I Survived My Solo Island Experience, And It Was Worth It!

I never knew I could learn to find myself lost in this island which brought me more love in return. It’s all I ever wanted, the unique island (soul searching) experience for P2,995.00!

If there was any place more spectacular, serene and private? I’d have to vote on the Giant islands of Carles.

I’ve crossed islands along the western and central part of the Visayas, and now I’m back living the island with NO ELECTRICITY AND NO SIGNAL. For 3 days

Discovering these islands would probably have to be one of the BEST things I have achieved and a promising year end trip. I paid P2,995 for a layover in this island, 3 days and 2 nights which includes meals and a tour of the island.

This is not your typical island that boasts of high-class resorts, wild parties, restaurants and shops. If you’re willing to go the extra mile of experiencing the real island experience, in attempt to go the ‘cowboy’ style. Allow Miss Kalibutan to share her solo island experience by following the step-by-step process of…

 

HOW I MADE THIS TRIP ONE OF THE BEST ISLAND EXPERIENCE

 

STEP 1: GETTING THERE

Let me map it for you,

The islands are situated in the Eastern Visayas, if you’re coming from Manila, you will need to book your flights ahead of time. There are two ways to get to there:

  1. Iloilo City ( approximately 2.5-4 hours)
  2. Roxas City ( approximately 1-2 hours)

I spent the night in Iloilo city to take the early morning shuttle from Iloilo to the port. You will need to get to the CARLES BANGKAL PORT.

  1. Bus (approximately 4 hours)
  2. Shuttle (approximately 3.5 hours)
  3. Private transportation (approximately 2.5 hours)

At 5:30am, I made my way to the Tagbak bus terminal, at Jaro. Since there were no bus schedules going to the port, I opted to board the shuttle. Shuttles wait for a maximum number of passengers before it departs. This also does frequent stops along the way.

On my way to the port, we passed by numerous stops especially around Estancia. Mostly were students, and other commuters in need of going to other neighboring cities. Along the way we passed by fish stalls and a seafood market. Luckily, Estancia and Roxas are the provinces where you can find good seafood dried products.

 

STEP 2: ARRIVAL AT CARLES 

At 9am, I arrived at the Bangkal Carles Port.  I met up with Darius, the contact person from my accommodation at the island. He assisted me in paying several fees at the Municipal Tourism Office. After paying, you will be given a boarding pass.

The morning schedule to depart for the island was at 10am, so I took my time in the port to partake breakfast. If you’re looking for a heavy meal, I suggest you take the bulalo soup in the port. Serving was cheap and great. It was enough to start the morning adventure towards the island.

Around the port you can come across local selling dried fruits, and seafood products. If you need any supplies before heading to the island, it is best to buy at port.

I boarded the boat and sat beside locals of the island. Suspecting that I was a tourist, they gave me a warm welcome and a short discussion about the island. The pump boat took around 1.5 hours to travel, but along the way you can see other neighboring islands such as Sicogon Island. 

 

STEP 3: ARRIVAL AT ISLA DE GIGANTES

 

First thing I noticed were the bars of my phone. There was no signal at all! I was thrilled.

When I arrived along the shores of the island, we were greeted by the island locals. I was welcomed by my personal tour guide for my whole stay in the island, Brian. His first task was to take me to my accommodation, the Hideaway Tourist Inn. Thankfully, Brian was also Bisaya, it would be easier for me to communicate with him more.

The means of transportation is by motor bike the ‘habal habal’ style. Riding up the mountains and passing by short bumpy roads added to the thrill of the adventure. You also get the view of the mountains,  beaches and the community.

 

STEP 4: CHECKING the INN

 

 

The Inn welcomed me with a relaxing vibe. Given the island rules and accommodations, you’ll feel nothing but the laid back life in this place and also will be entitled to venture the island. I felt the warm hospitality of the local staff who run the inn, as well as the other tour guides.

 

 

There were other groups who booked at the Hideaway Tourist Inn since it was almost fully booked. Rooms there were cottage styles with no air condition but had private bathrooms.

 

You can also check out their rooms with air-condition but this is the family room or good for big groups. The room I got was a cottage style standard room with two beds but with no air-condition. I was also offered the accommodation at the tree house. It was a huge  balete tree fit with a small bunk for tourists, but it had no bathroom.

 

After settling down, a set meal was prepared for me. The lunch composed of the greatest treasure that the island is proud for good seafood!

 

The island specialty? Scallops galore!

 

After lunch,I took the time to rest, since there was no electricity at that time. I climbed up to the tree house and enjoyed my afternoon nap.

It rained that afternoon but we still continued on, not wasting any time and moment. I had the interest to explore the other parts of Gigantes. I took the tour around the old abandoned light house.

What makes this interesting? The structures and ruins of the light house were built during the Spanish era. It was amazing that it was preserved in the island and open to the public.

Entrance to the light house will serve as a donation to the locals who continue to preserve the light house in the island. They also give good information about the light house.

 

I spent the rest of the day with my dearly trusted tour guide (turned friend), Brian while he toured me around the rest of the island. There were roadworks along our path, but that didn’t stop us to reach our destination. We reached the dike where locals get refreshing and clean water in the island. To end the day, we chased the sunset around the island. What a way to enjoy my first day in the island.

STEP 5: THE DAY TOUR EXPERIENCE 

 

After loading up with heavy breakfast, I was set for the island adventure. I was staring at a hot and sunny day, and since there was no electricity in the morning, I was forced to leave my room and be refreshed with the activities set for the island.

The first trip was a tour inside Bakwitan Cave.

It was a short trek up to a steep mountain area. Inside the cave, I was caught up with surprise on this mini tour. As we carefully made our way deeper inside, it was getting darker and cooler.  Brian gave us a tour of each landscape and structure formed by stalagmites and stalactites. There were other structures that formed unique designs and figures.

Inside the cave you will be dependent on a trusted flashlight and also the tour guide. You need to be prepared to go inside as well. For our experience, we walked further down.The need to climb up and down, and even the thrill to crawl! There were rocks that escalated up to another exit and make it to the top of the mountain. It was challenging, but since we were pressed with time, we dared not to.

Finally there was light! The way out may be tricky to find, that’s why the cave must always be accompanied with a licensed tour guide. If you’re claustrophobic, I advise to turn away and DO NOT ENTER the cave.

 

The second part of the day was a tour around the 5 giant islands of Carles.

The rays of the sun stretched as my skin burned. I continued to partake the tour on the hottest part of the day, noontime.

 

FIRST STOP: CABUGHAW ISLAND

 

First Island: Cabughaw Island, the pioneer island of having the best snorkeling spots. It also boasts of a long beach stretched with white sand, roasted by the sun.

Delighted with snacks and drinks, I would’ve loved to stay in this island, but a few turns around the shore made me hop on to the next island.

 

SECOND  STOP: PULUPUNDAN ISLET

 

Pulupundan Islet, was the 2nd destination and drew my attention for having a small shore line that was inviting. It was the smallest island among the giants.

We docked at the shore line that were filled with giant rock formations, and having fine white sand. I couldn’t resist taking a dip and bask in the sun.

 

THIRD STOP: TANGKE ISLAND

 

Tangke Island, would have to be the most interesting and extraordinary part of the island tour. It was bouldered with high structures covering a mini lagoon.

Climbing a few steps and rocks and finding this spot was one of the best adventure and surprise of the giant islands. Each consisted of a story to tell, enclosed with a hidden mystery.

 

It was like paradise and secret spot for swimming. Little did I know that I was not the only one in the island,  but I was a visitor in the territory of the island monkeys.

 

FOURTH STOP: ANTONIA BEACH 

Antonia Beach, the focal point of the island and was the best for me. It was the overlooking of Isla de Gigantes in Carles.

The steps to a breathtaking view of the iconic Isla de Gigantes! I was lucky that during my time of visit there were no tourists. I had the island to myself and loved every scene of it.

A short climb up to the peak of the island and you will be captured in wonderment with the  cool breeze and great overlooking of the island.

 

FIFTH STOP: BULOBADIANGAN ISLAND

Bulobadiangan Island was the final destination to end the island hopping journey. Hidden in the small province of Concepcion, it was definitely worth visiting.

I ran around the sand bar and enjoyed the view. I never expected to live freely in an island surrounded by nothing but the calmness of the island best sunset. I didn’t have that much photos but here are some snaps I took.

I spent my last night in the island hanging out with people I met in the inn, as well as the tour guides who enjoyed our company. As I settled for the evening, I continued to feast on the island’s best cooked scallops.

 

ISLAND BITS OF TIPS

1.Contact accommodation ahead of time

Since there is no signal in the island, it’s better to contact the accommodation ahead of your trip. This will ease you the hassle of finding a good place to stay in the island, and get in good contact within your stay in the island.

I booked at the Hideaway Tourist Inn, one of the first few residence and venues in the island. The tour package offered to me made it affordable and convenient during my stay.

2. Check the timings

It would be nice to check ahead of time the bus, shuttle and boat schedules. You can check at the pier for alternative ways to get to the island like taking the “fast craft” .

3. Make new friends

The locals in the island were very accommodating and friendly. They showed me true Filipino hospitality. If you’re in the area it would be nice to show them the same respect by being decent enough to respect the cultures and norms in the island.

 

“This was truly an amazing experience and I hope it would be for yours as well. It definitely connected me to realize all the possibilities of exploring solo and how great the World We See can be! No matter what happens, the island will always be my destination of choice whenever in dire need. “

For now,

Padayon ang Biyahe!

 

Miss Kalibutan