Second on my summerscape 2012 list is Isla Gigantes, located in Carles, Iloilo. Though a boat trip to Isla Gigantes is only available in Estancia. My companions were from Roxas City, Capiz and I'm the only one who's coming from Iloilo so I had to leave at least an hour earlier than them. Travel time from Iloilo to Estancia is approximately 3.5 hours while from Roxas City is only 2 hours. I took a Sara-Balasan bound Ceres bus since there was no Estancia route yet. The Ceres officer instructed me to get off the bus at corner Bani-an and ride a tricycle to Estancia which was 10-15 minutes only. And that's what i exactly did. :)
Bus fare was PhP145 while tricycle fare was PhP10. Me and my friend agreed to meet at Andok's restaurant and we coincidentally arrived right at the same time and that's where I first met 5 of my companions!^^ Lunch at Andok's was only PhP40 for each of us. It was just 12nn and the boat was scheduled to leave at 2pm. So we decided to go to the plaza which was just across Andok's. Since we had to wait for more than an hour, we decided to go to Pa-on Beach Club. Tricycle fare was also PhP10 per person. Entrance fee at Pa-on Beach Club is PhP20 and it's consumable. You can order for a bottle of mineral water or softdrinks for that. :D The view at Pa-on was very beautiful that we felt like looking at a painting. It only got us very excited to go to Isla Gigantes.
From Pa-on, we went to the pier at around 1:30pm. We did not take the passenger boat because our contact person from the resort said that they will fetch us using their service boat. So we had to wait for another 1hour for the service boat to leave because they were waiting for their other supplies to be loaded on the boat. Since it was not a regular passenger boat and they were loaded with supplies, it took us approximately 3 hours - which felt like forever - to reach the island.
When we arrived, it was low tide already and we had to take a very small boat to go to the shore. We were also a bit disappointed to find out that the resort was not in the front of the beach. The shore is also not good for swimming because it was actually a mangrove. We were already planning to swim after settling at the resort because we felt exhausted of the long travel. But all the disappointment disappeared when we saw the food they prepared for us!lol
The island is abundant of seafoods, especially scallops. They gather a minimum of 2 tons per day according to Mr. Joel Decano, owner of Gigantes Hideaway Inn and tourism officer of Isla Gigantes. We were worried that the food might be very expensive especially that they prepared a lot. But it wasn't. They just charge us with the same amount on how much they bought it from the market (the scallops were just PhP30/kilo). Then they just charged us with the spices and other cooking ingredients they used. For the cooking services, Sir Joel told us to just give the cook a tip. A detailed breakdown of our expenses will be provided on the next post. :D
So after the sumptuous dinner, we stayed outside the house and had a "few" drinks. There are cottages and other rooms but we stayed in the house with three bedrooms, a living and dining room, kitchen and a restrom. Sir Joseph, brother of Sir Joel, joined us and showed us photos of the islands where we will be hopping the next day. The pictures were very beautiful and we got really excited. He also told us some information about the island and its history.
Isla Gigantes is actually a group of islands. It was called Isla Gigantes because there were wooden coffins found in one of the caves in the island which measured 7-12ft. We even saw 2 of the coffins that they brought in the resort. The island is rich in history and it was even featured in Magandang Gabi Bayan years ago.
We started our island hopping adventure early the next day because there were 7 islands waiting for us but I think we only went to 6 due to lack of time. Nevertheless, we had a great time!
Island 1: Uaydahon Island
First stop was the Uaydahon island. White sand, big rocks, pristine water, a hammock, coconut trees, seashells - simply paradise.
I don't know the name of this island but this is really beautiful. This is a diving site so we really enjoyed swimming here. We also had our lunch here. The sandy part in between also gives you a "back-to-back beach". Isn't that nice? :D
Island 3: The Natural Pool called Tanke
The "Tanke" was the highlight of the trip. The natural pool surrounded by the tall rocks was stunningly beautiful. The water was very clear and the place itself was mesmerizing. There is a small hole somewhere in the rocks that fills the lagoon with seawater during high tide. Then it washes away the leaves fallen from the trees and other dirt during low tide which explains why the lagoon looks clean.
Island 4: Cabugao Island
There were some people having a picnic in the island. We just visited the small cave and went on to the next island because we were running out of time.
Island 6: Sand Bar
The Sand Bar is also a good spot to go swimming. The water becomes deep a few feet away from the shore due to steep sand. It was also a good spot for snorkeling and you can actually see different fishes unlike in the 2nd island where we didn't enjoy the coral reef, only the cool water. :D
The reason why we need to finish the island hopping early is because we wanted to go caving or "spelunking". It was a fun and thrilling adventure as we climb through the rocks at the cave and trailing our way down to the rocky mountain.
After caving, we went back to the resort and freshened up. We were all tired and all we were thinking was to drink an ice-cold coke or water and indulge in the fresh seafoods that Manang Anggay (the cook) prepared for us. :D After dinner, we stayed at the tree house, had a few drinks and lots of stories to share with each other.
We left at 9am the next morning aboard the passenger boat. Travel time was only 2hours and we headed straight to Pa-on Beach Club to have our lunch. We paid 80 each for our lunch and additional 65 for the halo-halo we ordered individually. After lunch, we all went home with lots of memories to cherish at Isla Gigantes. :)
Isla Gigantes Contact Information:
Facebook: Isla Gigantes