Isla de Gigantes is a group of islands located off the coast of Carles and Estancia in Northern Iloilo. It is a hidden, pristine, and unspoiled piece of paradise whose beauty is enough to break your heart. What makes these islands even more tempting is the mystery that surrounds them. What kind of mystery, you say?
Well, not a lot of Ilonggos know about the islands. Yes, if you happen to chance upon one and ask how to get to the islands, you’ll probably be met with a question rather than an answer. This is because the northern part of Iloilo is not visited that much. In fact, quite a few dare to travel to these parts because it isn’t as accessible compared to other towns located on the main highways.
Despite the difficulty in getting there, Isla de Gigantes rewards the visitor with a sight that makes the effort worthwhile.
Why should you visit Isla de Gigantes?
Isla de Gigantes (“island of the giants”) is comprised of the main islands Gigantes Sur and Gigantes Norte as well as other islands. Although tourist facilities are undeveloped, you will appreciate the back to basics type of living while on the island.
A trip to Isla de Gigantes is worth it if you love the sand and sea. If you’re into caves, you will have a mighty fun time too given there are 73 of them scattered around the island.
How to get there?
The major jump-off points to Isla de Gigantes are in Estancia Port, Estancia and Bangcal Port, Carles. Both of these ports are located in the northern part of Iloilo and are an estimated three hours away by land from Iloilo City. An alternate route is through Roxas City, Capiz where they are 1-2 hours away.
The most popular jump-off point is Estancia Port and it is also the main sea transportation hub and fishing port in Northern Iloilo. From Estancia, Gigantes can be reached in two and a half hours. Estancia is also better served by buses coming from Iloilo or Roxas City than Bangcal Port.
There are two passenger boats in Estancia Port that offer one daily service to Gigantes. One boat heads to Gigantes Norte while the other to Barangay Lantagan in Gigantes Sur.
Here’s a broken down guide for better understanding:
- Start your journey in Iloilo City.
- Catch a Ceres bus headed to Estancia at the Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. (Travel time: 3-4 hours)
- Get off at Estancia integrated bus terminal.
- Take a tricycle to Estancia port.
- Take one of the boats to either Gigantes Norte or Gigantes Sur.
How can you enjoy your stay?
Here are a couple of tips to help you make the most out of your visit:
- Buy food and water in Estancia. The stores located on the island are very small establishments and sell just the basics. If you are staying for a couple of days, make sure the food can last you the entire day. For the following days, you can buy fresh seafood at the barangay.
- Bring sufficient water. Although there is potable spring water on the island, your stomach might not be up for it. Just to be sure, bring enough water to last the entire duration of your trip.
- Think up of activities to do. Whether it is singing along tunes while being accompanied by guitar or playing cards, these activities help you enjoy your time on the island apart from the water-related activities. Electricity on the island is also powered by a generator and only runs on select hours. So it helps to have some sort of activity to keep you entertained even when the power is off.
- Go island hopping. Isla de Gigantes is a group of islands and you can pay a visit to neighboring islands by hiring local fishing boats to take you there. You can hire a boat at Barangay Lantagan, which is the most populated part of Gigantes Sur.
- Go spelunking. There are 73 caves on the island, so exploring one is definitely worth a try. One of the best caves to visit is Bakwitan Cave.
- Visit the Parola. There is only one and it is a must visit.
- Take photos of the rock formations. They remind you of being in Palawan or Thailand. The picturesque formations are definitely breathtaking.
- Visit the Tangke salt water lagoon. If you’re up for it, you can climb over one of the cliffs which will lead you to “Tangke,” a salt water lagoon. You can take a dip here or just marvel at the beauty of nature.
If you’re looking for a holiday in an unspoilt paradise, look no further than taking a trip to Estancia and hopping on a boat to take you to one of the islands of Isla de Gigantes. The trip will definitely be worth your while.