With more than 7,000 islands to choose from, you will never run out of options to go to and explore in the Philippines. There are some islands that are more known than the others and a lot are still left untouched just waiting to be discovered. One group of Islands in the Visayas is slowly making its way into the limelight with its vast number of attractions – Islas de Gigantes of Ilo-ilo Province.
I personally love planning my trips but whenever I travel with my college friends like this one, I just go with the flow. Our tour was arranged and planned by my friend Steph, who does it for our group ever since we started going on trips together.
How to get there
There are no direct flights to the islands so the travel totalled approximately 4.5 – 5 hours by air and land. I believe this is the shortest route you can opt to take if you are coming from Manila.
We flew from Manila (MNL) to Roxas City (RXS), where a van we rented was waiting for us. It took us around 2 hours to get to Bancal Port in Carles, Ilo-ilo, where we took a public pumpboat going to the island together with some locals and tourists for another 1.5 hours. Like most ports in the Philippines, we had to pay ₱75.00 each for the environmental fee/terminal fee.
The boat ride was turbulent with waves splashing in from every direction. Before the trip started, we were given plastic bags to cover our things and prevent them from getting wet. I stubbornly did not heed that advice so my backpack and I ended up soaking wet when we arrived on the main land. 🤭
Where we stayed
Out trip to Gigantes was only for 2 days 1 night and we stayed at Jesa Beach Resort. Apart from accommodation, they also arranged our land and island hopping tour for us (meals included).
It is a perfect place for an R&R and urban detox since there is no mobile phone signal on that part of the island. My friends and I had no choice but to purely bond with each other.
Our island hopping package included the following stops:
Upon arrival, we immediately started island hopping and our first stop is Bantigue Sandbar. If you have more time than we had, I’d recommend staying here for at least half the day. The sand may not be the whitest but it’s beautifully fine and the water is crystal clear. You just have to ask your guide when the best time to go to have the ultimate experience.
After lunch, we then headed to this sea salt lagoon that is nested between towering (sharp) rock formations.
It’s a shame that it was low-tide when we arrived and our guide actually knew that. But since we were pressed for time, we had to stick to how they planned our day. We still enjoyed it nonetheless.
We finally arrived at the most photographed island among all the island. There is no wonder in that since the view on the top of the hill sums up the beauty of Islas de Gigantes.
If I can be honest, you could completely leave out this island on your list. We were brought there for snorkelling and waters was too murky that we weren’t able to see as much as we want to down below.
The next day, we only had the half day to explore the island by habal-habal and one of the two stops we had was Bakwitan Cave. The cave is located on a hill and was used as an evacuation site for the locals whenever the island gets hit by strong typhoons and the most recent one was when the Visayas was hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Our last stop before having lunch and heading back to reality was the Lighthouse in Gigantes Norte. The view on this site is breathtaking. We got lucky that our trip was blessed with sunshine. The interiors depicts Spanish-era designs from when the lighthouse was built.