Normally, Hali and I just tag along with friends or other groups. This getaway was basically our first together. We planned a 5 days Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary, with a quick day trip in Antique.
The weather in the Philippines is a funny thing. It’s either sweltering hot or shivering cold. After several weeks of good weather, on the exact day of our out-of-town trip, it had started to rain. Still, we’re grateful because the weather, in its own playful way, cooperated with us. We were able to push through with our original Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary, with just small adjustments in schedule.
5 Days Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary, plus day trip to Antique
Exploring Iloilo and Guimaras can be done in 4 days; some even venture to nearby Bacolod for food tripping in that span of time. Anyway, here the Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary that we followed:
7:00AM – Arrive in Iloilo airport
8:00 – 9:00AM – Taxi ride to Molo terminal
9:00AM – 1:00PM – Van ride to Tibiao, Antique
1:00PM – Arrival in Kayak Inn, lunch
1:30PM – Start trek to Bugtong Bato Falls
5:00PM – Back in inn, enjoy kawa hot bath
7:00PM – Dinner
4:00 – 7:00AM – Van ride back to Iloilo City
7:00 – 8:00AM- Arrival in Molo terminal, transfer to Tagbac terminal
8:00 – 11:00 AM – Ceres bus ride to Estancia Port
11:00AM – 1:00PM – Lunch
1:00 – 3:00PM – Passenger boat ride to Gigantes island
3:00PM – Arrival at Hideaway inn
4:30PM – Sunset at Gigantes lighthouse
7:00PM – Dinner
Island hopping in Islas de Gigantes
Explore Bakwitan Cave
7:00AM – Breakfast
8:00 – 10:00AM – Check out, boat ride back to Estancia port
11:00AM – 2:00PM – Ceres bus ride back to Iloilo City
2:00 – 3:00PM – Motor banca ride to Guimaras, tricycle ride to Alobijod Cove
3:00PM onward – Check in at resort, explore beach
6AM – Breakfast
7:30 – 10:30AM – Start of island hopping in Guimaras
10:30 – 11:30AM – Wash up, check out
12:00NN – 3:00PM – Land tour in Guimaras
3:00PM – Travel back to Iloilo City
Update as of 2nd quarter of 2016
There are now two ports with boats going to Gigantes Islands.
The passenger boat in Estancia port leaves at 2PM daily, while that in Bancal port leaves at 10AM daily. In Bancal port, you can charter a private boat for island hopping for P4000, good for 6-8 people. You can wait for other joiners in the port if you’re traveling solo.
Since this write-up, there are now more affordable tours to Gigantes Islands such as Gigantes Island Tours, from day trips to the usual 3D/2N stay. We spent P2800 each for a 3D/2N package, but now there are joiner tours for P1000 for a day trip or P1200-1500 for 2D/1N stay. Aside from travel agencies, resorts in Gigantes Norte also offer their own island hopping packages for as low as P1500 for 5-10 people.
Here’s a little more of our Antique-Iloilo-Guimaras trip.
Day 1 – Visiting Tibiao, Antique
From outside the gates of Iloilo airport, we hailed a taxi to Molo terminal and then rode a passenger van to Tibiao. We arrived past lunch time in Kayak Inn, our accommodation in Tibiao.
We spent the rest of the afternoon trekking to the nearby Bugtong Bato falls, a seven-tiered falls with deep-green basins and then relaxing in a traditional kawa hot bath back in the inn. The kawa hot bath was the main reason we made a quick nip here in Tibiao, and it did not disappoint.
Our bath was filled with herbal leaves for soothing the muscles. Hali and I shared a big kawa and dozed off, capping our day in Antique.
Even though this is just a side trip, this day trip in Tibiao, Antique is actually my favorite part in this Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary.
Day 2 and 3 – Island hopping in Islas de Gigantes
Gigantes Islands is quite far from Antique, even from Iloilo City itself. We arrived in Gigantes Hideaway Inn, a backpacker’s favorite. It’s famous for serving liberal meals of seafood, including scallops — a common seafood in the area. The inn also offers its own Gigantes island hopping tours.
It was rainy when we island hopped to Gigantes Islands. We explored Bantigue Sandbar, Cabugao Gamay and its twin Antonia Island and the famous Tangke Lagoon. Cabugao Gamay is indeed beautiful, especially at the view deck atop the cliff, although in person it looks small.
During our 2 days stay in Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn, we also managed to visit the lighthouse in Gigantes Norte, a favorite of sunrise lovers, and Bakwitan Cave, a historical cave with huge stalactites and even natural crystals that unfortunately fell into neglect.
Day 4 and 5 – Island hopping and land tour in Guimaras
On our fourth day, we were supposed to start the land tour in Guimaras but got delayed due to the typhoon. We stayed overnight at Raymen’s Beach Resort, a budget accommodation. I wouldn’t recommend this resort because our room wasn’t clean.
The morning was better; the sun finally showed itself and the sea was calm. The weather was just perfect for a tour in Guimaras. We island hopped for a few hours. Hali enjoyed our tour in SEAFDEC, which is a marine sanctuary. Meanwhile, I loved snorkeling to see various corals near Ave Maria island.
In the afternoon, we squeezed in a short land tour. I enjoyed the ride itself to Guimaras’ tourist attractions. The road were wide and quiet, surrounded with lush trees. We selected only a few destinations from the long list of Guimaras’ landmarks.
Of these, my favorite is the picturesque Guisi lighthouse, with its crumbling ruins decorated with tree roots.
After the land tour, we went back to the airport in Iloilo for our flight back home.
Practical Information Section
Planning your own Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary
Iloilo is a gateway to various attractions in Panay Island, and there are really various ways to enjoy 5 days in the area. A friend suggests staying in Gigantes islands for at least 2 days, staying overnight in a beach tent in Antonia Island.
If your main target is visiting Gigantes islands, Roxas airport is nearer compared to Iloilo City. It will save you 1-2 hours in travel time.
Antique is a long detour, and it’s more practical to visit alternatives such as Bacolod or the lesser-known Bucari, Iloilo’s summer capital. If you love city tours, you can allot the extra day in Iloilo and taste its delicacy — bulalo.
Our budget for this 5-day Antique-Iloilo-Guimaras itinerary was about P8000 each (without airfare), including pasalubong. We’d overspent due to unavoidable circumstances (e.g., there was no passenger boat back to Estancia port due to the storm and we had rented a private boat, etc.).
Today, I estimate that a normal budget for 2 people would be P6000-6500 each (considering the competitive cheap tours in Islas de Gigantes, update as of 2nd quarter 2016).
- Kuya Edwin, Kayak Inn: 0921-570-1947 (P500 for a native hut accommodation, overnight)
- Joel Decano, Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn/tours in Gigantes Islands: 0918-468-5006 (P2800 rate for 3D/2N for 2 pax) / Facebook page
- Rhett Paul Bolivar: Gigantes Island Tours
- Kuya Cherald, Guimaras tour guide: 0908-474-8122 (P1200 land tour via tricycle)
As I’ve mentioned above, this is Hali and I’s first couple trip. It was, of course, fun and admittedly a little bit challenging. When Hali said we’d help together in planning, what he really meant was that I’d do the itinerary and book for reservations, and then and again he’d ask questions or make small suggestions. Still, there is something about traveling with your significant someone that is incomparably different from the usual out-of-town trips.
Here’s our travel video featuring Antique, Guimaras and Iloilo, c/o Hali:
Have any questions about this trip to Antique, Iloilo and Guimaras? Post them in the comments section below. 😉
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