Iloilo wasn’t a random option at all for my next destination. Because two summers ago I’ve heard about Islas de Gigantes and its wonders. I have probably read all the blogs and articles about the island. I was kind of became obsessed about it that this summer I had to summon all my willpower to make this trip happen… even if I go on my own!

Islas de Gigantes can be reached via Iloilo airport then boarding a Ceres bus with an Estancia signboard. The bus trip approximately takes 3.5 hours. (There is also an option to land in the nearest airport at Roxas City— bus to Estancia is approximately less than 2 hours away or if you’re adventurous, Gigantes Island is 4 hours away by motorized boat from the island of Bantayan, Cebu). Once you reach Estancia bus terminal, ask the tricycle driver to bring you to Estancia port. In my case, I asked kuya driver to drop me off at a convenience store first to buy supplies (water, chips, and biscuits) and then after, I asked to be dropped off at kuya driver’s recommended karenderya where I can eat my brunch. He pointed me to a karenderya near the entrance gate of the port.

As the boats bound to Gigantes Island only have 1 trip a day, you need to be at the Estancia port before 12nn— the boat leaves the mainland between 1pm-2pm daily. There are a lot of passenger boats (capacity 30- 50 passengers) going to the islands; apparently, each barangay has at least 1 boat and the town of Carles where Gigantes islands belong has a lot of barangays. So, at the passenger terminal, ensure to inform the tourist helpdesk on-duty of your destination so you’d know the right boat to board.

The blogs I’ve read said Hideaway inn at Asluman, Gigantes Norte offers good accommodation. I asked the locals who were in the passenger terminal for info and directions as well as where to secure my bed for 2 nights. Luckily, a kindly man in the name of Kuya Bebot happened to be in the area. He works as a tour guide in one of the resorts and he offered to help me. Right there and then I felt secure and I started to relax a bit. I already anticipated that I would pay higher than the usual share in a group package rate but as it turned out, Kuya Bebot and the resort owner customized everything so I would only pay less. 🙂

We reached Asluman, Gigantes Norte around 5pm. There were habal habal motorcycles waiting at the beach but we opted to walk as Las Marias Island Resort is just a few houses away. The resort is simple, clean and the staff was attentive they immediately offered me a welcome drink. The room they housed me for 2 nights is big. It was a fan room with own toilet and bath and it could fit 5 people— they gave it to me for Php200/night! The sun was still up and Kuya Bebot asked me if I will do caving (told him my body is sore from yesterday’s mountain climb). I can not immediately say NO without checking how difficult the cave path is. So off I went caving! Turned out Bakwitan cave has a spacious opening but I had to decline exploring until exit since I can’t anymore lift my legs! Bummer. Immediately after dinner, I retired for the night.

My day started as early as 4:30 am to catch the sunrise at the lighthouse. Sounds just like in the movies, right? Climbing the lighthouse isn’t open to tourists but since I got the best guide, I got a front view seat to a beautiful sunrise.

After breakfast, we were set for a day of island hopping.

Bantigue Island Sandbar

Cabugao Gamay Island

Tangke Lagoon

Secret Jacuzzi

Antonia Island

To end my day, I arranged for a massage. It was very relaxing my muscles were again ready for the remaining days of my travel series!  The next day, I was up at 7 am to settle my bills. Right after breakfast, it was time for me to leave the island. The boat to Estancia mainland only has 1 schedule trip daily that departs at 8:30 am.

Here’s the actual itinerary and the costs incurred

Day 2-4: Islas de Gigantes 
Day 2: Feb 28, Sunday 
4:15AM5:30AMManila- Iloilo flight via PAL                      1,750.00
6:00 AM6:30 AMIloilo airport to Tagbac bus terminal via taxi. I met 3 girls going to Tagbac terminal I agreed to split the Php400 plug down taxi rate with them  (alternative transport: ride the airport van at P50 to Iloilo SM; then ride a jeepney to Tagbac terminal at P8)

                          100.00

6:45AM10:15AMIloilo to Estancia terminal

                          152.00

10:15 AM10:40 AMEstancia terminal to port via tricycle (tricycle leaves when full- with 6 seats to fill at P10 each) 20.00
  supplies (water, biscuits, chips)                          178.00
  lunch

                             55.00

1:40pm4:40PMEstancia to Gigantes Norte via Argie passenger boat

                             85.00

4:40 PM5:00 PMwalk from lantsa port to Las Marias resort 
5:15 PM6:00 PMBakwitan cave tour guide fee

                          200.00

7:00 PM8:00 PMdinner

                          150.00

8:30 PM lights off 
  ** Electricity is only from 3pm-11pm. It is VERY IMPORTANT you charge all batteries and power banks 
  Subtotal Day 1

                      2,685.00

Day 2: Feb 29, Monday 
5:00 AM7:00 AMsunrise at the lighthouse 
  habal habal motor (roundtrip)

                          100.00

7:00 AM8:00 AMbreakfast

                             75.00

8:00 AM4:00 PMisland-hopping tour 
  Boat rental (I had the boat all to myself 🙂 )

                          500.00

  tour guide rate

                          500.00

  Tip

                          600.00

  Bantigue Sandbar  (environmental fee/donation)

                             20.00

  Cabugao Gamay Island entrance fee

                             50.00

  Tangke Lagoon

                             20.00

  Secret Jacuzzi                                       –
  Antonia Island

                             40.00

  Lunch

                          150.00

7:00 PM8:00 PMDinner

                          150.00

9:00 PM10:00 PM1hr massage + tip

                          250.00

    
Day 3: Mar 1, Tuesday 
  Las Marias resort 2 nights stay (Php200/night)

                          400.00

7:30 AM8:00 AMbreakfast

                             75.00

8:30AM10:30AMGigantes Norte to Estancia via Measol passenger boat

                             80.00

    
  

Subtotal Day 2+3

                      3,010.00

  

TOTAL

              5,700.00

For a guaranteed instagramable Gigantes experience, contact Kuya Bebot (Las Marias Island Resort, Asluman, Gigantes Norte) – 09078301954. He is not just your regular tour guide, he takes great lengths to ensure you are enjoying plus, he takes wow pictures! 🙂 I’d give Las Marias Island Resort 6/5 stars for their over-the-top sincere customer service!