As Islas de Gigantes becomes less hipster-bait and more mainstream a tourist destination, the number of visitors looking to get there is growing fast. And rightly so. Gigantes is stunning. (Check out my Islas de Gigantes reviews and guides here.)
I headed to Gigantes after few days in Boracay. Gigantes is closest to Estancia, Carles, Ilo Ilo. The journey, although tiring, was pretty seamless. I spent most of the 9 hours drifting off in various vehicles. And it was cheap.
Duration: 9 hours
Realistic timing: 8-9 hours
Locations: Boracay > Caticlan > Roxas City (Lawaan Terminal) > Estancia (Port) > Gigantes Norte
Transportation: Tricycle, boat/bangka > van, van, bus, tricycle > boat, habal-habal.
Total transportation costs (for 1 person): PHP 843
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For my detailed version on how to get to Islas de Gigantes from Boracay, read on!
We got very, very lucky with traffic and transportation (we left at 4am). I’m sure you could find cheaper ways to do the journey, but this got us there safely, comfortably, and with time to spare.
NOTE: This guide works for people with backpacks, not roller suitcases. There’s a lot of moving around involved. Make sure you wear something comfortable, keep properly hydrated, and BRING SNACKS! (Seriously. Snacks and water. DO IT.)
Without further ado, here is my first hand experience of getting from Boracay to Gigantes in order to make the 1pm Gigantes Hideaway Resort pump boat from Estancia Port. The prices mentioned in brackets are for one person.
FROM BORACAY'S CAGBAN JETTY, GET TO CATICLAN JETTY (1 hour)
Grab a tricycle (PHP 42) from D’Mall in Station 2 to Boracay’s Cagban Jetty.
At Cagban Jetty, pay the Terminal Fee (PHP 100) and buy a boat ticket (PHP 150). Take the boat across the sea to Caticlan Jetty.
The sunrise should be beautifully visible on the horizon at this point. Breathe it in.
FROM CATICLAN JETTY, TAKE A VAN TO ROXAS CITY (1.5 – 2 hours)
Once you arrive at Caticlan Jetty, there’ll be a bunch of transportation services at your service. You have three options: bus, van, or private van (which costs PHP 6000++ - yikes! Much more cost effective to get a shared van).
Hop onto a van bound for Roxas City (PHP 250). Remember, however, that the faster passengers fill up the seats, the faster the van departs. If you’re in a hurry, roll down your window and hustle for more passengers by shouting “Roxas City!” out of the window to bleary-eyed passers-by.
TIP: Tell the driver that you’re going to Lawaan Ceres terminal rather than Roxas City airport. Halfway through the journey they’ll drop you at another van stop where you can switch to another van.
SWITCH VANS AT ROXAS CITY TO LAWAAN CERES TERMINAL (2 HOURS)
Just before reaching Roxas City airport, we switched to another van (PHP 200) that dropped us off at Lawaan Ceres Transport Terminal. This saved us valuable time. From there, we took a quick restroom break (PHP 5) and then found the bus bound for Estancia.
TIP: The buses should have their destinations clearly labelled in the front window. If you’re confused, ask someone to point you to the Estancia-bound bus.
TAKE BUS TO ESTANCIA FROM LAWAAN CERES TERMINAL (1.5 – 2 HOURS)
From the terminal, hop onto the bus bound for Estancia (PHP 81). The bus ride was great. The scenery includes gorgeous rolling mountains and hills. Because we were on it from start to finish, we sat down comfortably at the back seats and chilled out – although at one point it got ridiculously packed, with the bus conductor hanging out of the door as we tore down the highway. There was also zero traffic. Win.
TIP: Sit down at the back seats of the bus if possible. The air from the open windows blows the cool breeze towards you and you get to stay away from the ruckus of people getting on and off at the doors.
TAKE A TRICYCLE FROM ESTANCIA TO ESTANCIA PORT (10 minutes)
Once you’ve arrived at Estancia, hail at a tricycle driver to bring you to Estancia Port (PHP 20). This takes about 10 minutes. You'll go through main roads and markets to get to the seaport. Entertaining stuff.
GET ON A BOAT FROM ESTANCIA PORT TO GIGANTES NORTE PORT. (3 hours)
Woohoo, you made it to Estancia Port. This is the part where I’ve assumed that you have booked your stay with Gigantes Hideaway Resort, where they inclusively provide the boat Almeria for you to ride to Barangay Asluman in Gigantes Norte.
If you haven’t booked accommodation, or are going there on a whim, then you can either hire a pumpboat for the 3 hour journey (around PHP 2000++), or see if you can bribe a boatsman/hitch a ride with another bangka headed for the island. The ride takes up to 3 hours, so unless you have arms of steel and a knowledge of the Visayan seas (phone signal and GPS doesn’t work there), hiring your own rowboat probably won't work out that well for you.
Now, hopefully, you have at least 30 minutes to spare before the boat departs. Grab some water or packaged merienda (snacks) from the sari-sari stores along the port front. If you're prone to LBM, I'd give the caldera meals a miss.
EMBARK ON THE BOAT RIDE. ARRIVE AT ISLAS DE GIGANTES.
WOOHOO! You arrived! Congratulations. You may or may not need a beer.
BONUS: GET FROM GIGANTES NORTE PORT TO GIGANTES HIDEAWAY RESORT.
Look for a bunch of habal-habals (motorcycles). Any one of them will take you to the resort.
As mentioned, phone signal and GPS suddenly cuts out about half an hour into the boat ride. You’re officially off the grid, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Mel left London to chase summer around the world, one country at a time. She loves the ocean, writing postcards, and solo exploration. Travel with her on Instagram.