I was able to side trip during my work while I was in Ilo-ilo. I planned it quickly when my boss told me he’s going to send me to Ilo-ilo. Since it’s biglaan, I have no company. I decided to travel with or without companion. Fortunately, a friend from Cebu accompanied me (thanks Gelo!). Although I did all the planning and diskarte (like asking around where to go and what to do), he did one of most important things, to capture moments. He was my official photographer. haha! 😀
Before my trip, I did a little research on how to travel Gigantes Island. I read about the famous places to stay (like Hideaway Inn) and some travel packages. I learned about the pros and the cons and all in between too.
So my initial plan was to stay in a non-airconditioned room in Hideaway Inn but not avail their island hopping package because I’ve read a bad review on its monopolization in the island (whether it’s true or not). Who knows that could be a black propaganda. lol!
So what did I do?
I made a DIY travel plan. Asking around the cheapest way possible on how I can enjoy Gigantes, I discovered a remote area in Gigantes Sur, it is not the usual place tourists would choose to stay because there’s no hotel or any resort in the area. But I chose to stay here because of Joy. The place is not commercialized. You’ll enjoy a pure local experience.
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A TRAVEL DIARY NOT A TRAVEL GUIDE. I do not encourage anyone to do the same like I did. But if you’re a risk taker and kind of adventurous, you’re welcome. 🙂 I spent around 1500php-2000php my whole trip. Expenses tallied from my starting point: Tagbak Terminal to Gigantes Island and vice versa.
DAY 1. Exploring Gigantes Sur
As soon as our pump boat boarded the shore, we immediately settle our things in the house and headed to the beach for a stroll. Accompanied by the local children, we went to stroll around as far as our feet can go. Some kids were following us wherever we go. lol! Gigantes Sur is a laid-back island rich in sea shells. Toilet, water, and electricity are very limited.
Here are some cool stuff I found in the island:
And a land of shells!
While strolling the island to look for food, we met these ladies cleaning scallops. They excitingly shared to us how the scallops are prepared for export. They separate the white meat from the black and orange meat using scissors. They sell scallops (with shell) for 15php-20php per kilo. While the tenga (white meat) which are ready for export are sold for 150php/kilo.
We stayed at Joy’s house during the trip. They were very welcoming and hospitable. Even their neighbors were joyous to welcome us in the island. Some even invited us to a small chat and they were telling us that they are so happy that a visitor chose to stay in their island.
DAY 2. ISLAND HOPPING
Our second day was the my most anticipated day! Right after I woke up, I immediately ran to the shore to buy fresh fish the fishermen caught.
Joy found a small scale pump boat for the island hopping for 1000php. 500php each for Gelo and I! Way cheaper than the island hopping packages offered in the internet!
While waiting for our boat, I was busy putting tattoo stickers on these kids! haha!
ISLAND HOPPING! THIS IS IT!
FIRST STOP: BANTIGUE SAND BAR
They say the best time to go here is during the sunset and during low tide but it was too late for me to know because we went here during high tide. The sand bar wasn’t full, but at least there were few people so that means less photo bombers. haha!
The water is crystal clear perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The sand bar is too clean, the cleanest island among the Gigantes group of islands if I may say.
SECOND STOP: CABUGAO GAMAY
Cabugao Gamay is the said to be the icon and the most photographed island among the Gigantes group of Islands although there are more equally beautiful islands around.
THIRD STOP: ANTONIA ISLAND
Antonia Island is famous as camping site for those who would love to camp out. You just have to pay P100-P150 per person if you have your own tent. For those who don’t have their own tent I think the locals offer P200/ person a night on a first come first serve basis because of the limited tents. For day tours, the entrance is 40php per person.
Few feet away from the shore lies the coral reefs rich in marine life. It’s best to bring snorkeling gears and fins with you or if not, you can rent snorkeling gear for 50php.
Antonia Island also provides a venue for spelunking. They say it will take 15min to reach the end of the cave where you have the option to cliff dive during high tide. Since we do not have a tourist guide with us, we did not explore the end of the cave. We might end up somewhere and not be able to find our way back. LOL!
I just enjoyed the beach view from the cave though.
FOURTH STOP: TANGKE SALT WATER LAGOON
Tangke literally looks like a water tank. It’s a natural swimming pool surrounded with a beautiful rock formations. Truly enchanting! The color of the water changes depending on the tide. During low tide, it’s kinda greenish and it becomes bluer during high tide.
We dropped by during the low tide, which the water was just my knee-level. The good thing about it was that there was no crowd, only monkeys around. WILD MONKEYS.
Before leaving Tangke, don’t forget to ask for the cliff dive spot! My knees were shaking but it was worth it! (see my video on facebook)
FIFTH STOP: SEA URCHIN HUNTING/ SNORKELING
Our fifth stop was the sea urchin experience and a bit of snorkeling 🙂 This is not offered by the usual island hopping package, but you can request if you really want to. I was taught how to eat fresh sea urchin and giant seashells. It’s a little gross but worth the experience. 🙂
(video will be uploaded soon)
DAY 3. DEPARTURE
BUDGET BREAKDOWN. (From Tagbak terminal as our starting point to Gigantes Island and vice versa.)
VAN FROM ILO-ILO TERMINAL TO ESTANCIA TERMINAL -150PHP
TRICYCLE FROM ESTANCIA TERMINAL TO ESTANCIA PORT -10PHP
PUMP BOAT FROM ESTANCIA PORT TO GIGANTES SUR- 50PHP
PUMP BOAT RENTAL FOR ISLAND HOPPING (INCLUSIVE OF GAS)-1000PHP (500PHP EACH FOR GELO & I)
ANTONIA ISLAND ENTRANCE-40PHP
BOAT FROM GIGANTES TO ESTANCIA- 80PHP
TRICYCLE FROM ESTANCIA PORT TO ESTANCIA TERMINAL-10PHP
VAN FROM ESTANCIA TERMINAL TO ILO-ILO-150PHP
*HOMESTAY AND FOOD NOT INCLUDED IN THE TALLY.
For home-stay, the original plan was a 200php/night budget the same rate for non-airconditioned room in Hideaway Inn, but we decided to give Joy more because our experience was more than worth it.
For food, I wasn’t able to record the exact amount spent. But seafood is really CHEAP AND PLENTY in the island. You can even fish if you know how to!
So if we stick to our original plan, we would only spend 1,410php for our transpo + entrance fees+homestay.
Always do a research before going to unknown place to avoid being taken advantage of.
Always be VIGILANT and WISE when talking to strangers.
Be polite, courteous and friendly.