Experience the intense variety and striking beauty of the islands of one of Iloilo’s most popular destinations. A trip to the exotic islands in Carles is packed with physical activities, culture, history and good food.

Embark on a tour. If you have something of the explorer in you, then an island-hopping holiday is ideal. Traveling across its vast sea evokes a spirit of discovery and offers a totally new perspective on the area. Explore and immerse yourself in the Gigante Islands of Carles.

Carles is a Second-Class municipality situated in the northernmost tip of Iloilo Province. It is 147.6 kilometers away or a three hour drive from the City of Iloilo. It is bounded in the north by Jintotolo Channel; in the northeast by the Visayan Sea; in the west by Municipality of Pilar, Capiz; and, in the south by the Municipality of Balasan, Iloilo. It has a total land area of 11, 202 hectares that is politically subdivided into 33 barangays.

Carles is populated by 68, 160 (2015 Census on Population) Carlesnons. Market day is every Mondays and Fridays. It annually celebrates its TReligious Fiesta every 15th of October in honour of Sta. Teresa de Jesus.

To get to Carles, one can take the bus at the New Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig in Jaro, Iloilo City.

HISTORY

Immigrants settled in the area of Punta Bulakawe, north of the poblacion in 1846. Other settlers from Antique and Aklan eventually populated the settlement which fell under the jusrisdiction of Pueblo de Pilar, Capiz. Ten years later, the settlement was transferred to the lowlands and renamed Badiang.

The first attempt to elevate Barrio Badiang into a municiopality occurred in 1860 but the Provincial Government of Capiz refused. This prompted the town leaders to petition to the Governor of Iloilo, Gov. Jose Maria Carles who eventually approved their petition. Much to the delight of the town leaders of Badiang, a new pueblo was established and named Carles in honour of the Governor. It was inaugurated in 1862.

ATTRACTIONS

The Gigante Islands is a string of islands located 21 kilometers northeast from Bancal Port in mainland Carles—the last town north of the province and is 147.6 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus ride from the city.

Consists of Gigante Norte and Gigante Sur, Gigante Islands is not only a favorite holiday destination itinerary by most tourists, but also home to a biologically diverse and rich coastal and marine resource. It contains more or less 50 caves. It is home to an endemic forest frog (Platymantis Insulates) listed to be critical and a Narrow-disked gecko (gekkogigante) listed as endangered under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Gigante Sur is 21 kilometers or an hour and a half motorized boat-ride from the mainland port of Bancal. Comprised of the barangays of Gabi and Asluman, it prides itself with strings of island beaches that include the islands of Antonia Point, Bantigui, Cabugao Dako, Cabugao Gamay, Ojatras, Balbagun and Tangke. It is also home to Long-tailed Macaque, Bhraminy Kite, Blue-naped Parrot, and Grass Owl.

Gigante Norte is the biggest of the island group chain. Known for its picturesque fishing villages, it is separated from Gigante Sur by a 5-mile channel or a 30-minute pumpboat ride and is made up of the barangays of Granada and Asluman with the islands of Bolobadiang, Uaydajun, Gigantona and Giganteleo. It is home to Long-tailed Macaque, Bhraminy Kite, Blue- naped Parrot, Grass Owl, Monitor Lizard and Gigantes Island Limestone Frog.

SICOGON ISLAND brings together classic charm and modern touches for a unique seaside experience. One will surely enjoy this hideaway with dazzling white sands and clear turquoise sea. Overlooking Tomaguin Island and Molopolo, the Island of Sicogon measures 489.0514 hectares and is composed of the barangays of San Fernando, Alipata and Buaya. The beach of Barangay Buaya is reason enough to go to the island. There is enough space and so few visitors that you will probably find a spot just for yourself. The sugary sands of Buaya extend into deep waters far offshore. It is a heaven for snorkelers.

Sicogon has long been a popular spot with foreigners on holiday and had made its mark as a hot spot for travelers from around the globe. The island was once famous among celebrities and royalties all over the world. It was known as one of Asia’s as a top tourist destination prior to its closure in the 1980s. It has tourist-friendly facilities such as its famous cottages and resort clubhouse, swimming pools, sports facilities, a wharf and an airstrip.

The beach of barangay Buaya in Sicogon Island remains among the most beautiful even up now. It is for those who are dreaming of a quiet vacation under a warm sun and a constant breeze. The island is still a big potential to welcome many of tourists looking for the best beach in Iloilo.

Presently, Sicogon is being managed by Ayala Land Corporation with two high-end accommodation establishments, Balay Kogon and Huni.

PAROLA or the 18th century lighthouse is situated in Barangay Asluman, Gigante Norte where the original lighthouse was built by the Spanish but has long been replaced by a new and modern one with the help of the Japanese. There used to be access for people to climb up the lighthouse and get a more scenic view.

SITIO BAROSBOS in Barangay Asluman, Gigantes Norte is an area identified by the National Museum (as per letter of Wilfredo P. Ronquillo, Chief, Archeology division dated October 1997) as an archeological site, due to the discovery of abundant archaeological material, notably earthenware ceramics that were dated somewhere between ca. 500 B.C. up to A.D. 500.

TUMAQUIN ISLAND fronting Buaya Beach is known for its aura of fantasy. This uninhabited island has crystal clear waters and creamy beach. Identified as a potential scuba diving site, it holds the elusive qualities of undersea world.

LANGUB CAVE in Sitio Langub, Barangay Granada, Gigante Norte is popular among residents eager to narrate the enchanted fairy tales. They tell of the world of the famed Golden Ship and a generous cave. The Golden Ship is said to be the royal inter island carrier of the unseen friends while the cave is said to be a storehouse of regale wardrobe and utensils ready for lending to those with the intent of returning them after use.

GIGANTILLO, GIGANTONA, in Gigante Norte are granite islets that offer an unusual combination of undersea environments, coral reefs and marine rock formation.

FESTIVAL

PANGISDA is celenrated every 2nd week of October. Derived from a Hiligaynon word for fishing, Pangisda, as a festival pays tribute to the efforts of the local fishermen who provide income not only to his family but practically to the whole town as well. It celebrates the bounties of their sea. Special events include tribal dance competition, boat races, cooking contest, food festival and beauty pageant.