Summer is coming and the quest to look for an ‘Island Getaway’ is on. Call it being biased but I still believe that the Philippines is home of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
I must admit that I still need to discover more of the 7,600++ islands of the Archipelago, but last year, I can say that I have been in one of the best island destinations that the Philippine has to offer.
A group of Islands called Islas de Gigantes most popularly known as the Gigantes Group of Islands.
Part of the province of Iloilo off the coast of Carles, we went to the Islands on a trip tailored by Las Islas Travel and Tours all the way from Capiz.
We were so happy to be hosted by Las Islas Travel and Tours as they are the only DOT accredited tour operator in the Gigantes Group of Islands, this means that we are in good hands (details on how to reach them at the end of the blog).
On our boat ride to Cabugao Gamay where we will stay at Maruja Flora’s Island Resort we already had a glimpse of the several Islands we will be visiting. These islands are, Cabugao Dako, Bantique Sandbar, Anotnia Beach, Gigantes Norte Island, Bantique Sandbar, Pulupandan Island and Tangke Lagoon.
CABUGAO GAMAY ISLAND
When we arrived at Cabugao Gamay, I was so surprised when they told us that we will stay there. This island looks like PARADISE. Imagine, you have a beach on both sides. Like an island sand bar (hmmm just look at the photos to understand what I am saying). No wonder it is the POSTER-ISLAND.
Though it lacks the convenience of most hotels, our accommodation is perfect to experience life in the island.
The most famous thing to do in the island is to climb one of the limestone hills and have a view of the whole island and islands near it from the top. Because we technically lived there, we had a chance to experience this beautiful view early in the morning and just before sunset.
Though we only have a day to hop around the islands, I felt it was enough to at least get introduced to them.
GIGANTES NORTE ISLAND
First stop was the Barangay-Island called Gigantes Norte Island. While walking on the shore, we saw hills of scallop shells by the beach. It was the first time I saw such a thing. At some point we were actually walking on scallop shells.
We explored the town riding a motorbike aka ‘habal-habal’ and went first to the abandoned light house (dramatic photo time—lol).
Walking around the area, we saw kids selling several crafts made from shell, they said they are using the money they earn as allowance for school. I love that this village doesn’t look so commercialized but at the same time, residents can also benefit from its tourism potential.
Our last stop for our land tour was the Bakwitan Cave. At first, I was not really keen to visit the cave as in the previous trip we had (in Antique), we got a bit traumatized with the number of hiking/trekking we did, but of course, I have to say yes to adventure or else I will leave this place thinking what if. To our surprise, the trek to the cave wasn’t that hard, and maneuvering inside the cave was easy to average in difficulty.
Our visit was perfect. The Tangke Lagoon was closed for rehabilitation and was finally opened a few days before we arrived. Though going to the lagoon was challenging and scary, the view inside was totally worth it. The place was like our own private natural swimming pool. Easily my favorite.
CABUGAO DAKO ISLAND
Cabugao Dako, which means directly translates as Cabugao Big, got its name as a comparison to Cabugao Gamay. Here, you can swim, snorkel and even cliff dive (which it is famous for). Me and my friend Hannah, chose to cliff dive while the rest of our friends enjoyed the blue waters.
Antonia Beach is the most developed resort in the group of islands. You can even rent as snorkel here. From a far, it looks like a real resort with colored flags all over the beach. Just like Cabugao Gamay, it is also in between 2 limestone hills creating a beach on both sides of the island.
Bantique Sandbar, a huge sand bar right across Cabugao Gamay. What we did there? Hmmmm play on the sand and watch the sun – almost – set. They said it is better to visit the sand bar when the sun is still high, this way, you can see it shining really white.
After the Bantique Sandbar, we went back to Cabugao Gamay and watch the sunset properly there. It was magical. I said this so many times already, THE PHILIPPINES HAS THE BEST SUNSET IN THE WORLD.
One interesting island we passed by was the Pulupandan Island. An island with a single coconut tree in the middle. Yheap, like the emoji.
Aside from the obviously beautiful islands and hypnotic crystal blue waters, one of the highlights of our trip was the overflowing scallops! 1 peso a piece! Yes! You can have a scallop party in the island! We also tried a hybrid of a mussel and an oyster called the wasay-wasay (it looks like an alien but definitely tasty).
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Pueblo de Panay, Roxas, Capiz, Philippines