Islas de Gigantes: Where giants once lived…

Iloilo
// December 10, 2015

Enchanted lagoon, white sand bars, pristine blue waters, and delightful seafood await adventurers who choose to visit Islas de Gigantes. 

No doubt we can’t contain our excitement while on our way from Iloilo City to Estancia (with almost 2 to 3 hours of land travel). We arrived with our group to Estancia by 8 AM and had our breakfast at Tita Cheryl’s home. Soon after, our group hurried to Estancia Port where a rented pump boat awaits us.

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Travel to Isla de Gigantes from Estancia takes around an hour and a half, but the boat ride is nonetheless fun and a feast to the eyes. Crossing the strait surrounded by several islands in Estancia (including Sicogon), we headed to the open sea towards north.

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Located at the northeastern tip of Iloilo and part of municipality of Carles, Isla de Gigantes is composed of different islands, the largest of which are Isla Gigantes Norte and Isla Gigantes Sur. Other islands include Antonia, Pulupandan, Bantigue, and Cabugao Gamay.

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The first island we visited is Pulupandan Island (others call it Turnina Island) –  a small island (or islet) which is entirely covered with white sand. A small hut is used by fishermen in times of bad weather or to rest. Small as it seems, we already get a first taste of Iloilo’s nature paradise.

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Next stop in the island hopping is Cabugao Gamay Island – the famous “selfie spot” in the island group. From the tip of the rocky hill, you can take a selfie of the horizon with the white sand beaches at the center surrounded by the crystal blue sea. The view is breathtaking in person.

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A trip to Isla Gigantes will never be complete if don’t drop by the enchanted lagoon at Isla Gigantes Sur.

The hidden lagoon is said to be enchanted by supernaturals that keep the water clean. Certainly, you’ll believe this myth as not a single dry leaf can be seen floating at the clear waters of the lagoon even though there are trees and plants hanging at the beautifully, yet creepy cliffs, surrounding the lagoon.

Other features in Isla Gigantes Sur are the resorts located there such as Rosewood Resort.

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Antonia Island is another stop in our island hopping adventure. Though smaller than the other islands, Antonia Island is widely known for its clear and transparent unspoiled waters set in beach of powdery white sand that can rival that of the more famous Boracay Island.

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In the afternoon, we had our final stop over for the day – Isla Gigantes Norte. Upon “checking-in” at our accommodation for the night, we rode motorcycles to visit the Spanish-era light house. The light house serves the strait between Gigantes and Masbate coming to and from the Visayan sea. Only the old barracks remain, while the new solar-powered light house was installed in the 90s.

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Day 2 at Isla Gigantes Norte

Our first itinerary in the day is trekking to Bakwitan Cave. Our trekking took almost half an hour before reaching the mouth of the cave. From there you can have a perfect vantage point in seeing the whole island.

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Meet the rare Gigantes Cave Frog

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Bats take rest at the cave ceiling

Now you ask why the islands are called Islas de Gigantes or Island of the Giants? Back in the village a “longon” or wooden coffin roughly the size of 8 feet is on display. Villagers say that the “longon” was excavated in the area and is dated to be pre-Hispanic. Other finds from the islands showing pre-Hispanic artifacts are on display at Museo Iloilo. These artifacts supplement the popular belief that giants once lived in these beautiful islands.

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And oh, don’t forget to taste the scallops in Islas de Gigantes!

A hill made of scallop shells


If you wish to visit Islas de Gigantes, you may join island hopping tours. Departure is from Estancia Port and it will take an hour of boat ride to reach the islands. There are resorts offering accommodation in both Gigantes Sur and Gigantes Norte. If you are in the islands, don’t forget to taste the different dishes cooked from scallops.

Special thanks to Discover Panay Island and Tita Cheryl Casabuena Majo for making this adventure possible. A million thanks to you!

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Iloilo

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