Beach Overdose in Isla de Gigantes

12:57 AM CARLA 0 Comments

Living in the Philippines means living in an archipelago of 7,107+ beautiful tropical islands. Each island is unique. Some have perfect surfs, others have perfect white sands, or glorious cliffs. Some have pebbles, or gray sands, and even pink sands! Some might be crowded, filled with hotels and bars, but there still lots of secluded and pristine islands. Every time I discover a new one, I realize how surprising my country is, and how blessed I am to have easy access on paradise. 

Just to warn you though, this post is bloody long. Feast your eyes!

Been craving for Isla de Gigantes ever since I was in college, and last March, I finally witnessed the entire paradise right before my own eyes. 

Nestled in the north of Iloilo, Isla de Gigantes is blessed with fine white sands, crystal clear water, and prolific marine life. It is also the scallop capital of the country so expect to have a scallop feast everyday. 

We flew from Cebu to Iloilo City. Roxas is nearer to Estancia Port where you can take a boat to Isla de Gigantes, but we decided to stop by Iloilo to have a little gastronomic adventure. I booked us the earliest flight to maximize our trip, and to treat ourselves with an amazing sunrise above the clouds.

Straight from last night's beer session, we hit the airport sleepless and still a bit intoxicated. I saw a friend from Greenpeace who's bound for Manila and he asked me where are we flying, saying Iloilo back to him hits an excitement down my spine, because I've never been to Panay Island (and I'm afraid of I always love riding airplanes). 

And so after less than an hour, we landed in the City of Love with an empty stomach, craving for a delicious batchoy. After having a chitchat with my seatmate inside the vhire, asking for directions, we made our way to Lapaz. When we arrived, we asked a kind Ilongga where the famed Netong's is, and she led us politely down the dark and narrow alleys of the market, and there it was, still closed. We had to wait for an hour until it opens so we decided to hit Iloilo's classic coffee oasis, where the regulars and newcomers, prominent and mediocre people cross paths for coffee, the humble Madge Cafe. We got ourselves cups of native Arabica coffee, brewed not in your usual brewer, and listened to the Ilonggos around us speaking sweetly in dialect. As we finished our cups, we went to Netong's and finally, we each devoured a bowl of legit batchoy paired with puto. Ya'll ask me how it was? Totally worth the airplane ride!

After having what we came for, we hurried to Tagbak terminal for we needed to travel north for three hours, had a boat to catch at 2pm, and we had limited time. After taking the wrong jeepney, we finally reached the terminal at 10am, all sweaty. From there we took a van en route to Estancia because it's faster than the buses. Three hours later, we arrived in the gateway to Gigantes, took a tricycle to the port and there a staff from Hideaway Resort greeted us. Munching on some chocolates that would hopefully suffice for lunch, we still needed to take a boat to our final destination for another two hours. The whole boat ride was scenic though, passing by a lot of islands with white sand beaches. Like a lot of them! 

At last, the pumpboat finally brought us alive to this far-flung island around 4pm, but it didn't stop there. It was low tide so we still had to embark on the raft, seriously, unless we want to swim to the shore and let our stuff get wet. We giggled at the whole idea along with the rest of the passengers, including the foreigner with a huge luggage! Balance skills bruh, one wrong move and everyone gets wet. But the thrill was there and riding the raft gave us a lot of fun. 

Though quite drained, we were so eager to explore Isla de Gigantes already. We checked into Hideaway Resort and a tour guide was assigned to us. He showed us a flyer containing the places that we're going to explore the following day. We agreed to go to the lighthouse at sundown so he took us to our room (which is more of a hut that has a cozy, tiny porch) to freshen up and get ready. 

Moments after, our guide came back and he told us to just visit the lighthouse at first light and that dinner will be ready soon. We still agreed because we were already starving from the long journey. We went to the dining hall and we already got spoiled with sumptuous food on our first meal! We had spicy sizzling scallops, steamed scallops, escabeche and chopsuey with squid. It was more than enough for the two us. We love seafood so much that we were more than willing to overdose on scallops! 

After dinner, we stayed in one of their huts to enjoy some bottles of beer while listening to good music, and called it a night eventually.  

 I reckon visiting the lighthouse at first light was the best decision for we had the most beautiful sunrise ever. We motorbiked our way there and had a short walk until we had our early morning treat. I took a couple shots and stared at the sun that was slowly peeking behind the tiny island, and then allowed the moment to feed my soul and refresh my mind from all the life's chaos, and thanked God for the spectacular moment and the safe journey.

Reinvigorated, we rode our motorbike back to the resort as the soft rays of light chased us.

Yearning for the beach, the crystal clear water, and the salty air, our guide immediately took us to our own boat after having our breakfast and we sailed to Antonia Island first. Everywhere I look there are lots of different rock formations, white sand beaches and the water is turquoise. As we approached Antonia Island I saw rocks that formed like a crocodile's tail and when I shifted my sight to the water I saw lush corals below. There were no signs of other boats. Meaning we're the first souls to enjoy this slice of paradise that day. 

We hopped off the boat. I dipped my toes into the sand, which was so powdery and as white as my pedicure like srsly. Jude and I climbed the rocks first to have a better view of the island. I wished to climb higher but we were so excited to dive so we rented snorkels worth 50 pesos and put our invisible fins and gills to use.

Other travelers came to sight as we got enough of Antonia island. We returned the snorkels and left for another amazing island.

Next stop was the Bantigue Sand Bar. It was empty when we were on our way to Antonia but now the sand bar was filled with giddy beach bums. Since the goal for this entire trip is get overdose on beaches, we still set foot on the sand bar and dipped into the clear water for a while. 

Are you still there?

Great! Because you're about to see the most beautiful island I have ever been!

Cabugao Gamay Island, you've enthralled me! The sand? Still perfect. The water? Still blue, warm and clear. Coconut trees? Planted perfectly right where they are.

Look how clear and blue the water is! It's crazy!

We climbed the rocks to get the island's stunning view and it did not disappoint. Si belle! EVERYTHING IS SO BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL. They say photos can be deceiving, but I bet the photos of this island on Google are not. 

Still awed by the previous island, we sailed to Tangke Lagoon. I thought Cabugao Gamay's already my favorite until I laid eyes on this lagoon. I can't find the perfect word to describe it but I think this might be God's most striking masterpiece ever! 

It's something like what I saw on movies where fairies live and play. As we approached, there were no signs of lagoon. It's perfectly hidden within the limestone rocks, making it so magical. We swam and floated at this surreal place, forgot all our problems, and got high with the resplendent view around us. According to the town's lore, Isla de Gigantes gained its name because giants once lived there, and in fact, this lagoon was their tub. Large bones were also discovered at some caves in the area. The best time to visit the lagoon is during high tide, preferably at noon, so you can enjoy swimming. 

Before we left Tangke Lagoon, our guide asked me if I wanted to jump off the cliff right at the mouth of the lagoon. The adrenaline junkie in me said yes so we climbed the rocks which was around 15 ft. high. There's no other easy way back to our boat but to jump into the water, so he jumped first and I followed.

Time passed by so quickly our island hopping was nearing to an end. We sailed to another island, an extension of Hideaway resort, to have lunch. What better way to end this amazing island adventure than to have these? DEATH BY SEAFOOD! This time we're having grilled scallops.

Separation anxiety already kicked in even though we haven't left Gigantes yet. Honestly, this place is truly a treasure. The Philippines never really fails to surprise me. Many travelers are already visiting this gem but what's amazing is that the people in Gigantes have maintained the place well. I never saw a single trash during our trip. So please, when you do visit, do your part and don't just take selfies and litter anywhere. Let's all save the Philippine seas together! :)

We really enjoyed the entire Gigantes Islands, and the long journey as well. I hope this gem will be preserved forever. 

Okay, I want to blab more about how awesome Gigantes is but I'm already running out of words.

If you're still reading till this part, here's your treat! Joke! But seriously, here's an amateur video I made. Hope you like it! (Please watch in HD)


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