Iloilo is mostly known as the place where you find good mangoes, gentle people, old churches, and ruins of abandoned houses. It is part of the Panay Island in the Western Visayas Region. Isla Gigantes is a group of several islands and islets off the coast of western part of Iloilo.
For the past few years, Isla Gigantes has been gaining popularity because of the beauty that the group of islands possesses. Don’t let the long commute stop you from coming and experiencing what this kind of island life has to offer. Here are five reasons to love about Isla Gigantes:
1. Non-stop seafood goodness!
Living the island life means eating island food. Isla Gigantes is indeed full to the brim with seafood. Different kinds of seashells and fish are served every meal, cooked differently! In our three days of stay on the island, it was non-stop seafood — from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner.
The most famous seafood in Gigantes is the scallop. I have never tasted scallop before Isla Gigantes; it was my first time to taste it and I have no regrets. The accommodation where we stayed in surely knows how to cook it, and also cook it well. I was able to eat various scallop dishes.
2. Sunset at the lighthouse
We arrived on the island in the afternoon; it was the perfect time to visit the lighthouse, which was on the other end of the island. We had to ride the local single motorcycle called habal-habal to get there. The lighthouse was abandoned for quite a long time already. There were few tourists visiting the lighthouse when we arrived — perfect time to take lots of good photos.
It was a refreshing sight — the sunset with the vintage feels of the lighthouse and the waves slowly crashing to the shores.
3. Cliff jumping at Tangke Lagoon
One of the main attractions of the island hopping during my stay in Isla Gigantes is the Tangke Lagoon. It is quite similar to the Hidden Lagoon in El Nido. In order to get to the lagoon, especially if it’s low tide, boats have to tie a ladder up the rocks; on the other hand, if the tide is high, crossing the boulders is a bit easy.
We had to scramble a little to enter the lagoon since the rocks are sharp; one mistake of slipping might cause serious damage and pain. The view of the lagoon definitely wipes away all of the thoughts of scrambling and the hassle of reaching it, not to mention the freedom you feel when you jump off the boulders into the blue waters.
4. Snorkeling and other water activities in Cabugao Gamay Island and Antonia Beach
Cabugao Gamay Island is another famous attraction when you go island hopping. It is a long stretch of white sand beach with coconut trees and boulders scattered on each side. There is also the most famous spot on top of one of the boulders, where you can take your postcard-like photo worth of the double tap.
All of the islands that you can go to while staying in Gigantes Island have pristine beaches and cyan waters that are surely inviting. Antonia Beach has a lot of water activities. You can go kayaking, banana boat ride, and jetski too. Snorkeling or diving is also a good idea while staying in Antonia Beach; the marine life underneath is truly stunning and worth to see.
More Cabugao Gamay Island tips here: Cabugao Gamay Island Important Tips
5. Spelunking in Bakwitan Cave
Now this is surely an adventure that you would not want to miss. Trekking through the cave may take up to 3 hours, depending on your pace and the weather. This would include crawling through tiny holes, climbing up slippery rocks, and crossing boulders in between branches of trees.
This cave has a rich history as told by our tour guide. The cave used to be an evacuation center for the islanders during the war and floods. Since the cave is on an elevated location, it was a good refuge for the people. It was spacious too! At first it was called “ebakwitan” from the word “evacuation” and then it eventually evolved to just Bakwitan.
- Budget travel time wisely and accordingly. The boat going to the island only has one schedule. Travel time is about 2 hours from the port to the island. Going to the port from the main city of Iloilo is also 3 hours.
- Stay for at least three days on the island. The island hopping would already take one whole day, and there are still many destinations and activities on each island.
- Bring water with you in your travel, especially during the island hopping. It is hot during the day; you can get easily thirsty. Also, bringing your own water container is better than buying plastic water bottles.
- Also bring snacks; the travel time is quite long and the schedule is a bit tight so there could be a tendency that meal times are overlooked.
- Bring enough cash before going to the island; there are no ATMs or cash withdrawal options, so make sure that you bring generously so that you won’t fall short.
- And most importantly, let’s be responsible travelers. Leave nothing but footprints.