Try one of the best things to do in Iloilo—go islandhopping in Gigantes Islands! What comprises the Gigantes Group of Islands? When should you schedule your trip? What are the best routes going to Gigantes Islands? What can you look forward to on your Gigantes Islands tour? Learn about these things and more in this handy Iloilo travel guide. It’s time to get started!
Year after year, the province of Iloilo attracts local and international tourists alike. Gifted with nature’s beauty, Iloilo is where you’ll find some of the Philippines’ most captivating white sand beaches and islands. Topping the list is Gigantes Islands, a group of islands that are spread out across the town of Carles in Northern Iloilo.
Also known as Islas de Gigantes, this group of islands is the site of mystical caverns, secluded beaches, rock formations, and long stretches of sandbars that make it the top tourist spot in all of Iloilo. Gigantes Islands is also the place to have a satisfying feast of your favorite seafood!
Best Time to Go to Gigantes Islands
Gigantes Islands tours are available all year long, giving you a wide range of travel options. Still, you have to consider that islandhopping activities are best during dry and summer months, which run from November to May. Since typhoons around these months are rare, you don’t have to worry about weather-related problems that might spoil your visit to the island. Then if you have time to spare getting to and around the island, you may be able to catch a couple of festivals in Iloilo City that take place on the first few months of the year.
How to Get to Gigantes Islands
If you’re coming from Manila, Cebu, Davao, CDO, Puerto Princesa, Hong Kong, or Singapore, you can take a direct flight with Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific going to the Iloilo International Airport in Iloilo City.
Here’s how to go from Iloilo City to Gigantes Islands:
- Ride a taxi going to Tagbak Terminal in Jaro District.
- From Tagbak Terminal, ride a Ceres Liner bus or commuter van bound to Carles. By bus, your travel time may take 3 to 4 hours, whereas traveling by van may take 2 ½ hours.
- Get off at Bancal Port in the town of Carles, where you’ll be riding an outrigger boat to head to Gigantes Islands. Travel time is approximately 1 ½ hours.
From Manila, you can also reach Gigantes Islands via direct flights to Roxas Airport in Roxas City, Capiz. Since Carles is only about 1 ½ hours away from Roxas City, you’ll be able to cut down your travel time going to Gigantes Islands.
Here’s how to go from Roxas City to Gigantes Islands:
- Take a Ceres bus located at Pueblo de Panay Terminal going to the town of Estancia.
- Alight at Balasan town and ride a tricycle going to Carles.
- Proceed to Bancal Port and hop on a pump boat, which will then take you to Gigantes Islands.
Where to Stay in Gigantes Islands
You’ll need at least a day to see the main attractions of Gigantes Islands, which makes a day tour ideal in certain situations.
However, if you’re planning to stay for a few more days at the island, you can always book a hotel or resort nearby such as the Solina Beach and Nature Resort located in Carles, near Bancal Port. Just take time to visit their website first or read customer reviews to know if they have the amenities you need.
Alternatively, you can camp in any of the two beaches at Antonia Beach—a popular lunch stopover for guests of islandhopping tours.
What to Eat in Gigantes Islands
The highlight of any Gigantes Islands tour is indulging in fresh seafood. It’s an absolute must-try to feast on buckets of scallops, best experienced during an island-hopping tour in Antonia Beach or Bantigue Sandbar. Aside from the scallops, you can enjoy steamed crabs and rock oysters locally known as wasay-wasay. The best part is you don’t have to shell out a large sum of money since the scallops are sold for as low as PHP1.00 each, and most islandhopping tours include a seafood buffet lunch as part of their package.
What to Expect in the Tour
An island hopping tour in Gigantes Islands is the perfect chance for you to visit these charming destinations:
- Cabugao Gamay Island
Despite its small size, this island is famous for several reasons, including its elongated shape with thick flora on one end and some cool rock formations on the other end. You can take a dip, or lie down on the white sandbar located in the middle of the island for a relaxing island experience. Cabugao Gamay is also known as the selfie island, so don’t miss the chance to go up the viewpoint and have your picture taken with a beautiful view of the island in the background.
- Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
This is Gigantes Islands’ natural pool quietly tucked behind towering limestone cliffs. Waters crashing on the cliffs during high tide or when there are typhoons are what formed this lagoon.
- Bantigue Island Sandbar
With its long powdery white sandbar, Bantigue Island makes for another swimming or sunbathing spot. Also here, you can have a sumptuous lunch buffet with the menu’s highlights including cheaply priced scallops and dishes made from fresh seafood.
- Tinagong Dagat
Translated to “hidden beach” in English, this secluded area has been compared to Boracay Island because of its fine, white sand. There are also small cliffs from where you can jump off straight into the beach’s crystal clear waters.
- Antonia Beach
The most distinguishable feature you’ll see on this island is the large boulders neatly piled on top of one another along the beach shores. Antonia Beach is also famous for serving fresh seafood for lunch as part of your Gigantes Islands tour.
- Pulupandan Islet
Once you see a lone coconut tree standing in the center of this small island, then it means you’ve reached Pulupandan Islet. The beach has a rocky shore, so it’s probably best to just enjoy the view instead of going swimming here.
Gigantes Islands is on a remote location, so expect weak phone or internet signals. ATMs and convenience stores are also scarce, so it may be best to bring enough cash and other travel essentials with you before heading to the islands.
Use your life vest and follow your tour guide’s safety instructions. Last but not least, do your share in promoting ecotourism by leaving Gigantes Islands clean and safe for other tourists as well as the locals.
While you’re in Iloilo, you may want to go on a side trip to check out what neighboring areas and provinces have to offer.
- Explore Iloilo City’s Top Attractions
For a taste of Iloilo’s cultural and historical heritage, you can stop by centuries-old churches and ancestral homes like the Jaro Cathedral, Miagao Church, Molo Church, Molo Mansion, and Casa Mariquit.
See colonial-era architecture along Calle Real, or take a stroll along Iloilo River Esplanade before capping the night off at restaurants and bars along the Smallville complex. Don’t forget to sample La Paz Batchoy and other homegrown dishes in the Iloilo cuisine, too.
- Discover the Seafood Capital Roxas City
Since Iloilo is in a strategic location in the Western Visayas region, you can use it as a jump-off point going to Roxas City—the seafood capital of the Philippines—located in the province of Capiz. Go on a heritage and seafood tour to explore Roxas City’s museums, churches, and dried fish market, plus the Baybay Beach which is the perfect spot to end your day in Capiz.