If you have a dare to spare while in Iloilo, you can hop on a ferry and take a quick day tour in Guimaras, a province known for producing consistently sweet mangoes. That’s what we did, and our Guimaras itinerary included island hopping in the morning and a land tour in the afternoon, after which we took a late-afternoon ferry back to Iloilo.
Guimaras came as a surprise. It’s one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, but it’s charming in its own way. It’s quiet, with roads surrounded with greenery. It also offers activities for tourists, mainly beach activities and land tour on its natural and man-made attractions.
Morning – Island hopping
We had an early start on our Guimaras itinerary so we can island hop in manageable sea condition… and also because the weather was really nice. We availed of the private island hopping package by Raymen’s Beach Resort and asked for an open time.
Our first stop is at SEAFDEC (Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center), also known as Igang Marine Sanctuary. We toured the facility, looked at fish pens and listen how the sanctuary does marine research through the help of local scientists, some graduates from the top university in the country. The sanctuary also holds private seminars for businessmen, teaching them proven methods for enhancing fish growth and so on.
SEAFDEC may not suit everybody’s taste, since it’s more of an educational tour. Hali was delighted to see pawikans, which seem friendly to people. We threw food pellets in the fish pens, watching how aggressive some of the fish species are. We also bangus or milkfish, lapu-lapu, pompano, lion fish and other kinds of fish I’d forgotten the names of.
Personally, I also like SEAFDEC because it reminds of Juag Lagoon Sanctuary in Sorsogon, which is maintained through Kuya Alex’s passion for taking care of marine creatures.
We headed next to Ave Maria Island and Pawikan Island. Pawikan Island is no longer home for pawikans, as the turtles have already been transferred elsewhere. It was still low tide though and we couldn’t get across, so we simply snorkeled near the boat.
Snorkeling there turned out to be a very good decision. There were fishes and various large corals underneath. It was early in the morning, and the water was still clear. We spent the majority of our time in island hopping here.
Afterwards, we passed by Baras Cave. Baras Cave features two entrances, and given the right weather condition, a boat can enter through the cave. I was looking forward to this, but our boat couldn’t even come close due to the strong waves brought by the Habagat season.
The next hour was spent touring the remaining island hopping attractions, including Lamurawan Island and Natago Beach. After 3 hours of island hopping, we went back to the resort.
Afternoon – Land tour
A land tour in Guimaras requires 5 hours at most, due to great distances between land attractions. Some of these aren’t really worth visiting based on what I read from blogs online. We only chose selected stops from the list.
The Guisi Lighthouse is the farthest land attraction in Guimaras and also my favorite among the places we’ve visited here. It’s an 18th century architectural work built to guide ships steering along Panay Gulf. The lighthouse has turned rusty, the walls in the ruins taken over by plant roots. It’s perfect for photo-shoots.
The Trappist Monastery grounds features a church and a store for buying pasalubong, especially local delicacies. There are assorted mango-flavored delicacies such as mango bars and mango otap, different-flavored crinkles, mango and calamansi jams, among others. There are also religious and souvenir items such as keychains and wallets.
I’d bought a lovely shell-decorated wallet for P135 and boxes of mango bars, which an officemate raved about.
We’d skipped the Pasalubong Center next and headed to a mango plantation. It’s a short unguided tour of the plantation. There are about 5000 mango trees in the plantation, including seedlings.
Before ending our day tour in Guimaras, we had merienda in Pitstop, a restaurant that offers various meals with mangoes. There are mango bulalo, mango pasta and it’s famous dish — mango pizza. The mango pizza was surprisingly good. The sweet taste of mango blends perfectly with melted cheese. The crust is thin and crunchy, and the cashew bits on top adds the right bite.
Practical information for a day tour in Guimaras
There are great beach resorts in Guimaras, so if you have time, might as well extend your Guimaras itinerary to 2-3 days. For those backpacking across multiple provinces, one day in Guimaras is good enough.
The island hopping package in Raymen’s Beach Resort costs P500 for the whole boat for the first hour and P150 for every succeeding hour. Snorkel rental is P50 each.
For the land tour, here’s a complete list of attractions you can visit:
- Balaan bukid
- Smallest plaza
- Adventure Park
- Guimaras museo
- Provincial capitol
- The Pitstop
- Pasalubong center
- Mango plantation
- Trappist monastery
- Valle Verde Mountain Resort
- Camp Alfredo
- Guisi lighthouse and beach
- Alubihod beach
- Sadsad falls
- Windmill farm
Visiting Sadsad falls is seasonal, since there are months where there is little stream. The windmill farm is a new attraction and requires an additional P300 on top of the land tour rate.
- Kuya Cherald, Guimaras tour guide, 09084748122
Rates: Tricycle P1200, multicab P2000, Jeepney P2500, Aircon van P3500
P.S. This post is part of our 5-day Antique-Iloilo-Guimaras trip. See other places we’ve been to in this trip.