Gigantes Islands has always been one of my dream destinations.
The Gigantes Group of Islands, famously called Islas de Gigantes or “Islands of Giants” are a remote group of islands in the northern part of Iloilo in the Philippines that include around 10 islands from the 2 big islands; Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur, and other amazing islets; from the Cabugao Gamay, Pulupandan, Bantigue Sandbar, and the Antonia Beach.
However because of its remote location, the Gigantes Islands in Iloilo is difficult to reach than a lot of traditional tourist destinations in the Philippines. Still, countless travelers manage to visit Isla Gigantes each year.
Thankfully, Las Islas Travel and Tours made my trip easy and hassle-free to visit Carles Iloilo and explore the beautiful islands of Islas de Gigantes.
How to Go to Gigantes Islands
The towns of Carles and Estancia are the main jump-off points, which can be gotten to by land from all significant transport centers in Panay Island including Iloilo, Roxas City, as well as Boracay.
*For this solo trip of mine, I chose to start my Isla Gigantes tour from Carles, Iloilo.
Travel Tip: it’s okay to come from Iloilo City and travel to Carles Port early in the morning to catch the tour which normally starts at 8AM just like what I did. I spent the night in Iloilo City after an evening flight from Davao, then took an early van bound to Carles at 5AM. Travel was swift and hassle free that we arrived in Bancal Port, Carles a little past 7AM.
How to Go to Carles, Iloilo
From Iloilo City
- Ride a bus bound to Carles via Ceres Bus Terminal, located in Tagbak Terminal.
- Ride a Van or Bus bound for Carles and ask the driver to drop you at Bancal Port.
- **Or you can coordinate with Las Islas Travel and Tours for a van sharing that could pick you up in Iloilo from your hotel or accommodation (much cheaper option especially if you’re a solo or couple traveler!)
From Boracay / Malay, Aklan
- Now if you’re in Boracay, and wanted to do a trip in Gigantes Islands in Carles, there are plenty of van bound to Roxas City.
From Roxas City
- Another option is that before you reach the Roxas Airport, you may alight at Lawaan Ceres Transport Terminal and then take the bus going to Estancia and then get off at Balasan where you can now ride a tricycle to Carles.
How to Get to Gigantes Islands
From Bancal Fish port
If you’re heading to Islas de Gigantes, the popular starting point would be at the Bancal Port in Carles. Before you ride the boat, make sure to pay the environmental fee at the tourism office. Travel time from Bancal to Gigantes Islands is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.
Take note that the boat only runs once daily from Bancal to Gigantes Norte Island. It departs Bancal Port at 10 AM and leaves the Island at 2 PM, so we suggest you come at the port early.
Fortunately, those who are availing the tour packages are served special trips by the tour operators at their agreed scheduled time.
What to do in Gigantes Islands?
There are a lot of activities you can do in the island, such as strolling around the coastline, do some island hopping, seeing the old lighthouse as well as to have an outstanding 360 scenic sight of the sea. You can also explore some caves, snorkeling, as well as spelunking too!
Isla Gigantes Island Hopping
A visit to Gigantes is not complete without taking an island hopping tour. Including traveling time, you must allot a minimum of a whole day to check out all the primary sites. Package rates for island-hopping scenic tours differ depending upon the trip operator, sort of boat used, and also the number of passengers in the trip, with bigger groups taking advantage of more affordable rates. My tour was taken cared of by Las Islas Travel and Tours, a DOT accredited agency advocating responsible tourism.
Tangke Salt Water Lagoon
This destination is popular for its outstanding rock formations, and also a swimming area in its shallow waters. It essentially appears like an enchanting swimming pool, and is actually Instagram-worthy. The residents have actually essentially called is as “tangke” or tank as because of the gap among its boulders creating an opening.
Perfect spot where you can swim and snorkel! It’s also possible to camp out on the island here. An island where the shape of the sandbar shifts depending on the current.
This beach is additionally the usual lunch area for most island hopping tours.
At lunch time at Bantigue Island I enjoyed the most the UNLI SCALLOPS!
Aside from the one peso scallops, you can also enjoy steamed oysters locally called wasay-wasay (the local dialect for axe because of its distinct shape). These are pretty good too!
Like the Bantique sandbar, Antonia Beach is the ideal spot where tourists can go snorkeling.
Tables and also chairs are additionally set up under the coconut trees by the beach.
This is also another island good for taking photo ops!
Cabugao Gamay Island
This island is just one of the most photographed islands of the Gigantes Group of Islands.
Cabugao Gamay provides a spectacular view of two sides of the coastline visible from a sight deck constructed in addition to rock developments.
If you want your photo taken with the island’s bird-eye view, you can head over at its view deck.
I actually wished I had visited years ago when the view point was only reachable by climbing on the rocks. However to deal with the increase of tourists, the view point is now reachable by a concrete stairway with wooden handrails. Entrance fee: P50 per head
Pulo Pandan Island
This is the last island we visited before our Gigantes Islands day tour ended. This tiny islet with one tree is considered a resting place of fishermen who go out to sea.
They said right here at Pulo Pandan or Pulupandan, one can get a remarkable view of the sunset.
Where / What to Eat in Gigantes Islands
There are various carinderias or you can buy fresh seafood from the public market. Most island-hopping package tours also include a seafood buffet lunch as part of their offerings just like we had in Las Islas.
Where to Stay in Gigantes Islands:
Rustic resorts can be found in Gigantes Norte Island, the main village where most residents live. Most offer basic accommodations catering to budget-conscious travelers. It’s also possible to camp out in tents at Antonia Beach and Bantigue Island, though it is not really encouraged during peak season because of water scarcity in the island.
Take note that there is no public water line that runs in the islands and fresh water for bathing and personal needs have to be brought in by barrels and containers from the mainland or from island springs and deep wells.
Camping fees usually cost P200/pax for those staying in tents. Electric power is also limited on Gigantes Norte Island and runs at scheduled hours and may be cut-off at night. Some resorts may have generators.
Gigantes Islands Travel Budget
Here, we listed some estimated budget for your Islas de Gigantes tour.
- From Iloilo to Gigantes, van fare (including pick up from hotel) would cost 270 pesos per pax.
- The boat ride from Bancal Port going to Gigantes Norte public boat, plus the environmental fee is for 75 pesos per head. A discounted rate of 60 Pesos is available for Students, PWD’s and Senior Citizens (with ID).
Boat Rental Rates
- Small Boat – P3,500 good for 1-10 persons
- Medium Boat – P5,000 good for 11-15 persons
- Big Boat – P6,000 good for 16-30 persons
Tours and Fees
- If you are getting your own boat for the Isla Gigantes tour, you also need to pay your tour guide for 500 pesos. Remember to bring some cash with you too, as there is no ATM machines near the área.
- Shower areas – for guests on a day tour, they have shower rooms for you to change into dry clothes available in Bancal port for a 20php fee.
Entrance Fees in Gigantes Islands
- Cabugao Gamay Island – Entrance fee: P50 per head
- Antonia Beach – Entrance fee: P40 her head
- Tangke Saltwater Lagoon – Entrance fee: P20/head
Gigantes Islands Tour Itinerary
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||2-Way Van Transfer Iloilo-Carles – P250 x 2
1 Island Hopping Day Tour from Las Islas Travel and Tours – P999
Total – P1,499/person
Island Hopping Day Tour Inclusion
Seafood lunch buffet
|SAMPLE ITINERARY||Day 1
0400 Wake Up
|CONTACT INFO||Accredited Tour Coordinator
Las Islas Travel and Tours
Carles Tourism Office
Gigantes Islands Tour Operator
Gigantes Islands Tour Package for 999 ONLY!
Because of the multiple transfers involved, for groups that want hassle-free travel, it may be more convenient to avail of the services of a tour operator. I highly recommend Las Islas Travel & Tours, a DOT-accredited travel agency advocating responsible tourism. They’re also the first travel agency to offer tour packages in Gigantes Islands before it became so popular.
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There you have it adventurers! Gigantes Islands is surely on its way to being one of the country’s top tourists destinations but I hope it stays the way it is in the years to come.
Let me know what you think about this paradise. Comment your questions, suggestions and violent reactions.
If you found this post interesting or has helped you out in any way, let me know on the comment as well. Don’t forget to share this post. Until next time, adventurers!