When I first visited Iloilo in 1998 one of the places that captured my fancy is the Island where they say produces the best and sweetest mangoes – the Island of Province of Guimaras. The Province of Guimaras is one of the smallest in the country and is located between the Island of Panay and Negros. That is why backpackers often go here from Iloilo and then to Bacolod and if you have more time you can also go to Dumaguete.
Our country is full of Festivals and the province of Guimaras celebrates the Manggahan Festival every May to promote the province and celebrate its foundation day. The Province has more thatn 50,000 Mango trees planted and claims to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. Before, when you talk about Guimaras, it was all about its Mangoes, but now it has become a preferred tourist destination and I hope that in the next few years more resorts and developments come to this province.
HOW TO GET TO GUIMARAS
If you come from Manila, take the Manila – Iloilo flight either via Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific. At the Airport, you can either wait for a van that will take you to SM Iloilo and take a taxi from there to either Parola Wharf or Ortiz Wharf. You can also look for a metered taxi at the Airport and pay and additional P 50 so you can get straight to the Wharf. That’s what I did, the meter stood at P340 and gave the cab P400. At the Wharf it takes just 5 – 10 minutes to buy a P14 ticket for a boat that will take you to Guimaras. The boats easily fills up to 50 passengers and will just take 15 to 20 minutes to get you to Guimaras. In Guimaras, depending on where you will stay, its either you take a jeep which is so crowded or a tricycle which charges up to P300 depending on where you will go.
This is where I stayed at the Raymen Beach Resort
WHERE TO STAY
Guimaras has five towns namely Jordan, Nueva Valencia, Buenavista, San Lorenzo and Sibunag. The main wharf from Iloilo brings you to Jordan and there are lots of places to stay in but I would recommend getting one at the Alobihod beach which is in Nueva Valencia. There are four resorts sharing the same shoreline and after checking out reviews at Trip Advisor I stayed at the Raymen’s Beach Resort and I was quite content with what the place had to offer. The place is a 45- minute tricycle ride from the Jordan Wharf and with lots of bumps along the way. I paid P 250 to the driver going to Raymen’s and P300 going to the Jordan Wharf when I left the place. As menteiond by the tricycle driver, the resort is 26 kilometers from the Wharf.
WHAT TO DO
Since I was dead tired when I arrived, I tried to cramp all activities in one day. The good thing about Raymen’s is that it’s all there, the beach and the people you need to talk to when you go island hopping. At the same I told myself after the island hopping I can go around and visit the other tourist destinations in the province.
Good thing with the Island hopping is that they have fixed prices with the boats so you don’t have to haggle yourself around. Depending on how many you are, you can actually rent a boat for yourself for P 500.00 for one hour and add P150 for the succeeding hours. Depending on how many you want to go to and how long you want to be in one island will be proportional to how much you will pay. I just rented the boat for two hours and snorkeled at the Ave. Maria Islet. The rental for the snorkeling gear is P100. The other islands I just passed by and took pictures.
You need to eat here before leaving
THE PITSTOP RESTAURANT
THE PITSTOP RESTAURANT
HOW TO GET AROUND
As I mentioned, read and experienced, most tourists take the tricycle to go around the province. Recommended places to go to are the Trappist Monastery where you can buy lots of pasalubong, the Guimaras Provincial Hall where I took my Guimaras picture, you can also eat at the Pitstop Restaurant, check out the smallest plaza which has the image of Jose Rizal and Mango Reasearch Center – all of which are in Jordan. Other sites which I did not go to is on the far side of Guimaras, the Guis Lighthouse also in Nueva Valencia and the San Lorenzo Windmills in San Lorenzo. These places are perfect for picture seekers.
The only thing missing here is the intervention of the Tourism industry to promote and improve the place. The beaches are great but needs much more improvements. Transportation is a chaos because of the exorbitant rates the tricycle drivers charge because the tourist sites are so far from each other. I hope that in the next five years I can visit again and this time check out the other areas I was not able to visit.