Located on the northern coast of Iloilo in Estancia is the remote group of islands called the Gigantes Islands. There are two things to look forward to on this tour: CHEAP SEAFOOD and ISLAND HOPPING. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, visit the small town of Carles and get access to very cheap seafood and the famous Gigantes Islands.

Getting to this island is very engaging; it will take at least 5 hours of land travel. Not to mention, there might be a lot of transfers if you will be going from Caticlan (Boracay). Your Gigantes Island day tour will end in the late afternoon, which means staying in Carles is necessary.  Even if you leave Carles after the day tour, you might not be able to go where you need to.

HOW TO GET TO GIGANTES ISLANDS

First things, first.

How do you get to Gigantes Islands? 

First, you will have to go to the municipality of Carles to get access to Bancal fish port. Bancal fish port is the drop-off point going to Islas de Gigantes.

Here are several ways you can get here:

» From Iloilo City to Carles (Bancal Port):

Bus Fare: Php184
Luggage Fee: Php10 (they may charge more depending on the number of your luggage)

Summary:
Iloilo City (Tagbak Terminal) → Carles (Bancal Port)

Go to Tagbak terminal located in Jaro District and ride the bus going to Carles. The bus’s last stop is at Bancal Port. Traveling to Carles Town will take at least 4-5 hours. You can opt to ride the air-conditioned bus or the non-air-conditioned one. 

» From Roxas City, Capiz to Carles (Bancal Port):

Shuttle Van fare: Php65
Luggage fee: Same price if the luggage will occupy a seat in the van

Summary:
Roxas City (Transport Terminal) → Estancia (Balasan Terminal) → Carles (Bancal Port)

Head to Roxas City Transport Terminal and ride either a shuttle van or the Ceres bus going to Balasan Terminal in Estancia. Once you’re in Balasan Terminal, you can grab a tricycle ride going to Bancal Port. This trip will take around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the traffic, and the waiting time for the drivers to fill the van with passengers.

» From Caticlan (Boracay) / Kalibo to Carles (Bancal Port):

Total Shuttle Van fare: Around Php400 (more or less)
Luggage fee: Same price if the luggage will occupy a seat in the van. Php10 fee for buses.

Summary:
Caticlan Jetty Port (Boracay) → Kalibo → Roxas City → Estancia (Balasan Terminal) → Carles (Bancal Port)

1. Caticlan Jetty Port to Kalibo: Once you get off the boat, shuttle vans are waiting for passengers outside. Grab a ride going to Kalibo. Tell the driver that you will be going to Roxas City in Capiz. Shuttle van fare is around Php150-200. I honestly cannot remember the exact amount since we were running around with our luggage.

2. Kalibo to Roxas City, Capiz: The van driver will drop you off at the Ceres terminal in Kalibo. Take the bus going to Roxas City. Fare is around Php100-150.

3. Roxas City to Estancia (Balasan terminal): Once you are at Roxas City transport terminal – tell the barker to drop you off at Balasan Terminal. The van fare from Roxas City to Balasan terminal is Php65.

From Balasan terminal, hail a tricycle going to Carles or Bancal Port. Riding a bus is also possible if you will see one. 

WHERE TO STAY IN CARLES, ILOILO

These are some recommended accommodation near Bancal Port:

MORE BOOKING OPTIONS

Want more options? Check out more accommodation listing by using the search bar below:

Booking.com

WHERE TO BOOK YOUR GIGANTES ISLAND DAY TOUR

WHERE WE BOOKED OUR TOUR

We booked our trip with Gigantes Island Tours & Services. You can leave them a private message on their Facebook page.

If you’re a group of 4 like us, booking a tour with an agency is cheaper. A private tour is always optional but comes with higher fees.

NOTES BEFORE TAKING THE TOUR:

•  Presence of mind is a must.
•  
The sequence of the islands to visit may not be followed by the agency chronologically due to the sea condition.
•  
Bring sturdy shoes. Wearing flip-flops is not allowed as it might cause unprecedented accidents.

DAY TOUR PACKAGE TOUR

Price:

Php999/pax Joiner tour

Inclusions:

Environmental Fee
Tour Guide Fee
Island Entrance Fees
Private charter boat (joiners tour)
Overloaded servings of food for lunch/Tours
Island hopping (5 islands to visit|)

Tour Highlights and Itinerary:

08:30 amMeet up at Bancal Port in Carles
09:00 amRegistration at the Tourism office
09:30 amPulupandan Island (Swimming)
10:00 amCabugao Gamay
12:00 pm Lunch at Antonia Beach (Antonia Beach – Snorkeling and swimming plus picture taking)
01:00 pm  — Bantigue Sandbar and Tangke Lagoon (Enchanted Lagoon)
03:00 pm — Boat leaves back to Bancal port
04:00 pm — End of tour

Extra Activities at Antonia Beach: 

Banana boat ride Php200 each minimum of 5 pax
Jetski Php2000 for every 30 minutes

2D1N JOINERS PACKAGE TOUR

Prices:

Php1799 — 1-2pax
Php16993-4pax
Php15995pax
Php14996-7pax
Php13998-9pax
Php134910-15pax
Php129916pax

Inclusions:

Environmental Fee
Tour Guide Fee
Island Entrance Fees
Free unlimited coffee
Boat service to and from Gigantes Islands
Private accommodation (1-night fan room)
Island Hopping (6 islands + cave tour + full meals – lunch, dinner, breakfast)
Bonfire activity (upon request)

Tour Highlights and Itinerary:

DAY 1:

08:30 am — Meet up at Bancal Port
09:15 amRegistration at the Tourism office
09:30 amStart of Island Hopping
10:45 amPulupandan Island- Swimming
11:30 amCabugao Gamay
12:30 pmLunch (will be served at the accommodation)
01:30 pm — Antonia Beach (Check out the list of activities at Antonia Beach on the section above)
02:30 pm — Puting Baybay Gamay
04:30 pm — Bantigue Sandbar and Tanke Lagoon (Enchanted Lagoon)
05:00 pm — Back to the resort/accommodation

*Free time**

7:00 pm — dinner
8:00 pm — Free time

DAY 2:

07:30 am — Breakfast
08:00 amStart of the 2nd-day activity
8:30 am to 10:30 amPawikan Cave (spelunking activity)
11:30 amLunch will be served
12:30 pmQuick shower
01:00 pmBoat leaves back to Bancal port
03:00 pmEnd of tour

NOTE: Children and elderly people are not allowed to join the cave tour since some parts of the trail are not so easy. This is to avoid accidents.

Activities at the accommodation:

Videoke (at your own expense)
Drinking session
Stargazing
Bonfire available upon request

GIGANTES ISLANDS

There are more islands to visit if you take the 2D1N tour but, since we only joined the day tour with fellow trip joiners, here are some of the islands we visited covered by the day tour:
PULUPANDAN ISLAND
The first island to slash off — Pulupandan Island. There’s nothing much to do here, we just took pictures around this small islet and then went on to the next island. There are some rocky areas around the island, make sure to be careful. I had the opportunity to slip off the rocks as usual.
BANTIGUE SANDBAR
Bantigue sandbar is another small island that’s much better for swimming activities and just playing around the waters. There’s a lady who sells tasty ice candy here for only Php20. I recommend that you buy her Avocado ice candy, it’s delish!

Out of all the islands to visit on our Gigantes Islands day tour, this place for me has the best seascape. The sandbar was so naked and seeing the distant islands make it more pleasing.

CABUGAO GAMAY
Searching online for Gigantes Islands, you’ll usually see photos of this scenic island. Cabugao Gamay is a photogenic island where you will have to climb steep stairs leading to the peak of the rocks.

I recommend you head straight to the peak if you want a shot of the island before the line gets too long. The tour will leave ample time for the tourists to take photos and swim around.

TANKE SALTWATER LAGOON / ENCHANTED LAGOON

Tangke Lagoon is a wide lagoon enclosed by towering rocky formations. Lucky enough, our group was able to visit here with very few tourists around. As stated before on the itinerary, the list of islands may not be visited chronologically. Our boat driver changed our itinerary so we can visit Tangke Lagoon earlier than the plan.

For us, it was totally fine since we were able to enjoy the lagoon with a lesser crowd.

NOTE: If the boat driver wishes to change the itinerary for a different reason, he will ask if it’s alright with the group. On our experience, we visited all the islands first and lastly went to lunch. Our joiner group all agreed to this.

I wanna try this too~

ANTONIA BEACH

My first impression when we arrived at Antonia beach is that’s it’s a quiet island. Perhaps our timing was right and we get to enjoy the island with few tourists around. There’s a snorkeling area here and you can also book accommodation at Antonia’s Beach Resort. It’s a tent accommodation that you will immediately see when you arrive on the island.

LUNCH BUFFET!

This kind of clam is really cheap here in Carles!

Just further north of Tanke Lagoon is a small neighborhood where the guests can have their lunch buffet. There’s nothing much to do here except to eat lunch! Just after a few minutes after we ate on the island, we went straight back to Bancal Port.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

I suggest staying at least two nights in Carles Town to have a proper rest. Several cheap accommodations are available near Bancal Port that’s only a few minutes away by walking.

Since our group visited Carles from Iloilo city, this itinerary will reflect how we ventured from the city to the town.

NOTE: We were already in Iloilo City before going to Carles. Going from the airport to the bus terminal to Carles is possible but will take almost a whole day trip.

DAY 1

08:00 am — Check out from the hotel at Iloilo (we stayed at the People’s Hotel – highly recommended)
08:15 am — Taxi ride from the hotel to Tagbak Terminal (Jaro District)
09:00 am — Tagbak Terminal / Breakfast (Waiting time for the bus going to Carles will depend on the bus schedule. I think it took us 30-45 minutes of waiting time before riding.)

02:00 pm — ETA arrival in Carles
02:15 pm — Check-in at the inn or hotel (we stayed at Chateau de Aow)
02:30 pm — Late lunch / Free Time

DAY 2:

07:00 am — Breakfast (we had complimentary breakfast from our accommodation)
08:30 am — Meet up at Bancal Port in Carles.
05:00 pm — ETA back at Bancal Port / End of the tour
07:00 pm — Dinner
09:00 pm — Rest

DAY 3

The third day will depend on your itinerary. As for us, we went from Carles to Boracay Island. It was physically exhausting since we have luggage to consider on every ride.

07:00 am — Breakfast
08:00 am — Bus/Tricycle to Balasan terminal (we were fortunate that a bus passed by taking a tricycle is pricier)
08:30 am — Balasan Terminal → Roxas City → Kalibo → Caticlan Port Jetty → Boracay
02:00 to 3:00 pm — ETA Boracay Island

The transfer of rides is an estimate only. The time of arrival for each spot will depend on the passenger waiting time and the traffic.

Check out this comprehensive guide on how to travel between Iloilo, Carles, and Caticlan (Boracay).

I slept like a log till the next morning when we arrived in Boracay. The ride and the Gigantes Island day tour toll a toll on my body. *sobs* If you will be following our itinerary, please make sure you are physically fit. Especially if you have heavy luggage.

TRAVEL EXPENSES

NOTE: The expenses mentioned here do not include the airfare. To get the cheapest airfares, book a promo flight from Cebu Pacific Air. And to get the cheapest regular airfare, check out Skyscanner.

Sample of expenses if going back and forth Iloilo City and Carles:

PRICEDETAILS
-Airfare is excluded in this list
₱999Gigantes Islands joiners tour fee
₱1,241Accommodation in Carles for 4 pax (Total is Php4,967/4pax - Chateau de Aow)
₱300Food Budget (Chateau de Aow has affordable dish prices and breakfast is complimentary)
₱184Bus from Iloilo to Carles (Bancal Port). Extra fees are applicable when you have extra luggage with you.
₱180-200Transportation from Carles to Iloilo City
₱2,924TOTAL

List of estimated expenses if going from Iloilo City to Carles to Boracay Island:

PRICEDETAILS
₱2,000Roundtrip Airfare (rounded-off, regular price). You can book a much cheaper promo flight with Cebu Pacific
₱1,400Accommodation for 4 pax in 1 room (₱5,600 in total). We booked at the People's Hotel (recommended)
₱1,000Food Budget (there are cheap restaurants around Iloilo). If you will be going to 'The Avenue' make sure you have extra ₱1k
₱400Transportation budget. This is more than enough when you are a group of 4. You can even lower this down to ₱300
₱50Casa Mariquit Entrance Fee
₱150Garin Farm Entrance Fee
₱250Nelly's Garden (₱200 only if you are a group of 5)
₱5,250TOTAL

ILOILO, GIGANTES ISLANDS AND BORACAY GUIDE

Here are some in-depth guides on how to visit Iloilo City, Gigantes Islands, and Boracay in one go as we did!

•  Places to visit in Iloilo on a budget with a sample itinerary
•  2019: New Boracay Island Budget Guide
•  Guide on how to travel between Iloilo City, Carles Town, Kalibo, Caticlan (Boracay) and vice versa

GIGANTES ISLANDS USEFUL TIPS & REMINDERS

≡ Arrive early before the indicated meet-up time. It is mandatory to register the names of the person in your group.

≡ Make sure to bring medicines during your trip. Why? There might be a bumpy boat ride in the late afternoon and there are a variety of foods served during lunch. It’s best to take allergy medicines with you just in case.

WHAT TO BRING

It’s sweltering hot on the islands!

Sunscreen: If you’re familiar with island hopping, then you know why sunscreen is a MUST.

Sunglasses: This is optional but recommended. If you want to gaze at the seascape, wearing this will help lift the burden to your eyes.

Waterproof Bag: Tell you what. All of you will be splashed by water while on the boat. If you have gadgets with you, bringing a waterproof bag is highly recommended. There are times when you will have to board and walk with the water as high as your hips.

Change of clothes: This is optional only.

Camera / GoPro: Optional, but if you want to record your trip, bring yours with you.

Medicine: For people who easily get seasick and those who have seafood allergies.

Powerbanks: Powerbanks nowadays are a must-have, must-bring item when on a trip. They always come in handy

WHAT TO WEAR
Any type of clothes: Any kind of clothing is okay as long as it’s appropriate for the trip.

Sturdy shoes: Don’t wear flip-flops. Just DON’T.

THINGS TO KNOW

   
How to get to the Iloilo / Caticlan / Kalibo?
If you're coming from Manila going to Carles (Gigantes Islands), book a flight going to either of these destinations, Caticlan, Roxas, Iloilo, Kalibo. Getting a promo fare from Cebu Pacific is the easiest way to get very cheap flights but if you're looking for the cheapest regular fares, try Skyscanner.
 
 
Do you need a Visa?
It depends on your nationality if you need a Visa going to the Philippines. I recommend checking out this website. It will also show you the requirements if you need to apply for one. 
Language/s Spoken
Fluent English is widely spoken here in the Philippines so foreigners visiting will not have much problem with conversing with the islanders.
Local Currency
 In the Philippines, our currency is called Philippine Peso (PHP, ₱)
Getting Around
The main mode of transportation between Carles, Iloilo and Caticlan is by shuttle vans or bus. There are no trains here. Booking a flight from Iloilo to Caticlan is possible but you will always have to take a connecting flight from Manila.

ILOILO CITY TO GIGANTES ISLANDS TO BORACAY. WHAT?

Yes, you can!
A 3-in1 trip may be exhausting but (perhaps) a cheaper alternative than visiting each destination one by one. Our last stop to Boracay hits the spot as I just went to relax during my whole stay there. Exhausting it may be, it was a priceless memory.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The name’s Fiorucci (pronounced as Fee-yoh-ru-chi), I’m not Italian but I can eat pasta for a whole week…or a month…or more. Hop on my story as I travel the world ‘one destination at a time’ while juggling with my full-time work, freelancing and building my own business to gain freedom from this monotonous corporate society.

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