Guimaras, an island province located in the western portion of the Visayas Region, may just be the next new destination to add to your bucket list for your next great vacation. Considered to be one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, the hidden treasures of the island make it a beloved destination for many travelers. Not only is it famous for its breathtaking sights and sounds, but it also very well known for incredibly sweet and tasty mangoes.
One Saturday morning in December of 2017, the weather was not favorable. My supposedly early fastcraft trip from Iloilo Port to Bacolod City was announced to be cancelled. Hopeless, I accepted the fact that I should change my schedule because of this unforeseen act of nature. I was supposed to take a more or less 45-minute sea travel from Iloilo to Bacolod then travel by land for another 6 hours from the City of Smiles to Dumaguete City - then take another fastcraft ride going to Bohol. Yep, another long and tiring travel. But, for the sake of the commitment I had to attend to, I had no choice. Oh, I almost forgot: I actually enjoy this job - so forget about that tiring part, he he he.
I waited for almost half a day in the port terminal, hoping that the typhoon signal would be cleared. Finally, it was - but sadly the coast guard announced that no ship/fast craft would be allowed to travel. The resumption of sea travel would likely only be possible the following day.
I had no choice but to cancel my long winding, struggling trip from Iloilo to Bohol. I immediately messaged some colleagues in IloIlo City to inform them that the trip was cancelled and I had nothing to do in the City of Love. One of them replied and suggested: Why not take a tour of the nearby Guimaras Province? By this, time it was already 1:00 PM.
So there was a trip to Guimaras! Yep, they allowed sea travel to Guimaras given that it only takes 10 minutes of travel, more or less. There were no more typhoon signals anymore, but the waves were still quite strong!
The big mango statue welcomed us upon arrival at the Port of Jordan in Guimas. It was actually my third time in one of the country’s smallest provinces. We only had a limited amount of time to explore the mango capital, so we decided to visit the places we weren’t able to explore last year, when we toured this beautiful province.
This post is actually a compilation of my previous and recent travels to this beautiful island province in the Western Visayas. I had the chance to explore Guimaras in 2014 through a familiarization tour organized by the city government of Iloilo and Injap Tower Hotel. In June 2017, we also had a short trip here with my workmates and friends but I forgot to write and blog - my apologies!
I know there are a lot of places to go and things to do here. So now, I’ve listed down the Interesting Spots and Things to Do in this beautiful province, which hosts the sweetest of mangoes!
The Guisi Lighthouse in Nueva Valencia
Built during the 19th century, the Guisi Light House in Nueva Valencia is considered to be second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. It was built to guide fishermen and seamen sailing the Panay Gulf and as a part of the master plan in 1890’s of Spanish government for lighting the maritime coasts of the Philippine Archipelago. It is always fun to learn more about Philippine history through visiting historical sites like this old lighthouse in Guisi.
|Faro de Punta Luzaran (Guisi Lighthouse) compound|
Near the lighthouse is a beach cove open for public. My colleagues walked down to the beach while I just waited in the coconut vendors’ area and enjoyed the stunning view of the cove while sipping the freshest coconut juice on that day.
Looking for a beach that is a bit more secluded, a bit more private? Guisi is a beach where you can get more privacy during your swimming trip. It has such an antique feel for a beach because of the ruins that surround it. The beach is just a minute walk from the historical Guisi Lighthouse. Enjoy swimming in its crystal clear waters! You can also go island hopping, boating, fishing and snorkeling.
Visit the Windmill Farm
Supporting something that aims to solve our environmental problems while enjoying a great view is always a nice addition to your itinerary. The Windmill Farm aims to limit the greenhouse gas emissions produced by factories and homes in the region. But, it also targets the visitors of the region, to show them that going environment friendly can also be made into something fun and enjoyable. Sure enough, this windmill farm has turned into a tourist attraction, but it is still able to keep its peaceful atmosphere at the same time.
Join the island hopping and Ecotourism Tour in Nueva Valencia (Taklong Island National reserve)
Get the most out of your adventure by going on an island hopping and ecotourism tour. See and enjoy plenty of sites in just a couple of hours. From beautiful and soft sandy beaches to natural rock formations that would make your jaw drop. There is also a floating cottage which is a good place to rest. But surely, every place you visit is a great place to go snorkeling - all while having wonderful scenery.
Visit the Mango Plantation
Guimaras is not called the Mango Capital for nothing, so it would be a shame if you missed out on one of the main sources of income for many of the locals here. The mango plantation may not be your typical vacation spot but it is certainly a bit more unique than your usuals. It’s just nice to see what keeps the province going.
Given that you’re already in the Mango plantation, it would be a shame if you didn’t actually get yourself some mangoes. Eat these freshly grown mangoes and you’ll realize why Guimaras is a source of mangoes for many places in the country.
Try their famous Mango Pizza
Set aside the pineapple belongs on pizza fight, a true winner has come into battle! Guimaras has been able to find the perfect balance of sweet, sour and salty via the creation of their very own Mango Pizza. Taste this and for sure, you’ll never forget the experience of going to Guimaras!
Visit one of the Smallest Plazas in the World
One of the smallest plazas in the world is found in Guimaras! Why go here? Because it is incredibly cute and a different, unique sort of visit. True to its name, you can expect to finish your visit here pretty fast but hey, at least you can say that you’ve seen one of the smallest plazas in the world.
Witness the Festival
Now the true highlight of your trip is attending their famous Manggahan Festival. It is a month-long festival every summer that, of course, celebrates their famous, sweet, and delicious mangoes!
Explore the Trappist Monastery (buy pasalubongs)
This is another place in Guimaras where you can enjoy some quiet time. This is yet another secluded place in the province. It is a good place to just sit and relax, let your positive thoughts flow through you. But the primary reason why many people actually go to the Trappist Monastery is because of their shop, it offers greats finds for pasalubongs! You can also buy some things here to serve as a remembrance of your trip.
HOW TO GET THERE
If you’re coming from Manila, there are flights served by the Philippines Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Airasia that fly daily to Iloilo City. From there, you can take a cab to either Ortiz or Parola Wharf. The Ortiz Wharf is the usual route. So from Ortiz, you can take a boat to Jordan Wharf in Guimaras! There will be a tourism office there.
From Visayas Provinces
So now you can either find your way to Negros Occidental or Cebu. If you’re coming from Negros Occidental, go to Pulupandan Wharf and take a ferry to San Lorenzo Guimaras or go to Valladollid Wharf and take a ferry to Nueva Valencia. You can also travel from Bacolod Port to Iloilo Port then go to Ortiz or Parola Wharf.
Now from Cebu, just take either a ferry or a flight headed to Iloilo and then go to Ortiz Wharf to ride a ferry to Jordan.
From Davao, Cagayan de Oro or General Santos, you can take a flight going to Iloilo. Find your way to Ortiz Wharf then just take a boat to Jordan Wharf.
No matter where you are in the Philippines, there is always a way to get to Guimaras. You should never miss out on the Guimaras Islands. It is one of the treasures our country should be very proud of.