In the daytime, the population swells with day-trippers, and island hoppers; while in the evenings, it is just the resort guests in the middle of the Visayan Sea underneath the starry sky. One travel blog calls Cabugao Gamay the icon of Gigantes. Referring to the Islas Gigantes Archepelago, which Cabugao Gamay is a part of.
Being far enough away from… everything, Cabugao Gamay is the type of island resort that is affordable for just about anyone… though it may not BE for everyone. The price for a night on this island are comparable to a hostile in Manila, and are highlighted by the even more affordable cost of fresh caught, abundant seafood. Everything that you eat from the sea will be guaranteed to be caught that day, because there is no refrigeration… actually, there is no ELECTRICITY on the island. Ah, and there is the catch! Well, you can’t drive there either; not even close. It is a 20 min pump boat ride from Gigantes Sur, which is an hour and a half ferry from Estancia, which is a minimum of 3 hours from the closest airport. Yes, it will take you an entire day to get to Cabugao Gamay, so this place is pretty remote, but perhaps that adds to the allure of this tiny island.
As mentioned earlier, this small gem of a destination is part of the Islas Giantes archipelago, and is actually already gaining internet fame because of the amazing views from the observation deck. A google image search for ‘Islas Gigantes’ or ‘Gigantes Sur’ will yield stunning views and selfies alike from the deck perched high atop the rocks at the end of the beach. I couldn’t help but fly the drone high above the observation deck and circle around it to offer different perspectives from what most tourists see.
You won’t question its stability on the 3 story climb up, but you will certainly consider the placement of the stairs, and the formal training (or lack thereof) of the person that assembled them. This bamboo contraption is almost a marvel on its own, assembled from spare pieces of wood and bamboo scattered across the island, taking advantage of the existing rock formation when possible. The stairs themselves are of uneven height, width, and at times, seemingly even missing in places; but they don’t shake! It is as solid a climb as you can ask for as long as you take your time and watch your step.
The beach itself is very rough on one side, with a powerful undertow and strong waves crashing on the rocks; but the opposite side of this small strip of sand is calm and inviting, though it drops off into deep water quickly so swimmers, must do so with caution. The sand itself is very clean, white and soft, but can be fairly rocky in places, so flip flops are recommended for sure.
The island’s center is marked by a neatly stacked stone fence, a new feature as of 2017. This man made divide creates a large, open area that is dotted by a number of coconut palms separating the two beaches, and a few picnic tables for those having lunch. These trees, sparse, and many still fairly short in height, are still able to provide a welcome break from the sun. It is also in this center part of the island that you will find many, many wonderfully stacked stones, perhaps leftover from the fence. This is Eco sculpture at its best, if for no other reason than simply because of the sheer number of them. These sculptures seem to be a more organized version of the massive boulders forming the small mountain that appears to rise directly out of the depths of the sea.
The small resort on Cabugao Gamay is comprised of a few huts and tents, so do not expect luxury accommodation. The vast majority of guests are Filipinos from the region, with a small growing number of people from Manila every year. The island is also home to a largely unexplored forest that blankets the small mountain on the northern end. It is at the foot of this mountain that the lone resort sits. The lack of open real estate on the island will prevent it from expanding too much, but as its online popularity as a vacation destination grows, you can expect to see more amenities come to the island, as well as tourists. There is no better time than NOW to come see Cabugao Gamay in Islas Gigantes.