Standing on the Shoulders of Isla de Gigantes

I found myself inside a van with a few friends heading to a group of positively raved Islas in the Western Visayas Sea only a 3-hour sleep removed from walking on the rain-soaked streets of Iloilo City. A few moments later, I was staring at the radiant skies above after a few hours of land travel. Mia had reservations about continuing due to the bad weather in Iloilo earlier in the evening, but the sight that greeted us at the port of Carles screamed of a setting perfect for frolicking over powdery sands with a beer in hand.

Lunch in the Island Starring the 1-peso Scallop

We missed out on buying beer somewhere, so we opted for bottles of Whiskey throughout the night. Earlier in the day, the bright morning sun led us to the islands of Antonia Beach, where we clambered over an edgy limestone cliff and watched a mini-sports festival on the beach.

Antonia Beach

Following that, we sailed to the John Lennon of Islas de Gigantes, Cabugao Gamay Island, where we dined on a sumptuous lunch of scallops, boomerang-shaped Wasay-Wasay shells, and adobong pusit.

Cabugao Gamay Island

City slickers like us, who are used to avoiding scallops due to their high price in big city restaurants, were overjoyed to learn that scallops are only one peso each in this part of the Philippines. Consider how many scallops a 100 peso would buy. Yes, more than enough to feed five hungry people.

1-Peso Scallops. Local fishermen catches starting at 4-5 AM every day. 

We spent the next few hours on the island lounging on hammocks and chilling under coconut trees, in between dips in the crystal clear waters.

Batman's Boomerang? Nah, it's Wasay-Wasay

The IG-Famous Spot

The so-called Instagrammabe spot, the position atop a small hill at Cabugao Gamay is where the majority of images of the Gigantes islands seen on Instagram and Facebook are taken.

The beautiful miss Aph Cruz of Las Islas Travel and Tours

Standing on this X-mark allows you to frame the island's dual shoreline against its curving shape leading to the lush green portion of the island. Standing here and clicking the shutter button instantly creates a postcard-like picture surrounded by the deep blue-green colored sea and the stunning sunny skies.

Night One at Gigantes Norte

We spent the night at Rosewood Place in Gigantes North with Mayan, Sam, Mia, and her then-boyfriend - an Australian whose name escapes from me now. Gigantes Norte, is the  largest among the island clusters, and also the location of the 1895 Spanish-built Lighthouse.

We rode shotgun on a habal-habal (motorcycle) from the small port of Gigantes North. Samantha was especially excited because it was her first time riding on the back of a motorcycle in a Philippine province.

That night, we huddled around a few bottles of whiskey and an almost endless round of table discussions, with Mia's Aussie boyfriend serving as the main conversationalist.

I retired early into our triple-bed room I shared with Mayan and Sam and slept soundly into the next beautiful day at the island.

Night Two at Cabugao Gamay

Our group of five was reduced to one the next day when I decided to stay an extra night while Sam, Mayan, Mia, and her boyfriend returned to Iloilo. Miss Aph of Las Islas Travel and Tours is also on her way to Cabugao Gamay with a group of clients. She ended up adopting me for another couple of days after arranging a rendezvous with her party. This means I get to enjoy more feasts of scallops and wasay-wasay shells. That, and savouring her magical presence and entertaining company.

I spent the next two days relaxing by the beach, watching the skies change from clear to cloudy due to a strong typhoon passing through the waters surrounding Panay Island.

Fortunately, with the exception of a windy period lasting nearly an hour in the afternoon, the weather returned to summer mode even in August.

We crossed over to Cabugao Daku, the island closest to Cabugao Gamay, the next morning. We took a break under a small nipa hut and enjoyed the island's more secluded atmosphere. We also visited the island's lone home-stay accommodation, and I made a mental note to stay here the next time I visit with a girlfriend. (Writer's note: sadly, Miss Aph is already taken.)

Cabugao Daku

It was an absolutely wonderful way to spend a few days simply accumulating 25 billion 'chill time' by staring at the beautiful boodeh of water and bountiful nature that exists all over the Gigantes group of islands. All of this, plus the company of two groups of friends, old and new.

A Rare Travel Guide

What to Do:

Island Hopping

Gigantes Islands can be explored in a whole day but for those wanting to have more chill time at every island and beaches, then a two-day or even a three-day jaunt is advisable.

Rock Climbing – The view of the Islas de Gigantes becomes more impressive when seen from the top. Scrambling your way along the many towering limestone cliffs that dot the peninsula shall give you a magnificent scenery of the surrounding islands.

Easier routes are set up in place at Antonio Beach and Cabugao Gamay Island where most visitors can take a photograph; while a harder route in Gigantes Sur (referred to as the “Boulevard”) should require a bit of technical climbing prowess ascending up the steep and jagged trail that leads to a breathtaking 360-degree scenery of the whole Islas de Gigantes.

Other can’t-miss spots includes; the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon and the Bantigue Sandbar. Since we went there during the onset of the habagat season, entering the lagoon proved impossible because of the strong sea current.

Where to Stay:

Travelers can spend the night at Maruja’s Flora Island Paradise at Cabugao Gamay Island or pitch a tent at Antonia Beach. Other choices include a number of resorts located at Gigantes Norte such as the Rosewood Place and Arjay beach resort.

How to Get to Gigantes Islands:

Iloilo, Kalibo and Roxas City all provide bus and shuttle vans transportation to the municipality of Carles. Upon arriving at Carles port, make sure to visit the tourism office to pay for your environmental fee and arrange for your island hopping boats if you are traveling D-I-Y style.