Iloilo is known for many things of wonder, among them, the festivities of the annual Dinagyang Festival every January. However, a serene paradise is nesting quietly in the northern part of the province, always ready to give its visitors a refuge away from the bustle of the city life, all year round. Welcome to the Islas de Gigantes – or the Gigantes Islands.
Gigantes Islands has been a growing topic of conversation among backpackers and budget travelers for its off-the-beaten path status. This is a reminder that people are willing to go beyond the usual Iloilo tourist destinations for a new discovery.
Exploring Northern Iloilo
Googling “tourist destinations in Iloilo” will show you the province’s go-to places: Jaro Cathedral and Plaza, Miagao Church, and Nelly’s Garden. But a trip farther North takes you to the pristine paradise of the Gigantes Islands.
Located in the northeastern part of Iloilo, in the municipality of Carles, the “Islands of Giants” is actually composed of several islands. The two largest ones are Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur. Other islands are Antonia, Pulupandan, Bantigue, and Cabugao Gamay.
Various myths surround the islands, especially of how its name came to be. The common story being told is how the islands resemble a giant-like structure and how it used to be a bathtub or bath area for giants years ago.
The Massive Wonders of Gigantes
Travelers who are yearning for an adventurous yet relaxing vacation are going to love the Gigantes Islands. As of now, cellular connections aren’t available on the island. While this can be an inconvenience to some, consider it as an invitation to explore the scenic views that the islands have to offer.
Gigantes Islands is blessed to have white sand beaches. They are found mostly in Cabugao Gamay, Tangke, Bantigue Islands, and Antonia. Tourists can also wander inside caves in the Pawikan Cave and discover the mysticism behind Tangke Salt Water Lagoon, which are both found in Gigantes Sur.
Another popular attraction sure to take people back in time is found in Gigantes Norte. After a short hike, you will reach the Spanish Colonial lighthouse – a famous tourist attraction, and a great spot for selfies.
When traveling around the Philippines, travelers need not worry about food, especially in Gigantes Islands. Locals and tourists can feast on fresh seafood that is always available.
Especially scallops – Islas de Gigantes happens to be the scallops capital of the Philippines!
image from: www.maayalegaspi.com
How, when, and where
If you wish to travel to this paradise, Bancal Port in the town of Carles offers daily ferry trips that are commuter-friendly. A municipal office has also been established to assist local and foreign tourists alike.
For those who wish to travel by land to Carles, transportation hubs are available in Panay Island, Iloilo City, Roxas City, and Kalibo.
Another route is by land travel. From Iloilo City to Estancia Feeder Port, it will take you approximately 2-3 hours, plus an additional 1-hour boat ride to Islas de Gigantes.
We suggest you visit the islands during the months of December to May. Avoid the months of June to November due to the rains.
Resorts are open to guests at Gigantes Norte. If you wish to stay the night in Gigantes Sur, however, you have to find a local that would welcome you into their homes.
Gigantes Norte has different types of home-stays available. Whether you’re opting for a whole tropical experience, or laid-back cabin-type lodging, there’s something for you there.
Off the beaten path
The Islands of Gigantes portrays the off-the-grid vibe most Philippine islands offer. They’ve been kept as a secret by most tourists and locals, unlike other popular tourist destinations in the country. It’s probably to protect from the possible swarm of tourists that might violate its beauty.
The island has a lot to offer to those who want to get away from the urban jungle. It may not have cellular connections, and only a few resorts, but the Gigantes Islands are rich in natural wonders and activities.
That’s just the thing with The Philippines, it never fails to surprise us with new islands to discover, adventures to experience, and people to meet. So what are you waiting for? Book a trip today!