When you're in the Visayas province of Iloilo, home to the Dinagyang Festival, the La Paz batchoy noodle dish, and old churches like Jaro Cathedral, one of the top things to do in Iloilo is to go island hopping in Islas de Gigantes or Gigantes Islands located in Carles.
If you love the beaches and islands of other top Philippine tourist spots like El Nido in Palawan and Boracay, you should definitely add Islas de Gigantes to your Philippine vacation itinerary. In Iloilo's Islas de Gigantes, you'll visit secluded white-sand beaches, stunning rock formations, and long stretches of sandbars. Also known as Gigantes Islands, its name came from the local tales that bones of giant humans were found in one of the caves here, this Iloilo island hopping destination is also known for fresh but budget-friendly seafood.
To help you plan your trip to this Iloilo tourist spot, read this article on everything you need to know about Islas de Gigantes including the best time to go, how to get there, where to stay, and which attractions to visit during your Islas de Gigantes island hopping tour:
Gigantes Island tours are available all year long, giving you a wide range of travel options. Still, you have to consider that island hopping in the Philippines is best during dry and summer months, which run from November to May. Since typhoons around these months are rare, you don’t have to worry about weather-related problems that might spoil your visit to the island.
Then if you have time to spare getting to and around the island, you may be able to catch one of the best festivals in the Philippines, the colorful Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City, which takes place on the first month of the year.
If you’re coming from Manila in Luzon, Cebu in Visayas, Davao in Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Luzon, Hong Kong, or Singapore, you can take a direct flight with Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific going to the Iloilo International Airport in Iloilo City.
Ride a taxi going to Tagbak Terminal in Jaro District.
From Tagbak Terminal, ride a Ceres Liner bus or commuter van bound to Carles. By bus, your travel time may take 3 to 4 hours, whereas traveling by van may take around 2.5 hours (109KM).
Get off at Bancal Port in the town of Carles, where you’ll be riding an outrigger boat to head to Gigantes Island. Travel time is approximately 1.5 hours.
From Manila, you can also reach Gigantes Island via direct flights to Roxas Airport in Roxas City, Capiz. Since Carles is only about 1.5 hours away from Roxas City (54KM), you’ll be able to cut down your travel time going to Gigantes Island.
Take a Ceres bus located at Lawaan Transport Terminal going to the town of Estancia.
Alight at Balasan town and ride a tricycle going to Carles.
Proceed to Bancal Port and hop on a pump boat, which will then take you to Gigantes Island.
Photo by Solina Beach & Nature Resort
You’ll need at least a day to see the main attractions of Islas de Gigantes, which makes a day tour ideal in certain situations.
However, if you’re planning to stay for a few more days in the islands, you can always book a hotel or resort nearby Islas de Gigantes.
Alternatively, you can camp in any of the two beaches at Antonia Beach, a popular lunch stopover for guests of island hopping tours.
Solina Beach and Nature Resort - a 4-star beachfront resort with pool, restaurant, and villas perfect for families and dormitories for big groups on a budget.
New Beach Head Resort - a 1-star beachfront resort with pool, restaurant, and budget-friendly accommodation
Photo by The Beach House
The Beach House – Gigantes Island - a laid-back accommodation with dormitories located in Estancia area of one of the main islands in Islas de Gigantes
Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn - one of the first homestay accommodates in Islas de Gigantes that offers budget-friendly accommodations
An island hopping tour in Gigantes Island is the perfect chance for you to visit these charming top destinations:
Despite its small size (Gamay is the local word for small), this island is famous for several reasons, including its elongated shape with thick flora on one end and stunning rock formations on the other end. You can take a dip in the turquoise waters, or lie down on the white sandbar located in the middle of the island for a relaxing island experience.
Cabugao Gamay is also known as the selfie island because of the viewpoint where you can have your picture taken with a beautiful view of the island in the background.
Photo by @07jayem on Instagram
This is Gigantes Island’s natural pool quietly tucked behind towering limestone cliffs. Waters crashing on the cliffs during high tide or when there are typhoons are what formed this lagoon. This is reminiscent of the turquoise water-filled lagoons of Palawan's El Nido and Coron.
With its long powdery white sandbar, Bantigue Island makes for another swimming or sunbathing spot. Also here, you can have a sumptuous lunch buffet with the menu’s highlights including cheaply priced scallops and dishes made from fresh seafood. Most Islas de Gigantes island hopping tour already includes lunch in one of the island stops.
Translated to “hidden beach” in English, this secluded area has been compared to Boracay Island because of its fine, white sand. There are also small cliffs from where you can jump off straight into the beach’s crystal clear waters.
The most distinguishable feature you’ll see on this island is the large boulders neatly piled on top of one another along the beach shores. Antonia Beach is also famous for serving fresh seafood for lunch as part of your Gigantes Island tour.
Photo by @yhaniiiee on Instagram
Once you see a lone coconut tree standing in the center of this small island, then it means you’ve reached Pulupandan Islet. The beach has a rocky shore, so it’s probably best to just enjoy the view instead of swimming here.
Gigantes Island is on a remote location, so expect weak phone or internet signals. ATMs and convenience stores are also scarce, so it may be best to bring enough cash and other travel essentials with you before heading to the island.
Use your life vest and follow your tour guide’s safety instructions. Last but not least, do your share in promoting eco-tourism by leaving Gigantes Island clean and safe for other tourists as well as the locals.
While you’re in Iloilo, you may want to go on a side trip to check out what neighboring areas and provinces have to offer in these Iloilo tourist spots.
For a taste of Iloilo’s cultural and historical heritage, you can stop by centuries-old churches and ancestral homes like the Jaro Cathedral, Miagao Church, Molo Church, Molo Mansion, and Casa Mariquit.
See Spanish-era architecture along Calle Real, or take a stroll along Iloilo River Esplanade before capping the night off at restaurants and bars along the Smallville complex. Don’t forget to sample La Paz Batchoy and other homegrown dishes in the Iloilo cuisine, too.
Since Iloilo is in a strategic location in the Western Visayas region, you can use it as a jump-off point going to Roxas City, the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, located in the province of Capiz. Go on a heritage and seafood tour to explore Roxas City’s ancient museums, colonial churches, and dried fish market, plus the Baybay Beach which is the perfect spot to end your day in Capiz.
Plan Your Trip to Islas de Gigantes for a Fun Island Hopping Adventure
A trip to Iloilo wouldn't be complete without a day tour to Islas de Gigantes secret caves and lagoons, fantastic beaches, and baskets-full of cheap seafood! If you're planning a vacation in Iloilo, make sure to check out the Iloilo travel requirements, the best hotels in Iloilo City, and top tourist spots in Iloilo that you can visit aside from Islas de Gigantes.