The best thing about travelling to a new place is you never know what to expect. No matter how much you research on it either by googling it or asking friends who have been there about it, your experience could totally be different. Which, for some, is the best thing about it. 🙂
Islas de gigantes is by far the most picturesque island i’ve ever seen. I’ve been wanting to visit this place for a while now and so when my friend invited me to plan this trip even with short notice, i couldn’t say no. From Manila we flew to iloilo. (Note that you can also fly to Roxas City, which is actually closer to Estancia but it was due to limited flight schedules that we decided to fly to iloilo instead). Estancia is in the northern part of iloilo, which is the main jump off point to the islands. Since we were travelling as a group we decided to rent a van that will bring us to Estancia, which is 3 hours away from iloilo city. The van rental costs P2,500 and we rode it straight from the airport. In Estancia, we stayed in my friend’s tita’s house (yay for free stays!). It’s a very small town, everything is just P10 away by tricycle. We spent our first day travelling and shopping for food to take to our island hopping escapade the next day. I was travelling with chefs so I knew I wouldn’t starve! haha! Island hopping bangkas cost P4,000 for 6 pax and the bigger ones cost P5,000 for 10 pax.
TANGKE LAGOON (P150 entrance fee/ person from Estancia Port)
Our first stop was Tangke Lagoon. This place reminds me sooo much of Coron, mostly because of the limestones. It’s like a water tank that’s filled in the morning when it’s high tide so best to make this your first stop if you want to go for a swim.
CABUGAO ISLAND (P50 entrance fee/ person)
What seems to be the most photographed island now a days because how can you not?? I swear guys the view is just breathtaking, if it weren’t for the intense heat I could stay there aaaaall daaaay. Cabugao was our second stop just in time for lunch. While our friends cooked, Earl and I explored the island and took photos. The view is just… magical ❤ I’ll let the photos do the talking. Apologies in advance for the overexposed photos. It’s my fault, i didn’t know how to adjust the settings of the camera. hehe! but now I do. Learning from my mistakes 😀
They have a store on the island where you can buy food but it will depend mainly on the catch of the day. When we went they only had tanigue but scallops and oysters are a constant since they farm it just on the side of the beach. And you’ll be surprised how much it costs! For our lunch, my friends and I bought food from the market (near Estancia Port) and cooked it on the island. Cost of paluto depends on what you’re going to cook and what dish you want out of it but i’d say roughly around P200 per kilo.
BANTIGUE ISLAND (No entrance fee, just give donation)
From Cabugao Island, you will already have a view of Banigue. This was our next stop after Cabugao where we stayed for about 30 mins. It’s a long stretch of sandbar with a couple of lounge chairs with umbrellas. There’s really nothing to do there but to swim.
ANTONIA BEACH (P40 entrance fee/ person)
Islas de gigantes is the scallops capital of the Philippines. Scallops are sold here at P1.00 per piece, yes P1.00!!! 😀 They have a special rate if you want it cooked at P100 for 80pcs. We went crazy and i’m sure you will too! 🙂 Cabugao, Bantigue and Antonia all serve scallops at the same rate. Antonia was our last stop where we went snorkeling and ordered our last batch of scallops. It was around 4:30PM when our boatman signaled us that it was time to go. The ride was about 1 hour and 30 mins so we were able to catch the sunset on the way back.
For your quick reference, here’s the breakdown of our expenses for Islas de Gigantes. I travelled with 5 other friends so per head expenses were not that bad. I must say though that compared to other island hopping experiences i’ve had, this is probably the most expensive but worth it! I can’t stress than enough. If you’re more on the budget trip, just invite more friends to come. Besides, the more the merrier right? and in this case… cheaper 🙂