Islas de Gigantes was never on my radar until only very recently when I tried to search for places to go to in Iloilo. Two places popped out from Google – Concepcion and Islas de Gigantes in Carles. I booked a trip to Gigantes for now because I think it was easier to contact someone there and might book a trip to Concepcion some time in the very near future.
I contacted Mr. Joel Decano whose number I got from several blogs. I was scared that he wouldn’t text back right away because I knew that there was no cellular signal in Islas de Gigantes. But he would reply promptly. I found out later that he mostly stays in mainland Estancia so he could easily reply to those who want to book a tour.
I booked a tour package with him for 3 days and 2 nights (November 8 to 10) for 2 persons at P5460 or P2730 per person – not that I want to sound like a math whiz but that’s just how Mr. Decano quoted the rate. This package included the room accommodations, five meals (with huge servings), the passenger boat rides, the island hopping tour, a trip to the lighthouse, spelunking at Bakwitan cave, the boats to be used for the island hopping, the fees to the tour guides and the motorbike rides. Phew!
Mr. Decano’s phone numbers are 09184685006 and 09166967599. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For this trip, I invited my friend Raisa. She previously expressed interest to go to Gigantes so when I booked this trip, I immediately reached out to her. Fortunately, she was available on November 8 but she could only make it until November 9.
Since Raisa’s time was limited, we decided to charter a boat for P3500 from Estancia port going to Gigantes so we could start the island hopping tour early. I thought the P3500 was only for the boat but this rate also included another island hopping tour, which I only found out when were already at the port, so I unknowingly booked a second island hopping tour. I do not regret this for a second.
I overspent in Guimaras last week after buying things here and there and I think I did not make a complete list of things I needed, so I was left with a very tight budget for Gigantes. I decided to strictly allocate money for each part of the trip by putting them in envelopes. This worked big time! I was able to see what I spent and what I still had left and I wasn’t just mentally calculating – I’m good in math but this leaves me to assume that I still have more when in fact I’m already touching on money I shouldn’t touch.
I started the day early. I waited for a bus at 3am because when my father asked the dispatchers the day before, he was told there was a bus that passes by Sagay around 3am everyday. There was no bus. But thankfully, a passenger van came. The same van also took me to the sea port. I had allocated P120 for the bus ride and P150 for the taxi ride from the bus terminal to the port. With the van, I only got to pay P130 for that entire part of the route. I already saved P140 this early. Score!
Expenses in between:
P515 – round trip ferry ticket (Supercat, Bacolod to Iloilo)
P150 – taxi ride from Lapuz Port in Iloilo to Tagbak Terminal (I have no idea how to take any jeepney around Iloilo)
Fast forward to Tagbak Terminal in Iloilo, we rode a bus going to Estancia. The fare was P152. We thought this was a two- or a three-stop bus. It was not. It stopped for a gazillion times during the entire four-hour ride. Our tour guide suggested when we told him this story to just take the van next time. It’s faster. It sure was.
Mr. Decano had a staff assigned at the port to welcome us and assist us with the chartered boat. Since we told her we were arriving at 11am and by 12pm, we were still not at the port, she already sounded panicky in her text. Don’t blame us, blame the bus driver was all I was thinking. But since we chartered the boat for the whole day, it was not really a problem.
So we left Estancia port and started our journey to Islas de Gigantes. The islands along the way were already a sight to behold. We still had no idea though what was in store for us.