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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Antonia Beach, Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo

Antonia beach at a glance

In my previous post (here), I wrote about the highlights of our island hopping activities at Islas de Gigantes. I focused more on the challenging, leg-breaking stunts we had to do to go inside the saltwater lagoon, climbing the rocks at Cabugao Gamay and doing jump shots at Bantigue sandbar. I promised to write about Antonia beach on a separate note because I feel there is so much to say about this island, so here it goes.

If you'll ask me which of the islands provide a bird eye's view of the entire Islas de Gigantes group of islands, my answer is - Antonia beach. The reason for being is that it has a lot to offer besides its pristine white sand and azure waters. No wonder it is where tourists are brought to have picnic lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon before heading back to the base camp.

A view of the nearby islands from Antonia beach

So, what are the things that you can do in Antonia beach? Though it is ideal for beach bumming (the sand here is finer than in Cabugao Gamay), guests can also enjoy lounging under the coconut trees while reading a book or having picnic lunch by the seaside. Its marine biodiversity is also very rich and surreal. Plus, you can go up to a small cave where you can have a nice view of the entire island.

Stunning rock formation

The other side of the beach
 As suggested by our boatmen and tour guide, we had our lunch by the seaside. Our food was prepared by Ate Anggay, the cook at Gigantes Hideaway Tourist Inn, and was composed of grilled fish and porkchop. Don't worry about the tour guide and the boatmen, they also have their food and its part of the budget.

Ate Anggay's Grilled Fish

Grilled Porkchop
 The packed lunch also includes softdrinks and mineral water. The breeze at Antonia beach will definitely lure you to sleep after a sumptuous feast. But please, try to resist it as there's so much to explore in the island!

Scallop shells in the scallop capital

Again, we noticed mountains of scallop shells on the island. Joefer Decano, our tour guide said this is because the owner of the island is a scallop supplier. We really feel that these shells can be put into better use. I just came from the CITEM event earlier at SMX and saw a lot of world-class accessories made of shells of different kinds on exhibit. Some are even for sale and/or for export. Why not use these shells as a material to create things like that? 

Islas de Gigantes has a very rich marine biodiversity, because it lies at the epicenter of marine biodiversity in the WORLD! Yes, the Visayan Sea has such title so make sure when you visit Islas de Gigantes, you go way, way under just like what we did!

Corals in Antonia beach
 According to Joel Decano (Tourism Officer of Carles, Iloilo - 09184685006), they have identified seven diving sites around Islas de Gigantes, not to mention one site ideal for drift diving. There are no dive shops yet in Islas de Gigantes but for your diving needs, you may get in touch with Joel, as he, himself is a PADI-certified diver and  can accompany you on a diving safari.


The corals at Islas de Gigantes, both in Antonia beach and in Cabugao Gamay, are alive and humongous! Although, more varieties can be seen in Antonia beach. Please be weary though that in some seasons (like when we were there), we saw some tiny jellyfish swimming with us, so the water is a bit stingy. Otherwise, Antonia beach is a perfect spot to snorkel. So sorry to say this, but walang sinabi ang snorkeling site sa Boracay dito! Again, I intended to write that in the vernacular. 


We had brought some bread for fish feeding, and we noticed that the fishes here are not yet accustomed to being "fed" with crumbles of bread. Although, it took only awhile before they got used to it. 



If you're tired of the underwater scene, you can go to the other side of the island where a small cave is located. You have to climb a bamboo ladder suspended on giant rocks. Again, my fear of heights forbade me go all the way up, but my friends did, so I just took their photo. 


There are more than 50 caves in Islas de Gigantes ready to be explored, but there are five caves highly-recommended for tourists. So, if spelunking is your thing, Islas de Gigantes is heaven for you! 


The cave at Antonia beach is just like a teaser for the yet another challenging activity that we were about to do later that afternoon. 


Meet Joefer Decano, Joel's brother who served as our tour guide for oue entire stay at Islas de Gigantes.



From the cave at Antonia beach, you will see a nice panoramic view of Islas de Gigantes.



If going up the cave is challenging, going down is more difficult! But, as my friends came down the bamboo ladder, I envy them so much that I promised myself, on my next trip to Islas de Gigantes, I'll go take the challenge,  so help me God!

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