G is for Guimaras

I could not count anymore the times that I’ve visited Iloilo City. But some of my friends were quite surprised that I haven’t visited Guimaras at all, not even once. This island province is very much visible from the city port. I knew of many weekend warriors that include a visit to Guimaras each time they’re in Iloilo and their stories somehow drew interest to me since it is just near and very much accessible.

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Guimaras is my 59th province to be visited and I would like to share my overnight experience on this island.

The island could be reached from many points via boat ride only. The shortest way is by a banca (outrigger boat) from Iloilo’s Ortiz Wharf. Rows of bancas wait for passengers, mostly accommodating 45 passengers per boat. The trip is about 15 minutes only on a clear and calm days. Boats then dock at the jetty in the town of Jordan, the capital of Guimaras. Fare is only Php 14.00.

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Outrigger boat at Ortiz Wharf

The province’s old name is Himal-us but Guimaras is now better known for it’s nickname as the Mango Capital of the Philippines. How the mangoes become the premier crop of the island can simply be described through its vast orchard covering more than 8,000 hectares throughout the island.

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Reaching the town of Jordan, a mango marker greets travelers as they go inside the tourist center to have their names registered and to arrange their mode of transportation either for a tour around the island or to bring them to their resort hotel accommodation.

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View of Sunset at Nueva Valencia

We arranged for a transportation to bring us to Nueva Valencia. If you travel alone, a tricycle is good. But if you are in a group of at least four people, I suggest that you look for a multicab to take you to your chosen accommodation. These can be found right outside of the tourist center.

We booked beforehand, a room at the popular Raymen Resort in the town of Nueva Valencia. This was recommended by some of our friends who have already visited the island several years prior. Raymen is a good option for those who planned to do island hopping and other water activities. There is a kiosk by the beach where you can arrange your chosen activity with the resort staff.

The resort is about 45 minutes from the town of Jordan and is located at a secluded cove in Nueva Valencia. It also offers a great version of sunset. We got a room for four, decided to just idle the time away and wait for the sun to set beyond the mountains of Panay.

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Fairy Castle

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We arranged the island tour the next morning and shortly after breakfast. For only Php 650 (500 for the first hour plus 150 for the extra hour), we chose the island-hopping package, a visit to the following: Fairy Castle, Baras Beach, Natago Beach, Isla Naburot, Solly-Luna and Ave Maria Island in over 2 hrs only.

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Oppie at the Ave Maria Island

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A cave in one of the islets off Santa Ana Bay

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View of the islands from Lamurawan Beach

Checking out after taking our lunch, we arranged for a resort pick up plus a quick tour of Guimaras’ popular tourist sites.

We got a glimpse of the mango orchard.

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Then a visit to Brgy Guisi for its lighthouse ruins. It is also called the Faro de Luzaran and is said to be the second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines (so which is the oldest one?). According to the information at the site, the old lighthouse was made of metals from France, the ’tisa’ from Portugal and the cement from England. The lighthouse served to guide the mariners who passed through the Guimaras Strait.

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View of Panay Island from Brgy. Guisi

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Faro Nuevo de Punta Luzaran aka Guisi Lighthouse

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Old metal lighthouse left to rot

We dropped by the provincial capitol grounds.

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And the Trappist Monastery and its church.

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And did not miss buying all the mangoes we could bring home.

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Guimaras mangoes are said to be the sweetest in the world

The best time to visit Guimaras is in the month of May. The Mango Festival falls on the third week. Plenty of mangoes will be harvested. Come and visit Guimaras. Come and taste the sweetest mangoes in the world.

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