Summer in September, I love You ForeverMonday, April 20, 2015
This post has been sitting in my queue for quite some time now, over a year to be exact. Yeah, I know. Procrastination at its finest. I was thinking if I should still publish this since it's been months since I last went to the place and things may have changed already, buuuuut, the place is too lovely I just have to share the photos. If I remember correctly, we went on this trip on September 2013, lol, hence the title. I almost choked on my burger realizing how overdue this post is.
Anyway, let me tell you about this enchanting place called Islas de Gigantes. Our guide told us that it was named such because it was believed that the people who used to live in the islands were giants--and they have the bones to prove it. Our friend arranged everything for us so I won't be much of help in the organizing department. But, I'll share everything I remember about the trip with hopes of helping you guys out should you choose to embark on this journey alone or with your friends. Though I highly encourage you go with your friends since boat rentals can be quite pricey if you're alone. Plus, everything is certainly more fun with friends in tow! Not to mention cheaper, too.
We decided to explore Iloilo City, since that's where we landed, before heading to Gigantes. From Iloilo City, buses and vans going to Estancia are situated at Tagbak terminal in Jaro. We arrived at Tagbak terminal at around 5:30AM, just enough for us to have a quick breakfast before the 3-4hr trip to Estancia. You can opt to take a van or the bus. We opted for the van because the fair is cheaper and the travel time is shorter, though you can't really guarantee a working air-conditioner.
Upon arriving at Estancia Port, we hopped on to our chartered (naks!) pump boat. You can opt to ride the commuter pump boat that services all the Barangays in the Islands. The good thing about the chartered pump boat is that you have the liberty to come and go as you please, and it also covers the island hopping tour whereas the commuter pump boat only takes you to the Barangay of your destination and as far as I know, it only has one schedule.
Where to stay
Upon reaching Sitio Hayahay, we rode a motorcycle so we can get to Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn. Our friend coordinated with Joel Decano, the owner of the place, which also happens to be a Tourism Officer in Carles. Our stay at the inn was hassle-free! It's not a 5-star accommodation but you surely get 5-star service. When we arrived, they immediately served us lunch. I wrote a separate entry about my food diary here and here. You get to pick any room/cottage/tree house that you like and their standard rate was at P200 during that time, not sure if this has already changed though. They also don't operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Just ask them for whatever you need and stay as long as you want, at the end of your stay, they give you a computation of all your expenses. They're very honest so you don't need to worry about being overcharged!
During our stay, everything we needed was handed to us. We felt like senyoritos and senyoritas. One instance was when we were asking where we can buy aspirin because my friend wasn't feeling so good. The person we were talking to went away for a while and came back with Aspirin. We also wanted to drink so we asked where we can buy beer, again, they asked how many we want and then bought it for us. Of course it wasn't free, it was added to the computation of our bill at the end of our stay. But nothing beats the kind of service they offered while we were there. We felt like we were the only guests around when in fact, a lot of people were there!
What to do
Island Hopping. Your chartered boat isn't chartered for nothing. Visit Cabugao Gamay Island, Antonia Beach and Bantigue Island. During our visit, the current was too strong that we didn't get to visit the Tangle Saltwater Lagoon. I saw from a friend's posts that you can enjoy cliff diving inside the Tangke lagoon as well. Sounds fun! This I have yet to try!
Caving. When our tour guide told us we'll do light trekking and spelunking, we weren't expecting that he was referring to himself as the standard, lol! The trek to the cave was a bit muddy and tedious but we got through! Inside the cave, that's a different story. In Sagada, there were ropes to guide you if you are to climb a steep area. Inside Pawikan cave, all we had were the guides! Add to that the fact that our outfits were inappropriate! I seriously felt scared to death while we were traversing the cave. I was thrilled and happy that we got out alive albeit sweaty and scarred, lol. The view once you get out of the cave is priceless! We also saw a huge Balete tree, believe me when I say it's huge, on our way down the mountain.
Visit the lighthouse. The lighthouse is a few miles away from the inn. You can walk if you want to but we took the motorcycle being the lazy beings that we are. The motorcycles can only go so far as the road to to the lighthouse is concerned because the road wasn't fully established. There's a 5-minute walk to the lighthouse once you get dropped off. During our visit, the caretaker wasn't there and the doors were locked so we weren't able to go up the lighthouse. We only explored the ruins and the surrounding area, which was still a nice experience.
I plan on going back this year as I haven't fully explored the impressively beautiful islands of Gigantes. I'm particularly looking forward to trying out cliff diving and climbing the lighthouse! When we went there in 2013, there weren't a lot of tourists yet so taking photos was also enjoyable because no photobombs, yay! I posted a separate photoset way back, you can also check it out. Shameless plugging right there, haha! I just want to share it took me a week to finish this post! Whatever happened to not procrastinating? I'll do better next month, lol.
Totally out of topic, I just want to share that I'm actually having one of those immensely bad days as they call it, but what the hell, things do get better, right? Enough negative vibes, hope you're all having an awesome Monday. Avengers this week, yay!