The scallops capital of the Philippines, a hidden paradise comprising of a remote group of islands located in the town of Carles, Iloilo. Also known as Islas de Gigantes, is one of the must see places here in the Philippines. A four to five hours travel from Iloilo can never be compared to the beauty that this island could offer.
The original name of the island was Sabuluag or Salauag but was later on changed to Islas de Gigantes as it was believed that coffins found in Bakwitan cave contained a gigantic set of human bones. It is comprised of about ten islands, but the two largest and commonly known are Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur.
Those who are planning to have a trip here have different options, but the main jump off point is at Estancia port which is
We opted to take the ordinary bus from Tagbak Terminal, which we thought is much cheaper than the van but we were wrong as we discovered when we talked to one of the travelers we met in Estancia port that her fare was 150 pesos (2 pesos cheaper than the ordinary bus) and take note, it only took them 2 hours from Tagbak terminal. So yes, a van is the better option for a cheaper and faster way going to Estancia port. Our boat left the port at 2:00 pm, we arrived at Brgy. Asluman at 04:15 pm.
Scallops shells will greet you upon arrival at Brgy. Asluman. (The Barangay was named so because of the slightly sour taste of their water, which comes from a spring.)
I think they’re one family making a living out of scallops.
Most of the resorts in Islas de Gigantes offer an all-in package already; ours was 2350 PHP each for three pax which includes:
- Round trip Passenger boat ride
- 3 Days 2 Nights full board, all in expenses, including five meals (family-service seafood buffet meals/ unlimited rice)
- Private Boat for Island hopping plus tour guide
- Island tour in 5-6 Islands
- Island entrance fees
- The habal-habal fare for three days activity.
We were offered a welcome coffee drink before we proceeded to our first tour, which was the Old Lighthouse Ruins.
The old lighthouse was built during the Spanish-colonial era which can be found on the northern shore of Islas de Gigantes Norte.
We headed back at Gigantes Hideaway resort at around 06:30 pm to relax and prepare for the next day caving and Island tour.
We started our tour the next day by exploring one of their wonderful caves (and the easiest one as they say) which was the Bakwitan cave. It was named so as it was believed that it has been an evacuation area for many locals during the war. The name of the Islas de Gigantes was also changed because of the gigantic set of human bones found in here.
Our tour guide said that not all of the guests could manage to exit the cave as there are some obstacles that needed to pass through. If you wouldn’t want to crawl or do some challenging adventure inside, then tell ahead your guide to go back to the entrance. As for our group, we decided to exit, and we were able to finish the caving in one and a half hours! We then returned to the resort to prepare for Island hopping.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then you better not miss the cliff jumping in Tangke. We ended the day with some relaxation at the extension resort of Gigantes Hideaway.
With our tour guide, Kuya RonRon. He’s one of the best tour guides I ever met! He took good care of us during our stay. What’s good to know about him is that he’s a marine engineer graduate! He was just taking some time to relax before he applied for a job in Manila (but if you’ll ask him, he loves to serve in Islas de Gigantes). He’s been staying with Gigantes Hideaway for five years! I can say that he’s a very passionate and humble person. You can request from sir Joel if you would like him to be your tour guide, he would provide you very rich information about the place you’re visiting!
Beside the old house is a heritage restaurant named “WAWA.” This is a must visit in Iloilo as it doesn’t just cater delicious food, but it also provides the guests some readings about the rich history of Iloilo City.
That’s how we end our four days trip in Iloilo! It was fun, exciting and very informative! I would go back for more!
Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!
04:20 am ETD NAIA 3
05:25 am ETA Iloilo Airport
05:48 am ETD ilo ilo airport via taxi going to tagbak terminal
06:25 am ETA at Tagbak Terminal
06:30 am ETD to tagbak going to estancia transport terminal
09:53 am ETA to Estancia Transport terminal via Ceres Bus
10:00 am ETA Estancia PORT Terminal via tricycle
(Waited for passenger boat, one local approached us if we want a private tour for 5k each all in, we declined as it was too expensive)
10:51 finished lunch
02:00 pm ETD Estancia to Brgy Asluman via Boat (80 PHP included in 2345 tour package)
04:15 pm ETA Brgy Asluman Gigantes Norte
04:40 pm ETA Resort via Habal-Habal (10 pesos/head included in 2345 tour package)
05:00 pm Check-in (200 pesos/head/night but already included in the 2345 tour package)
05:30 pm visit Lighthouse (via Habal-Habal 30 PHP/head/way included in 2345 tour package)
06:30 pm Back at Hideaway Resort
07:00 pm Dinner Time
06:00 am Wake Up Call
07:00 am Breakfast Time
07:30 am Preparation for Island Hopping
07:45 am Take Habal Habal to Bakwitan cave
08:00 am Explore Bakwitan cave
09:45 am Completed rock climbing
09:50 am Take Habal-habal going back to Hideaway resort, prepare for Island Hopping
09:55 am Take Habal-habal to boat for Island hopping
10:00 am Start of Island Hopping (2500 pesos/boat good for 4 with 2 guides, ours was included in the 2345 all in package)
(Bantigue Island, Antonia beach, Cabugao Island,Tangke Saltwater Lagoon or Hidden Lagoon)
10:20 am Bantigue island
11:20 am ETA Antonia beach
12:20 pm ETD Antonia beach
12:30 pm ETA Cabugao Gamay Island
01:09 pm ETD Cabugao Gamay Island
01:20 pm ETA Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
02:10 pm ETD Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
02:49 pm ETA HideawayExtension Resort
04:30 pm Back at Brgy Asluman
04:45 pm ETA Hideaway Tourist Resort
07:00 pm Dinner Time
11:00 pm Lights Off
06:45 am Breakfast
07:00 am Prep for Check-out (Total Bill: 400 pesos) 2345
08:00 am Check-out Time
08:29 am Boat to Estancia (80 pesos/head)
10:30 am Back at Estancia Port
11:30 am Van to Iloilo (150 pesos/head)
01:30 pm ETA Tagbak Central Terminal
02:30 pm ETA Jaro Iloilo
03:00-09:00 pm explore Iloilo
10:00 pm Lights Off
04:00 am Prepare for flight departure
06:05 am ETD Iloilo Terminal
07:25 am ETA NAIA 3
106 PHP – taxi going to NAIA
232 PHP – taxi from Iloilo to Tagbak Terminal
152 PHP/head- bus going to Estancia Transport terminal
10 PHP -tricycle from Estancia Transport terminal to Estancia port
35 PHP- lunch at Estancia port
105 PHP-bought mineral water to bring in Gigantes
2350 PHP– ALL in package for 3 days 2 nights stay in gigantes island by Hideaway Resort
2990 PHP total expenses excluding airfare
- Make sure that you’ll be in Estancia Port hours before 2:00 pm or else you’ll wait for the next trip the next day.
- From Brgy. Asluman, the boat leaves at 8:30 am so make sure that you’ll arrive there ahead of time.
- Bring Mosquito repellent.
- Bring flashlight for Bakwitan cave.
- Electricity is available from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm then generator will take over from 11:00 am to 6:00 am so expect that there will be no electricity from 06:01 am- 02:59 pm.
- There’s NO signal in Gigantes Norte, but you can ask the local to bring you to their call center if you need to contact the outside world.
Budget – Regatta Residence Hotel
Mid Range – Days Hotel Iloilo
About The Writer
Manel Andrea Cementina is a software developer by profession and an investor, trader, mountaineer, traveler by passion. An enthusiastic self-starter with strong leadership and with proven academic and socio-curricular achievements. She loves to inspire people to travel within a budget and explore new things. She just love life to the fullest.
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