If you want to detach from the world of technology for a few days to commune with Mother Nature, then going to Guimaras is the best bet.
Guimaras is an island province located in the Western Visayas region. One of the smallest province in the Philippines, Guimaras used to be a sub-province of Iloilo until it was made independent on the year 1992. The lone district of Guimaras is composed of five municipalities (Buenavista, Nueva valencia, Jordan, San Lorenzo and Sibunag) with Jordan serving as the town capital and Hiligaynon as the native dialect.
Guimaras Island is famous for its mangoes that is said to be the sweetest in the world. In fact, bringing mangoes in the island is prohibited to protect its own mango crops from contamination and degredation.
Home to the most beautiful beaches in the country and export quality mangoes, the best time to visit Guimaras is during the second week of April since it is when they celebrate the Manggahan Festival. Needles to say, it’s actually raining mangoes in Guimaras for one week. Mangoes are cheaper and you can actually eat all the mangoes you want during the festival celebration in the town proper.
Below is a 4 days and 3 nights stay Tourist Itinerary Guide to the island of Guimaras, with a quick sidetrip in Iloilo City.
Tel no: (02) 7020-888
Facebook: Cebu Pacific Air
Tel no: (02) 855-888
From Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo, ride the next trip of the pump boat to Guimaras. Fare per head isPhp 13.00 and would only
take 20 minutes. Guimaras’ Jordan Port is already visible from the Ortiz Wharf so you can just imagine how near Guimaras is from Iloilo. Daily trip is from 6:00 AM – 6:30 PM (every 15-30 minutes), If you want a chartered trip, it would cost Php450 – 570/trip.
Things You Need To Know
Accommodation: Before heading to Guimaras, be sure you have already booked your reservation to any of the resorts in the island. Although some resorts do accept walk-ins, it is still highly suggested to do your reservations in advance to avoid any hassles, especially during peak seasons.
Internet and phone signal is quite unreliable in Guimaras so better call after texting to confirm your reservation.
Costa Aguada Island Resort
Telephone Nos: (02) 890-5543/ 0999-3827702/0927-9758406
Email: [email protected] .com
Facebook:Costa Aguada Island Resort
Raymen Beach Resort
Telephone Nos: 033-3383177 / 0918-5207271
Villa Igang Beach Resort
Telephone No: (033)-336-5507
Abelardo Beach Resort
Telephone No: 0915-6712075
Baras Beach Resort
Telephone Nos: 0927-4801027/ (033)338-2249
Email: [email protected]
Valle Verde Mountain Resort
Telephone Nos:0918-7303446/ 0918-5940958
Telephone Nos: 0920-9275372/ (033) 321-1654/ (033) 321-0880
***You may also visit the website Stay in Guimaras for a long list of resorts in Guimaras***
Meal: Some resorts tend to be far from the city proper so if you are on a tight budget, better stock your own food. However, some resorts don’t allow outside food so it’s always better to ask first if there’s a corkage. Food being served in resorts usually costs Php 200 per head depending on the place where you plan to stay. If you are going for some country tour, there are a number of eateries or carinderias in Guimaras, specifically in the town capital Jordan.
Tour: Tourists spots in Guimaras are far from each other so the touring is costly. Again, it depends on the transportation that you are going to use. Usual rate in resorts that use cars or AUVs is Php 2,500. Tricycles’ rate costs about Php 1,000-1,500 depending on the places you want to see. However, if you opt for more adventure, you may hire a motorcycle to take you anywhere in Guimaras, rate usually costs Php 500.00 at most. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a number of tricycle and multicab drivers, so from there, you can already choose your tour guide. Just be sure to haggle for the price.
For the island hopping, price is Php 400 for the first hour and Php 150 for the succeeding hours. Be sure to visit Lawi Marine Turtle Rescue Center, Ave Maria Island, Baras Beach Resort, Taklong Island and the passage way full of Mangroves. Number of hour for the touring depends on the number of islands you want to visit.
Kuya Mai- 0923-6389891
Kuya Gerald- 0908-4748122
Kuya Richard Caro -0916-6621381
Important Things You Need
Insect repellent lotion
Camera (no brainer)
Bring more than enough cash (resorts are far from the city proper and most of them don’t accept credit cards)
* Good for 2 persons(splurge budget already. You can actually trim down the cost if you want)
Airfare: Php 6,000 ++ (roundtrip/without promo)
Accommodation: Php 4,000 (2 nights, depending on the resort’s rate)
Food: Php 3,000
Touring and Port Transfer: Php 4,000
Pasalubong: Php 3,000 (Spend most on their mangoes ^_^)
Miscellaneous : 2,500 (You’ll never know. This can also include your accommodation in Iloilo and terminal fees)
You need to have: 23,000 for 2 persons is more than enough already to enjoy Guimaras and Iloilo. You can save more if you travel in big groups, take tricycles, jeepneys and if you can catch a promo fare to Iloilo. In our case, we were able to score a Php 600 ++ roundtrip fare for two to Iloilo. =)
Catch the earliest flight to Iloilo. Usually it’s at 5:00 AM. Travel time from Manila to Iloilo is only one hour via plane so it is expected that you’ll arrive in Iloilo by 6:00 AM. Iloilo International Airport, by the way, is very nice. It somehow looks like the new NAIA 3 Centennial Airport and much better than NAIA and MIA. I hope the government will try to renovate these two old airports. =/
At the airport, take a metered taxi to Ortiz Wharf. This costs Php 350.00. I recommend the Light of Glory Taxi. Travel time from the airport to Ortiz Wharf is approximately 45 minutes. Walk few meters then buy your tickets at the ticket station which costs Php 13.00 per head. Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Port is only 20 minutes away via pump boat. If you already have a resort reservation, you can arrange your pick up or take a multi cab jeepney, tricycle or even motorcycle (granting you don’t have luggages with you) to take you to the resort. If you are clueless where to go and stay, the Guimaras Tourism Office at Jordan Port will be more than willing to help you decide. Also, be sure to ask if the resort where you have made your reservation accepts early check-in.
Upon arriving at the resort, take your breakfast, rest for a while and you may schedule your country tour in the afternoon if you wish, or better yet, just stay the whole day in the resort while basking under the sun with a glass of mango smoothie.
If you plan to go for a country tour, be sure to visit the Trappist Monastery and Guimaras Trade & Information Center where pasalubongs are bought. Don’t forget to buy the Mango Biscochio, Mango, Ube and Pandan Barquillos (Php 55), Mango Jam, Mango Otap (Php 75), Cashew, Mango Tart, Pandan Barqueron (Php 35), Dried Mangoes (Php 80), Mango Cookies (Php 40) and cute Mango keychains (Php 25) for souvenirs. I highly suggest that you just buy Mangoes before you go home so It won’t spoil.
The usual country tour includes a visit to the Guisi Lighthouse, a 19th century old and now rusty lighthouse that was aimed at lighting the Philippine Seas and channels to guide ships and fishermen. This light house is no longer functional. Balaan Bukid Shrine (Sacred Mountain) or Ave Maria Purisima Shrine is a pilgrimage site of Catholic devotees that sits on top of the mountain. It is hard to miss the large cross when you’re coming from Iloilo to Guimaras. Check out also the Valle Verde Mountain Resort, Alubihod Beach, Sad-Sad Falls, Ambakan Cave and Falls or you may ask your friendly tour guide to take you to the new Guimaras Adventure Park for a paint ball experience, target shooting, horse back riding and rappelling.
9:00 AM is the best time to for an Island Tour. Make sure you have arranged this a day before. Tell your boat pilot to take you to the Lawi Marine Turtle Rescue Center, Ave Maria Island, Baras Beach Resort, Taklong Island and the passage way full of Mangroves. If you want to see a white sand bar between two islands, I suggest that you make Taklong Island top in your priority list. It is a good place for swimming, picture taking and picnic. On your way back from Taklong Island, you can pass by the Mangrove passage way. It’s like the counterpart of Bohol’s Man made forest, only that instead of Mahogany trees they have Mangroves. =)
The white, powdery sand, clear water rich in marine life, green islets and blue sky is just the perfect ambiance for anyone who wishes to escape the harshness of city life. Phone signal is intermittent in the island while some resorts’ electricity is also limited. Thus, if you plan to work while vacationing, you’re in for a major dissapointment. Guimaras spells going back to basic so leave those laptops and Blackberries behind.
Like Boracay, Guimaras is also one of the best places to watch the sunset since it faces west. Therefore, watching the sunset while listening to the soft rustling of waves is the perfect way to end the day after your island hopping.
Third and Last Day in Guimaras and First Day in Iloilo
Eat your breakfast and make sure you have arranged for your pick up with the resort. Leave your resort by 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM so you’ll have plenty of time to explore Iloilo. Just ask your hotel in Iloilo if they allow early check in. On your way to Jordan Port, ask the driver to bring you somewhere where mangoes are sold at an affordable price. It’s still best to buy directly fromthose who have fruit stands right in front of their homes than in the market and port areas. During off peak season, the
lowest price you can get for a kilo of mangoes are Php 65.00while during the months of April-May, which is the peak season, you can get it for just Php 30.00-40.00 per kilo.
Upon arriving at the Ortiz Wharf, walk few meters away and you can already get a cab to take you to your hotel. Book ahead to avoid waste of time. Below is a list of hotels and pensions houses.
Ong Bun Pension House
Telephone Nos: (033) 335-1271/0910-4335048
Facebook:Ong Bun Pension House
Telephone Nos: (033)32-96724/0921-2904357
Grand Dame Hotel
Telephone No: (033) 320-5252
Century 21 Hotel
Telephone Nos: (033) 335-8821/ 0920-9188821
Facebook: Century 21 Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel
Telephone Nos: 0919-8249222/ (033) 336-1070
SmallVille 21 Hotel
Telephone Nos: 0917-3010021/(033) 501-6821
Email: [email protected]
Facebook:Smallville 21 Hotel
***You may also visit the website Stay in Iloilo for a long list of resorts in Iloilo***
Upon arriving at your hotel, take a rest first then have your lunch at the nearest restaurant or if you miss malling so much, you could try visiting Gaisano Mall, SM Delgado or Robinson’s Place Iloilo. Although it’s already swarming with Mang Inasal in Manila, nothing beats eating Chicken Inasal in Iloilo. ^_^ But for a change, you can try Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods. It was said that lechon manok is their specialty so it is highly recommened that you try it. Tatoy’s is located along Villa beach in Iloilo City, about 8 km from the city center.
After a sumptuous lunch, try visiting the Miag-ao Church, the church can be accessed via jeepneys that plies Miag-ao or San Joaquin route. The town of San Joaquin is 45 minutes away from the town proper. Miag-ao Church was listed among UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Sites because of its baroque architecture and design.
After your visit to Miag-ao, get a taste of Iloilo’s cultural heritage by visiting Museo Iloilo. The museum houses an impressive collection of stone age native pottery, fossils, jewelry, burial sites and trade pottery from China. Other artifacts also include religous statues, relics from sunken vessels and prehistoric tools. Rare photographs and mementos from World War II can also be found inside the museum. Entrance fee by the way is only Php 5.00
At Jaro, the Jaro Belfry Tower is a must visit. This majestic tower that stands at the edge of Jaro Plaza and dominates the skyline of Jaro district is really a sight to behold. This “campanario” was ruined in a 1787 and 1948 earthquakes but is now restored and one of the few belfries in the country that stands apart from the church. Bantay Church Bell Tower in Ilocos Sur and Laoag’s Sinking Bell Tower are also some examples. Jaro Church, by the way, is just across the Jaro Belfry tower. During the Spanish times, this 3-storey red brick belfry also served as a watchtower against invaders during the 18th Century.
You must be really tired from all the traveling so Deco’s La Paz Batchoy is just the perfect choice for a merienda while getting a taste of Ilonggo history. There are lots of Deco’s branches in Iloilo but I highly recommend that you eat at the first ever branch of Deco’s at La Paz, Public Market. You can choose to get a Special Batchoy (Php50), Super Batchoy (Php55) or Extra Batchoy (Php60). Partner your batchoy with a Puto Manapla (Php11/3 pcs.) to satisy your palate even more.
You may wish to go back first to your hotel for some rest then just head out again to eat dinner at Breakthrough Restaurant which is actually just near Tatoy’s. This seafood restaurant is one the famous restos in Iloilo. Marine Biologist Raymundo Robles owns the restaurant so he really used his expertise to give the customers the best there is when it comes to seafood.
To cap the night off, get a bottle or two at Smallville. It is a popular night spot in Iloilo, located along Benigno Aquino Ave. (more commonly known as Diversion Road), in Mandurriao District. If you feel not drinking, then hanging out at Coffee Break, or their very own version of Starbucks, for some dessert is also a nice idea.
Fourth and Last Day
Tired from all the walking and maybe drinking last night? You can sleep all you want in your hotel room on your last day. Anyway, usual check out time in hotels is still at 12:00 noon. Just be sure all your luggages are already good to go and you catch your flight back to Manila on time. I recommend that you choose a noon or afternoon flight for you to still catch some rest.
Be at the airport 1 hour and 30 minutes before your flight. Buy Wewin’s Biscochio at the Iloilo airport (I assume you weren’t able to buy some yesterday). It is probably one of the best biscochios I ever tasted. =) And oh, they have JD bakeshop and Coffee Break again at the Iloilo Airport’s boarding area. Just in case you weren’t able to try it. ^_^
Lastly, bid adieu to Iloilo, “The Heart of the Philippines” and especially to Guimaras, “The Island that fits your taste.”