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Overnight in Carles, Iloilo Dec 29-30, 2016

Overnight in Carles, Iloilo

GPS waypoint: 11°33'25.5"N 123°09'38.0"E
Location: Bancal (barangay), Carles (municipality), Iloilo (Province), Philippines

Goodbye Roxas City
I thought I would spend the new year in Roxas City. But despite its nurture and looming possibilities, I felt the need to move on. Where? Passi City? Iloilo City? I've heard of Gigantes Islands being tossed around by travelers. Looking at it from the map, it seemed off the beaten path. My advantage was, I was already close to it. If I don't do it now when conditions are favorable, I probably would never go there in the future. The die was cast. I packed up and I was off for Gigantes Island.

Overnight in Carles, Iloilo
low tide at Bancal, Carles, Iloilo

Carles or Estancia?
There are two ways to get to Gigantes Island - via Carles or Estancia. Estancia is more developed and bigger. More buses ply the Estancia route. But it's a longer boat ride to Gigantes. Carles is a sleepy fishing town but closer to Gigantes. I opted for Carles.

Walking Around
Having missed the 10am boat for Gigantes, I spent the night in Carles. It was also my chance to get to explore the place and perhaps discover something often overlooked by many travelers. Sleepy, yes, but they have embraced the tourism factor of Gigantes so lodging is expensive. The cheapest I could find for a fan room is Beverly Hills at P500. I haggled to the bones with the owner promising her special mention on this blog. I got a good price but can't say it here. The rest of the day was spent just walking around. There was a deafening music being couldn't escape it. In the evening, there was an oyster place selling a big platter for P40. With beer at P35, it was seafood dinner for me.

Off to Gigantes
At 8am the following day, I was at the tourism office to pay my dues and reserve my slot on the boat. I was off to Gigantes Island!

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Gigantes Island

at the Balasan Market waiting for the jeep to fill up behind a motorbike from Carles town proper to the pier in Bancal my overnight bamboo shack fronting the beach
things are busy at the fish market squid ready to be weighed view from the fish market
buyers milling around, bidding for the bushels of fish ready to eat oysters at P40 per plate meeting the oyster bar owners

Google Map Gigantes Island, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines

tourist attractions in Gigantes Island tourist attractions
  • Bakwitan Cave in Gigantes Island Bakwitan Cave - deep cave with high chambers and connection stalactites and stalagmites
  • lighthouse in Gigantes Island Lighthouse - scenic view, abandoned Spanish-era building with patina and nostalgic architecture
  • Antonia Beach in Gigantes Island Antonia Beach - white sand beach, limestone rock face you can climb on | 11°35'07.88"N 123°21'18.58"E
  • Bantigue Sandbar in Gigantes Island Bantigue Sandbar - long, extended and winding sandbar
  • Cabugao Gamay Island in Gigantes Island Cabugao Gamay Island - small island with white sand beach and viewpoint
  • Tangke Lagoon in Gigantes Island Tangke Lagoon - inland lagoon that goes with the tide
hotels in Carles hotel

Bancal Port, Carles FYI / Tips

  • boat for Gigantes Island (North) leaves at 10am but be there at 8am to buy a ticket at the tourism office to ensure your slot. The boat only takes a max of 35 people
  • the cheapest place to sleep in Bancal Port is Beverly Hills at P500 for a fan room | 11°33'26.82"N 123°09'22.83"E
  • there is an oyster place selling a huge platter for only P40/kilo | 11°33'26.83"N 123°09'28.37"E

How to Get to Gigantes Island, Carles from Roxas City

  1. from the city proper, take a tricycle to the bus terminal P10/pax, 10 mins
  2. at the bus terminal, take a Ceres bus bound for Estancia but get off at the Balasan Crossing P69/pax, 2.5 hours. Ask the bus conductor to let you off at the junction bound for Carles. Better, at the bus terminal, if there is a bus heading straight for Carles, take it - but there are more buses leaving for Estancia
  3. at the Balasan Crossing, take a tricycle to the market P10/pax, 10 mins
  4. at the market, take a jeep for Carles town proper P15/pax, 30 mins
  5. at the Carles town proper, take a single motorcycle to the Bancal Port P15/pax, 10 mins
  6. at Bancal Port, you can board the boat for Gigantes Island (departs 10am)

Bancal Port, Carles Cost Index

(US$1 = Php 49.62 as of Jan 2, 2017)
  • PHP 15 tricycle ride from Carles town center to Bancal port to board the boat for Gigantes Island
  • PHP 75 environmental fee payable at the tourism office
  • PHP 80 one-way boat fare to Gigantes Island
  • PHP 35 small bottle of Beer na Beer
  • PHP 40 big platter of oyster

Gigantes Island FYI / Tips

  • most travellers bring their own water from the mainland. Bottled water is available ini Gigantes Island, but quite expensive.
  • electricity runs only from 3pm to 11pm
  • there are no restaurants, cafe or wifi - you usually eat at your resort
  • there is nowhere else to go within town so you usually stay in your resort
  • there are only 2 tours offered - land tour (Bakwitan Cave + Lighthouse) and boat tour (Antonia Beach + Cabugao Gamay + Bantique Sandbar + Tangke Lagoon)
  • Gigantes Island is actually a cluster of islands - Gigantes North, Gigantes South, Cabugao Gamay, Bantique Island, etc.
  • as of this writing, the stakeholders are still struggling towards a business model that can accommodate the overnight popularity of Gigantes Island. Infrastructure need to keep pace. Their aggressive pricing policy and crude guest relations need to be improved.
  • Gigantes Island is known for its scallops. Make sure to try a dish!
  • places to stay in Gigantes Island would be at Beach Front Resort, Jesa Beach Resort, Gigantes Hideaway, Se Sun Resort and Arjan Beach Resort.

Alternative way to tour Gigantes Island from Estancia

Paon Beach ClubIf you only want a day tour to Gigantes Island and stay the night in Estancia where there are more offerings - restos, cafes, night life, etc., you can check-in at Paon Beach Club and book a tour package with them. One payment takes care of everything - boat ride, guide, lunch, water, island fees. It's a lot easier to get to Estancia from Roxas City or Iloilo City than it is to travel all the way to Gigantes Island to book the tour there.

Carles/Estancia, Iloilo Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. 3 Days in Estancia, Iloilo Jan 2-4, 2017
  2. Gigantes Island Boat Tour Dec 31, 2016
  3. Visiting the Lighthouse of Gigantes Island Dec 30, 2016
  4. Exploring Bakwitan Cave of Gigantes Island Dec 30, 2016
  5. Overnight in Carles, Iloilo Dec 29-30, 2016
Facebook Users
Dec 29-30, 2016

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Paon Beach Club, Estancia, Iloilo

Paon Beach Club

first resort in N. Iloilo, olympic size swimming pool, beach front with view deck
Google Map | Facebook | Tripadvisor
GPS: 11°27'40.89"N 123°09'26.88"E
Estancia, Iloilo, Philippines
011 63 33 397 0444

Estancia, Iloilo

Estancia Resort Hotel
packaged tours to
Gigantes Island
Estancia Resort Hotel

Roxas City, Capiz

Roxas City Hotel
central location
Roxas City Hotel


SandCastles Boracay Beach Resort
The Apartments

beach-front luxury suites

Tribal Cafe
Tribal Cafe
beach bar | cafe