Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gigantes Island Adventure: An Exotic Getaway Paradise in Carles

Sicogon, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Considered as one of the pearls of Iloilo are a string of islands in Carles, the last municipality north of Iloilo Province. It is comprised of 33 barangays with six big islands and 19 islets boasting of long pristine coastlines.  It is a unique coastal municipality with high ecological value due to its protected areas, native fauna and rare ecosystems.

Tangke, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Among its popular attractions are a tableau of unspoiled and isolated granite monoliths known as Isla de Gigantes or Giant Islands that comprises the Norte (north) and Sur (south). These groups of islands are known for their extraordinary huge rock formations sitting on azure waters boasting their white sand beaches. Their majestic marble walls or cliffs are popularly known to the locals as Pader.

ancient potteries found in Gigantes, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

ancient coffins, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

Both Gigantes Norte and Sur are a natural paradise of great ecological importance that we Ilonggos should be very proud of. They are home of endemic Gigantes Gecko and frog. The islands are also of great archeological wealth being identified by the National Museum as an archeological site due to the discovery of abundant archeological materials, notably earthenware ceramics that are typically of metal age. Known to be ancient burial grounds, wooden coffins measuring 8-feet in length were also found especially in Gigantes Norte. Local folklore says that these coffins were used by “giants” living in the caves found in Gigantes islands.

Caves exploration is also among the highlight of the Gigantes Island adventure. Explore the trails of Lungon-lungon, the Cliff, Cathedral or Simbahan, Panaderya or Bakery and the Pawikan caves found in Gigantes Sur. The caves of Langub, Boulevard, Harpa and Bakwitan are found in Gigantes Norte.

Tangke, saltwater lagoon, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

The islands are perfect for any water activities by visitors who wish to discover the magnificent underwater landscapes and mysteries that lie beneath its crystalline waters. Among the most popular is the Tangke. Located on the southern side of Barangay Gabi in Isla de Gigantes Sur, it is a hidden saltwater lagoon formed by a surrounding wall of granite monolithic cliffs. During low tide, the level of water also recedes but also rises when it is high tide. Visitors to the area need to climb on its steep rocky wall that serves as the lagoon’s fortress. However, an easier and shorter climb from where the motorized-boat docks alongside its walls is done only during high tide. The lagoon’s rocky borders offer visitors one-of-a-kind formations.

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

seawed gatherer in Sicogon, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Still part of the Gigantes group of islands is the ever-famous Sicogon, situated in Barangay Buaya. It was once known as a high-end prime tourist destination in the early 80’s. The area is also rich in aquatic treasures such as coral reefs and rare marine life ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. The island still brings together classic charm and modern touches for a unique seaside experience. One will surely enjoy this hideaway with dazzling white sands and clear turquoise sea. The beach of Barangay Buaya is reason enough to go to this island. Its sugary sands extend into deep waters far offshore. It is a heaven for snorkelers. Sicogon Island appeals more to the adventurous tourists, backpackers and nature-lovers. For those who would to stay overnight and experience the serenity of rural life, there are lodging houses in the area. There is enough space and so few visitors that you will probably find a spot just for yourself.

aerial view of Cabugao Gamay Island, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

Cabugao Gamay, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

If you are looking for the ultimate tropical paradise, set your sights on Cabugao islands. Immerse yourself in an oasis of natural tranquility. Both Cabugao Islands boasts of white sand beaches without all the crowds, the perfect spot to relax, slow down and get into the groove of the real tropical paradise. Sprawl by the warm turquoise waters on Cabugao Gamay while enjoy an underground adventure in Cabugao Daku.

Carles is 146 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus or van ride from the city. To get to Sicogon Island the nearest, one can be reached through a 30-minute motorized boat ride from Estanca Feeder Port. To get to Estancia, one must take an air-conditioned bus at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. Public passenger motorized boats ply from and to the island only once a day, normally at around 1 p.m. Motorized boat good for 54 and 80 persons can be privately arranged. To get to Tangke and Cabugao Islands, one can go to Carles from Iloilo City via bus or van from Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. To get to these islands, take a motorized-boat ride from Bancal Causeway in Carles where the fishing port of the town is located and the starting point to all mainland and island destinations in the area. For more information, please contact Mr. Joel Decano,-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09184685006 or at the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at telefax 3384910.

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