Say no more. You had me at Scallops Capital of the Philippines. But aside from its enticing mollusk treats, Islas de Gigantes is making waves by being one of the country’s most beautiful group of islands. And I had to see it to believe.
Our travel to Gigantes Island was one of the longest (and most tiring) travels of my life. And that is coming from a girl who travels for a living.
This is how our 3-day itinerary went down:
6am ferry from Bacolod to Iloilo (ETA 0715)
15 mins Taxi ride from Iloilo port to Tagbak terminal
3.5 hours from Tagbak terminal to Estancia terminal
10 minutes tricycle ride from Estancia terminal to Estancia port
2 hours boat trip from Estancia to Gigantes island ( commuter boat leaves before 1pm, once daily)
(And because it was low tide, a smaller boat had to pick us up from the ferry and took us to the shore)
2 minutes habal-habal ride from the Gigantes shoreline to Gigantes Hideaway Resort
ETA just before 4pm Whew!
Gigantes Island Hopping Tour Yaaay!
7am breakfast in the hotel
8am check out
9am commuter boat leaves Gigantes Island for Estancia
11am ETA in Estancia
1130 am Lunch at Estancia port
10 minutes tricycle ride to Estancia terminal
3.5 hours van ride from Estancia to Tagbak
Merienda in Roberto’s in Iloilo (best siopao ever)
5pm ferry from Iloilo to Bacolod Whew!
Island Hopping Tour Includes:
Antonia White Sand Beach
Cabugao Island (most photographed island in Gigantes group of islands)
Lunch at Bulobadiang Island (Gigantes Hideaway Resort Extension)
Note: the tour includes the lighthouse on Day 1 and the caves in Day 2. However because we’re lame (and tired) , we skipped the light house on day 1. Skipped the caves on day 2, also because we wanted to spend more time on the beach. Tanning trumps caves in my book.
Scallop shells everywhere! Too pretty!
How to get there:
2 Main jump off points to Gigantes island: Carles (5-6 hrs from Iloilo) and Estancia (3-4 hrs from Iloilo).
From Roxas, it takes 2-3 hrs to Estancia.
From Kalibo, transfer to Roxas (travel time is 1 hour).
From Bacolod, another option is RORO (slow ferry) to Dumangas port and travel to Baratoc Nuevo to catch a bus to Estancia. You make also bring your private vehicle via RORO and park your car in Estancia port. We were informed it safe since they close the gates in the port at night. You may inquire more about this before taking the RORO.
From Manila, the fastest way would be flying to Roxas City.
The travel was tough, took 12 hours in total. I’m not gonna lie, I might’ve broken one vertebrae in my spine while sitting on those wooden chairs for 2 hours on that boat—along with I would say a hundred people when the boat looks like it can only hold fifty.
But I’m also not gonna lie, it was one beautiful adventure. Sure, Cabugao island was really as pretty as how it seems on Instagram. However, that was not the highlight of my trip. The locals stole my heart. They are kind, happy and contented. If only the whole world could learn from them. I just wanted to live there, eat seafood all day while I make my scallop shell handicrafts. Now, if only there was cell signal…I also liked that the island was not “commercialized” yet. Gigantes is starting to achieve its fame via social media, and that may be good for tourism and for the livelihood of the locals, but I’d like to remember Gigantes like how I experienced it. Pure. Genuine. Pristine.
Lunch is served! Feast on seafood and surprise, scallops all day, errday. Yum! But I have to admit, I did go on an all pork and vegetable binge as soon as I got back to the city.
- There is no cellular signal on the island. You may take the habal-habal and go to what they call the “Cell Site”, the only place in the main island where there’s signal. Cabugao island also has cell signal. No WIFI anywhere, too.
- Tap water is safe to drink, however tastes a little sour. So if you’re fussy about your water, bring your own supply. Or you can buy at the resort.
- Electricity runs on scheduled hours. They turn it on late in the afternoon (around 5pm, i think) then switch it off on 11pm. Our hotel has a generator however it fluctuates, so the AC might not work as efficiently as how you’d want it to.
- If you’re allergic to seafood (tough luck) bring your own medication or bring your own food.
- There are no hospitals in the main island, the closest one is in Estancia, which is 2 hours away by boat. So utmost care to your health is important.
Gigantes Hideaway Resort is the highly recommended accommodation in Gigantes island. It’s not a luxury hotel, but it’s the best in the island. And they definitely know how to take good care of you. Contact: +63 918 468 5006 / +63 915 579 6612
Package Rates (as of March 2017) :
3D2N ( commuter boat)
6pax – P 2485
5pax – P 2595
4pax – P 2810
3pax- P 2965
2pax – P 3665
1 pax – P 4360
3D2N ( private boat )
6 pax – P 3705
5 pax – P 3250
4 pax – P 3650
3 pax – P4215
2 pax – P5200
(2D1N and 4D3N packages are also available upon request, or you may also do a DIY trip)
Note: if you’d like to be comfortable and to be more flexible with your time, I suggest you take the private boat that will take you to and from Estancia/ Carles and will also be the same boat that will take you on your island hopping
Bulobadiang island Cabugao IslandOne peso scallops in Antonia island!Tangke LagoonBantigue Sandbar
Gigantes, you are one stunning surprise. Don’t you ever change.