Have you heard about Gigantes Island? My guess is… maybe.
There is more to discover in the Philippines than going to Boracay. Not that we have anything against the popular spot, this is to offer variety for visitors who opt for a peaceful and more in tune with nature option compared to partying by the beach.
That’s why we are glad when frequent traveler,Cherrie, proposed to share her experience about her recent trip to Gigantes Island, located in Iloilo province. To give you a quick background, Gigantes Island (or Islas de Gigantes) sits in a quiet town of Carles and Estanciain the northeastern part of Iloilo. If your dream vacation is composed of immaculate beaches, hidden pools and trekking activities in an unspoiled location, then this one is for you!
So, here’s her story:
My college friends and I decided to go on a weekend getaway. We are looking for a place where we can simply unwind and be close to nature. No drinks, no party, just a clean and fun girl’s weekend escapade. After weeks of searching, we found Gigantes Island and it proved to be a perfect location! Why? This is the closest that we can get to a simple island life. And for us urban dwellers, a break from the city chaos is very much welcomed.
We have paid roughly Php 4000 pesos each (3 pax) for the trip, covering accommodation, tour, food and a private boat. A pretty good deal indeed!
On our first day, we were welcomed with a sumptuous lunch at Bolobadiangan Island. The choices were mostly seafood. If you are not a big fan of fishes and shrimps, I suggest you plan in advance or bring your own food for there are only limited choices in the island for meat lovers.
We stayed in a humble nipa hut with basic amenities. Electricity in the island only runs between 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm so be sure to get your devices to full battery life or pack up a power bank! However, no need to charge your phone much, for there is literally ONE spot on the island (ironically named the “Call Center”) where you can have signal.
I recommend you to check out the ruins of a lovely Spanish-colonial lighthouse, the Gigantes Norte Lighthouse. The station was built in 1895 and the lighthouse was a replacement from the original one, destroyed by the typhoon in 2008. The current lighthouse is solar powered and a bit of hard work to climb the stairs is surely rewarded with a magnificent view of the island.
Our first island stop is Bantigue Island Sandbar. The island is only accessible by boat from the resort. Get ready for pure relaxation and have your camera ready as you savor the stretch of white sand beach in the middle of the ocean. Do not forget your camera!
Cabugao Gamay Island was our 2nd stop. It can also be reached only by boat. The island has a noticeably unusual shape and has interesting rock formations. Lush greens are also evident. The emerald green water is irresistible for a dip.
Our third stop was a beautiful sight of Tangke Lagoon, a natural saltwater pool hidden behind the steep cliffs. According to the locals, the place is surrounded by mystic creatures who serves as the caretaker of the island. The approximate time to reach the place by boat is 1 hour.
What is the best way to unwind after the steep climb? Jump right into the water of course! I’ve been doing this for quite some time and this is just 25 feet high, but the feeling here was different, seeing those uneven rocks that with one wrong move or step, will probably end up poof! So I braced myself… And so I jumped!
Fourth stop at Antonia Beach, known as the snorkeling and chilling area of Gigantes. There are no resorts in the area and can only be reached by boat. Do not forget to bring water and a few snacks if you wish to spend a few hours of pure bliss.
Our last activity was the Bakwitan Cave. This natural pothole served as a refuge for numerous local citizen during the war. Several ancient coffins with mummified remains can still be observed in the cave. Surprisingly, the area was also used as an evacuation center after Typhoon Hayan (Filipino name: Yolanda) in 2013, where 200 families have stayed. We were also informed that in this caving and trekking activity, we will encounter 3 obstacles (mostly some crawling, spelunking, and steep up/downhill). We were challenged to take an EXIT, meaning…there’s no going back and we must finish the whole trail or get stuck there. Quite motivating, to say the least!
Finally! We were able to reach the peak! ? We’re 200 ft. high, enjoying another breathtaking viewpoint, appreciating the nature amidst a quite tough half-way trail, before we start to trek down.
I would say that Gigantes Island definitely is a fantastic place to spend a weekend. I
Do you have a travel story that you would like to share? Send us a message!
All photos credited to Cherrie F.