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)
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
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.
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
Want more options? Check out more accommodation listing by using the search bar below:
WHERE TO BOOK YOUR GIGANTES ISLAND DAY 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.
Php999/pax Joiner tour
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 am — Meet up at Bancal Port in Carles
09:00 am — Registration at the Tourism office
09:30 am — Pulupandan Island (Swimming)
10:00 am — Cabugao 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
Php1799 — 1-2pax
Php1699 — 3-4pax
Php1599 — 5pax
Php1499 — 6-7pax
Php1399 — 8-9pax
Php1349 — 10-15pax
Php1299 — 16pax
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:
08:30 am — Meet up at Bancal Port
09:15 am — Registration at the Tourism office
09:30 am — Start of Island Hopping
10:45 am — Pulupandan Island- Swimming
11:30 am — Cabugao Gamay
12:30 pm — Lunch (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
7:00 pm — dinner
8:00 pm — Free time
07:30 am — Breakfast
08:00 am — Start of the 2nd-day activity
8:30 am to 10:30 am — Pawikan Cave (spelunking activity)
11:30 am — Lunch will be served
12:30 pm — Quick shower
01:00 pm — Boat leaves back to Bancal port
03:00 pm — End 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)
Bonfire available upon request
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.
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
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~
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
|-||Airfare is excluded in this list|
|₱999||Gigantes Islands joiners tour fee|
|₱1,241||Accommodation in Carles for 4 pax (Total is Php4,967/4pax - Chateau de Aow)|
|₱300||Food Budget (Chateau de Aow has affordable dish prices and breakfast is complimentary)|
|₱184||Bus from Iloilo to Carles (Bancal Port). Extra fees are applicable when you have extra luggage with you.|
|₱180-200||Transportation from Carles to Iloilo City|
List of estimated expenses if going from Iloilo City to Carles to Boracay Island:
|₱2,000||Roundtrip Airfare (rounded-off, regular price). You can book a much cheaper promo flight with Cebu Pacific|
|₱1,400||Accommodation for 4 pax in 1 room (₱5,600 in total). We booked at the People's Hotel (recommended)|
|₱1,000||Food Budget (there are cheap restaurants around Iloilo). If you will be going to 'The Avenue' make sure you have extra ₱1k|
|₱400||Transportation budget. This is more than enough when you are a group of 4. You can even lower this down to ₱300|
|₱50||Casa Mariquit Entrance Fee|
|₱150||Garin Farm Entrance Fee|
|₱250||Nelly's Garden (₱200 only if you are a group of 5)|
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
≡ 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.
It’s sweltering hot on the islands!
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
Sturdy shoes: Don’t wear flip-flops. Just DON’T.
THINGS TO KNOW
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.
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.
Fluent English is widely spoken here in the Philippines so foreigners visiting will not have much problem with conversing with the islanders.
In the Philippines, our currency is called Philippine Peso (PHP, ₱)
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?
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.