Dec 30, 2016
Exploring Bakwitan Cave of Gigantes Island
GPS waypoint: 11°36'51.74"N 123°20'58.24"E
Location: Gigantes Island North (barangay), Carles (municipality), Iloilo (province), Philippines
Exploring Bakwitan Cave in Gigantes Island North is one of the itineraries in the land tour offered by the locals. After a short hike up the cave opening in the mountain, human bones could be seen. It is not sure how far they date back but this cave has traditionally been sanctuary to the locals against the onslaught of devastating typhoons or to ward off against pirate attacks even before Spanish rule.
Probing deeper into the cave revealed spacious caverns, connecting stalactites and stalagmites, ceiling openings allowing a ray of sunshine, and for those with vivid imagination, you see forms resembling wings, cross, and even a shark!
this is the only section where you crawl down to get through
Halfway through is a steep climb onto the slippery rocks through a huge passage resembling another cave opening (within a cave) to another chamber that exits to the top of the limestone mountain. We stopped at this point and headed back instead of doing a traverse.
On one section was a noticeable digging...about 6x6 feet in diameter, going about 7 feet deep. My guide speculated that treasure hunters must have been digging here long before the cave became a tourist destination.
On a discreet section of the cave is an obscure opening where cool fresh air comes out. To enter, you have to crawl down. It leads to a bigger chamber. According to my guide, when pirates attack the town, the children and the women will hide in that chamber while the men would cover the opening with rocks to hide the entrance.
Some parts of the cave, specially the delicate stalactites have been ruined by careless tourists. What used to resemble human rib cage is now rubbles.
Bakwitan Cave is deep enough to warrant an exploration with interesting formations that took a few thousand years to take place. It's also a friendly cave - you don't go crawling through mud or wade through an underground stream or endure the stench of bat dung. You actually explore the cave standing up on a flat solid surface and come out still clean! This cave is worth a visit if you are in Gigantes.
- bring a flashlight just in case
- there is no river or water crossing inside - you can stay dry
- best to bring proper footwear - flip flop is not advisable
(US$1 = Php 49.62 as of Jan 2, 2017)
- you need a guide and you need to hire a single motorcycle P100/pax, round trip. Usually, a fee of P200 is paid to the motorcycle driver to include a visit to the lighthouse
- mandatory cave guide
- single motorcycle ride (2-ways). Usually, a P200 fee is paid to include a tour of the lighthouse. You can make an arrange with Wilson, a motorcycle driver, mobile 0929.552.3185
- suggested donation at the cave registration
Gigantes Island, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines
- boat for Gigantes Island (North) leaves at 10am but be there at 8am to buy a ticket at the tourism office to ensure your slot. The boat only takes a max of 35 people
- the cheapest place to sleep in Bancal Port is Beverly Hills at P500 for a fan room |
- there is an oyster place selling a huge platter for only P40/kilo |
(US$1 = Php 49.62 as of Jan 2, 2017)
- from the city proper, take a tricycle to the bus terminal P10/pax, 10 mins
- at the bus terminal, take a Ceres bus bound for Estancia but get off at the Balasan Crossing P69/pax, 2.5 hours. Ask the bus conductor to let you off at the junction bound for Carles. Better, at the bus terminal, if there is a bus heading straight for Carles, take it - but there are more buses leaving for Estancia
- at the Balasan Crossing, take a tricycle to the market P10/pax, 10 mins
- at the market, take a jeep for Carles town proper P15/pax, 30 mins
- at the Carles town proper, take a single motorcycle to the Bancal Port P15/pax, 10 mins
- at Bancal Port, you can board the boat for Gigantes Island (departs 10am)
- tricycle ride from Carles town center to Bancal port to board the boat for Gigantes Island
- environmental fee payable at the tourism office
- one-way boat fare to Gigantes Island
- small bottle of Beer na Beer
- big platter of oyster
- most travellers bring their own water from the mainland. Bottled water is available ini Gigantes Island, but quite expensive.
- electricity runs only from 3pm to 11pm
- there are no restaurants, cafe or wifi - you usually eat at your resort
- there is nowhere else to go within town so you usually stay in your resort
- there are only 2 tours offered - land tour (Bakwitan Cave + Lighthouse) and boat tour (Antonia Beach + Cabugao Gamay + Bantique Sandbar + Tangke Lagoon)
- Gigantes Island is actually a cluster of islands - Gigantes North, Gigantes South, Cabugao Gamay, Bantique Island, etc.
- as of this writing, the stakeholders are still struggling towards a business model that can accommodate the overnight popularity of Gigantes Island. Infrastructure need to keep pace. Their aggressive pricing policy and crude guest relations need to be improved.
- Gigantes Island is known for its scallops. Make sure to try a dish!
- places to stay in Gigantes Island would be at
Beach Front Resort,
Jesa Beach Resort,
Se Sun Resort and
Arjan Beach Resort.
If you only want a day tour to Gigantes Island and stay the night in Estancia where there are more offerings - restos, cafes, night life, etc., you can check-in at Paon Beach Club and book a tour package with them. One payment takes care of everything - boat ride, guide, lunch, water, island fees. It's a lot easier to get to Estancia from Roxas City or Iloilo City than it is to travel all the way to Gigantes Island to book the tour there.
- 3 Days in Estancia, Iloilo Jan 2-4, 2017
- Gigantes Island Boat Tour Dec 31, 2016
- Visiting the Lighthouse of Gigantes Island Dec 30, 2016
- Exploring Bakwitan Cave of Gigantes Island Dec 30, 2016
- Overnight in Carles, Iloilo Dec 29-30, 2016
Dec 30, 2016
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