Antonia Beach: Serenity on a December Morning

Within a few minutes of leaving the sandbar at Bantigue Island, our next destination came into clearer view. Immediately to our front, an inviting white sand beach stood out between two massive, sprawling masses of limestone rocks. Clusters of lively green shrubs crowned the rocks while coconut palms lined the white sand beach. Our boat covered the next several meters of turquoise waters in what seemed like a breeze and we were soon walking along the creamy white shores of Antonia Beach.

small outrigger boat, Antonia Beach, Gigantes Sur, Carles, Iloilo
Antonia Beach: the perfect place for beach bumming

Antonia Beach is located on the eastern end of Gigantes Sur, one of the islands that make up Islas de Gigantes or the Gigantes group of islands. The latter is part of the municipality of Carles, Iloilo and lies in the Visayan Sea just off the northeastern tip of the main island of Panay. We initially thought Antonia was an island – many referred to it as Antonia Island Resort – until we realized it was really a part of Gigantes Sur.

white sand and karst formations at Antonia Beach
Antonia’s white sand beach and limestone rock formations

Antonia Beach lies between the two limestone formations earlier mentioned, with the sea on both sides. Boats usually dock on the western side as ours did. We were soon exploring the northern end of the beach where tall karst formations carpeted by verdant shrubs stood watch over this part of the island.

karst formation at Antonia Beach
Karst formations at Antonia Beach’s northern end; there is a small cave up on those rocks

The tall karst formations on the beach’s northern end actually has a small cave that may be explored but we skipped that part. We were content just to wade in the crystal clear waters and enjoy the view of the rest of Gigantes Sur from this side of the beach. There were a few boats and guests in the vicinity but otherwise Antonia Beach was a postcard-perfect picture of serenity on this day.

parked outrigger boat at Antonia Beach, Gigantes Sur
A parked outrigger boat; the greater mass of Gigantes Sur island lies in the background.
rocks, corals and sea grass, Antonia Beach, Gigantes Sur, Carles, Iloilo
Corals and sea grass on the northern part of Antonia Beach; the water is clear enough to let us see fishes even without a dive mask.

As the morning wore on, the sun’s heat began getting to us so we decided to head for the clump of coconut palms lining the center of the beach. From what we know the cover afforded by the palms was much better back then before Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) made its violent visit here, knocking down some palms and removing much of the fronds from the rest. There are tables and chairs here for guests to dine in and a small store that serves cold drinks. There’s also a line of tents for rent on the western side of the beach; guests can camp overnight here.

coconut palms at Antonia Beach
Coconut palms line the space between the eastern and western sides of Antonia Beach

The eastern section is the quieter section of the beach, although both western and eastern sides offer good swimming areas. The western side offers good snorkeling particularly the portion near the long pile of massive slanted rocks on the southern end of the beach. We would spend the remainder of our time at Antonia Beach happily exploring the marine life here.

massive rocks at the southern end of Antonia Beach
Antonia’s southern end is characterized by these massive, slab-like boulders.
snorkeling area at Antonia Beach, Gigantes Sur
… and a snorkeling area teeming with marine life.

There’s a good variety of fishes and corals on Antonia’s southern end and after not having snorkeled since visiting El Nido last summer, we were like children enjoying the colorful marine life here. Interestingly, we noticed that fishes here were not shy at all and seemed to be swimming around us waiting for handouts. (We learned later that fish-feeding is done here sometimes.) We also encountered what looked to be an aggressive fish protecting its territory, chasing other fishes away and even biting us in our toes (it didn’t hurt though). We learned later that there are several excellent dive sites around the Gigantes group of islands although these have yet to attract dive tours.

huge slab-like rocks at Antonia Beach
The unique topography at Antonia’s southern end

Shortly after our boat left Antonia Beach for the final destination of our island-hopping tour, we asked our boatman and tour guide if we could stop just past the pile of rocks at Antonia’s southern tip. This unique collection of rocks is probably Antonia’s defining feature as we have yet to encounter a similar topography even in places like Coron, El Nido and the Caramoan Peninsula. After a few moments of gazing at the spectacle and a few clicks with the camera we were off for the final leg of our Islas de Gigantes tour.

leaving Antonia Beach, Gigantes Sur
One last look

Antonia Beach is on the itinerary of island-hopping tours based on the island of Gigantes Norte. You can travel to Gigantes Norte, stay at one of the resorts there and book an island-hopping trip from there (resorts usually arrange these tours for their guests). For suggestions on where to stay in Gigantes Norte and other travel tips go to this page.

Go to this page for details on how to get to Gigantes Norte.

14 thoughts on “Antonia Beach: Serenity on a December Morning

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    1. Thanks for visiting our blog Anna. This island has the best snorkeling spot during our island-hopping tours but there are a few more islands (much farther) that have yet to be explored. Boat tours aren’t going there for the moment.

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