Carles, Iloilo: A Prelude To The Ultimate Gigantes Islands Experience
The pristine islands and islets of Islas Gigantes sprawl with powdery white sand shores making this quaint island a top-notch getaway for tourist and travelers. But beyond this quaint island’s famous beach destinations lies bizarre attractions that will delight intrepid adventurers, without even straying far from Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn. Gear up, let’s get down, let’s get dirty, and let’s explore Gigantes Norte.
Huge Wooden Coffins & Over-sized Skeletons
Local lore claims that this island paradise was formerly inhabited by giants, thus the name, “Islas Gigantes.” Stories grandmothers and grandfathers tell their grandsons and granddaughters before bedtime. A myth, but not until eight footer coffins called “longon“ and skulls, measuring a bit larger than an average human were uncovered in the island – then it was a myth no more. Granpa’s and granma’s tales were no bedtime stories after all.
Scallops Here, There, and Everywhere
The abundance of scallops in Islas Gigantes tapped the infinite possibilities of mouthwatering dishes using no other than than the mollusk’s meat as the prime ingredient. Sizzling scallops, grilled scallops, scallop curry, tortang scallops – the list just never ends. No wonder Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn serves a variety of scallop dishes almost every meal. And you don’t get scallops this cheap everyday. So, bon appetite.
Explore The Wonders of Bakwitan Cave
Rich history and unprecedented beauty dwells beneath the gigantic rocks, coral and limestone cliffs of Gigantes Norte, in a cave named Bakwitan. During pre-Hispanic times, the primitive inhabitants utilize the subterranean shelter as a burial site, thus, remains of the deceased, burial jars and coffins, and sentimental items were discovered during excavations and unauthorized treasure hunting resulting to looting. Centuries later during the Japanese Occupation Era, Bakwitan Cave, which translates to “evacuate” in Ilonggo dialect, has become a hiding place of the locals from Japanese soldiers. Today, the cave remains as an evacuation site, not from invaders, but as shelter during calamities.
The Guiding Light of Panay’s Northeastern End.
And again, my fascination with centuries-old lighthouses has brought me to this island of wonders. Gigantes Norte Lighthouse is the island’s historical edifice which, aside from being a tourist destination, serve its function as it does ages ago. Though the original Spanish-colonial parola was replaced with a modern day solar-powered lighthouse, the brick walls of old quarters ruins remain as mute witness to the rich past of Islas Gigantes. The architecture, the scenery, and its story makes it a must-visit attraction during your visit.
The rich history and culture of Gigantes Norte paints even more vibrant hues to these unique attractions situated in one island alone. Visiting the lighthouse, the cave, burial sites, etc., answers the how’s and why’s of the mystery enshrouding the off-beat island. Adding them all up creates the perfect formula of a prelude to this Gigantes Island adventure.
Some fast facts that may help you on the trip:
1. All these destinations are within walking or habal-habal (single motorcycle ride) proximity of Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn.
2. All these destinations can be arranged with your assigned guide in Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn (click link for contact person).
3. Bakwitan Cave can be quite tough if you’re pushing for the exit, especially to non-cave adventure experts like me, nevertheless, it’s worth a try.
4. It’s advisable to use sturdy footwear on Bakwitan Cave.
5. Using a headlamp instead of a hand-held torch is much more convenient. You will need to use your hands when climbing inside Bakwitan Cave.
6. This is the eighth post on my two-week long backpacking journey in Panay Island and Guimaras. Next stop would still be the wonderful beaches, islands, and islets of Islas Gigantes.
7. More Iloilo destinations.
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11. Happy travels and be safe.