Located on the Northern most tip of Panay island, Gigantes Island is consider as the last town of Iloilo. It is blessed of beautiful modern lighthouse, unspoiled beaches, captivating islands, mystical caves, and vast crystal-clear emerald to turquoise waters.
Aside from beach bumming, here’s what you can do in Gigantes Islands.
Visit the lighthouse
1. North Gigantes Lighthouse
According to our guide, the lighthouse was established during 1895 by the Spanish government. But due to the destruction brought by Typhoon Frank in 2008, Japan replaced the old one with the current medium-sized lighthouse that is solar-powered. The keeper’s house survived but in ruins. It is best to go here for sunrise.
1. Tangke Lagoon
The place is so serene inside with giant rocks towering the emerald calm waters (quite opposite of the waves we endured outside).
This is the first stop of our island hopping. We started at around eight in the morning and reached the lagoon before nine. The waves were crazy that time so we had a little difficulty going inside the lagoon (actually, it’s just me, since I don’t know how to swim and I’m terrified of open sea). Our boatmen parked their boat quite far from the lagoon entrance because it’s too dangerous for the ravishing waves. When I learned that we can no longer go near and we had to swim ourselves going to the lagoon I felt sick. I convinced them that I was pretty okay to be left out at the boat. It’s my first time to swim in an open sea with that kind of crazy waves so it took me lots of convincing before I jumped off. Good thing their convincing powers were greater than mine.
On this island, you’ll also see a rock formation where people can go cliff-diving/jumping. If only I know how to swim I would rather cliff jump because it looks easy than to jump in a crashing waves. Again, it took me couple of minutes to jump as we have to time when the waves subside. It’s dangerous because of the rock formation outside the lagoon. My biggest thanks to our guide and boatman, they really endured so many pain for me. Sabi ko naman kasi sa kanila okay na ako maiwan sa bangka, eh pinilit pa nila akong bumaba nahirapan tuloy sila. Late ko na narealized, na conquered ko ang fear ko. Wow!
2. Cabugao Gamay
Our second stop is Cabugao Gamay. According to kuya Junie, our guide, Gamay means small in the Visayan dialect, and this island is quite small but one of the more picturesque islands we got to visit. If you google Gigantes Island, most of the pictures of the Islands you will see is the Cabugao Gamay. Here, aside from beach bumming and swimming you can try rock climbing with the help of a rope and a little spelunking. Above, you will get to see the whole beauty of the island. You don’t need to be athletic to climb since the rocks are not too steep.
3. Antonia Beach
Third stop, my favorite Antonia beach. A paradise-like white sand beach, perfect-line coconut trees with inviting emerald green waters, perfect for swimming and rich marine life perfect for snorkeling. Snorkeling gear can be rented for P50 per person. On this island there’s a small store so when you get hungry you can buy food and drinks here.
4. Bantigue Sandbard
A 15 minutes boat ride from Antonia Beach is Bantigue Sandbar, our fourth stop. According to our guide, it is best to go here during low tide to fully appreciate the long white sandbar.
5. Balubadiang Island
Our last stop for Island hopping, Balubadiang Island. This is where we had our lunch as it is an extension of Hideaway Inn resort. We also saw some men building nipa huts on top of rock formations when we were there. We rest for more couple of minutes after our seafood-feast lunch before we headed back to Asluman, the main island. According to kuya Junie, during low tide locals just walk across the sandbar from Balubadiang to Asluman.
Explore Mystical Caves
1. Bakwitan Cave
Bakwitan Cave is one of the numerous caves on the islands which mostly unexplored. According to our guide, Bakwitan in Ilonggo dialect means a place to evacuate. This cave served as a refuge to many locals during Super Typhoon Yolanda. Aside from being an evacuation center, Bakwitan cave also serves as a burial site in the past.
From Balubadiang, we go back to the main Island. We ride a habal-habal to the foot of the hill where the jump off is located. Climbing to the opening of the cave was not a walk in the park. I remembered catching my breath when we reached the opening of the cave, we’re not even inside the cave yet.
It was dark and slippery inside as it rains the night before but it didn’t hindered us from witnessing a few stalagmites and stalactites for the first time, and I said few because some of the are dying already. According to our guide if you touch these they will withered and die. It’s also quite sad to see a lot of vandalism inside the cave, mostly locals did it according to our guide.
After checking out the stalagmites and stalactites, the activity started to become more challenging. We had to crawl through a small hole and ascend in a slippery floor. You need to listen attentively to the guide to avoid any accidents. Our guide gave as a step-by-step instructions as where to put our feet and hands while ascending.
In the middle of our tour, our guide said it’s our choice if we wish to go further up. He said there was another exit if we decide to end the spelunking right then and there. But since we’re already there, we decided to continue and we had to ascend using a rope and through a small hole, again. Since my legs are short, this was difficult for me because you really have to stretch your legs from the starting point, and there was nothing there where you can rest and secure your foot as you go up.
We we’re like a happy child when we finally see a light as it means we’re near the exit. From the exit, our guide instructed us to ascend further to see a nice view of the island below. From the picture you can see a light rains approaching so we didn’t stay long. We were about to start to descent when the light rains poured and it didn’t stop until we finished.
And the hardest part started, the descending. It turns out that the descent was more difficult than ascending especially there’s no rope we can hold on to while we descent (plus it’s raining), and more dangerous because we had to climb down sharp rocks where one wrong move can send you tumbling down the rocks and toward the cliff. And I got my fair share of this, I was just lucky boyfriend was behind me when I slipped and he was able to hold me. I got a few bruises but nothing serious.
We finished in more than one hour, we rest for a while before we went back to the resort tired, dirty but fulfilled and proud of ourselves for what we’ve accomplished. It’s not bad for first timers like us.
All the Islands and tourist spots in Gigantes can be visited within a day.
Our Gigantes Island Experience
Where To Stay In Gigantes Island
Itinerary and Expenses For 3D2N Gigantes Island