembles that water container is the most natural occurrence. It is huge water lagoon that is hidden inside steep cliffs. Saltwater pours in during high tide and lingers inside to create a natural pool for people to enjoy. It a little busy with local tourists when we go there. But this place is extraordinary it has become such a popular destination. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Some of the tourists were doing a supervised 10-meter cliff jump and we decided to join in the fun! It was one of the most nerve-racking and exhilarating thing I have ever done! A total adrenaline rush! Lex Go!
Depart to Iloilo city . There are lots of wonderful things to do in Iloilo City when you have the time to stay longer. My blog on Iloilo is coming soon but for now check out one of the travel bloggers I follow: https://www.detourista.com/guide/iloilo-1-day-itinerary/
Comments on booking information:
We were lucky enough to have family who had pre-booked the tour for us. We rented a private boat that cost about $125 CAD for the entire boat. We also have family who owns a property in Carles which made accommodation easier.
If you want to visit these secluded paradise, you can book a tour package with Islas Travel and Tours http://lasislas.ph/
For a more spontaneous trip, please visit Trip Advisor website for tips
I was really impressed by how the municipality of Carles has preserved the natural beauty of Islas de Gigantes. This is a great example of responsible tourism. As visitors, we also have an important part to play. Please be aware of the rules and regulations set by the Department of Tourism so we can all enjoy these natural treasures forever.