Gigantes Islands and Beaches

The Gigantes Islands, also known as Islas de Gigantes or the islands of giants, is a remote group of islands located off the coast of Carles and Estancia towns in northeastern Iloilo, Philippines. It takes at least 5 hours to get there from Iloilo City. Those willing to go the “extra mile” can look forward to enjoying beautiful seascapes and a laid-back island lifestyle that Gigantes has to offer. The islands are blessed with pristine white sand beaches, bountiful fresh seafood, and jagged rock formations shrouded by mystical tales of locals. Despite the increase of tourist arrivals in recent years, Gigantes has retained its off-beat charm and remains relatively undeveloped compared to Boracay, Bohol and other mainstream Philippine destinations.

Guides and Blog Posts

Tourist Spots and Things to Do

Take an island hopping tour – A visit to Gigantes is not complete without taking an island hopping tour to see its magnificent beaches and islands. It takes half a day at least to visit the main sites, which includes Cabugao Gamay Island, Tangke, Antonia Beach, Bantigue Island, and Pawikan Cave.

Cabugao Gamay Island, Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo, Philipp

Cabugao Gamay Island

Tangke, Gigantes Sur Island, Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo,

Tangke salt water lagoon

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Rock formations in Gigantes Sur as seen from the island hopping tour boat.

Relax at white sand beaches – Gigantes is blessed with many white sand beaches and sandbars. The main islands, Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur, may have their own sandy beaches but the best ones can be found at Antonia, Cabugaw Gamay Island, and Bantigue, which can only be reached by boat from the resorts.

Antonia Beach

White sand beach and calm waters at Antonia

Gigantes Norte Island, Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo, Philip

Beachfront of Gigantes Norte

Iloilo, Philippines

Sunset view from Gigantes Norte

Explore mysterious caves – The islands are home to many caves hidden behind steep rock formations and cliffs. Many of these like Pawikan Cave have spacious caverns that can be easily explored. It is said that the islands got its name from over-sized coffins found inside Bakwitan Cave in Gigantes Norte that contained gigantic sets of human bones.

Visit the lighthouse at Gigantes Norte – Ruins of an Spanish-colonial lighthouse found at the northern shore of Gigantes Norte Island. Climbing to the top of the modern lighthouse that stands beside it affords a breathtaking view of the sea.

Go Rock Scrambling – A very steep rocky trail in Gigantes Sur leads to the top of the row of limestone cliffs that the locals call as the “Boulevard.” This high vantage point provides a 360 degree view of Gigantes group of islands and the Visayan sea.

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Overlooking view of Cabugao Gamay, Cabugao Dako, and Bantigue Islands from Boulevard View Point in Gigantes Sur

Feast on fresh seafood – You can look forward to cheap and fresh seafood in Gigantes, unofficially known as the scallops capital of the Philippines. The islands are also abundant in fish, squid, crabs, shrimp among other aquatic delights. Prices of seafood here and in Estancia are more affordable than the cities of Iloilo and Roxas, and definitely a lot cheaper than Manila or Boracay.

Resorts and Accommodations

Most of the established resorts can be found at Gigantes Norte. These resorts offer basic accommodations and are catered to budget-conscious travelers. There are also homestays available at Gigantes Sur.

  • Arjan Beach Resort (Gigantes Norte; Facebook; +639999918643)
  • Rosewood Place Resort (Gigantes Norte; Facebook; +639079551099 / 09107101595)
  • Gigantes Hideaway Inn (Gigantes Norte; +639184685006 / +639155796612 / +639479954296; [email protected])
  • Jesa Beach Resort (Gigantes Norte)
  • Ray John Resort (Gigantes Norte)
  • Scallop Point Resort (Gigantes Norte)
  • Las Marias Resort (Gigantes Norte)

View all hotels and resorts in Iloilo.

Transportation

How to Get to Gigantes

Estancia Port is the the most popular jump off point since it is the only seaport with a commuter ferry service to Gigantes. It takes around 2 hours by pumpboat (local outrigger) to get from Estancia to either Gigantes Norte or Gigantes Sur. The fastest way to Gigantes is through Bancal Port in Carles, which is only one hour away, but boats for hire are harder to come by. Air travelers may arrive at the airports in Roxas City, Iloilo, Kalibo, and Caticlan. Roxas Airport is the nearest but more flight options are available at Iloilo Airport and Kalibo Airport.

From Estancia Port – Estancia Port is the most popular jump off point to Gigantes, and the main sea transportation hub and fishing port in Northern Iloilo. Traveling by pumpboat from Estancia Port to Gigantes takes approximately two hours. It is the only seaport with commuter pumpboat services to Gigantes. There are multiple commuter pumpboat routes that ferry passengers to various barangays in the islands. All commuter pumpboats are regularly scheduled once daily only. They arrive and depart at Estancia Port at around the same time too. The pumpboats usually arrive at Estancia around noontime and depart at 2PM. The same boat departs from Gigantes (to Estancia) at 7-9AM. Aside from commuting, you may also charter a pumpboat at Estancia for a direct trip to Gigantes. The cost of the chartered roundtrip transfer to Gigantes plus a whole island hopping tour is around P5,000 per boat. Tricycle fare from Estancia Transport Terminal to Estancia Port is P10 per passenger. Travel time takes around 5 minutes.

  • Estancia Port to Brgy. Asluman, Gigantes Norte – The fare from Estancia Port to Gigantes Norte Island is P80 per person.
  • Estancia Port to Brgy. Lantangan, Gigantes Sur – The commuter pumpboat route is operated by “M/V Three Sisters” or “M/V Romel”

From Bancal Port, Carles – Bancal Port in Carles is the nearest seaport and fastest way to Gigantes from mainland Iloilo/Panay. Transiting through Bancal Port is a good option if you already have a contact for the pumpboat charter since it will cut the sea travel in half. Though, if you are looking for pumpboats for hire on the spot then Estancia Port is a better choice since more boats are docked there. Carles is around 20 minutes away from Estancia by bus.

From Iloilo City – Buses and vans from Iloilo City to Estancia are stationed at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro District. Travel time by bus takes 3-4 hours and the fare is around P170-P180 per passenger. The bus route is operated by Ceres Liner. Commuter vans does the trip in only 2 and a half hours and the fare is P150 per passenger. Learn more at Iloilo Bus Guide and Iloilo Airport Guide.

From Roxas City, Capiz – Ceres buses ply the Roxas to Estancia route. Travel time takes one to two hours.

From Kalibo Caticlan, or Boracay, Aklan – There are no direct passenger bus or van routes from Kalibo Caticlan, or Boracay in Aklan to Estancia or Gigantes. You would need to transit through Roxas City. From Kalibo, there are commuter vans that go direct to Roxas. The land travel takes one hour. From Boracay or Caticlan, you can take a bus or van to Kalibo first. Travel time takes 1 hour.

From Bacolod City, Negros Occidental – There are no direct commuter routes between Bacolod and Estancia or Gigantes. From Bacolod, you can ride a fastcraft ferry to Iloilo City and then travel by land to Estancia. You may also take the RORO (slow ferry) to Dumangas Port, and then travel to Barotac Nuevo, where you can catch a bus to Estancia.

Getting around Gigantes

To travel between islands in Gigantes, you need to charter a boat since there are no options for commuting. The bigger islands, Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur, have narrow inland roads connecting different villages on the island. Fare for motorcycle taxis, locally known as “single,” is P10 per person. Roundtrip transfers to the lighthouse in Gigantes Norte costs P60 per person including waiting time.

Typical Expenses

Accommodation costs – Fan cottages start at P200 per person per night. Aircon cottages start at P1,500 for cottages that can fit 2 to 4 people.

Transportation costs

  • Iloilo City to Estancia – Bus fare is P170 to 180 per person, while the van fare is P150.
  • Estancia Bus Terminal to Estancia Port – Tricycle fare is P10 per person.
  • Estancia to Gigantes – The fare on the commuter pumpboat to Gigantes Norte is P80 per person. The cost of the chartered roundtrip transfer to Gigantes plus a whole island hopping tour is around P5,000 per boat.
  • Within Gigantes Norte or Sur – Motorycle taxi costs P10 per person per way

Activities and Tour costs

  • Island Hopping – Chartering a pumpboat for a whole-day island hopping tour around Gigantes (including a guide) costs P1,500 to P2,000 for up to 10 people. The guide costs an additional P500.
  • Cabugaw Gamay Island – P20 entrance fee per person
  • Antonia Beach – P20 entrance fee per person
  • Tangke – P30 entrance fee per person
  • Gigantes Norte Lighthouse – P50 entrance fee per person and P60 per person for the roundtrip motorcycle taxi transfer.
  • Bakwitan Cave Tour – P500 for the cave guide and P200 for the roundtrip motorcycle taxi transfer.

Itinerary and Budget

When taking the commuter pumpboat to Gigantes, spending at least 3 days and two nights is recommended since the boat arrives in the island late in the afternoon and leave early morning the next day. If you are hiring your own chartered pumpboat, it is possible to visit Gigantes on an overnight trip from Iloilo City.

Travelers can also spend the night at the town proper of Carles or Estancia, where there are more options for beach resorts and hotels, and then charter a boat to explore the islands of Gigantes. When taking this alternative, it’s better to stay at mainland Carles since it is much nearer to Gigantes than Estancia.

3 days and 2 nights Itinerary

Sample 3D2N Gigantes itinerary for do-it-yourself (DIY) budget travelers. The estimated budget is around P2,500 to P3,000 per person for a group of 4 people traveling from Iloilo by van, staying at a fan room in Gigantes Norte, and doing all of the activities mentioned below. This estimate includes the roundtrip transport commute from Iloilo City, meals in Estancia / Gigantes, and the island hopping charter plus entrance fees.

Day 1
0800 – 1100 Iloilo City to Estancia Port via bus/van
1100 – 1400 ETA Estancia; Lunch at Estancia Town Center; Buy Provisions
1400 – 1600 Estancia Port to Gigantes Norte via commuter pumpboat
1600 – 1700 ETA Gigantes Norte; Resort Check-in
1700 – 1800 Gigantes Norte Lighthouse tour
Day 2
0700 to 1700 Gigantes Island Hopping Tour
Day 3
0600 – 0900 Resort Check-out
0900 – 1100 Gigantes to Estancia via commuter pumpboat
1100 – 1230 ETA Estancia Port; Lunch at at Estancia Town Center
1230 – 1530 Estancia to Tagbak Terminal via bus/van
1530 ETA Tagbak Terminal, Iloilo City

Get Oriented

  • Buy food (for the first day), water, and other necessities in Estancia since the islands are limited to sari-sari type stores only. On your second day, you could buy fresh seafood at the barangay but be sure to go to the selling area early morning since the locals usually send most of their catch to the mainland. You may also arrange this with your resort.
  • Be sure to have enough drinking water for the whole duration of your stay. There is potable spring water in the island if your stomach is up for it.
  • Electricity only runs at scheduled hours of the day/night. Electricity is turned on late in the afternoon until 11pm and then switched to a power generator, depending on the resort.

Thanks for sharing!

Contributors

Marcos Caratao is the founder of Explore Iloilo. He loves to go on off-beat adventures to discover the beauty of his hometown, Iloilo, and beyond.

Visit Marcos's website. Follow his adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

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