When I started planning for our Islas de Gigantes trip, the name Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn was on almost all my searches with glowing reviews. I, who trusts reviews big time, have decided to give it a go and got in touch with them through their Facebook Page. I got a reply and have asked me to send a text message to the owner, which I did. After exchanging few messages, we came to an agreement.
A day prior to our arrival in Islas de Gigantes, while we were still in Roxas City, I‘ve sent another message just to confirm that we will be there as scheduled and they replied with the meet-up instructions. At Estancia Port, Iloilo, we met with our contact Sir Nick of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn and he assisted us in boarding the boat that took us on a two-hour ride to Gigantes Norte.
Welcome to Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn
After registration with the local office, we hopped on a habal-habal and drove to Barangay Asluman where the inn is located and a few minutes later, we’ve finally arrived.
An enormous Balete Tree / Puno ng Baliti greeted us upon entering the compounds of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn. The staff said that it was believed to be more than a hundred years old. Built on its crown is one of the cottages. A hammock and a swing hang from the tree’s thick branches where guests can laze around after an exhausting tour or while waiting for the next one.
There were several cottages by the left side of the compound, each with its own toilet and bathroom. It even has its own small veranda and a hammock. However, these cottages are fan rooms. The air-conditioned rooms are in the main house. On the right side, was a mini bar and the dining area.
A complimentary welcome coffee was also offered while we wait for the commencement of our first tour. Actually, you can make your own cup of coffee for free whenever you feel like having one. 🙂
What We Liked About Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn
Upon inquiring with Sir Joel through text messages, he quoted me for Php 2,810 ($57) for our group of 4. Initially, I thought that it was just for a 2-night room charge, which was fine. I was surprised when I read the whole message and learned that the amount he gave us wasn’t just for accommodation but it was for everything else. It was by far the cheapest rate I’ve encountered considering all that were included.
For solo travelers, their standard rate is Php 4,000+ ($80+) all-in or you can join other groups to cut down the cost but you would have to do all the activities with them.
For DIY, their cheapest fan room is at Php 200 ($4) a night. Everything else is separate, food may range from Php 300 – Php 500 ($6 – $10, market price of seafood), habal-habal fare is Php 10 ($0.20) per way, habal-habal going to the lighthouse is approximately Php 60 ($1.20, round trip), island hopping boat fee may be around Php 1500 – Php 2000 ($30 – $40), tour guide fee Php 300 – Php 500 ($6 – $10), cave guide fee Php 100 – Php 300 ($2 – $6), plus island entrance fees, etc.
As much as I would like to do DIY on most of my travels, it is sometimes wiser to take the tour package while in Islas de Gigantes just like what I did in when I went to Batanes. There is just a minimal difference between their all-in tour vs DIY and I honestly think you will be better off to take the all-in package instead.
Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn All-in Package Inclusions – Php 2,810 per person (Group of 4)
- 3D2N full board all-in expenses
- Passenger boat fare (Roundtrip), Estancia-Gigantes Islands-Estancia
- Island hopping boat fee
- Environmental fee and Entrance fees to islands
- Local island guide (Please do tip the guides)
- Cave guide
- 5 meals (family style seafood buffet meals with unli rice)
- Habal-habal fare for 3 days
*This rate excludes airfare as well as van fare from Roxas City and tricycle fare to Estancia Port. For total budget breakdown, check out my other post Iloilo: Gigantes Islands, A Slice of Paradise Within Your Budget
Customer Service at its Best, Friendly and Well-Trained Team
From booking, to our arrival, while on the tours and until the time that we left, it was all hassle-free. I traveled to Islas de Gigantes with my parents who are already in their early 60’s, although they don’t have any special needs, the staff went above and beyond.
Our guide, Kuya Eddie was patient enough to wait for them whenever they felt tired. He assisted them when they climbed up the view deck in Cabugao Gamay and when they went down from the sharp rocks in Tangke Lagoon. Kuya Eddie even prepared a different dish just for my mom because she doesn’t eat seafood. He made sure that she has banana in every meal. It was his simple gestures that made the big difference.
They’ve Let Us Experience Gigantes Islands
We saw the astounding and scenic landscapes when we went Island Hopping. We learned about its history and the urban legends that surround it.
But aside from those things, it was the cliff jumping that my father did from the jagged rocks of Tangke Lagoon (he’s 63). The first spelunking experience that my father and I did. The island hopping boat ride that my mom and aunt enjoyed even when we’re being tossed above the waves and water splashed to our faces. The power outage at 6:00 AM on our last day, where I took a bath with just my phone as the light source. The habal-habal ride to almost every destination in Gigantes Norte. All those experiences were what made our Islas de Gigantes trip more memorable.
Seafood Overload – Eating Time!
Dinner was served at 7:00 PM during the two nights. Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn has a unique way of providing the meal service to their visitors. Every group has their own table prepared by their guides and once all tables are set up everyone eats at the same time, just like how it is in a retreat house cafeteria.
The menu was comprised mostly of freshly caught fish prepared grilled or fried and there was grilled pork too. Of course, seafood was a staple like clams and squid. It won’t be tagged as the Scallop Capital of the Philippines if you can’t get to taste of the star of every meal, its fresh and sweet scallops. I must say that I was impressed with the dinner menu; it was simple but it tasted good though.
At lunch in Bulubadiang Island, an extension of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn, we were served with giant crabs, grilled fish, wasay-wasay (local oyster) and curried scallops. I couldn’t ask for more, with the amount of seafood that were served to us during our 3D2N stay in Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn, I’m pretty sure that what we paid for would not be enough if it was in a destination somewhere else.
There are two types of scallops that can be found in the waters of Islas de Gigantes. One is ‘Tikab-Tikab’ or Queen Scallop with the fan-like shell and the other variety is called locally as Bukol-Bukol because of the spikes on its shell. The former has a softer meat thus preferred most than the latter which has a tougher meat. The island celebrated the 1st ‘Tikab-Tikab’ Festival – back in March 2016 to recognize the importance of scallops to the municipality of Carles, Iloilo as one of its main industries and source of livelihood specifically in Gigantes Islands.
As one of the pioneer homestays, Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn blazed the trail for other resorts in Islas de Gigantes. The owner, Mr. Joel Decano, a young visionary, was the previous Tourism Officer of Carles, Iloilo. They opened their humble home a few years ago to adventure-seeking travelers who wanted to experience what it’s like to live on a remote island with just the bare necessities and to see the islands’ remarkable natural treasures.
They have grown over the years and was able to provide employment to the locals as guides who used to be fishermen. According to Sir Joel’s sister, some of their staff (kitchen stewards and errand boys) are young students that they support.
Despite its remoteness, looking for a place to stay in Islas de Gigantes nowadays would not be a difficult task due to the number of resorts and homestays that can be found on the islands of Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur. It just boils down to which you think can offer you the best deal. As for me, I chose Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn as the place to stay in Islas de Gigantes.
What You Need to Know
- It is better to send a text message to inquire or book. The owner stays in Estancia, Iloilo most of the time so he can receive and reply to messages on a timely manner.
- Remember that cell reception on the island is almost non-existent, let alone internet connection. Expect a reply after a few hours or a day if you chose to contact them through the Facebook page.
- Book in advance during peak season (summer, Mar-May)
Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn
Barangay Asluman, Gigantes Norte, Carles Iloilo
Contact: Joel Decano, Owner
+63 918 468 5006
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
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How about you? Have you stayed in Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn? How was your experience? Do you have other recommendations? We would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts.