Our greatest adventure thus far was realized in Islas de Gigantes. This quaint and small getaway place is full of surprises. We’ve never felt this much closer to nature and we give credit to their tourism officer and our contact person – Joel de Cano.
We’ve seen Islas de Gigantes being featured on TV’s Living Asia Channel and Amazing Planet. We’ve also read a lot of blog posts about the place. Well, they all say the same thing – it’s back to basics when you’re in Islas de Gigantes. We definitely felt that, but at the same time we can’t help but notice how convenient it is to go all around the island and Gigantes Hideaway Inn (which is more like a resort) has a generator of its own. So, these days, you won’t have any problem at all sleeping at night since the electric fan and light fixtures are all working until the morning.
Our main intent was actually to explore the islands and to eat scallops and other seafoods there. We must have lowered our expectations that time, because when we finally captured the essence of Islas de Gigantes, we were quite delighted that it offered way more than what we initially bargained for. It’s hard to even express how truly happy we are; Joel de Cano and the rest of his staff made us feel so special and loved.
On our first night, we already arranged for our island hopping scheduled the next day. They told us it’s P2,000 at first, but when we haggled they gave us the go signal at P1,800 since there were just the two of us after all. We had an extraordinary dinner that night of scallops (cooked in every way imaginable), fish and squid. It gave us a taste of how blessed they are over there at Barangay Asluman in Islas De Gigantes (Gigantes Norte). We even considered settling there in the near future when we have enough money to do so. But for now, that will remain to be a dream.
We woke up the next day feeling refreshed. There was an orange glow that permeated our nipa hut, it was sunrise outside. Amazing view of a small patch of white sand beach, rising water, mangrove trees and a couple of islets in the horizon. That is the view from our nipa hut accommodation by the beach. We really recommend this spot outside of the Gigantes Hideaway Inn compound.
Gigantes Hideaway Inn
We didn’t expect much, like we said, but when we finally reached this location by way of a motorbike, we were so impressed. We don’t know where to begin for there’s so much positive vibe in this location. It’s like, anything you desire to order, it’s right there in an instant. The service is always amazing, if not incredible. We’ve never seen a more motivated bunch of people who are ready to serve you and give you your money’s worth and more.
Our P280 Dinner
Presentation by our Islas de Gigantes bestfriend / butler / tour guide Jofer. We miss you already! Below is our well-presented feast of scallops, fish and squid!
Scallops are so cheap at Islas de Gigantes. We saw scallop vendors selling them cleaned at P120 / kilo. We were so blown away by the price!
Our Nipa Hut Accommodation by the Beach (P200/head)
The following day we were excited to go on an island hopping, a good reason why we woke up at around 5am to catch the sunset, drink coffee and eat breakfast (of leftover scallops from the night prior).
Islas de Gigantes Island Hopping
Scallops, friendly people and beautiful islands – that’s what Islas de Gigantes is all about. Without further ado, allow us to show you how indescribably perfect they are. We just had the best experience there. No further comments!
This is a saltwater lagoon and it’s best to go there early at around 8am when the tide is high, so that this natural pool would fill up as well on the inside. You need not worry, they have already crafted bamboo pathways there. There is an entrance of P30 per person, but our tour guide Jofer is popular there, so we didn’t have to pay at all. This lagoon is surrounded by steep limestone rock formations. There might be monkeys straying in the area if you’re lucky. We didn’t spot any though, during our stay there. But nonetheless, the clear and turquoise water of Tangke really made our day. It was like a swimming pool with white sandy bottom.
We were also informed by Jofer that the nearby island of Sicogon and this lagoon were the sites where the classic Filipino movie “Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa” was filmed.
This could be a sea slug – until further notice.
Cabugao Gamay Island
The very cool thing about this island is that they have different water conditions. If the other side is wavy, the opposite side is calm and vice versa. It’s named from a Cabugao plant. That’s what Jofer told us. There’s a big rocky mountain there that is a bit tricky to climb. If ever you reach the top, it provides a beautiful aerial picture of this heavenly spot. Entrance fee is P20 / head. Do not forget to pay.
At the Top of the Rocky Mountain of Cabugao Gamay island
Cabugao Gamay Island Underwater
This is where we spent lunch. P90 pesos for two pieces of crabs, then P100 for the fish, rice and ice cubes. We bought the two bottles of 8 oz Coke on the island for P20 / each plus P20 / head entrance fee, so a total of P270 for everything.
Beach and Underwater Views
This long stretch of white sandy beach is only visible during low tide. We’ve never seen any beach here in the Philippines this fine, we swear by this. We love this place so much and we somehow have a special connection with this romantic hideaway.
There are cool rock formations about the area and sometimes monkeys are also spotted there.
Some Kind of Puffer Fish or “Loku-loku“ in the Vernacular
Spotted this bigger puffer fish first. It was very cooperative and sometimes even posed for the camera.
This picture made us feel proud for it looks as if the supposed mother puffer fish was reunited with its young.
Our final stop was Bantigue sandbar. This came last because it’s much more beautiful during low tide. This place is good enough for picture taking and a brief snorkeling experience, since there aren’t a lot of corals and fish species here.
Catching the Sunset at Gigantes Sur
Our Last Dinner at Islas de Gigantes
Baked scallops plus rice for only P120 total cost.
How to Get to Islas de Gigantes
Before you even plan on going there, please contact the tourism officer of Carles - Joel de Cano (to check if you can be accommodated at Gigantes Hideaway Inn). His cellphone number is: +639184685006.
From Manila, depending on your itinerary you may fly to Roxas City in Capiz (where Estancia Port is only 1.5 hours away by van) or Ilo-ilo City which is 2.5 hours away from Estancia.
From the Airport
From the Airport, you may take a cab to Tagbak Terminal or just ride the shuttle going to Jaro plaza then ride a jeep going to Tagbak terminal for P10 only. There are two options. Ceres bus to Carles or a van going to Estancia.
From Tagbak Terminal to Estancia
Since we were running short on time, we took a cab going to Tagbak terminal and we spent P130 pesos. Then we boarded an empty van (which turned out to be a bad idea). They don’t follow any schedule and would wait until the van fills up. But if you see the van is nearly full, take a chance and hop on it right away. But if you’re the first one to step in, then chances are you’ll be waiting for 30 minutes to a full hour.
Buses take longer in transit time, but they are very consistent. Around 3 hours of travel time to Estancia.
From Estancia Terminal to Estancia Feeder Port
Once in Estancia, immediately ride a tricycle. The driver will wait for it to be full before driving off. Fare is only P10.
Estancia Feeder Port to Islas de Gigantes
Boats going to Islas de Gigantes leave at around 2pm. So make sure to contact Joel de Cano first.
When we alighted at the Estancia Feeder Port, somehow Joel de Cano was out of network coverage. We saw a pump boat that has left the dock and we were told that it’s going to Islas de Gigantes. So we yelled at the boatmen to fetch us. They didn’t go back to the docking area, instead they connected the nose of their boat to the back of another boat that was docked. We were then walking on a narrow plank and ended up on their boat.
It was a blessing in disguise since we learned that the original pump boat (St. Michael) going directly to Gigantes North was under repair. So, we were just in time to catch its replacement (Rommel1), however will unload precious cargo at Gigantes Sur. It took them 2 hours or so to do this. On the bright side, we were able to see Gigantes Sur in its entirety. It was very taxing though and we arrived at Gigantes Norte at around 6 PM.
Single motorcycle from the docking area going to Gigantes Hideaway Inn is P10 / head.
As soon as you arrive in Gigantes Hideaway Inn, look for Jofer!
Cellphone #: +639199739477