Saturday, October 13, 2012

Exploring Guimaras for 3D/2N - The City of Golden Mangoes

How to reach Guimaras from Iloilo

According to Discover Guimaras, "Iloilo city is the gateway to Guimaras". From Iloilo airport, we took the airport shuttle to SM Mandurriao (30 minutes with no traffic) and then rode a cab towards Parola Wharf (10-15 minutes). From Parola Wharf, we rode a pumpboat that was bound for the City of Golden Mangoes. The boat trip only took 15 minutes.

Jordan Wharf

Guimaras 101: First things first!

When you get to Jordan Wharf, make sure that you visit the Tourism Information Center first. Try not to avail the services of any random tricycle driver just yet. That would have to be one of our mistakes, since we instantly snagged a deal -- P250 for any destination drop-off. In our case, we were bound for Nueva Valencia, where the famous Raymen Beach Resort was located. 

We later on found out that the rate that we got was far beyond the actual price. I was already set with P250 since I confirmed it from several Iloilo blog posts that I read from online. But according to a friend (an Iloilo local who frequents Guimaras), the regular rate would usually just go around P150-200 only via tricycle. 

Our tricycle ride from Jordan Wharf to Nueva Valencia took exactly 45 minutes. 

What to do on the island

Rubel and I were actually on an unfortunate streak since we also didn't like the lodging where we initially booked. We stayed at Alobijod Cove for one night before transferring to Raymen Beach Resort the next day. Our reasons for changing accommodations can be read on another post.

Alobijod Cove

Anyway, when you're finally in Guimaras, specifically in the Nueva Valencia area, make sure to book a city tour during your stay. In our case, we made a deal with the same tricycle driver to take us around the province for P1,000. He said that the Tourism Center offered such for P1,200. But he was only offering it for 1k, so we took his offer yet again. 

We later on found out from our Ilongga friend that she could always get the same tours for just P800. I felt a little bad after finding out. Then again, I could only blame myself for not making enough time to do any further research, as my work really kept me busy prior to our trip happening.

Anyway, we had our city tour on our second day. And since we were playing tango with the sun (it kept raining our whole stay in Guimaras and Iloilo), we were only able to leave Raymen's at 10 am. It was sunny during the day, cool even. But when it hit 12 noon, the rain started to pour. It drizzled continuously throughout the afternoon. 

Raymen Beach Resort

Must-see in Buenavista: Navalas Church and Roca Encantada

So what was our first stop? From Nueva Valencia, we headed out to the north part of the island -- to Buenavista. The tricycle ride took an hour before reaching the oldest church in Guimaras -- Navalas Church. The edifice is said to be the oldest existing Roman Catholic church in the province (built during the 1800's).

Navalas Church, Buenavista

Also, should you need to take a potty break, there's a resort (with a public comfort room) called El Retiro Beach Park that you can easily access after visiting Navalas. It's just 5-minutes away from the church. 

El Retiro Beach Park, Beachfront

And if you feel like seeing a mansion that's built on top of a rock, then there's always ROCA ENCANTADA (enchanted rock) nearby. It's been said to be the summer house of the Lopez Clan. A heritage house, the mansion was also built to honor the late Doña Presentacion Hofilena Lopez. An entrance fee of P50/pax can be purchased from El Retiro.

You can also take some really nice photos from Roca Encantada's rooftop area, since the famous 'Siete Pecados' can also be seen from the mansion.

Roca Encantada, Buenavista

Must-see in Jordan: Trappist Monastery and the 'Smallest Plaza' in the Philippines

It was already past 12 in the afternoon when we reached the famed Trappist Monastery. We just finished praying at the abbey church to Our Lady of the Philippines when it started  to rain heavily. It was a good thing though since we had a nice chat with a real Trappist Monk -- Brother Peter. But after sending my prayer request and bidding the good monk farewell, Rubel and I proceeded towards their souvenir store, to get/buy our much needed Mango-fix (we bought butterscotch and otap products that were made with real Guimaras mangoes!)

Abbey church of Our Lady of the Philippines, Jordan

Now, aside from actual mango fruits (can be purchased from the market only), you can buy your packed pasalubong from the monastery store.

Trappist Monastery Mango Products

The 'Smallest Plaza' can also be seen in Guimaras. According to our tour guide, this would have to be the smallest plaza in the world. The statue that sits in the middle, after that short plight of stairs is actually Dr. Jose Rizal.

According to Guinness, this plaza is said to be the 'smallest' one in the world.

Must-see in Nueva Valencia: Guisi Lighthouse (Ruins) and Raymen Beach Resort

The trip from Trappist Monastery to Guisi Lighthouse was a tough one since the rain didn't stop. We literally had that 'wet and wild' look after stepping out of the tricycle because the vehicle itself had no plastic cover to shield us from the heavy downpour. But Rubel and I were on full gear, so we really didn't mind getting drenched. Anyhow, the trip took us about an hour's worth of bumpy and slippery roads. 

Note: There's an entrance fee of P20/pax.

The slippery slope towards the Guisi Lighthouse

The rain stopped when we got to Guisi. But the slippery slope towards the lighthouse was another challenge for both Rubel and I. Even our aqua shoes couldn't find the necessary grip to hold us firmly on the ground. But through our slow and careful steps, we finally got to the summit. The Guisi Lighthouse was a sight to behold! It would have to be the very highlight of our day tour.

When we got to the lighthouse, the caretaker instantly took our photos. I even followed him all the way up the rusty and scary looking lighthouse, just to see a better view of  the famous Guisi beach. The climb up was excruciating since I had a fear of heights. But I was happy to have conquered that fear right after reaching the top.

After visiting the lighthouse, our driver drove us back to Raymen Beach Resort. On our way back, we were able to make one last stopover by Igang to take a picture of their ship-inspired plaza.

MV Doña Damiana Villanueva, Igang's Plaza

Anyway, Raymen Beach Resort is actually the most famous amongst all the other resorts by Alubihod. It offers lots of rooms and cottages for very reasonable rates. Other than that, the resort also has its own cafeteria and souvenir shop. Raymen also offers its own island hopping tours. But we had to skip that one since the weather wasn't that pleasant for sailing.

What/Where to eat

We only got to eat in three places while in Guimaras: Alobijod Cove, Raymen Beach Resort and Galvez Kainan (a carenderia) by Jordan.

Should you stay at Alobijod Cove, try ordering their grilled pork and crab & corn soup. Their food servings are hefty and can surely feed 2-3 people. I surely loved what we ordered from them. We just didn't like the 45-minute cooking/serving/waiting time -- to think we were the only customers there.

Should you stay at Raymen's Beach Resort, make sure to try their breakfast meals. I really loved their Tapsilog and Mango shake.

You can try the food at Galvez Kainan, should you find yourself in Jordan. The carenderia is just right across Landbank and the Provincial Capitol. Then again, there's really nothing fancy in Galvez Kainan. But I did however try this 'kangkong' like vegetable  (called Takway) that I paired with my Adobong Pusit. It was a bit sour. But it complemented my main viand.


Did you know where Guimaras' name came from? According to an online source, Guimaras' name originated from the word "himal-us". It was what the local inhabitants called the province during the pre-Spanish period.

Street-smart tips

You only have two options if you're looking for a ride out of Iloilo airport -- via cab or shuttle van. If you're in a hurry, you can always opt for the cabs. But those are usually offered for a fixed price of P500. But if you have time to spare, go for the shuttle vans that are bound for SM Mandurriao. You will only be charged P50. From SM, you can already take a metered taxi to Ortiz or Parola Wharf. Your fare should only cost you less than P100.

Anyway, here's our TRAVEL EXPENSE SHEET to help you budget your finances, especially if you're planning a trip to Guimaras soon.

How about you? Have you been to Guimaras? Care to share your own experience/s while on the island? :)

Explore & Be Free!
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