Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Gigantes Islands: Islands of the Giants?



I saw it being featured once on TV. I fell in love with it instantly. I thought that Boracay was the finest spot the Panay area could offer. I was wrong. There is the Gigantes Islands or Islands of the Giants.

Some say it's better known as Islas de Gigantes. It's a group of small islands, about 10, located off the Estancia and Carles towns of northern Iloilo. The two biggest islands are North Gigantes (where a lighthouse is found, that should be exciting) and the South Gigantes. From Iloilo City, it takes some 5 hours to get there.

To check on hotel prices in Iloilo, please visit this link.

If you're looking for pristine white sand shores where you enjoy a laid-back island retreat plus rich fresh seafood to feast on while you stare at strange but wonderful jagged rock formations (which some local folks link to some mysterious tales---then Gigantes Islands should be your destination.

It's still underdeveloped unlike Boracay, so you get a chance to wallow in yet unspoiled waters and virgin environs. The beaches are definitely perfect for hiking.

By the way, why "Gigantes"? Well, a cave there called Bakwitan was said to contain large coffins with gigantic sets of bones inside. So, because of that, the islands started being called Gigantes (giants) during the Spanish times. It's not just clear,though, if the bones were of human origin because some local folks there say they are bones of enkantos or fairies.

Aside from the enchanting islands and rock formations, the white sand beaches and abundant supply of seafood, Gigantes Islands also offer an astounding salt water lagoon called Tangke. It is hidden in South Gigantes protected by mesmerizing cliffs. Local folks say waters in the lagoon mysteriously rise each June 24 in time for the feast of John the Baptist.

The lighthouse in North Gigantes used to be an old one built during the Spanish times but was destroyed by a strong typhoon in 2008. Japan donated a modern replacement which is run by solar power. But some old ruins remain there.

As Juan Hiker, I've been to Iloilo with my wife and kid but we have never heard of Gigantes Islands before. What we did was enjoy the beach at San Joaquin and some fish ponds near the capital city. And of course lots of seafood.

I heard that there are not many lodging places in Gigantes and that's good news because it means the place is still safe from spoiling and pollution. So what you do there is either camp out or look around for houses that rent transient rooms. Anyway, the important thing there is to get a decent bathroom with toilet facilities.

However, there are a lot of good hotels in Boracay and you may opt to check in there and then go to Gigantes Islands to spend the day in.

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