One of my favorite trips in the Philippines is when we went to Iloilo last April 2015. I guess because the trip managed to exceed my expectations. It’s seldom we hear people say I want to go to iloilo to go to the beach! We always hear Cebu, Boracay, Bohol, or Palawan, but I seldom hear Iloilo on the list. Well, it should be on the list because in my opinion, it can really compete with the beauty of the other islands!
We went to iloilo on a Holy Week, we had 4 days to explore Iloilo. We planned to stay at Islas de Gigantes (in Carles) for 2.5 days and another 1.5 days at Isla Naburot (in Guimaras). Given our tight schedule, we got the earliest flight from Manila to Iloilo. Our itinerary was jam packed and we had to make it to the boat schedule. We landed at Iloilo airport, then we took a cab to Tagbak Terminal in Jaro bound for Estancia. The terminal is about 10-15mins from the airport.
Here’s the transportation details from Tagbak Terminal:
Iloilo City to Estancia – Bus fare is P170 to 180 per person, while the van fare is P150. 3 hours travel time
Estancia Bus Terminal to Estancia Port – Tricycle fare is P15 per person. 10 mins travel time
Estancia to Gigantes – The fare on the commuter pumpboat to Gigantes Norte is P80 per person.
Note: Estancia port passenger boat to islas de gigantes departure time is 1:30pm once daily. Going back from gigantes to estancia departure time 9am once daily.
Since we had a tight schedule to follow, we did not take passenger boat. We had to charter our own boat to and from the estancia port which cost us P1,500.
For our accommodation, we stayed at Gigantes Hideaway Resort, they offered full board meals + tours as well, which was very convenient. I highly recommend this package. I think it’s the best package deal I’ve gotten ever!!!
Here’s the rate of Gigantes Hideaway Resort as of April 2015.
Islas de Gigantes island tour package rate 3 days 2 nights full board all-in expenses good for 2pax-2,730 each person inclusive of:
- passenger boat fare – 2way
- private boat for whole day island hopping tour in 5-6 islands
- island entrance fees
- 2 nights room accomodation
- 5 meals(family service seafood buffet meals),
- local island guide
- cave guide
- motorbike fare for 3days activity
The itinerary includes; island hopping tour in 5-6 islands, swimming, snorkling, natural cliff jumping, mountain trekking, spelunking-cave exploration, visit to century old spanish lighthouse, watch sunrise n sunset and some motorbiking.
If you would like to book this package, you may contact Joel B. Decano, his contact number is 09184685006.
On the way to Gigantes Hideaway Resort, we saw this beautiful small island.
It took about 15 mins to get to Gigantes Hideaway Resort:
They were already expecting us so they quickly escorted us to our room.
We got there just in time for lunch and they had lunch already prepared for us.
and this… more of these scallops throughout your stay. I’m missing this now….yum!
After a heavy lunch, we decided to rest first as we were tired from the early morning wake up call to catch our flight that morning and all the commute to get here. We took a nap and woke up around 3pm. We scheduled our tour for the lighthouse at 4pm.
Our tour guide was our slash photographer, he was amazing. Bless his heart. He was even more excited to take our pictures than we were. He kept asking us to pose. He took photos in almost all angles possible! You can see the pride in his eyes as well as he told us more about the lighthouse and the island. He was awesome!
Then it was time for dinner. I told you more scallops! no wonder there were tons of scallop shells in the island… haha!
First stop in our itinerary was to see Tangke Saltwater Lagoon…
Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good photo because it was too crowded that day. It was Holy Week so it was highest of the highest peak days. Trust me, it got more crowded by the minute. Climbing the rocks to get a picture was difficult, because people were flowing in and out. That is pretty much expected, although I still wished we could have gone on a less crowded day to better appreciate its beauty.
Next stop was Cabugao Gamay Island. This is what made Islas De Gigantes popular and this is the famous spot…
After Tangke lagoon we quickly went to this place to get ahead of the crowd. Most people took their time in the lagoon, so we had more time to take photos at the top of this rock
We swam a bit in this island but as the crowd thicken, we decided to go to the next island called Bantigue Island Sandbar.
Our lunch included a full basket of this… At first I was thinking “seryoso? paano kainin to?” It was intimidating, it was my first time to see this type of food. I even forgot what they called it. I searched google and they call it “wasay-wasay.” Can you believe we had a full basket of wasay-wasay just for the 2 of us? Now that’s value for our money!
So once you open it, this is what’s inside. It tasted like “tahong”. It was so fresh and it tasted better than I thought it would. My thought bubble at that moment was “paano kaya nila nalaman pwede kainin yung nasa loob nito, mukha naman siyang bato from the outside?” #justsayin #justathought
Then we explored the island which lead me to these rocks at the end of the shore.
There I was, channeling Ariel from little mermaid sitting on top of the rocks…
with a million-dollar view.
Next stop was Pawikan Cave… we did not even know we were about to have the hike / spelunking of our lives. Getting to the cave required a steep hike with sharp jagged rocks. One slip and it will not be pretty. I was so worried my slippers will give up on me during that hike to the cave. I swear my knees were so exhausted from climbing they were trembling involuntarily. #unfitmuch Finally we get to the cave and I thought it would be a breeze from there. I was wrong, we had to crawl very tight spaces and climb ropes. I never felt so outdoorsy and adventurous. It was definitely a first.
Back at the resort dinner was waiting for us and you guessed it! more scallops…:)
The following day, we had to leave early and we did not have time to have breakfast at the resort. We left the island around 6am because we needed to catch another boat at Iloilo port. We rode a boat back to Estancia Port, got in a van back to Tagbak Terminal and got a cab to Iloilo port. It took us another 4 hours to get there.
We stayed at Isla Naburot in Guimaras for our last night it Iloilo. It was a small family owned island. A stay in this private island is a bit pricey, total opposite of our first resort but since we got such a good deal at our first few nights, we decided to splurge on our last night.
One night stay in Isla Naburot is P8,750 for 2 pax with 3 meals, and round trip boat to and from iloilo port. Their original package has a minimum of 2 nights I think but I appealed to Teresa’s (the owner) good heart to allow us to stay just for 1 night. Teresa was very nice and accommodated my request. She personally made sure we were picked up from the port. Teresa is a very pleasant and warm person, she was very easy to talk to.
After about an hour (total 5-hour travel from Gigantes), we approached the resort and I felt my heart pump faster. The exhaustion from the long trip just vanished. It was beautiful!
We freshened up a bit and settled down. Then it was time for our lunch and it did not disappoint.
After eating we then explored the island, lounges at the beach chairs, and did some snorkeling.
The owners told us of the best spot to catch the sunset, so we went to the spot and patiently waited for the sunset.
Watching the sunset is always priceless.
After eating, we decided to hangout in the sand put on some music and do some stargazing. The stars were shining brightly and I even saw 2 shooting stars that night. It was so romantic, I fell in love again. #cheeseballs
The following day we had to leave, but first, breakfast was served.
The owners of the island were very gracious and humble. It really felt like our home away from home. Isla Naburot is truly a special place and I applaud the family for keeping it that way. I will be back 🙂
We had some spare time in Iloilo city as we booked the latest flight back to Manila, ,so we hired a taxi to tour us around. First we heard mass at the famous Molo Church at Jaro. Then we drove to Tatoy’s Manukan to eat. After we went to Jaro Church and Calle Real, then to the airport to transport us back to reality,
It was a jam-packed 4 day holiday, but it was truly unforgettable. Iloilo, you have captivated me. 🙂 Until the next!