Jan 2-4, 2017
3 Days in Estancia, Iloilo
GPS waypoint: 11°27'40.89"N 123°09'26.88"E
Location: Estancia (municipality), Iloilo (province), Philippines
No Boat for Bantayan
From the map, I noticed that Gigantes Island wasn't too far from Bantayan, Cebu. I lost my interest circumnavigating the rest of Panay Island with that realization. I have always wanted to go to Bantayan, but it never happened despite my long stays in Cebu City. I talked to a merchant in Gigantes if I could ride on his private boat to Bantayan, but was told I just missed it. That meant I had to go to Estancia to catch another boat for Bantayan. But upon arrival in Estancia, I had to wait 2 more days for the Bantayan boat. I had to find a place to stay.
Paon Beach Club
I ventured into town and luckily, talked to the owner of Paon Beach Club who liked my online marketing program. This would be my sanctuary for the 2 nights I would stay in Estancia. Paon was right smack on the beach. With its multi-level resort, I could enjoy the beach scenery from atop a balcony while enjoying my meal. My room was spartan but comfortable, offering basic amenities - tv, ensuite and a/c. I particularly liked the tangy homemade nachos. The Hototay Soup was good, but it didn't taste like Hototay - more like Nido Soup. The sizzling seafood tastes great, but they should have used bigger shrimps. Altogether, I got too comfortable at Paon that I stayed there for the most part instead of venturing into town.
It was a bit unusual, but I spent a great deal of time with the owner. We just talked about many things, but I also conducted a pranayama class (breath regulation exercise) and nauli asanas (yogic stomach churning) to boost his strength and promote regularity. I discussed how he could effectively promote his resort by way of optimizing guest feedback.
Paon Beach Club offered insulation from the city noise
When I heard there was a popular oyster place (talabahan) in town, I took the trike and had dinner at DeRamos Talabahan. It's an unpretentious roadside eatery popular with the locals who enjoy their oyster while belting out a karaoke tune. At P25 for a helfty serving, I paid a total of P130 for 2 orders, rice, 2 sticks of isaw and a Red Horse Beer. Whoa! I could live here!
Two nights went by fast. Before I knew it, I was already on the dock waiting for my 9am boat to Bantayan to depart. Entancia was short but sweet, with all that pampering I got from Paon Beach Club.
- boat for Gigantes Island (Sur) leaves at 1:00pm. There are other boats leaving for Gigantes North as well.
- you can also stay at Estancia and take a day-tour of Gigantes Island through Paon Beach Club
- from Roxas City, Iloilo - from the city proper of Roxas, take a tricycle to the bus terminal P10/pax, 10 mins. At the bus terminal, take a Ceres bus bound for Estancia ~P80/pax, less than 3 hours
- from Tabuelan, Cebu - effective Oct. 2, 2016 | take the Tabuelan Ocean Jet, departs 6:00am daily | 2 hours, 30 mins | P600 | proceed to North Bus Terminal for Ceres Bus transfers beginning at 2:00am
- from Bantayan Island, Cebu - a boat (Balt Bep, 0949.883.3551) leaves Bantayan for Estancia, Sun-Tue-Thur at 9am, P300, 4 hours
- to Bantayan Island, Cebu - a boat (Balt Bep, 0949.883.3551) leaves Estancia for Bantayan, MWF at 9am, P300, 4 hours
- to Tabuelan, Cebu - effective Oct. 2, 2016 | P600 | departs 9:30am daily | 2 hours, 30 mins | Ceres Buses available at Tabuelan Port
(US$1 = Php 49.77 as of Jan 5, 2017)
- DeRamos Talabahan - local favorite with karaoke bar. P25/hefty serving. 11°27'29.93"N 123°08'26.77"E
- usual tricycle fare
- one order of talaba at DeRamos
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
Jan 2-4, 2017
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