Excited to visit Islas de Gigantes in Iloilo? Here are some tips and things you should know before going to Islas de Gigantes:
disclaimer: most of the below tips are based on what we have experienced during our visit in the islands last August 2016.
1. Islas de Gigantes is a group of islands
Islas de Gigantes is a group of islands located in the Western Visayas archipelago within the Visayan sea. This must visit Philippine destination is part of the municipality of Carles, the northernmost part of Iloilo province.
Islas de Gigantes is composed of 10 islands. The two largest islands are the Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur. In the southeast of Gigantes Norte are the islets Bulubadiang, Gigantillo and Gigantuna. On the south of Gigantes Sur are the islands and islets Antonia, Bantigui, Cabugao, Tanguingui, and Turnina.
Antonia Island, Islas de Gigantes
Cabugao Gamay Island, Islas de Gigantes
2. Best time to visit Islas de Gigantes is from December to May
If you want to fully enjoy the Islas de Gigantes experience, the best time to visit is during the months of December to May. Avoid the habagat season from June to November due to the strong sea waves. To preserve the natural beauty of Islas de Gigante’s lagoon which is also known as “Tanke”, guests are also restricted to visit it during the habagat season. Sadly, we visited the beautiful Islas de Gigantes during the season and the famous tanke was closed for tourists.
3. Electricity is from 5 PM to 6 AM
Being a remote island in the northeast part of Iloilo, there is limited electricity in Islas de Gigantes’ mainland- Gigantes Sur. Electricity is only available from 5 PM to 6 AM. During our stay in the island, we experienced blackouts even during the 5 PM to 6 AM window. Good thing is that Gigantes Hideway Tourist Inn has generators to back-up in case of power shortage.
The limited electricity will not be an issue during your stay in Islas de Gigantes. You will be touring around Islas de Gigantes during daytime and will be back in the resort before evening. During your idle time, the experience of not having electricity during daytime will make you feel how it’s like living in a remote island with no electricity and cellphone signal (read number 5).
4. Main Industry is Scallops Harvesting and Shucking
Since there is no electricity during daytime, during our first afternoon in Gigantes Sur, we decided to stroll outside the Gigantes Hideway Tourist Inn resort. We noticed that scallops shells are all over the place. We talked to locals and discovered that the primary industry in the island is scalloping. In fact, Islas de Gigantes’ Gigantes Norte is the scallops capital of the municipality of Carles. As we walked farther, we noticed a group of locals shucking scallops. Their leader was kind enough to tell us more about the scallops industry in the island. Most of the shucked scallops are placed on bottles, frozen and exported to Cebu, Manila and even outside the Philippines. Sadly, they only earn a little from scalloping and shucking. That expensive baked scallops you order in fancy restaurants might be a product of these people’s hard work.
We then decided that we will give most of the goodies we bought for my very first Travel with a Purpose Project to these friendly and hardworking Islas de Gigantes locals.
Tip: Stroll around the area during daytime and discover more of Islas de Gigantes.
4. No cellphone signal except from Gigantes Sur’s “call center”, Bulubadiang and Cabugao Gamay
There is no cellphone signal in Gigantes Sur except for a spot they call as call center. It is where locals visit if they want to use their mobile phones. As for the other islands in Islas de Gigantes, there is also signal in the islands Bulubadiang and the famous Cabugao Gamay. So, while in Islas de Gigantes, do not expect that you will be able to post photos in your Facebook and Instagram real-time.
Tip: Disconnect and simply enjoy Islas de Gigantes. Remember, you are there for the experience. Enjoy first and share your photos later.
5. Limited passenger boat trip going to and out of Islas de Gigantes
Islas de Gigantes can be reached via Iloilo City or Roxas City. Booking a flight is easy but catching the boat trip a day to Islas de Gigantes requires careful time planning as missing the passenger boat ride from the port to Islas de Gigantes could ruin your itinerary. There are only two daily trips going to Islas de Gigantes. One is from Carles port which promptly leaves at 10 AM and the other one is from Estancia port which leaves at 1 PM.
Same goes if you are leaving Islas de Gigantes, there is also a limited number of trips from the Islas de Gigantes Sur to Estancia or Carles port.
Tip: If you don’t want to ride a passenger boat, special and private trip from Estancia port to Islas de Gigantes will cost you 4,500 Pesos.
6. Cheapest tour package is Islas Hideaway Tourist Inn’s
If you are on a tight budget and wants a complete and memorable Islas de Gigantes experience, I would highly recommend availing a tour package offered by Islas de Gigantes Hideaway resort. Unlike other tour agencies, The Gigantes Hideaway’s rates are by far the cheapest we have seen. And I should say that Gigantes Hideaway did not disappoint us. [Related: Cheapest Islas de Gigantes Tour Package].