Who would not want to take a break from work stress and deadlines? Just as what we did and we made it right to cut our precious time at work to get a breather. Our best option? No other than the group of beautiful islands collectively called Gigantes Islands or Islas de Gigantes.
Islas de Gigantes is actually our initial planned destination prior to Kalanggaman Island in Leyte we visited a year ago. I‘m roughly saying that we have been longing for this trip for a year already and glad to had it for real.
Since Islas de Gigantes is geographically closer to the City of Roxas, we opted to start our travel from Cebu to this city via an airplane, although the islands are located in the northern part of Iloilo. It took us an hour and a half ride on a van from Roxas City to Carles, Iloilo where we stayed overnight for our Gigantes Tour the following day. If you are coming from Iloilo City, it will take you 3 hours to reach Carles.
Our group booked a packaged tour so we will not be worrying about where to go and what to do next around the area (details below). Our hassle-free tour package already covers our private boat transfers, entrance fees, accommodation, services of the licensed tour guides, and the unlimited meals and coffee/milo throughout the tour. Trust me; the meals are really delicious and mouthwatering as they served mostly seafood on our dining table.
From Palm Garden Resort, we took a tricycle to Bancal Port where we registered our names then transferred to a private boat to start the tour.
Our 2 days and 1-night tour have eight stops and our initial itinerary became flexible as we depend on the accessibility of the islands to visit. Our adventure starts at Pulupandan Island then to Balbagon Island where we had our first swimming spree around the islands.
We then headed to Islas de Gigantes for lunch and were amazed of the buffet of seafood and whole chicken soups served.
We are already full and have a bit of relaxation, making us ready for the afternoon adventure. We visited four islands including the most photographed Cabugao Gamay, Bantigue Sandbar, Antonia Beach, and Putting Baybay Daku.
We spend much time swimming in the surrounding water of the S-shaped sandbar of Bantigue. Hot coffee/milo session was done at Antonia Beach followed by our exhilarating banana boat ride culminated by a drop off moment. Much of the photo-ops were done at Cabugao Gamay and more at Putting Baybay Daku, which locals call as their own version of Little Boracay.
The sun is about to set, giving us a hint to get back to the resort to check-in and rest after dinner for another set of activities the following day.
Early morning on our second day, one of my friends and I walk around the shoreline and helped a boy gleaning some shells he calls Wasay-Wasay, which locals noted as the family of shells that can only be found in the waters of the Gigantes Island.
After breakfast, one or our guides led us to Pawikan Cave or Bakwitan Cave for spelunking. We trekked for roughly half an hour to reach the cave and another half hour back to the resort. Really, it was a mystical exploration that tested our physical well-being.
We then went directly to Tanke or the Enchanted Lagoon for our last destination. Everyone headed back to the resort for lunch and a quick shower before leaving for Bancal Port.
Since we will have our flight back to Cebu at Iloilo International Airport, we decided to have a side tour across Iloilo City.
In Iloilo City, we stayed a night at Ong Bun Pension House, tried the local food and delicacies of the city, and visited some of its notable tourist spots. Among them are the historic churches, dining places, the Iloilo River Esplanade, and the unique one-stop destination GarinFarm.
It was already mid-afternoon when we decided to drop by the notable Original Biscocho Haus for some pasalubong (souvenirs) after visiting the hometown of our friend, before going to the airport homebound.
Another successful and enjoyable trip with easy-going people ended and longing to have more adventures with team nature in the future. Next stop of my life’s journey will soon be uncovered.
ITINERARY: Iloilo Escapade
Feb. 23, 2017
2:00 PM-3:00 PM – Assembly @ Mactan International Airport
3:40 PM-4:30 PM – Cebu-Roxas flight
5:00 PM-7:00 PM – Roxas City-Carles, Iloilo
7:30 PM – Check-in @ Palm Garden Resort
Feb. 24, 2017
5:00 AM – Wake-up Call
5:30 AM-6:00 AM – Wash-up and preparation for Gigantes Tour
6:00 AM-7:00 AM – Breakfast
7:30 AM – Check-out
8:00 AM – Carles Port
————– GIGANTES TOUR Starts —————
Refer to the previously posted package tour (Feb. 24-25, 2017)
————– GIGANTES TOUR Ends —————-
Feb. 25, 2017
4:00 PM-5:00 PM – Back to Carles Port – Snacks/Early Dinner
5:00 PM-8:00 PM – Carles-Iloilo City
8:30 PM – Check-in @ Ong Bun Pension House
Feb. 26, 2017
5:30 AM – Wake-up Call
6:00 AM-6:30 AM Wash-up and Preparation
6:30 AM-7:30 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Checkout
8:00 AM-5:00 PM – Iloilo City Tour
6:00 PM – Iloilo International Airport
7:45 PM-8:35 PM – Iloilo-Cebu flight
——– TOUCH DOWN CEBU ——-
Gigantes Island Package Tour for 2 Days and 1 Night (thru Gigantes Island Tours and Services)
-Private charter boat service from Bancal
Port of Carles to Gigantes back to Carles
-Full Board Meals-4 meals unlimited
*lunch with soda and fruits
*coffee time or milo serve at the beach
*Dinner with soda and fruits
*breakfast with coffee or milo
*lunch with soda with fruits
Fresh steamed crabs
Pork Lauya (a native cuisine)
Wasay wasay also known as saltwater oyster
and many more.
2- days island hopping = 8 to 9 islands to visit plus cave tour( Bakwitan or Pawikan cave for options)
-accommodations (fan room)
-tour guide fee
-islands entrance fees
– FREE purified drinking water the entire trip
-Bonfire activity for free-upon-request
-we do have a stable voice coverage both Globe and Smart- smart phones may access the web at times.
Plus—–> FREE UNLIMITED COFFEE or MILO drinks the entire trip and just request it from the tour guides.
Tour Highlight and Itinerary:
8 am to 8:15 am: Meet up at Bancal Port Carles
8:15 am to 8:30 am: Registration at Tourism office
8:30 am: Adventure begins as we start the island hopping
ISLANDS TO VISIT:
9:15 am to 9:30 am: Balbagon island= home of tiny coconut trees,
9:30 am to 10:00 am: Pulupandan island- Swimming
We may visit Gaket Gaket islet but it is only visible during lowtide and it only shows up during Amihan season.
10:00 am to 11:30 am: Cabugao Gamay—> the most photograph spot in Gigantes. Picture taking+swimming+a little bit of rock climbing.
12 noon: Check-in and lunch will be served at the resort.
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm: Antonia Beach-Snorkeling and swimming plus picture taking.
—–>activities: Banana boat ride (200 each minimum of 5 heads), Jetski (2000 every 30 minutes)
2:30 pm: Puting Baybay Gamay- cliff diving for Beginners
3:30 pm: Puting Baybay daku= Swimming
4:30 pm: Bantigue Sandbar (best to visit during sunset)
Tanke (Enchanted Lagoon)- swimming and Cliff diving to an open sea but don’t worry as it is safe and fun!
5 pm back to the resort
———->Don’t miss out the sunset here, it’s Awesome!
7:00 pm: Dinner
8:00 pm: Free time
1. Videoke- at your own expense
2. Drinking session
3. Star gazing
4. Bon fire available upon request
7 am: Coffee time
7:30 am breakfast
8 am: start of the 2nd-day island hopping
8:30 am to 10:30 am: Bakwitan Cave—-> spelunking activity
10:30 am to 11:30 am: Gigantes island century old lighthouse—> Picture taking
12 noon: Lunch will be served
12:45 pm—> Quick shower
1:30 pm: Boat leaves back to Bancal port
3:00 pm: End of tour
The tour is superb, which is highly recommended:
Itinerary for Iloilo City Tour
5:00 am – Wakeup Call
5:30 am – 6:45 am – Washup/Preparation/Checkout
7:00 am – 8:00 am – Breakfast/Batchoy Hauz
8:00 am – 8:30 am – Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral
8:30 am – 9:00 am – Saint Anne Molo Church
9:00 am – 9:30 am – Santo Nino de Arevalo Church
9:30 am – 10:00 am – Tigbauan Church
10:00 am – 10:30 am – Parish of Saint Nicholas
10:30 am – 11:00 am – Santo Tomas Miag-ao Church
11:00 am – 11:30 am – San Joaquin Church & Cemetery
11:30 am – 1:30 pm – Garin Farm
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm – Lunch/Seafood Restaurant
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm – Back to Iloilo City
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Espalanade
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm – Iloilo City Airport
THINGS TO BRING (recommendations)
Let’s pack light, but do bring the necessary:
• rashguard and/or other swimwear
• aqua shoes or slippers and other necessary swimming gear you want
• jacket, umbrella (in case it rains)
• sunscreen/skin protections
• sarong or towel
• dry clothes
• personal medication and toiletries
ESTIMATED BUDGET: for a group of 9
Remaining fee for the Package Tour – 1399 (1699-300)
Palm Garden Resort Accommodation – 278 (2500/9)
Ong Bun Pension Accommodation – 238 (2140/9)
Van for Iloilo City Tour – 222 (2000/9)
Total = 2137/pax
Note: Estimated budget excludes the following:
1. Airfare, van, and tricycle transfers
2. Meals not included in the Gigantes Package Tour (3 dinners, 1 lunch, 2 breakfasts
3. Personal expenses during the trip
Watch the video of our trip by travel buddy Asa ni Quen?
More about the Philippines here.