Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Journey to the Island of the Giants

IMG_1898Summer has officially ended when we decided to explore this place. Rainy season has actually started and the ‘habagat’ winds already started cursing the seas so this journey is somewhat labeled ‘life-threatening’ for those who have weak hearts. This island has  a lot of white sand beaches and places of interest.  Unfortunately, tourism is largely undeveloped in these areas and is very inconvenient for tourists to get, so only travelers willing to go the extra mile can experience the beautiful sights of this island. Smile
I have been looking forward to exploring Isla Gigantes when I saw a friends post in facebook. ThiIMG_1917s place looks very interesting to me. I just got lucky because most of the members of my team have this adventure seeking spirit and is eager to discover the island too.
And theIMG_1923 planning took place, we researched the accommodations and at the same time the projected expenses for this overnight adventure. We ended summing up to Php1500.00 per person, that includes the fare from Bacolod – Iloilo VV (Php 380.00) , the fare from Iloilo to Carles supposedly but ended up in Estancia (Php 330.00). Our meals (Php 150.00) and the accommodation (Php 150.00). The boat rental Php 5,000.00 including island hopping (Php 400.00).
We left Bacolod early of June 18 and we were so blessed that the sun is shining brightly, this is the sign of fun adventure. We embarked OceanJet 7:45AM trip and at exactly 9 AM we arrived in Iloilo Port.  We then headed to atrium for last minute shopping and breakfast before we go north bound, off to TIMG_1970agbak Terminal and look for the Carles bound Van.  As originally planned we are supposedly jumping off from Carles to Isla de Gigantes but we reverted it to Estancia Port instead.  That’s how flexible we were.Smile
Isla de Gigantes, Carles is a coastal town located in Northern Iloilo.There are 2 possible ways to get to this place, you can either take a route from Estancia Port or its mother place, Carles.  We took the Estancia gateway to Isla de Gigantes because according to our Van Driver, vessels are much bigger there compared to the ones used in Carles which we think is a safer optiIMG_2031on, not only that, it’s a way cheaper than Carles in all ways
It took us more than 2 hours ride from Iloilo city to Estancia port where our adventure awaits. Upon setting our feet on Estancia Port, Mr. Joel Decano our contact person which happened to be one of the tourism officer in Carles and at the same time the ones in charge of our accommodation in Gigantes meet us and explain the options that we can take so we can get to the mystic island safely. He told me that we can take the passenger vessel from Estancia to Gigantes (Php 80.00 per person) or we can hire a private boat that will take us to the island, stay there overnight with us and at the same timeIMG_2100 will be used for our Island Hopping the next day (Php 5,000.00 max of 20 pax). We had a hard time deciding because the Office gave a heads up that the sea is quite rough and it’s safer to take the passenger vessel but the disadvantage is to leave the island by 9 am. The passenger vessel cruises only once a day to and from Gigantes.  From Estancia it departs exactly 2 PM daily and from Gigantes 9 AM daily. So we then decided to take a private yet smaller boat to take us to the island, this will serve as our sea transportation for this entire trip. So off we all hop and the journey towards the mystic island of Gigantes officially started. I have read that’s its more than an hour trip from Carles to Isla de Gigantes bIMG_2085ut it took us more than 2 hours to reach the island from Estancia Port. Few reasons I can site, the boat that we hired is slower, the sea is not cooperating during that time and lastly Estancia is way distant compared to Carles. Makes sense? Nevertheless the journey seemed to be fun because as we cruise the ocean, I discovered some entertaining facts about Gigantes. According to Sir Joel it was named after a remnant discovery by their ancient folks, they believed to have discovered remains of Giants ranging from 7 to 12 feet tall. It was placed in a wooded coffin.   Not only that, there are a lot of exciting things that we can do once we step our feet on the island. Caving, Swimming, Trekking to name a few. To top this one, is to feast yourselves with Seafoods. The place where we landed is known to be the “Scallops Capital of Carles” so for those who love to eat scallops out there, this is a must see place for you.
We landed in Brgy. Asluman, Isla De Gigantes North. We don’t have a choice but to soak in water because the boat can’t get near thIMG_2169e shore. There is a bamboo raft that should be used to take us to the shore but its useless, the waves take us away either so we then decided to just jump off and walIMG_2145k towards the shoreline carrying all our stuffs. The base camp where we will stay is kind of far so we took a motorcycle to take us there (Php 10.00 per person). The accommodation is cozy and actually beyond what I expected. We only have to Php 150.00 per head and we what we’ve got is a very nice place.You can choose if you wanted to stay in a concrete house or a native one, I will suggest the native one because electricity in the island is from 5PM-12MN only and if weather is too humid, then you will have difficulty sleeping.  People were very friendly and accommodating to our needs. Sir Joel told us we can go caving if we want once we have settled ourselves. Its 2 hours trek to and fro. Since everyone is tired, we call it a day and just set ourselves for dinner.
While I did my ‘take-a-look-at-place’ sir Joel told me that there is a light house 3 Km away from the base camp. Me, Pre, Ellen and Dane took that challenge and see for it for ourselves, it was quite a long walk though but upon reaching our destination, it’s just worth it. While trekking to the light house we cant help but notice thIMG_2200e vbillages on the area seemed to fond in watching TV, they have flat and wide screen TVs and watch out most of them if not all have Satellite dishes Smile.  The lighthouse is located in the northernmost part or Isla de Gigantes North, the view itself is just astounding, it’s on a top of a cliff plus sunset gets in the way. We headed back to the base and then settled ourselves for a seafood fiesta dinner. After that, a small get together, sing-along with drinking session and a bonding while soaking in spring water Jacuzzi. We called it a day and prepared for a more adventurous trip tomorrow at sunrise.
We woke up early the next day to start the day with a long trek toward the Isla de Gigantes Norte Cave. We pass by the village and a little jungle before entering the cave. This calls for an adventurous spirit.. so here we go!! Say level 3 out of the 10 for mIMG_2224e.  This cave will require you to crawl, jump, and pass through slippery pavement but nevertheless I’ve proven that we are stronger than any challenges. These people took initiatives on how to get to the finish line, that’s what it all matters. In the end, its how you survived the journey. Teamwork and at the same time following exact instructions from the guide really matters. When they tell you use left foot, then use it otherwise, its going to be really hard. We’ve manage to end it with happy smiles, though tired, but it’s a sense of fulfillment that despite all the challenges, we survived. Some were telling themselves, I didn’t know I am capable of doing that. It’s also a realization, that if you are just determined to finish something its actually possible.
We headed back to the base camp aIMG_2359nd after that, we packed up and headed off back to the boat for our island hopping and fun-undeIMG_2362r-the-sun part of the tour. First stop, Sand Bar. When we arrived, the rest of the members were like hopping kids, excited for that great splash. The waves were strong but its fun as well, they look like chasing each one of us, its an amazing Splash of Fun. Some of us are fond of collecting shells so precious and hazel did their thing while we are having fun playing with the strong waves. Then we headed off to Antonia’s Island to have our lunch and proceed to our next destination. We are suppose to drop by the lagoon but because of the strong current, Mr Boatman said that’s dangerous to go there so we headed back to Estancia Port.
It was a short but really fun visit to Gigantes Island. It’s a small yet very exciting island where everything you wIMG_2507ill look for adventure is there. A piece of advise, a minimum of 2 nights is really required to rove arounIMG_2433d both North and South Gigantes and its neighboring islands. Summer is the most perfect time to go there but according to Sir Joel Decano, anytime so long as the sea is calm so you can really enjoy the place.
Till next time, Gigantes, an Island that have fulfilled my thrill seeking spirit.   For adventurous, this is really the place to be, no cellphone signals Smile
Special Thanks to Sir Joel Decano of Carles Tourism and Gigantes Hideaway.
For those who are planning to Visit Isla de Gigantes, feel free to leave your comments here or you may reach out Mr Joel Decano @ 09184685006.

1 comment: