Ultimate 2020 Travel Guide to Gigantes Islands for First-time Travelers
Carles, Iloilo, Philippines — If you’re itching to use that vacation leave of yours but still haven’t decided where to go, then we recommend visiting one of Iloilo’s exotic seascape – at Islas De Gigantes.
I was recently invited by Las Islas Travel and Tours to visit Carles Iloilo and explore the beautiful group of islands called Islas de Gigantes.
Gigantes Island or Islas de Gigantes is located at the northernmost coasts of the municipality of Carles in Iloilo. One of the promising features the destination has, is its long stretch of white sand, jagged rock formation, and turquoise waters – one may truly admire once they got there. It is also composed of 2 big islands; Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur, and other amazing islets; from the Cabugao Gamay, Pulupandan, Bantigue Sandbar, and the Antonia Beach.
There are plenty of activities you can do here, such as strolling around the beach, do some island hopping, visiting the old lighthouse, and have an amazing 360 panoramic view of the sea. You can also explore some caves, snorkeling, and spelunking too.
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How to get to Carles, Iloilo
From Iloilo City
- Ride a bus bound to Carles via Ceres Bus Terminal, located in Tagbak.
- Ride a Van or Bus bound for Carles and ask the driver to drop you at Bancal Port.
From Boracay / Malay, Aklan
- Now if you’re in Boracay, and wanted to do some extended vacation in Carles, there are plenty of vans bound to Roxas City.
From Roxas City
- Another option is that before you reach the Roxas Airport, you may alight at Lawaan Ceres Transport Terminal and then take the bus going to Estancia and then alight at Balasan where you can now ride a tricycle to Carles.
How to Get to Gigantes Islands
From Bancal Fish port
If you’re heading to Islas de Gigantes, the famous starting point would be at the Bancal Port in Carles. Before you ride the boat, make sure to pay the environmental fee at the tourism office. Travel time from Bancal to Gigantes Islands is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.
Take note that the boat only runs once daily from Bancal to Gigantes Norte Island. It departs Bancal Port at 10 AM and leaves the Island at 2 PM, so we suggest you come at the port early.
Fortunately, those who are availing the tour packages are served special trips by the tour operators at their agreed scheduled time.
Like the boat at Bancal Port, boats from Estancia to Gigantes Islands also serve one trip per day. But in case you missed the public boat, another option would be renting a private boat for PHP 5000.00.
Just a piece of advice, bring along some 5-10 friends of yours to share the cost with. Travel time from Estancia to Gigantes Islands is around 2 hours.
If you want a faster trip, take a van to Estancia or bus from Pueblo de Panay Transport Terminal. Transpo will cost only Php 75.00. When you arrive at the van terminal, take a tricycle to Estancia Port. Fare is only for 10 pesos.
Once you get to the Estancia, boats going to Gigantes Norte leaves at 1 PM, and prepare Php 80 for your fare.
Things to do and see in Gigantes Islands (and nearby destinations)
One of the most tried activities at Gigantes Island is either island hopping or exploring nearby caves. Check out these amazing to-do list when you get to visit the Island.
Pulo Pandan Islet
Here at Pulo Pandan or Pulupandan, one can get an amazing view of the sunset. Usually, this is the first islet islets most travelers visit. This is also considered to be the best place as a fishermen’s resting place.
Cabugao Gamay Island
This island is one of the most photographed islands of Islas de Gigantes. It is famous for its unique shape, covered in rich vegetation and rock formation as well. Another amazing thing about the island is that it’s separated by a sandbar.
If you want your photo taken with the island’s bird-eye view, you can head over at its view deck. Remember that it can only accommodate 10 people.
Visit Bantigue Sandbar
This is the perfect spot where you can swim and snorkel. Previous travelers also said that here at Bantigue, one can get an amazing sunset view.
Like the Bantique sandbar, Antonia Beach is the perfect spot where tourists can go snorkeling. It is also called the Sandwich Island because of its appearance. This beach is also the designated lunch área during the island hopping tour. Tables and chairs are also set-up under the coconut trees by the beach.
Formerly known as Isla Bonita, this place offers the panoramic view of the islets and the peaceful mood to its guests. Its structure can be compared to that of the hundred islands in Pangasinan.
Tangke Salt Water Lagoon
This destination is famous for its amazing rock formation, and a swimming spot in its shallow waters. It basically looks like an enchanting pool and is really Instagram-worthy. The locals have literally named is as “tangke” or tank because of the gap among its boulders forming an opening.
North Gigantes Island Lighthouse
Get an amazing view of the sea through the North Gigantes Island Lighthouse. It is one of the twenty-seven lighthouses that were commissioned by Spaniards, during their era in the Philippines, and visiting here will feel like traveling back through time.
The Baktiwan Cave is not only a tourist destination for some. It was also used as a refuge during the surge of typhoon Yolanda. Once you enter, you’ll be amazed by its spacious cavern, and rock forms resembling wings, cross, and even a shark.
Your Islas de Gigantes tour wouldn’t be possible without visiting the Pawikan Cave. Inside are a hundred feet high ceilings and various beautiful rock formations.
Where to Stay in Carles
There are various accommodations in Carles depending on your budget and needs like the 3 featured hotels below.
Solina Beach and Nature Resort
(Check Hotel Rates here)
Address: Brgy. Guinticgan, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines
Contact Details: (Globe) 0917-110-8344 | (Smart) 0920-949-0557.
Here at Solina, they have taken glamping into the next level with their premium and luxury tents for guests utmost comfort.
The resort houses eight duplex villas totaling to 16 rooms, eight pods good for two persons each, and 25 cabin tents that can accommodate couples and small groups of four to six. Each room at Solina has a private comfort room with a hot and cold shower, complete vanity, and toiletry kits. They also have an in-house restaurant that serves delectable Ilonggo dishes.
Also Read: Solina Beach and Nature Resort Review
(Check Hotel Rates)
Address: Sacred Heart of Jesus Avenue, Roxas City, Capiz
Phone: (036) 620 3970
One of the most affordable yet classy accommodations in Roxas City. The hotel is near the city’s commercial center and just 15 minutes away from the airport. It is also near the Pueblo de Panay Township – a fast-rising business district in Panay Island.
Roxas President’s Inn
(Check Hotel Rates here)
Address: Corner of Rizal and Lopez Jaena Streets, Roxas City, Capiz Philippines
Toll Free:1-800-843-4343 loc.3349
Another hotel option if you are in Iloilo is the Roxas President’s Inn. It is conveniently located in shopping and dining establishments.
The hotel exudes some nostalgic feel starting from the lobby, down to its 15 well-appointed rooms, and is named after the previous Philippine presidents. It also houses modern amenities which is a value for money
Roxas Midtown Hotel
(Check Hotel Rates here)
Address: NSF Building, 186 Burgos Cor. San Jose Street, Poblacion, Roxas City, Capiz
Contact Details: 0939 149 9124
If you want to be near the city’s major spots in Roxas, then we recommend you stay at Roxas Midtown Hotel.
The hotel features a 24-Hour Front Desk and Room Service, in-house Bar and Restaurant, Meeting Venues, and Shuttle Service and Airport Transfer. Each is equipped with modern facilities such as air-conditioning, complimentary internet access, cable TCV, and bath towels as well.
Gigantes Islands Travel Budget
One of the hardest parts when traveling is allocating a budget for transportation, food, tours, and accommodation. Here, we listed some estimated budget for your Islas de Gigantes tour.
- From Roxas to Balasan, the fare would cost 65 pesos per pax.
- The Balasan van ride going to Bancal Port will only cost you 50 pesos per head
- The boat ride from Bancal Port going to Gigantes Norte public boat, plus the environmental fee is for 75 pesos per head. A discounted rate of 60 Pesos is available for Students, PWD’s and Senior Citizens (with ID).
Boat Rental Rates
- Small Boat – P3,500 good for 1-10 persons
- Medium Boat – P5,000 good for 11-15 persons
- Big Boat – P6,000 good for 16-30 persons
Tours and Fees
- Remember that it’s best to travel in a group. Imagine you and 4 of your Friends spending 300 pesos each for the Island hopping tour.
- But of course, you also need to pay your tour guide for 500 pesos. Remember to bring some cash with you, as there are no near ATM machines near the área. There will be an entrance fee of 50 pesos per head at Cabugao Gamay Island.
For as low as P1,500, you can book an air-conditioned room at Arjan Beach Resort for 4 people. They have cheaper fan rooms. If you are really on a tight budget, you can go camping, but we suggest you bring your own tents.
Where to Eat in Gigantes Island
You don’t need to shell out some huge amount of money for food in your Islas de Gigantes tour. You only need to spend P80-P250 for group orders at Arjan Beach Resort. To save money, get a package tour since food is already included in the tour cost.
Gigantes Islands Travel Tips
- We recommend guests to be there from 12 to 12:30pm, a little earlier from the scheduled 1:00pm departure. Sometimes the captain departs earlier without notice. Also, remind your resort that you’re going to be taking the public boat back to Bancal. The electricity on the island is not 24/7. Be sure to bring power banks for emergencies. But fret not as electricity is already available on the island.
- Also, the signal is very limited on all major networks. Only Smart and Sun Cellular have signals at Gigantes Island. If you a postpaid subscriber to other telecom networks, you can simply buy prepaid Sim cards from Smart or Sun Cellular.
- When commuting around mainland Panay, the best option would be taking the van. It’s faster than taking the bus.
- When it comes to food serving, we recommend you order meals ahead of time, as food takes long to be served.
- As mentioned earlier, no banks and ATM Machines can be found at Gigantes Island so you need to bring enough cash for tour and entrance fee as well.
- Although this is a no-brainer, Sunscreen is a must when visiting the Island. Whenever possible use sunblock with high SPF, remember you will be in the water most of the time.
- You can bring some snacks with you. However, sari-sari stores are also accessible on the Island. Bring bottled water for the Island Hopping. You can also have it refilled at the resort for free.
- We suggest you bring your towel, shampoo, and soap, as they are not provided at the resort.
- Don’t forget your medicines especially if you have some maintenance. Of course, a first aid kit would be very helpful.
I was very happy that I brought my action camera along with my Smartphone cameras. Since water activities are nice things to do while navigating Gigantes Islands, action cameras came in very handy. Whenever possible, extra batteries and power banks are very helpful.
- MDRRM – 0908-4782827
- Carles PNP – 0998-9673734
- BFP – 0907-9716169
- Carles Ambulance – 0930-2202589
- Iloilo Coast Guard – 0946-8979841
- Carles Tourism Office – 0908-8606741
Gigantes Island Travel and Tour Packages
As a frequent traveler, we always have to remember to travel Smart, which we highly suggest you go search for trusted providers of travel and tour packages. In addition to being a cheaper alternative when traveling, booking some tour packages helps you control your budget and offers you hassle-free transportation and accommodation.
Just avoid tour packages that are too cheap, and too good to be true to avoid being scammed.
And because not everyone was born spontaneous, let Gigantes Island Travel and Tour Packages take care of you.
Advantages of booking a Gigantes Island Travel and Tour Packages via Las Islas Travel and Tours (FB Page)
- You can arrange a pick up directly from the airport
- The tour already includes meals
- You will be assisted by a DOT accredited travel guide
- Tour prices are all-inclusive with no hidden charges
- They practice responsible and sustainable tourism
For example, the 999 Joiners Day Tour. The package is composed of the following:
- Island hopping at Cabugao Gamay, Bantigue Island Sandbar, Antonia White Sand Beach, Tangke Saltwater Lagoon, Little Boracay, and Pulupandan Islet.
- The package is also inclusive of a licensed island-hopping boat, trained tour guide, entrance and environmental fees, seafood lunch, unlimited steamed scallops, and drinking wáter.
Watch our Gigantes Islands Youtube Video
You may message Las Islas Travel and Tours for bookings and reservations at (Globe) +63995 335 7310 (Smart) +63929 595 8870. You may also send an email to email@example.com.
Have you been to Gigantes Islands in Carles, Iloilo? Help us improve this 2019 Travel Guide to Gigantes Island Blog by sharing your personal Islas de Gigantes travel tips and recommendations.