Exploring Iloilo: Isla Gigantes Inland Tour

If there is one thing I do not enjoy doing, it’s riding motorcycles. But no, I didn’t have a choice today.

Our host from Rosewood Place Resort offered us the in-land tour upon arriving at Isla Gigantes. The tour would let you go to the destinations of your choice using, yep you guessed it, motorcycles or habal-habal as transport. I was never comfortable in riding motorcycles given that there has been a lot, and I mean A LOT, of motorcycle accidents mentioned on the news every day. And I’m just not comfortable, period.

Of course, I didn’t have a choice. After around two to three hours of settling down and devouring sumptuous food, our tour guides arrived at the resort with their motorcycles and picked us up for the tour.

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Photo by: Nikki Caubalejo (IG: @nixcaubalejo)

There are two destination choices for the in-land tour:

  1. Balwitan and Langub Caves
  2. Tour of the Lighthouse in Sitio Parola

Each option costs PHP200/head. This includes a personal tour guide and motorcycle. Four friendly, accommodating and funny tour guides were assigned to us. Each of us rode on our motorcycles, navigated by our tour guides, and went to see the great perhaps. I kid. Off we go to the famous lighthouse!

Side note: The fees for the in-land tour goes directly to the tour guides and Rosewood Place Resort do not have a percentage on the fees. Our host told us that it was their way of giving back to the tour guides by letting them earn through offering tours to guests. She, the host, also mentioned that the PHP200 fee would also cover the gas used for the motorcycles. We had a lot of fun and legit adventure today, we opted to give a little more than the usual fee to our tour guides. With the kind of service and safety measures they provided, they definitely deserve it. 🙂

Prior to reaching our destination, our tour guides brought us to see what the locals called the “Scallop Mountains”. These mountains are made of millions of scallop shells piled up in mountain-like forms. Lexter, our main tour guide for our Isla Gigantes visit, told us that a huge number of shells were already pulled out and the ones we are looking at are just the remainders. If you do the math and use your imagination, the totality of the “Scallop Mountains” can cover a whole sitio or perhaps, a whole barangay!

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Some of the scallop shells. Yes, “some”.

A while later, we rode our motorcycles and drove to the lighthouse. The ride was quite longer than I expected. Or probably because I was just anxious of the ride itself. (Trivia: My hands are literally sweating in fear and uneasiness I was feeling due to the motorcycle ride.)

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As we were getting closer to the lighthouse, the road was becoming rougher and rougher. There were instances where we had to alight the motorcycles as navigating was becoming extremely difficult due to the roughness of the road and the broken stones along the path. Walking on the unpaved, uphill road was definitely not easy, especially when you’re just wearing a pair of flip flops. It somewhat felt like a “workout” for us millennials living a sedentary lifestyle.

Finally, we arrived at our destination. I remember us giving a certain amount of money to the caretaker, like a donation or something, but I forgot the amount. If you decide to go to the lighthouse, just ask your tour guide about the fees/ donation you need to give upon entering the vicinity.

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 Trivia: “Parola” in Tagalog means “lighthouse”.

The old lighthouse’s ruins welcomed us. Only a few people know that I have a thing for ruins: church ruins, house ruins – anything that’s concrete and ruined, in a beautiful way, of course. Beautiful, old architectures just seem to captivate me effortlessly. The ruins of the old lighthouse was simple, but it was still beautiful in its own way.

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This was my second time to see a lighthouse up close although this was the first time I actually went inside and climbed up to the top. There is no other method to go up the top deck of the lighthouse but to climb steep steel ladders. Yes people, this is where the hardcore workout begins. (Update: My hands are sweating again and holding onto these steel ladders is becoming difficult and somehow life-threatening.)

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We went one after the other, stopping at each level to catch our breaths until we finally reached the top. The climb was definitely worth it. The 360-degree view of the island was just simply breathtaking. We stayed there for a while and watched as the sun started to set.

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Going down the lighthouse was no joke as well but we managed to go down safely.

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With our tour guides

Before the sun finally sets, our tour guides brought us to a very secluded area; a part of the sea where fresh water actually runs. The path going to the site is forested, unpaved and definitely rocky; much more challenging than the path to the lighthouse. Our guides showed us where the exact source of fresh water was. They noted that the residents come here frequently to get fresh water. I’m not sure if there was a pump or sort of device that would automatically pump waters to the houses and resorts. But yeah, you get the idea.

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I forgot what the exact place was actually called, but boy, the view of the sunset there was uhh-ma-zing. It was definitely overwhelming.

It was already nightfall when we rode back to Rosewood Place Resort. I must say that traveling around a dark area on a motorcycle is not really my thing. I was still uneasy, but thank God my tour guide was really keeping me safe and he wasn’t driving recklessly at any point. He was also chatting with me all throughout the trip and that helped me to get distracted of the uneasiness somehow. He was my angel that day! Thank you, kuya!

Although we weren’t able to check out the caves as our earthly bodies can no longer handle spelunking on that day, we were still awed by the places we visited and true enough, they did not disappoint. 🙂

Read more for an ultimate getaway:

Follow my misadventures on Instagram for daily updates: @lahainaandtheflipflops

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