A province with 5 towns truly gifted with fertile soil producing the best mango in the world, abundant marine resources, natural and dramatic landscapes, friendly and inviting people. This sums up our travels in some parts of Guimaras. There’s more to explore!
Living in Iloilo for almost 5 years, Guimaras has been part of our life. I missed this island so much as I reminisce our quick trips from the mainland Panay to the island as a sweet treat on hot summer days, an annual sampling of mango all you can eat, random trips for numerous fiestas, unaccounted wild camping trips to this gorgeous islands, cliff jumping and jeepney top load rides.
So here are a few of my favorite spots, how to get there, what to bring, budget and what to expect:
A religious place pretty close to the Jordan wharf. This is so busy during the holy week where people climb a few stairs to reach the chapel on top. From the wharf, you can either walk or take a tricycle for 10 pesos per person. Bring enough water if deciding to walk from the wharf. Sunscreen is important as there are some open areas along the trails. I remembered last time I was there during the holy week and camped. It was too busy the whole night and I never really got a decent sleep. But during regular days, it is a nice place to relax. Please practice “Leave No Trace Principle”.
This tiny cove situated in Brgy. Sinapsapan, Jordan, is a piece of heaven on earth. It wasn’t so busy a few years ago when social media posts attract a lot of visitors. From Alibhon market in Jordan, take a habal-habal (motorbike) for 70 pesos. At the cove, you’ll pay either day pass for 70 pesos or 120 for overnight per person with access to cottages. I suggest you stay there overnight and experience the magical glowing planktons or watch the magnificent sunsets. In the morning, cross the 3 islets right in front of your cottage. You can order simple foods to the caretaker or better bring food with you if planning to stay overnight. Essentials: camping equipment, sunscreen, snorkeling set, food, and water.
Guisi Lighthouse and Beach
Located in Brgy. Guisi, Nueva Valencia. This lighthouse ruin is the second oldest in the Philippines. Inside the complex, you’ll see the ruins of the old structure and the original rusty lighthouse. An entrance fee of 20.00 pesos is collected at the gate. The best part of this place is the nice beach where you can swim at your heart’s content. There is a resort at the place or low-key rooms where you can stay overnight. Or you can camp which I did.
Lawi Coves and Its Neighbouring Islands
Located beside Alubihod Beach, this group of islands is accessible only with a rented boat. A whole day trip is enough with visits to the cave, tiny Ave Maria island, and some unidentified islands with perfect swimming spots. From Jordan Wharf, you can take a habal-habal straight to Brgy. Lawi and from there rent a boat. The regular day trip costs 1500.00 pesos good for 5 persons. Haggling skill is important. This is the Philippines.
Igang Bay and Coves
Another option further south of Nueva Valencia is Igang. Though I never experienced going there by jeepney, I would suggest you rent a multicab if going there with a group. It starts at 500.00 pesos good for 13 persons. Plenty of transportation options from habal-habal or tricycle awaits you at the Jordan wharf. Ask the Tourism Office located at the port complex. They are friendly and helpful. There’s a resort and a restaurant so no need to bring food. Or if you want to go on camping, it’s very possible. Ask around and the staff will lead you to the camping area. A mangrove park will be another option if you fancy a walk.
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve
Greatly affected by Guimaras Oil Spill in 2006, this group of islands off the coast of Nueva Valencia is slowly recuperating and is home to thousands of marine creatures. Managed by the University of the Philippines Visayas. An entrance fee of 30.00 pesos is collected at the marine park office. This is a great place for snorkeling and island hopping. Camping is also possible.
Other Activities to Do:
Enjoy the annual Manggahan Festival held every month of April and May. Taste the best and sweetest mangoes in the world with their “Mango All You Can Eat”. Pay 80.00 pesos good for 1 hour and be dizzy with the sugar rush of the mangoes. I’ve been attending this event yearly and I can’t finish with my 5 kilos goal. I always finish at 4 kilos. Various activities are lined-up during this festival. Mechanics are simple: for 30 minutes, you can have all the Guimaras mangoes you can eat! Participants can choose between ripe and green mangoes (with bagoong). The registration fee is Php 120.00. Sometimes it varies. Always check the Manggahan official page.
Participate in the Banas Isla Guimaras annual Trail Running and Regular Coastal Clean-up. This sportive event aims to promote a fun and exciting activity where each runner could explore one’s physical and mental capacity while enjoying the beautiful coastal surroundings of Guimaras. Probably one of the best-organized activities on the island hosted by fun and engaging Guimarasnon. For updated events, check their Facebook page here.
What are you waiting for? Visit Guimaras now!