Guimaras is one of the favorite destinations in the Philippines. With its rugged coastline, gorgeous beaches, captivating waterfalls and succulent sweet mangoes, a short stay is never enough!
Guimaras earned the nickname “The Mango Capital of the Philippines” because of its sweet taste that eating it makes you wonder if the guy who served it to you sprinkled brown sugar over it before handing it to you. Guimaras mangoes are reportedly served at Buckingham Palace and The White House. We Filipinos are mighty proud of that!
How to get to Guimaras
From Manila, take a domestic flight to Iloilo. From Iloilo International Airport, ride the PUV express white vans to SM Iloilo, a giant shopping mall located in the district of Mandurriao. Fare is around PHP50.00 and travel time is around 45 minutes. Upon alighting at SM Iloilo, take the jeepneys with signboards for Ortiz Wharf. You can simply ask the jeepney driver if he’s headed for Ortiz Wharf. Fare is PHP7.00 and it’s just a short ride, under 10 minutes. I highly recommend you to commute from Iloilo airport to SM Iloilo because taking the airport taxi can set you back by as much as PHP500.00.
At Ortiz Wharf, walk towards the port and look for the small ticket window. There is no giant billboards here that points to the ticket window. Just follow where the people are headed and lining up. The boat fare is PHP14.00. The name of the boat is written on your ticket so walk towards the edge of the port and look for the boat with the same name as on your ticket or you can ask the boatmen to assist you. Hand over your ticket to the boatman, take your seat and enjoy the short 15-minute boat ride.
Other ferries leave from the Parola wharf in Iloilo to Buenavista. The Parola wharf is used exclusively during rough weather conditions especially by ferries from Jordan-Ortiz. A roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ferry travels around five times a day but is mostly used to transport cargoes from Guimaras to Iloilo.
There is also a pump boat service connecting the town of San Lorenzo to Pulupandan in Negros Occidental.
The Philippine government, as of this posting, is completing an infrastructure project to connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras, Negros and Cebu. The ambitious Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros-Cebu link bridge project is set to replace the current status of San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Leyte and Samar, as the longest bridge in the country.
You know what that means! An epic road trip thru all this 4 amazing islands.
Best time to come
The wettest season is during the months of June thru September. The probability of the island being hit by a typhoon is minimal due to its geographic location. It is best to come during the dry months of November up to mid May. Visitors flock in during the country’s summer months of March and April where every tourist spot is crowded and accommodations are fully booked.
Visit Guimaras during the Manggahan Festival every mid-April. This is also the same month that you can get a taste of their sweet, world-class quality mangoes.
Getting around Guimaras
Guimaras is a pretty laid back province. Getting around is as simple as flagging a tricyle from Jordan port and telling your destination to the driver. Upon arrival at the Jordan Wharf, every visitor must register at the Guimaras Tourism Office. The tourism office staff will then assist you in getting a transportation to your destination. Let them know if you have prior hotel transport arrangements with your hotel. They can also assist you with your travel plans and offer you best options for tours during your stay.
Island Hopping Tour
It is best to experience an island hopping tour to the islets surrounding Guimaras. Usually the island hopping tour will last the whole day, morning thru afternoon. In fact, other visitors opt to visit Guimaras on a day trip from Iloilo, join an island hopping tour then travel back to Iloilo by end of the day.
The jump off point is the beautiful Alubihod Beach in the municipality of Nueva Valencia. Bring cash in small denominations because some of the islets charge entrance fees. If you’re staying at hotel beach resort, they can help you contact boatmen to book you for an island hopping tour.
Most of the island hopping tours offered includes snorkeling and beach free time activities to the following top spots;
- SEAFDEC – no entrance fee but they accept cash donations <http://www.seafdec.org/>
- Taklong Island National Marine Reserve
- Nagtago Beach famously known as the turtle island
- Ave Maria Island
- Baras Cave Resort – capture a beautiful sunset at this point if you plan to stay overnight
Recommended Tour Operator : Raymen Beach Resort Contact Number: (033) 396-0248 | (033) 396-0252 | (0918) 520-7271 email: email@example.com
Rates : First Hour: Php600 | Succeeding Hour: Php150.00 for 10 pax
Half day Land Tour
The best way to visit the usual tourist spots in Guimaras is by renting a motorbike, tricycle or multicab along with a guide. Don’t worry about looking for one. They’re usually parked by the port arrival area waiting for tourists. The tourism office can assist you in getting one.
Recommended Tour Guide: Cherald Padojenog (0908) 474-8122
Rates : rates (good for 4pax) usually start at Php1,200.00 and goes up to Php1,500.00 depending on the places you wish to visit.
Trappist Monastery in Jordan
When staying in or nearby the municipality of Jordan, visiting the Trappist Monastery is highly recommended. If you have extra time, spend a quiet time here to offer prayers and shop for souvenirs and their tasty mango desserts and delicacies. Try the mango macaroons! You won’t regret it!
Luckily for me, Trappist Monastery was walking distance, about 20 minutes, from Zemkamps Chalet B&B where I stayed.
Guimaras shops and establishments transact only on cash basis. Though in the munipality of Jordan, you will find some banks (Landbank and BPI) and money changers. Make sure to bring enough cash with you as the availability of these ATMs are not dependable.
Your best bet is to get a SMART local SIM. I had this on my phone and signal reception was good around the island. Even inside my hotel room.
Governor’s Office: (033) 237-1111
Buenavista MDRRMC: 0922-844-8826
Jordan MDRRMC: 0917-311-2768
Nueva Valencia MDRRMC: 0917-311-8729; 0906-363-7541
San Lorenzo MDRRMC: 0917-344-5696
Sibunag MDRRMC: 0939-901-7430
Guimaras Tourism Section-PEDO: (63-33) 237-1134
DILG Emergency Hotline: 117
Police Emergency Assistance: 166
3D2N gallivanting around the island of Guimaras should suffice if you just want to do the island hopping tour and a land tour the next day. It is best to do a slow travel here, experience the island life, bike thru the inner towns, people watch in the quiet parks in the afternoon, the serene beaches, the Guisi lighthouse and eat lots of mango pizza to last you a lifetime.
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