Islas de Gigantes: Rediscovering the Hidden Sanctuary in the Visayas

Islas de Gigantes

Where to stay in Islas de Gigantes?

Gigantes Hideaway Resort is the premiere resort and tourist inn in Gigantes Islands. It is located in Brgy. Asluman, Gigantes Norte, Carles, Iloilo. It is owned and managed by Joel Decano, head of Tourism in mainland Carles. The resort has been operating for more than two years already, and it was built primarily to accommodate a few guests only who went sightseeing on the island and to give them comfortable shelter for their overnight stay. The rooms are simple. Don’t expect them to be something classy or something like that but the family rooms are. Most of them are fan rooms that were built in Nipa and Bamboo stalks.

The whole island in the Norte has limited electric supply. They only have electricity from 3pm to 11pm, then generator electricity from 11 pm to 6am. In the Resort, there’s no cellphone signal so you’ll be in total communication blackout when you’re in there. But guests can still turn their communications on when they hire a motorcycle ride to Signalan, it’s a place where guests can get telecom signals and use their phone for emergency purposes.

 

History

Islas de Gigantes was named by the Spaniards to describe the Giant Islands located in Carles, North of Iloilo in the 1800s. These gigantic islands were named Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur to describe the islands located in the north and south. The island alone is composed of 10 islets. The Gigantes Norte is composed of 4 islets and Gigantes Sur is composed of 6, and the mainland Carles consists of 18 islands all in all.

 

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Gigantes CarlesThe old lighthouse was built in 1883 but through the years, it can no longer stand the tests of times and was replaced with a new one in 1994 by the Japanese. This lighthouse is solar powered; it helps many ferry boats and cargo vessels from Manila and Cebu in their navigation as they pass by the western point of Visayas.

 

The Place

The whole place is like a secret hideaway, a paradise, they call it. The water is so serene, the skies are so blue. The Gigantes Norte and Sur is composed of two barangays on each so there’s only a limited number of locals who live on the island. The place is not populated unlike Boracay or somewhere else. So, if you want to go to a private, primitive and all natural vacation destination, Islas de Gigantes is definitely your great pick!

 

The Room and Accommodation

So, there’s only one perfect resort to stay in while on the island. It is located in Brgy. Asluman, Gigantes Norte. Though, there may be lots of newly built inns and overnight cottages on the island, but we found the Hideaway Resort to be classier, safer and perfect place to stay in, whether you’re with a group or barkadas, family or with special someone.

 

family aircon cottage hideaway carles

This is the family cottage, good for 6 to 8 persons. This costs 200 pesos per head plus additional 500 pesos for the aircondition unit per room.

 

 standard room for four hideaway
The standard fan cottage, good for 4 persons. It costs 200 pesos per head.

 standard cottage for 6

The standard cottage good for 6 to 8 persons. It costs 200 per head.

 standard cottage for two

The standard fan cottage good for 1 to 2 persons.

The Staff

the staff gigantes hideaway resort The staff in Gigantes Hideaway is highly hospitable and very accommodating. They attend to your concerns right away and they assign a personal guide in every group. Ours is Nong Joefer, a bubbly, rhetorical tourist guide who is well-versed on the island and is really protective and caring. The personal guides are like your personal butler who cook your own meal and wash your own dishes.

 

The Food

sizzling scallops

The foods are really delicious and fresh! They serve sumptuous meals as promised. I can’t help myself but to utter “WOW” the first time sizzling scallops were served on our table.

crab and lobster

Our lunch during our island hopping was really fantastic. My favourites were served. It’s a crab and lobster meal.

 

baked scallops

Our dinner was delicious as promised too. It’s a heavy meal with Baked Scallops as the queen of the menu.

 

Tip:

If you stay on the island for more than a day, you should bring your own water.

 

The Island Tour

Bantigi Sand Bar Islas de Gigantes

First stop, the Bantigue Sand Bar. It was affected by Typhoon Yolanda but thankfully the sandbar was not totally destroyed. The fine sand is gone and it is already mixed with crashed seashells and some corals.

 

cabugao island gigantes

Cabugao Island is a white beach island with a big pile of rocks on one end and a mountain on the opposite end. This island has fees. It costs 50 per head. We did cliff trekking here.

 

Interview with UNTV

While we were having lunch on this island, we met the UNTV news team and we had an ambush interview with them regarding our experience on the island.

 

The Lagoon Gigantes

Next stop is Lagoon but the locals call it “Tanke.” It’s a nice swimming place. It resembles a water reservoir or a natural swimming pool between the huge rocks in Gigantes Sur. The lagoon is best for swimming especially when the water level is high. The water level goes down during low tide; there’ll be no enough water left in the lagoon for swimming this time. Tourists can also experience natural cliff jumping in the lagoon during high tide.

 

Antonia beach resort

Last stop, Antonia beach resort. It is also a white beach resort in Gigantes Sur and the entrance fee costs 20 pesos per head. You can also rent tables and chairs in this resort if you plan to have lunch there. It’s the best place for snorkelling activity because the corals are still rich and the fishes are vast and big. Though, the bed of coral reefs are partly destroyed because of Typhoon Yolanda but it still holds a variety of fishes, the ones you want to see in the deep.

 

The Bakwitan Cave

bakwitan caveThe Bakwitan Cave is used to be a fortress during Japanese occupation. The previous locals used to hide antique items in there. In the recent years, treasure hunters came at night to find treasures in the cave. The local cave guide said that the treasure hunters unearthed antique jars and vessels from the cave. The big jars were sold to the market for at least 10,000 pesos and the smaller ones were sold for at least 3,000 pesos.

Bakwitan Cave is quite a huge cave. The passages to the center aren’t really that small. At the entrance, the cave measures at around 10 feet and it grows larger when you go deeper into the cave. But when you head to the exit, the cave grows smaller and the passages are really steeper. The inclines are much harder now but the local cave guide will guide you through it more easily.

 

stalactites

Stalactites

stalagmites

Stalagmites

There’s a natural phenomenon going on inside the cave. They are rock formations that look like icicles from the ceiling. They are sparkling when we point the flashlight at them. The ones hanging from the ceiling are called Stalactites, and the ones from the ground are called stalagmites. The Stalactites produce muddy substance. It grows and form another solid rock when the two rocks unite.

 

Islas de Gigantes Island tour Package

  • 3 days/2 nights all in package price: Php 2730 per head
  • The package includes:
  • Passenger boat fare, 2 way
  • Private boat for whole day island hopping on 4-6 islands
  • Island entrance fees
  • 2 nights room accommodations
  • 5 sumptuous meals or family service seafood buffet meals
  • Local cave guide
  • Island guide
  • Motor bike fare for 3 days activity

 

Itinerary or Activity

  • Island hopping
  • Swimming/snorkelling
  • Natural cliff jumping
  • Visit to the lighthouse
  • Watch sunrise or sunset
  • And motor biking

 

How to get there?

Before going to Gigantes, you should ask for a room reservation first in Gigantes Hideaway resort if you don’t want to sleep under the open sky.

From Tagbak, Iloilo, get a Ceres bus or L3 van bound for Estancia, or Roxas to Estancia. When you arrived in the Estancia Bus Terminal, hire a tricycle to Estancia Port. Pay ten pesos to the driver. While in the port, make sure to ask the right people about which boat to get because people might confuse you and you end up riding on the wrong boat just like us. Look for Measul ferry boat bound for Gigantes Norte. It leaves at 1:30 pm every day. To make sure, call sir Joel first (09184685006) and ask whether he will send a guide in the port to meet you or not.

 

Boat ride to Gigantes Norte costs Php 75.00

Name of the passenger boat: Measul

 

Call sir Joel Decano for reservations at 09184685006.

 

Note: The island hopping destinations may vary depending on your guide.

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