My 2014 year-end travel took place exploring the Island of Guimaras, Southern part of Iloilo province known as the Mango Capital of the Philippines.
My sister and I spend Christmas with my Grandma in Kalibo, Aklan that we have to travel four long hours bus drive to SM Iloilo City. My friend, who flew from NAIA that day, was a minutes late that we got the chance to explore the Mall. Had our late breakfast and bought some of our supplies for our three-days stay in the Island inside the shopping mall. SM Iloilo City have a terminal beside it where we ride a jeep that take us to Ortiz Port where we took a public motorboat to reach Jordan (pronounce as “Hurdan”) port of Guimaras Island. I have read from other blogs that Guimaras have a high transportation expense for tourists. But as always, since we exercise travelling in a tight budget, we decided to walk outside the port hoping (just hoping) that we can haggle or get a much affordable ride to our next destination. Main culprit why we forgot to register in the tourist information booth when we arrived Jordan (sorry po!). While continuously avoiding those barkers/fixers offering their tricycles (ranging from P150-300), fortunately, a couple of walks from those fixers, we found a jeep terminal and made our way to San Miguel, Jordan Market where we took a “top load” ride to Nueva Valencia.
We decided to stay in RAYMEN BEACH RESORT. Our driver drop us in ALUBIHOD which I found is a resort besides Raymen’s. The jeepney driver dropped us in a gasoline station where we hired a tricycle that take us to Raymen. We secured a room for three and since where all tired from long travel time, we decided to have a short walk in the beach, wrap the day early and prepared ourselves for our itinerary the next day.
Raymen do have a canteen serving affordable and awesome foods which filled our tummies most of the time. Guimaras tour will never be complete without tasting their principal product so we didn’t miss to order Raymen’s mouth-watering mango shake and truly, it’s so refreshing and yummylicious”.
Early morning the following day, we start our island exploration by visiting Guisi beach and its lighthouse. Best way to reach Guisi is by hiring tricycle for P500 (standard price, back and forth) which means, that your driver MUST wait until you decided to go back to your hotel. Considered as the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the Philippines, Guisi Lighthouse is over a century year-old rusty but still sturdy structure. Though a marker visible warning everyone, visitors may opt to climb it (even our driver insisted to do so) so we didn’t have a second thought and carefully climb its spiral staircase. Worthy of taking the risk, we’ve seen a 360 degree scenic view of Guisi Beach and nearby town. A newly built lighthouse is just a few walks away from the old one which we learn is already functional that time. Aside from the lighthouse, the whole fortress is a perfect place to feel the Spanish era and an amazingly beautiful spot for photo ops! A stone throw away from the ruins is the breathtaking colors of water, which varies from ultramarine blue to turquoise, of Guisi beach complete with white sand shoreline. Colorful corals and school of fishes are everywhere even in a knee-deep water level and lucky me for not falling on my ass because of those slippery rocks on the way down from the ruins :). We eventually reach the far end rock formation where we tried to fight with big waves but as usual, it is an epic fail (Ha ha). It’s already near lunch time when we approached our driver and leave the unspoiled Guisi Beach and head back to our hotel. We arrive in our hotel reception area and immediately book a boat for our island hopping activity later that afternoon. Since boat rental have a standard rate in Guimaras, having a group of a minimum ten members will be a huge advantage for sharing boat expenses. And since we are the “three single-ladies-on-a-tight-budget”, we tried to look for another group where we can share not just the boat rental, but the upcoming island hopping moments! Fortunately, a group of seven ladies who are having their post-Christmas celebration pop-up from nowhere and ta-da… we made it! (A matter of joining forces!) Just had our lunch again from Raymen and a bite of cake from our new-found friends and we decided to start our tour. It takes us 1.5 hours to finish our island tour including a short swim in turtle island sanctuary after meeting the poor turtle, climbing Lamurawan Island’s Grotto and view deck, dip in the cool water of Baras Cave, be inspired by the aristocratic beauty of the house in Natago Beach and get amazed with the pristine uniqueness of other islands we passed along our way.
Though we want to share more time with our companions, their day tour schedule didn’t allow us to make them stay. It is indeed a great experience meeting those kind of individuals having same passion in an unfamiliar places. Since we need to leave Guimaras Island before lunch the next day, we ask the ever approachable Raymen’s personnel our way to the famous Trappist Monastery where we bought our “pasalubongs” and souvenir ref magnet. A pre-nuptial photo shoot is currently making the monastery a bit awkward to explore so we decided to just take some photo and hastily leave the place. Afterwards, inspired by my favorite Biyahe Ni Drew’s itinerary, we ask our hired tricycle to take us in THE PITSTOP diner in Jordan. (writing this, my taste buds automatically went crazy… I wanna be in THE PITSTOP!)
It was our first time to eat a mango flavored spaghetti and saucing mango pizza with mango ketchup! Weird things I can say but the flavors is a fusion of sweet and sour taste that you will surely crave for more! We even ordered a glass of Mango shake but sad to say, I still prefer Raymen’s shake. A place everyone surely should not miss while in Guimaras, The Pitstop. (Just on the other side, road fronting San Miguel , Jordan Market). Our tour in Guimaras ended with eating those mango flavored foods that afternoon. We headed back to our hotel and rest while enjoying our night in the island for we our scheduled to tour the southern part of Iloilo City the next day. Click here to watch my A BLAST IN GUIMARAS video.