Standing once more on the shoulders of Gigantes Islands

Inside, we found ourselves scrambling over 30 feet of craggy walls into a wide natural pool that submerged us to our waist.

Natural saltwater pool of Tangke lagoon

When I found myself exploring Islas de Gigantes for the second time and had the opportunity to stand on its slopes, I was reminded of Newton’s phrase: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Long sandbar of Bantigue.

As a metaphor, it implies using the ideas of thinkers who came before us to advance our own intellectual progress.

This time, it was simply to immerse myself in the beauty of the island chain in Western Visayas.

Jagged not-so-little cliffs

Our first stop of the morning was Tangke Lagoon. It is a natural saltwater pool enclosed by the towering jagged cliffs of Gigantes Sur — one of chain’s two main islands along with Gigantes Norte.

Going to Tangke Lagoon is quite tricky. You must dock your boat beside a razor-sharp cliff passageway, so you need a favorable wind direction, a manageable current, and a tidal level allowing you to maneuver through it.

Due to high waves on my first trip in 2017, we skipped it. This time, the conditions were just right for us to enter the lagoon. Inside, we found ourselves scrambling over 30 feet of craggy walls into a wide natural waist-high pool. We spent a little bit more than an hour marveling at the sight of the massive rock walls covered in patches by dense foliage.

Post feast of a lunch swim.

Lunch of champions at Cabugao Gamay

We docked at the white, powdery shore of Cabugao Gamay — the most visited island in the chain — just before lunchtime. After our table had been set up, the sun quickly disappeared, as heavy storm clouds that dumped heavy rain on us. While running for cover, each of us carrying a casserole and plateful of seafood dish, the sky cleared up as if playing a trick on us, revealing the sun once more.

After we devoured the freshest seafood catch of prawns, giant crabs, grilled fish, squid and of course, the one-peso scallops, I hurriedly climbed the hill in Cabugao Gamay, a known Instagrammable spot in Gigantes Islands, to enjoy the cool breeze and breathtaking scenery.

A refreshing dip in the warm waters of the island was called for. As our stay drew to a close, I practiced my breath hold in the crystal-clear waters of Cabugao Gamay for the remaining hour.

Quickie stops at Antonia’s Beach and Bantigue Sandbar

We made two brief stops at Antonia’s Beach and Bantigue Sandbar before returning to Bancal Port on Carles mainland. The beach at Antonia is situated on Gigantes Sur’s eastern side. It has characteristics almost similar to Cabugao Gamay, highlighted by a beach head encircled by a steep limestone cliff and coated in snow-white sand.

In the course of a beautiful afternoon, we arrived in Bantigue sandbar just in time to witness it glisten to golden hues at the kiss of the scorching sun. Long and slender, it snaked out like a frog’s tongue about to seize its prey. Only the significantly bigger waves and strong current of the sea prevented us from taking a dip. It was the perfect place to bookend our Islas de Gigantes island hopping exploration.

The writer enjoying the view of Cabugao Gamay. | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF Marky Ramone Go

Not to miss: Gigantes Norte

While we skipped Gigantes Norte on this trip, it was here, however, that I spent a night with friends during my first visit in 2017. This small populated island with two barangays and a few small resorts still bears an 1895 Spanish Lighthouse found on its northern tip.

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