Dec 29-30, 2016
Overnight in Carles, Iloilo
GPS waypoint: 11°33'25.5"N 123°09'38.0"E
Location: Bancal (barangay), Carles (municipality), Iloilo (Province), Philippines
Goodbye Roxas City
I thought I would spend the new year in Roxas City. But despite its nurture and looming possibilities, I felt the need to move on. Where? Passi City? Iloilo City? I've heard of Gigantes Islands being tossed around by travelers. Looking at it from the map, it seemed off the beaten path. My advantage was, I was already close to it. If I don't do it now when conditions are favorable, I probably would never go there in the future. The die was cast. I packed up and I was off for Gigantes Island.
low tide at Bancal, Carles, Iloilo
Carles or Estancia?
There are two ways to get to Gigantes Island - via Carles or Estancia. Estancia is more developed and bigger. More buses ply the Estancia route. But it's a longer boat ride to Gigantes. Carles is a sleepy fishing town but closer to Gigantes. I opted for Carles.
Having missed the 10am boat for Gigantes, I spent the night in Carles. It was also my chance to get to explore the place and perhaps discover something often overlooked by many travelers. Sleepy, yes, but they have embraced the tourism factor of Gigantes so lodging is expensive. The cheapest I could find for a fan room is Beverly Hills at P500. I haggled to the bones with the owner promising her special mention on this blog. I got a good price but can't say it here. The rest of the day was spent just walking around. There was a deafening music being played...you couldn't escape it. In the evening, there was an oyster place selling a big platter for P40. With beer at P35, it was seafood dinner for me.
Off to Gigantes
At 8am the following day, I was at the tourism office to pay my dues and reserve my slot on the boat. I was off to Gigantes Island!
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 29-30, 2016
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