It was around 7:00 am when Joel had a tricycle pick us up from Paon Beach Club, then we bought breakfast from Andok’s before heading to Estancia Port to meet up with my colleagues. It was already about 8:00 am when we set sail.
We were blessed with great weather that day. ‘Great’ is even an understatement because we had clear skies and calm seas. It was azure everywhere I looked you can hardly distinguish the sky from the sea. It was surreal that the sea was so calm, almost glass-like, that our boat was just literally gliding through the water.
If not for the clouds, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish the sky from the sea.
After cruising for an hour, we reached our first destination – Pulupandan Island or Gakit-Gakit Island. From afar, it looks like an ideal island with a handful of trees and fluffy clouds perfectly hovering over it; like something you just see on earlier versions of a Windows wallpaper. :p
First glimpse of Pulupandan Island
Some fishermen use this island as a ‘stopover’
Nope, this is not Amanpulo 🙂
About 15 minutes from Pulupandan Island is our next stop – Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. I’ve read other blogs where they weren’t able to go inside the lagoon because the waves were strong they had a hard time anchoring the boat. But because the sea was very calm that day, we had no problems docking outside.
Tangke Saltwater Lagoon entrance
The inviting emerald green waters of Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
Just to set expectations, you might no longer be wowed if you’ve already been to Coron or El Nido — where several lagoons and lakes can be found — but that’s not to say that the place isn’t as gorgeous. The water temperature was just right and the chirping of the birds can almost lull you to sleep. Best of all, we had the place to ourselves. It was very relaxing.
We were also fortunate that it was high tide when we went. The water goes from just knee-deep up to chest-deep in the farthest part.
The similarity with Palawan’s lagoons is undeniable.
Locals also dub it ‘Enchanted Lagoon’ because they believe ‘enchanted beings’ live here. Additionally, while it is surrounded by foliage, the water remains free from fallen leaves. Fact or fiction, we tried not to be rowdy as not to disturb its peacefulness.
After spending almost an hour in Tangke, we had to go to our final stop that morning: Cabugao Gamay Island.
We could see some dark clouds as we were approaching Cabugao Gamay Island. But we remained hopeful that the skies will clear up again and we’d have beautiful weather throughout the day.
Kidding aside, our guides took good care of us.
They made sure we’d get to the top in one piece.
To get a 360° view of the island, we must climb the rock formations on one end. The climb wasn’t that hard…only there were some unstable rocks. Remember Takeshi’s Castle where they have faux rocks that send its contestants plunging to fake ponds? haha That’s how some of these rocks are. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating…but you get the point. Better feel the rock first if it’s sturdy enough to hold your weight before stepping on it.
Cabugao Gamay Island
Aside from Tangke Saltwater Lagoon, Cabugao Gamay Island is also one of the most photographed spots in Islas de Gigantes…if not its ‘landmark’.
Spectacular view. The climb was worth it.
Azure waters on my right
And to my left: an endless sea transitioning from seafoam green to turquoise to deep blue
Ingat-ingat din sa pagbaba
We didn’t stay long up there because it was scorching. Besides, the clear water was just too tempting to pass up. We frolicked for half an hour before our guide called our attention. It was time to head to our accommodation at Gigantes Hideaway Inn
for lunch. (This will be on a separate post).
After lunch, we wasted no time and resumed island hopping. We only got two more on the list anyway.
We passed by Bulubadiangan Island (?) on our way to Antonia Beach
Just like a postcard 🙂
The island (as well as Brgy. Asluman) is brimming with scallop shells. If memory serves me right, our guide said some have actually tried grounding the shells and mixing it with cement to build homes. That would be profitable and good for the town’s economy…only if they can find a way to export mountains of these shells.
We only got one other attraction to visit after Antonia Beach so we spent more time here. Anyway, our last stop would be Bantigue Sandbar, which according to our guide, should be visited in the late afternoon when it’s visible during low tide.
Unlike the previous islands we visited, there are several families who live here. They even have a pet dog and monkey. 🙂 It was also here that our guide asked if we wanted to do caving which we initially turned down (but went for it anyway; that deserves a separate post too). This change of mind prompted us to leave Antonia Beach earlier than expected to head to the sandbar.
No offense, Bantigue, you’re pretty but I still love Caramoan’s Manlawi Sandbar. 🙂
While I fervently hope that tourism will boom in this side of Visayas, I do not wish it to be as commercialized as Boracay or end up as the next Caramoan. I feel really lucky we were able to visit these islands while they’re still pristine…and I hope it remains that way.
*Photos with Iloilo Trip 2012 watermark owned by my cousin, Bernadette Sarmiento