Did you know that in the northeastern part of Iloilo (Carles) is a hidden gem — a group of beautiful islands called Islas de Gigantes? Well, I didn’t know about it either until a fellow blogger, Chito, invited me Q1 of 2012 for the first ever trip he was organizing. As much as I wanted to join, I was already scheduled to go to Palawan in February and the March schedule was too close (budget-wise). They pushed through with the trip. And as soon as Chito posted pictures of it, I knew I had to go there as soon as possible.
Cabugao Gamay Island
Fast forward to May 2012, I found out two of my colleagues are from Iloilo. Surprisingly, they aren’t familiar with these islands, but were very enthusiastic when I pitched the idea. We scheduled it for October since two of us share this birth month. Coincidentally, one of my fellow GirlTalkers and her hubby were also heading there and were looking to join a group to split the cost of boat rent and island hopping.
So what happens when you go on a trip with a couple you’re going to meet for the first time, and with colleagues from different teams with different shifts? Well, you ‘coordinate’ via Facebook, agree on the dates, file your vacation leaves, and book different flights. -_-
It is important to note that the only boat trip from Estancia Port to Islas de Gigantes leaves at 2:00 pm. Knowing this and the flights we booked, we informed Joel Decano^ we’ll need a chartered boat so we can start the island hopping early morning the following day. The couple, and me and my cousin spent a night at Paon Beach Club while my colleagues went to their respective homes when they arrived.
If you can book the earliest flight from Manila to Iloilo and want to head to Estancia Port directly, follow Chito’s instructions here.
Here’s how our first day looked like:
- The couple arrived in Iloilo at 7:00 am via Seair. They did a city tour that morning.
- My cousin and I flew via PAL and arrived at 1:00 pm.
- My colleagues took a Zest Air flight and arrived at 6:00 pm.
- Arrived at Iloilo International Airport
- Rode a van (parked at the airport grounds) going to SM Iloilo – Php50.00, about 30 minutes
- Met with the couple at SM Iloilo. Crossed the footbridge, rode a jeep going to Leganes, and got off Tagbak Terminal – Php10.00, about 10-15 minutes
- Rode a van going to Estancia – Php150.00, around 2-2.5 hours
- Took tricycle to Paon Beach Club – Php15.00
- Overnight at Paon Beach Club – Php300.00/head
- Dinner – Php114.00
Total expense for Day 1: Php639.00
- Checked out from Paon Beach Club, took tricycle to Estancia Port – Php10.00
- Breakfast – Php62.00
- Island hopping*: Pulupandan Island or Gakit-Gakit Island, Tangke Saltwater Lagoon, Cabugao Gamay Island
- Checked in at Gigantes Hideaway Inn**, lunch***
- Resumed island hopping: Antonia Beach, Bantigue Sandbar
- Went back to Baranggay Asluman and rode a habal-habal – Php10.00
*This is a chartered boat that includes service to and from Estancia Port and island hopping that’s why the price is higher — Php4,500.00/7 pax: Php643.00/head
**Overnight accommodation — Php200.00/head
***Full board meals — about Php400.00/head
****Additional Php400.00/7 pax — Php57.00/head
Total expense for Day 2: Php1,382.00
GRAND TOTAL: Php2,021.00
^Joel Decano — Tourism officer and owner of Gigantes Hideaway Inn
Facebook page: Isla Gigantes