The Gigantes Islands, also known as Islas de Gigantes or the islands of giants, is a remote group of islands located off the coast of Carles and Estancia towns in northeastern Iloilo, Philippines. It takes at least 5 hours to get there from IloiloCity. Those willing to go the “extra mile” can look forward to enjoying beautiful seascapes and a laid-back island lifestyle that Gigantes has to offer. The islands are blessed with pristine white sand beaches, bountiful fresh seafood, and jagged rock formations shrouded by mystical tales of locals. Despite the increase of tourist arrivals in recent years, Gigantes has retained its off-beat charm and remains relatively underdeveloped compared to Boracay, Bohol, and other mainstream tourist destinations in the Philippines.
Things to Do and Tourist Spots
What are the best things to do in Gigantes? Here’s a few from our list of the best tourist spots and attractions in Gigantes.
Take an island hopping tour – A visit to Gigantes is not complete without taking an island hopping tour to see its magnificent beaches and islands. It takes half a day, at least, to visit the main sites, which includes Cabugao Gamay Island, Tangke, Antonia Beach, Bantigue Island, and Pawikan Cave.
Relax at white sand beaches – Gigantes is blessed with many white sand beaches and sandbars. The main islands, Gigantes Norte, and Gigantes Sur, may have their own sandy beaches but the best ones can be found at Antonia, Cabugaw Gamay Island, and Bantigue, which can only be reached by boat from the resorts.
Explore mystical caves – The islands are home to many caves hidden behind steep rock formations and cliffs. Many of these like Pawikan Cave have spacious caverns that can be easily explored. It is said that the island chain got its name from over-sized coffins found at Bakwitan Cave in Gigantes Norte that contained gigantic sets of human bones.
Visit the old lighthouse – Ruins of a Spanish-colonial lighthouse found at the northern shore of Gigantes Norte Island. Climbing to the top of the modern lighthouse that stands beside it affords a breathtaking view of the sea.
Go Rock Scrambling – A very steep rocky trail in Gigantes Sur leads to the top of the row of limestone cliffs that the locals call as the “Boulevard.” This high vantage point provides a 360-degree view of Gigantes group of islands and the Visayan sea.
Feast on fresh seafood – You can look forward to cheap and fresh seafood in Gigantes, unofficially known as the scallops capital of the Philippines. The islands are also abundant in fish, squid, crabs, shrimp among other aquatic delights. Prices of seafood here and in Estancia are more affordable than the cities of Iloilo and Roxas , and definitely a lot cheaper than Manila or Boracay.
Resorts and Accommodations
Most of the established resorts can be found in Gigantes Norte Island. These resorts offer basic accommodations and are catered to budget-conscious travelers. Tent-style accommodations are also quite popular in Antonia Beach and Cabugao Gamay Island. Additionally, intrepid travelers can arrange a homestay at Gigantes Sur.
The towns of Carles and Estancia are the main jump-off points, which can be reached by land from all major transport hubs in Panay Island including Iloilo, Roxas City, and Boracay. Aboard land and ferry connections, travel time to Gigantes (via Carles) takes around 5-6 hours from Iloilo City, 3-4 hours from Roxas City, and 6-7 hours from Boracay/Caticlan .
Bancal Port in the town of Carles is the most convenient jump off point and fastest way to get to Gigantes Islands. Passenger boats from both Carles and Estancia run once daily leaving around noontime to Gigantes. Alternatively, tourists can also charter a boat to get to and around Gigantes from either seaport.
To travel between islands in Gigantes, you need to charter a boat since there are no options for commuting. The bigger islands, Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur, have narrow inland roads connecting different villages on the island.