Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Islands)

Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Islands)

Islas de Gigantes or the “islands of giants” is a group of islands located off the coast of Carles and Estancia towns in Northern Iloilo. The main islands, which includes Isla Gigantes Sur and Isla Gigantes Norte are situated 18 kilometers from the mainland. From Iloilo City, Islas de Gigantes can be reached after a three-hour bus ride to Estancia Port and then a two-hour boat ride.

Islas de Gigantes boasts of pristine white sand beaches, bountiful fresh seafood, mystical rock formations, and laid back island lifestyle. Tourist facilities are largely undeveloped in these areas. Travelers who are willing to go the “extra mile” can look forward to enjoying the beautiful sights and mystifying experiences that Islas de Gigantes has to offer.

Things to see and do

Where to Stay

Resorts and homestays accommodating visitors are located at Isla de Gigantes Sur and Isla de Gigantes Norte.

We have yet to confirm the availability of places to stay in both areas. Northern Iloilo was heavily damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) in early November 2013.

Getting there

Major jump-off points to Islas de Gigantes include Estancia Port in Estancia and Bangcal Port in Carles. Both ports are located in Northern Iloilo and are (at least) three hours away by land from Iloilo City or 1-2 hours away from Roxas City in Capiz Province.

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 boat from Estancia port to Gigantes takes approximately two and a half hours. It is also better served by public buses coming from Iloilo or Roxas City than Bangcal Port.

From Estancia Port, there are two passenger boats that offer once daily services to Gigantes. One boat goes to Gigantes Norte and the other goes to Brgy. Lantangan in Gigantes Sur.

While land travel from Iloilo City to Bangcal port takes a longer time than via Estancia port, sea travel from Bangcal port to Gigantes is shorter because of the closer physical distance. Transiting through Bangcal port is a good alternative for travelers with private transportation.

Iloilo City to Estancia

From Iloilo City, you can catch a 3 to 4 hour bus (Ceres Liner) to Estancia at the Tagbak Bus Terminal in Jaro District (P171 bus fare). Estancia can also be accessed by a 1 to 2 hour bus ride from Roxas City, Capiz. Dropping off at the Estancia integrated bus terminal, getting to Estancia port takes only 10 minute tricycle ride (P8 tricycle fare).

For information about getting to Estancia, visit the Iloilo Transportation Guide.


Estancia Fishing Port

Estancia to Isla de Gigantes Norte

There is a daily passenger (pumpboat) ferry service from Estancia port to Isla de Gigantes Norte. The passenger ferry departs once daily from Estancia fishing port (P80 fare). The same boat goes back to Estancia port from Gigantes Norte on the next day at around 9am.

Estancia to Isla de Gigantes Sur

There is a daily passenger (pumpboat) ferry service from Estancia port to Brgy. Lantangan in Gigantes Sur Island. The passenger ferry departs once daily from Estancia fishing port (P150 fare).  The ferry docks at the southern end of Lantangan. The same boat goes back to Estancia port from Gigantes Sur on the next day at around 7 to 8am.

If standing at the port and facing the open sea, the passenger ferry waits for passengers at the left side (northern end). Just ask the locals that you’re looking for the pumpboat named “M/V Three Sisters” or “M/V Romel” that goes to Gigantes. The ferry usually arrives at Estancia port around noontime and departs at around 2PM (better be at the port much earlier).


Boat journey to Islas de Gigantes

Getting around

There are many local fishing boats for hire at Lantangan if you wish to go on an island hopping tour around surrounding islands. A whole day boat rental could cost P2,000 per boat (depending on your negotiation with the boatman or haggling skills).

Brgy. Lantangan is the most populated area in Gigantes Sur and has its own white sand beachfront. There are single motorcycles available for hire to get to the other parts of Lantangan or to Brgy. Gabi at the other side of the island facing Gigantes Norte Island (P10 fare).

There are also single motorcycles available for hire for transportation around Gigantes Norte.

Traveler Tips

  • Buy food (for the first day), water,  and other necessities in Estancia since the stores in the island are only limited to sari-sari type establishments. 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.
  • Bring 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 is powered by a generator and runs at selected hours of the day/night.

 Itinerary

Since the ferry leaves Estancia port at around 2pm, this leaves visitors with enough time to take the early morning bus to Estancia from Iloilo City. The first trip leaves Iloilo City at around 5:30AM.

Arrival at Estancia would be 9 to 10am. Head directly to the fishing port and ask about the boat bound for Gigantes. Have early lunch and buy all the stuff you need at the Estancia market area.


Estancia Market

If taking the passenger ferry, spend at least 3 days and 2 nights in the island.

3 days and 2 nights itinerary

  • Day 1
    • Ride jeep / taxi to Tagbak Terminal in Jaro District, Iloilo City
    • 5:30AM – Ride Ceres liner bus to Estancia (P171 fare); Drop off at Estancia Bus Terminal
    • 9:00AM – Arrival in Estancia Bus Terminal
    • Ride tricycle to Estancia Fishing Port (P8 fare)
    • 9:10AM to 12:00NN – Buy food, water, and other necessities at the market; Early Lunch
    • 12:00NN – Board Gigantes ferry at the fishing port (P150 fare)
    • 2:00PM – Departure from Estancia
    • 4:00PM – Arrival in Brgy. Lantangan, Gigantes Sur
  • Day 2
    • Island Hopping Tour

One full day may not be enough time to explore all of the sights in Isla de Gigantes. For more places of interest in Isla de Gigantes visit our Carles Guide.

  • Day 3
    • 7:00AM – Board ferry going back to Estancia
    • 9:00AM – Arrival in Estancia fishing port
    • Travel back to Iloilo City

Budget: This is a do-it-yourself itinerary so expenses will vary. For reference it should cost at least P1,500 to P2,000 for a group of 5 persons.

2 days and 1 nights itinerary

Traveling to and around Gigantes for two days and one night is also possible if you rent your own boat from Estancia. You will have to rent the boat for transportation from Estancia Port to Gigantes, island hopping for the rest of the day, and then transport back to the mainland. Boat rental for this type of itinerary typically costs P5,000 for the whole boat.

Overnight at Carles or Estancia Mainland

Travelers can also spend the night at the town proper or Carles or Estancia where there are a  handful beach resorts and hotels. Just go to the fishing port and ask around for available pumpboats for hire.

Taking this alternative, it’s actually better to stay at mainland Carles since Gigantes Sur is just one hour away from Carles town proper / poblacion. Resorts such as Carles Shangri-la Family Resort have their own pumpboat service for guests.