The Waves of Carles

February 10, 2016 Travel

I believe that the most challenging paths (or waters) lead to the most surprising places.

Much like the waves that led to Islas de Gigantes (or Islas Gigantes, Higantes group, or Gigantes group). The waves when we visited were nothing short of challenging. Well, it was the Amihan season.

I had a clue that the sea would be rough after boarding our boat. After waiting for almost an hour in the boat, I decided to request permission to wait at the port as I was starting to feel seasick. The boatmen, speaking in their dialect, mentioned coast guards and permits when I asked about the departure time, which was supposed to be at 2:00 PM. It was already a little past 2, and I thought we might have to skip the islands and proceed to our next destination, Roxas City. It was part of a 7-day Panay adventure that started in Boracay.

After 15 minutes, we all boarded, and I settled into my comfortable sleeping position. I was awakened by splashes on my face. Some passengers were already vomiting at that time. Needless to say, it was a tumultuous ride. I praised the heavens when we reached the shore. The only problem was getting to the beach. I decided to get myself wet instead of taking the smaller boat, which looked unsafe. The helpful locals carried my bags.

Our first stop was Gigantes Norte, one of the two largest islands in the group. According to stories, the islands got their name from the gigantic sets of human bones found in coffins inside one of its caves.

Elmart (09173729301), our guide, met us at the beach, and he led us to several habal habals waiting for us. We initially wanted to stay in a resort with Instagram-perfect cabanas, but we were recommended a friendlier resort.

By the time we reached the resort, it was already late. Our two-hour boat trip turned into more than 3 hours due to the challenging waves. We ordered dinner from the resort and stayed inside the room, as it was too windy outside. We only went out to get cellphone signals.

The following day, we woke up early, but instead of proceeding with our planned island hopping, we visited a Gigantes Norte attraction—the lighthouse. We were already making alternative plans just in case it was not feasible for us to go island hopping and leave Gigantes that day.

The Gigantes Norte Lighthouse is listed as one of the 27 major Spanish lighthouses in the Philippines. The ruins of the keeper’s house, the only structure standing after a typhoon in 2008, are really charming.  

The wind was intense when we went up, and I felt a bit of fear, but it was worth it. We had an amazing view.

After visiting the lighthouse, we dropped by a spring and then went back to the resort. We were told we could visit a few attractions, and then the boat could take us to the Estancia Port.

Our first stop was Tangke, a saltwater lagoon with its own legend. They say this lagoon, located within Gigantes Sur, rises every year on June 24 during the feast of Saint John the Baptist.

There were a few boats when we got there, and some tourists were cliff jumping. It looked fun. We contented ourselves with exploring the lagoon and taking a few pictures.

After that, we visited the most photographed island that catapulted Islas de Gigantes to fame.

Cabugao (or Cabugao Gamay) is a small island that features two white sand beaches that form a sandbar connecting two islets. This stunning scenery is truly beautiful and worth the attention.

It was still drizzling, windy, and cold when we got there. It was actually perfect beach weather for me. We enjoyed the view and our sumptuous seafood lunch.

We packed crabs and scallops from Gigantes Norte and bought a big fish in Cabugao. Sounds perfect? It was, definitely!

After a few photographs, we returned to the sea. From then on, it was turbulent. I kept looking at the faces of our boatmen to see if they were worried. I stopped myself eventually. It only got calm when we were near Estancia.

That boat ride is now one of my scariest, removing Fuga Island from my top 3 list. The other two on my list are Bucas Grande to Siargao and Batan to Itbayat.

We thanked our boatmen profusely and wished them well. They were apologizing we didn’t complete our island-hopping list, but we told them it was a reason for us to go back. Carles wanted us back.

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