Thinking of what to do for your vacation? Let me introduce to you Isla de Gigantes in Carles Iloilo.  I have been there last weekend and I should say if you are looking for a variety of adventures, Gigantes is what you are looking for. Isla de Gigantes is one of the most popular tourist destinations not only for Filipinos but the echo of it being a dream destination has reach other countries already. Locals and international tourists are continuously increasing despite the destructions brought about by Haiyan Typhoon (Typhoon Yolanda). Now how to get and what to do there? Allow me to share with you our itinerary good for 3 days and 2 nights. Given the fact that it is located in the northern most part of Iloilo and with limited accessibility allotting 3 days and 2 nights is just enough. If you are coming from any point outside Iloilo or the province of Panay, book a flight to Iloilo. From time to time check for flight promos, it is always better to save if you are not in hurry. If you are living in nearby provinces, take a bus or a ferry ride going to Iloilo. When you reach Iloilo, take a Leganes jeepney in front of SM City or take a taxi and asked to be dropped off at Tagbac Terminal where buses await going to Estancia. There are two ways how to get there: by going directly to Carles or through Estancia. Estancia is the more common route. It is always good to have a contact person to ask for more details. We had someone from the Tourism office of Isla de Gigantes who helped us out. Contact Person: Mr. Joel Decano (Tourism Officer) – 09184685006 or check out the official facebook account: Isla Gigantes II email: isla.gigantes@yahoo.com   Day 1   6:30 AM – 7:00 AM Travel to Tagbac Terminal: We took a cab from Diversion Road near University of the Philippines Iloilo City Campus (Php 150.00). You can also take a jeepney: Leganes jeepney to Jaro Tagbac Terminal (Php 10.00).   7:00 AM – 11:00 AM Bus Ride from Tagbac Terminal to Estancia Terminal: There are buses going to Estancia every 2 hours starting at 5AM. The air conditioned bus is available at 9AM. If you are after comfort, I highly suggest the air conditioned bus. Yes, it is more expensive, but there are less stop-overs, and you can save an hour. Aircon Bus: Php152.oo,  Aircon Bus: Php 200.00   11 AM – 11:10 AM Estancia Terminal to Estancia Port (via tricycle – Php 12.00) 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Estancia Port to Isla De Gigantes There are two trips only everyday for the passenger boat going to Isla de Gigantes: 9am and 1pm. We waited from 11 am to 1pm, I suggest you grab a bite while waiting because it is going to be a long trip going to the island. (heads up: the passenger boat is also a cargo boat. It is not the most comfortable boat but it is the cheapest way to get there otherwise you have to rent a boat for Php 1500.00.)

20140510-IMG_408720140510-IMG_408920140512-IMG_4465   3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Arrival at Isla de Gigantes Habal habal ride (motorcycle) to Gigantes Hideaway Inn. (Php 10.00) We settled in. Unfortunately it was a weekend, so the place was full. Instead of a room, we got a tent, but with the weather that weekend, the tent placed facing the beach, was the perfect place to spend the night. The fresh air and the ocean breeze is just so relaxing. 20140510-IMG_410920140510-IMG_4108 TRAVEL TIP: It is best to travel with a big group. You will save a lot especially for the island hopping. If you happen t be travelling alone or with a partner, it is good to mingle with others and join the group. It’s a win-win. You will save a lot and meet new friends. My partner in crime Kevin and I merged with 6 more new friends, making our group a group of 8.   The Hideaway Inn A very laid back place with cottages, bungalow houses and tents to accommodate their guest. For as low as Php 100.00, you can already have a place to stay for a night. The staff is really accommodating, although there is lack in urgency, there are very friendly and helpful. While settling in we also arranged a package for our stay: 20140511-IMG_443620140510-IMG_4115 Meals: Dinner                                     Php 150.00 Breakfast                                Php   50.00 * we had lunch On one of the islands Dinner                                     Php 150.00   Accommodation:                    1st night (tent)                          Php 100.00 2nd night (room)                      Php 200.00   Island hopping (4 Islands)   fixed price Php 2000/8                Php 250.00 Entrance fees for the islands                                                    Php 70.00 Motor rides (8 ways)                                                                   Php 80.00   Caving  with 2 guides                             Php 200.00/8           Php 50.00 Boat rental going back to Estancia Php 1500.00/8                Php 187.50 We were in a hurry and we could not wait for the 9am trip so we rented the boat. If you want to take your time, the passenger boat will cost you only Php 80.00 going back to Estancia port. You can always arrange a package that will suit you or your group best. The one in charge is very approachable and accommodating –  Miss Joyce of Hideaway Inn. We were assigned with one tour guide, who is in charge of us for our entire stay – Jed. Jed prepares our meals and arranges all our trips and rides.   1st stop: The Lighthouse 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM It was already late to go island hopping so we visited the light house instead. There is no entrance fee but they accept donations for the maintenance. If you arrive earlier, I highly suggest you go caving first at around 3pm- 5pm then to the light house there after so that you can have the entire day the following day at the beach. 20140510-IMG_412820140510-IMG_4132 Back at the Inn 8:00 PM Dinner with the new Gigantes gang. We had scallops and squid for dinner. We prepared for the island hopping, had a mini acquaintance party under the Talisay tree and we ended up singing at a KTV nearby. We slept before 12 am and had a good night sleep.   Day 2 Woke up at 5 in the morning and caught a glimpse of the Rayleigh Scattering- the blue and red hues in the sky normally seen a little bit before sunrise and after sunset. I was facing the beach, from my tent and behold the horizon which was just breath taking. It was one of the best sights I have ever seen upon waking up.  20140511-IMG_4199 Breakfast 7:00 AM We had sweet fish tocino, dried fish and egg for breakfast. The fish tocino is a must try!   Island hopping, Caving and Swimming 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM 1st stop: Tangke. A saltwater lagoon hidden behind the very steep cliffs of Isla de Gigantes. And if there is a daredevil in you, you should not miss out the cliff diving just at the entrance of Tangke 20140511-IMG_422920140511-IMG_423020140511-IMG_4283   2nd stop: Cabugao Gamay Island. It used to be filled with Cabugao trees thus it was called as such. Bring your snorkelling apparatus with you, as fishes and corals await you here.  The white sand beach and emerald green water here is perfect for selfies and swimming. The best part is the tedious climbing up of the rock and have your picture taken with the entire island as your back ground. The view from the top is just picturesque. 20140511-IMG_4333   3rd stop: Antonia Island. It is known to be a good place for snorkelling, unfortunately we were too hungry when we got there that we just ate lunch as soon as landing on the island. Aside from the packed lunch we brought, we ordered steamed Wasay,(wasay is a Hiligaynon word for axe. The shape of the shell is similar to that of an axe that is why is it called as such)very similar to oyster and equally delicious. 20140511-IMG_4356   4th stop: The Bantigue Sandbar. A good place to swim too but we focused more on our jump shots and more photo shoots here, you can also go snorkelling here but I think Cabugao and Antonia offer better sites. 20140511-IMG_436220140511-IMG_4374 5th stop: Bakwitan Cave.  We went back to the main land, left our stuff at the inn and went directly to the cave. It is no ordinary cave! I tell you. You have to go all the way in – the most exciting part is going out of the cave. It’s dangerous but doable. As much as I would want to go into details I might be robbing you the thrill and the fun.   6th stop – Pasil.  The beach in the main land. We felt like we did not have enough of the beach so we asked the locals if there is some place where we can swim. It was not part of the package so we added Php 60.00 for the motorcycle ride back and forth. Too bad, it was damaged by the typhoon but still it was not bad. Back to the Inn, Dinner 7:00 PM  We took a rest, settled in our new room and waited for dinner. We had sweet and sour fish, scallops, grilled squid for dinner. We ended the day scanning our pictures. Some of us had a few drinks and since we were all pretty exhausted and satisfied with our trip we dozed off early. 20140511-IMG_444220140511-IMG_444420140510-IMG_4187   Day 3 6:00 AM We had to leave early since most of us had to work and had to go back to school. We rented a boat and went back to Estancia port.   8:00 AM In Estancia, we did our last minute shopping for dried seafood, Estancia’s specialty, and we bought our brunch and decided to eat our lunch inside the bus. 20140512-IMG_447020140512-IMG_447120140512-IMG_4472   9:00 AM – 12:00 PM We were in luck to ride the air conditioned bus. We ate our packed lunch and slept for 3 hours. At 12 we arrived Tagbak Terminal and had to say good bye to our new friends.   *Heads up: There is no signal for cellular phones in Gigantes, the last chance you can have a good conversation through text or call with another person is at Estancia. It is better to let your family know about the situation so that they will understand why it is impossible to keep in touch with you.

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