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Philippines Travel Guide

Philippines Travel Guide seeks to share the vibe of an authentic experience through our idea of adventure travel for explorers and memory seekers in the Philippines.

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Gigantes Island Adventure Tours

We spent 51 days on a planned and organized Philippines Travel tour adventure in 2017. We created the Philippines Travel Guide website to give travelers authentic insights about this archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, comprising almost 7,600 islands divided into three major island groups — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Travel Diary 15-17:

After spending 3 days (Day 12-14) in the island of Guimaras, where we hopped on the wonderful islets, watched the magnificent sunset on a hilltop, and tasted the world’s sweetest mangoes, we were ready to explore Gigantes Island for another 3 days (Day 15-17). Also known as the Islas de Gigantes or the islands of the giants, this remote island group is located off the coast of Carles and Estancia towns in Northern Iloilo, Panay Island Western Visayas.

As trivial as its name, enormous bones inside the caverns were discovered by early residents of the island. This is the reason why local people believed that giant human species lived in Gigantes long before humans did.

Aside from its interesting mythical tales, Gigantes Island is home to pristine white sand beaches, bountiful fresh seafood, and must-see rock formation

Day 15: How do we Get from Iloilo to Gigantes Island?

7 March:

We were ready to set out to Gigantes del Norte, part of Gigantes island group in the northeastern region of Panay, Western Visayas. We took the bus from the Ceres Northbound Terminal to get to the harbor of Estancia, Iloilo Western Visayas. The bus trip was approximately 2 hours long. From the harbor, we hopped on a banca and journeyed to the island for another 2 hours. Traveling by banca or boat in the Philippines is the main option for locals on short- distance sea travels.

There are two islands comprising Gigantes Island — Isla Gigantes del Norte (in the north) and Isla Gigantes Sur (in the south). You should know that these islands are very close to each other and haven’t been developed for tourism. So the infrastructure is very limited. Still, there are so many things that you can do in Gigantes Island.

Where do we Stay in Gigantes Island?

We checked into the Hideaway Tourist Inn in Brgy. Asluman, Carles Iloilo Province, Western Visayas. It was one of the few resorts on the island at that time. There is no Internet or phone reception in the area. In fact, the entire island barely has one. The electricity was regulated and was only used for lighting during night time, which is why generators were used in most resorts.

It has few bungalows that offer basic amenities. So instead of shower, you’ll get to experience taking a bath using a bucket of water and a tabo (a dipper or a pitcher used for bathing). Along with a manual flush in public restrooms, bucket and tabo are very typical fixtures in Philippine homes.

If you are a backpacker or a budget tourist , you will definitely come across these types of toilets in the Philippines. When you plan to visit the country, it pays to prepare accordingly. Start by knowing the top essentials for travel tips in the Philippines to make your entire travel experience more comfortable and efficient. Looking for more accommodation on your holiday rental options? Click here .

Hideaway Tourist Inn has a very limited number of air conditioned rooms with showers, which look like hotel rooms . As an added facility, there is a treehouse bungalow and little bar where you can enjoy the fresh air and the view. As for food, there is no menu and you can only choose from the ones available at the time. But, basically the food was okay.

If you haven’t been to the archipelago, visit the top 10 quick facts about the Philippines to get a quick overview of the country.

NOTE : Being flexible is key when exploring the Philippines. Hence, we recommend that you carry your own toilet paper. Also, avoid clogging the pipes by not throwing these toilet papers into the bowl.

Google My Maps Gigantes Island Travel Adventures: Day 15-16

If planning a trip to Gigantes Island, check out the Google My Maps below to experience activities and adventures, and get to know different routes and directions, accommodations to stay, attractions to visit, and restaurants to dine in. Visit the Gigantes Island travel Google My Map to learn more about our Philippines Travel routes and adventures.

What are the Available Foods in Gigantes Island?

For dinner, we were offered a dish consisting of fish and seafood. This can get a little problematic if you are not a seafood eater, like me. But we didn’t bother, and just headed out to buy some street food from the eateries or small local diners in the area instead. We waited for it to be cooked, and took it back to our accommodation. 

It is exciting to know the wide variety of different food dishes all over the country. Make sure to try the top traditional dishes of the Philippines.

NOTE : Being flexible is key when exploring the Philippines. Hence, we recommend that you carry your own toilet paper. Also, avoid clogging the pipes by not throwing these toilet papers into the bowl.

Day 16: How do we Explore the Lighthouse of Gigantes Island?

8 March:

As usual, we were up early but the weather wasn’t pleasant for a trip to the lighthouse in Gigantes Island North, municipality of Carles, Iloilo Western Visayas. But still, we decided to push through it. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bad decision because it started raining heavily as we arrived. So, we had to seek shelter in an old Spanish ruin nearby.

We immediately returned to the resort as the rain stopped, and didn’t have an idea on what to do next. We were supposed to go on an island-hopping trip in the afternoon but the wind picked up. Although it seems to have no plan to calm down, the weather cleared up and revealed the beautiful sunshine behind the clouds.

The weather in the Philippines can change very quickly as it lies in the tropical zone. Be cautious at all times, and bring the right gear to protect yourself from heavy rains and strong winds.

Riding an XRM bike, to which a resort staff named Joseph lent us, Zak and I (Dani) returned to the lighthouse to get some better shots. It is always fun to learn and speak some of the useful Filipino words & phrases to gain new local friends in the Philippines.

We arrived at the lighthouse and were welcomed by a group of children. The kids sold shell souvenirs, so I bought one then requested them to get us to the lighthouse guard. The little bargain actually worked as they took us to his home.

We asked him politely if we could go up to the top of the lighthouse. He just nodded, grabbed his keys, and opened the door for us to get in. With so much excitement, we climbed all the way up and reached the top. We got a handful of beautiful photos of the stunning views from above.

Not everyone gets the chance to climb up the lighthouse — that’s why we felt so lucky to be permitted to do so. Before we left the lighthouse, we gave the security guard a little tip which made him happy.

NOTE : Locals in the Philippines are helpful and friendly. Getting help is easy when touring around the country.

What Makes an Amazing Island Hopping in Gigantes Island?

Although it was windy, we decided to go on an island-hopping trip at lunch time by a banca or boat. It was high tide, making it ideal to visit the neighboring islands.

Our first stop was the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon , a natural saltwater pool that lies behind the steep cliffs of Gigantes Island, located in the city of Carles, Iloilo Western Visayas. The lagoon wasn’t too spectacular aside from the monkeys climbing up the rocks.

We headed to Cabugao Grande Gamay in the Northeastern coast of Panay, Western Visayas. It is approximately 2 kilometers away from Gigantes Island Sur, and an ideal place to sit back, relax and enjoy turquoise-colored waters.

The place has available accommodation for budget group tourists . The simple restaurant lets you relax and unwind over a few bottles of beer. But, it is not recommended to go here on weekends because of the large groups of tourists visiting the restaurant.

There are many top spots for island-hopping in the Philippines that you shouldn’t miss.

We moved on to the northeastern part of Iloilo, around 18 kilometers off the coast of Panay mainland to reach Bantigue Island . Being just a large sandbank, it offers lesser activities than the previous islands we visited. But, it has super fine sand and crystal clear waters. There is only one Sari-Sari store (a small local convenience store) on the island. As much as we wanted to reach the last spot of our island-hopping tour, we decided to go back to the accommodation because of the strong waves causing high waves.

The way back was extremely rough. It was quite an adventure. The banca (a typical small Philippine- made outrigger boat) was small and not suited for sea travel during rough weather. Back in the resort, we spoiled ourselves with real Filipino street food – cheap and extremely delicious . It is the best way to support the locals too.

Day 17: How do we get from Gigantes Island back to Iloilo?

9 March:

Today, we were set to go on a trip back to Manila, the capital of the Philippines in the Luzon Region. We anticipated it to be a long trip back, so we got to the pier in Isla Gigantes Norte from the Hideaway Tourist Inn early in the morning. Unfortunately, there was no boat available to get us to Estancia on Panay Island.

Therefore, we rode on shared motorbikes to find a banca at the next pier. Riding a rental motorbike in the Philippines was such an exciting experience. It was low tide when we reached the second pier, so we needed to hop on a small transfer banca to reach the bigger one traveling to Panay Island.

Everybody was in the transfer banca and ready to go, but the engine failed to start because of the wrong fuel filled in the boat’s tank. The second banca, a bigger one that was waiting in deeper waters, did not have a shipmaster to control it. After a long, serious discussion with our tour guides, we finally reached the bigger boat as the skipper suddenly turned up. Sometimes, that is how it is in the Philippines.

The ferry that took us to Port of Estancia , Western Visayas didn’t really look stable or safe. But we had no choice, as it was the only ride back to Iloilo City in Panay Island. Despite all these challenges, it is good to know that you can travel by ferry in the Philippines on all popular islands.

Larger bancas have two engines , the main engine and a backup motor in case of emergencies. Using the secondary motor, we ended up cruising very slowly towards our destination. We had to argue with the boat crew about what had happened to find out the solution they had in mind, but they remained quiet.

Obviously, their solution was to go very slowly towards the harbor. We were already stressed-out because we had booked a flight at 6 p.m. from Iloilo Airport (ILO) to Manila NAIA Airport (MNL).

Google My Maps Gigantes Island Travel Adventures: Day 17

If planning a trip to Gigantes Island, check out the Google My Maps below to experience activities and adventures, and get to know different routes and directions, accommodations to stay, attractions to visit, and restaurants to dine in. Visit the Gigantes Island travel Google My Map to learn more about our Philippines Travel routes and adventures.

How to Fly a Drone in Windy Conditions in the Philippines?

Spending so much time on the boat, Zak got bored and decided to fly his drone. So he went to the upper deck or the banca’s roof, to let the drone fly but the drone started to break loose in the strong wind. Zak wrestled the drone to get it back under control.

Do you know that the drone can do up to 3500 rotations per minute? It is because of its quadcopter with four rotors. Its blades are made of carbon and are really sharp too. As the drone went wild in a windy condition, Zak got cuts on his arms and legs. Nonetheless, he didn’t give up and went back to the rearmost part of the roof instead.

What he did was crazy and very risky. It was a really close call but he showed impressive reactions in getting it back to safety without damage. As a bonus to such a brave effort, Zak got some good shots, but had to live with a few cuts and bruises for the next couple of weeks.

If you like flying drones when visiting new places, remember that there are general rules for flying a drone in the Philippines. It is highly recommended to follow these guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety and to avoid unexpected incidents on the trip.

We never expected to get to Estancia in the northeastern part of Panay island before lunchtime. We planned to take the public bus going back to Iloilo City. But we might miss our scheduled flight back to Manila if we do so. So, we decided to join a group of Filipinos we met on the boat.

How do we get from Estancia to Iloilo by Minivan?

While on the boat to Estancia, Panay Island Western Visayas, we came across a group of young architects who own businesses in Manila. They had an organized public minivan transfer from Estancia to Iloilo, which is located in the Southern portion of Panay. A minivan land transport can take you to your destination a lot faster than taking a bus because it stops very often.

There were around 17 of us including the driver. We needed to squeeze into the minivan, making it an uncomfortable trip for everyone. But then, all the challenges we had experienced on our way back to Iloilo served its purpose. We were able to catch our flight from Iloilo Airport to Manila NAIA on time.

NOTE : When you hire a private minivan in the Philippines, the payment for toll fees, petrol, and driver’s meals are often not included in the quoted rates.

How do we get back from Iloilo to Manila by Plane?

We landed in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) or Manila International Airport (Luzon Region) past the rush hour, around 9 p.m. to be specific. It is the perfect time to travel as there is not much traffic anymore. We took an Uber (presently known as Grab) going to our hotel in Manila.

There are many types of transportation in Metro Manila that you can choose from. We checked in at our hotel at around 10 p.m.

NOTE : Traveling around the Philippines is fun. But unexpected incidents can happen, especially when exploring unknown places that are not yet developed for tourism.

Google My Maps Philippines Travel Diary: Day 1 to Day 51

Check out the Google Maps below, to have an overview of the entire 51 days of Philippines travel adventure including exciting attractions and activities we did, destinations we explored, and travel directions in the Philippines.

Why do we Create the Philippines Travel Guide?

Zak and Dani created the Philippines Travel Guide while on 51 days Philippines travel adventure in 2017. Focused on the idea to explore travel routes and documenting location information by using the Google Maps application in the Philippines.

We created a detailed Philippines travel diary each day about our Philippines eco-adventure traveling experiences, including the production of pictures and videos of our trip through the Philippine archipelago.

Philippines Travel Guide is passionate about helping other self-minded adventure travel lovers, to make the best out of the trip to the Philippines by providing real information that passionate travelers and enthusiasts need to know about the archipelago.

Philippines Travel Guide is an ongoing process to work out public shared and detailed Google MyMaps of the entire Philippines to provide easy navigation for travelers.

This website also contains a collection of interesting authentic insights and travel tips and tricks and destinations in the Philippines.

SUMMARY: Gigantes Island Adventure Tours

Gigantes has maintained its off-beat charm and its raw, undisturbed beauty. We highly recommend that you visit Gigantes Island if you are looking for a sense of sheer isolation and a laid back atmosphere to relax and unwind.

There is a reason why its palm-fringed islands with dramatic rock formations are a part of travelers’ bucket list. Visit this remote island before it starts to get flocked by many tourists.

As all transactions are done without cards, remember to bring enough cash with you. Make sure to charge your gadgets as well because the island has a limited power supply. Money is essential when traveling, get an overview of the currency in the Philippines: best money management tips for travelers.

For the time being, we will call this little journey a wrap and go on to our next location. For the succeeding 3 days of our Philippine adventure diary (Day 18-20), we went to the Bureau of Immigration for a Visa extension & Food Tour Around Manila.


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Also, check out these accounts for more Palawan adventures! 
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FB: Pranadize 
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Join our Facebook Group and connect with other travelers and adventurers! 

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