Guimaras is widely known with their mangos and literally, mango farms are everywhere! Unfortunately, we visited the island out of mango season. So if you want to witness the golden fields of the sweetest mangoes in the world, they say, the best time to visit is during summer.
I didn’t research about this trip, but luckily, I learned Guimaras offers more than mangoes and beaches. In fact, people suggests it’s an all-in island, as it could give you beyond what is expected from it’s humble name.
|◘◘◘ ABOUT THIS PLACE|
According to a website, there are many theories and stories behind the name Guimaras. But except from wordplays, what I loved most is the story about a Princess and a slave. Kinda cliche, but whatever. Here goes: Ilonggo folklore reveals that Guimaras, formerly known as Himal-us was named after the ill-fated romance of Princess Guima and slave Aras, who betrayed the tradition tribe to enkindle their forbidden love. They were able to ride a small raft and escape Aras’ arranged marriage by her father to another nobleson. Unfortunately, they disappeared in the raging seas, never found again, and from then on, people seemed to hear the repentant father’s calling of the lover’s names “Guim-Aras” echoed in the wind during stormy seas, thus, the name Guimaras.
|◘◘◘ PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE|
How to get there?
There are no direct flights to Guimaras. From Manila, take a flight to Iloilo via Airasia, Philippine Airlines, or Cebu Pacific. In my case, we took and availed a seat sale from Airasia. From Iloilo, take a jeepney or taxi going to Iloilo City harbor (Ortiz Wharf), and then take a 15-minute boat ride going to Jordan Wharf, Guimaras – the main port of entry in Guimaras.
Going around the island is a bit difficult, as many tourists and locals hire tricycles for private trips. However, you can request for one via the tourist guide table right at the Jordan Wharf.
◘◘ If you hire local tricycle drivers, they can bring you to places that may be better than what I shared here. I mean, it all depends on the timing, right? I believe all of the licensed tour guides are all good, but of course, I commend our Manong Saoro. You can book in advance and contact him at +63 919 325 7672.
When is the best time to visit?
If you’d like to experience the golden views of ripe mangoes, it’s best to visit the island within April to June.
|◘◘◘ SAMPLE ITIRENARY|
Getting around the island is no joke. There are too many spots to visit, and are far from each other. So unless you want to wait for a n available tricycle every time you finish taking pictures, you don’t have other choice but to rent a bike or hire a tricycle and a driver. We’re lucky to have a driver that also has a talent in photography. I understand they are tourist guides as well, so they’re already trained an practiced, but some of the “kuyas” I meet didn’t have such skills. So yep, I’d recommend Manong Saoro. His contact details were mentioned above.
Click the bullet items for descriptions and photos.
The Smallest Plaza in Ph
Our first stop is this plaza they claim the “smallest” in PH. It once held the title in Guinness Book of World Records, but surpassed by another country in I don’t know what year. But hey, it’s still the smallest plaza here in the Philippines.
I ❤ Guimaras
Before heading back for lunch, we had enough time to take photos in this park (OMG I forgot to ask the name of this place) where stands the GUIMARAS letterings everybody is looking for when taking pictures. I mean, it’s like a must-have photo or else people won’t believe you’re actually there.
Another famous spots in Guimaras, of course, are the mango plantations. Yep, there are more than one mango farm in the island – that I haven’t ask Manong, but I know there’s at least two. Or three. Correct me here, guys!
Since we were there off season, we didn’t witness the golden farm of mangoes. But we were able to visit one farm and take pictures for free! But really, I am sooooo full of regret I didn’t research first about when is the best time to go to Guimaras.
And of course, and I’m not sure why, I usually don’t go back home with no “pasalubong”. The Trappist Monastery is one of (if not the only) place to shop for goodies that are best to bring for our friends and families. As expected, almost every food there are made of mangoes. Trappist Monastery is actually the only Trappist monastery in the Philippines. If you are not familiar with the word “Trappist” but are a Google nerd but too lazy to open a new tab and search, here goes the meaning: relating to a branch of the Cistercian order of monks founded in 1664 and noted for an austere rule that includes remaining silent for much of the time.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was the Guisi lighthouse. I am not just a lover of the world, I am a lover of the past. Naks! Well, that’s why if I were a diver, I’d dive every wreck discovered. It just amazes me looking at these old places that were used to be A-okay. Change amazes me, like seeing a whale face to face. It’s a big deal I will never forget. OMG now I want to see a whale face to face.
Read more of my Guisi Lighthouse experience here >>
Guimaras Island Hopping
I told you, there is more than mangoes and island hopping in Guimaras. The beautiful island has it all, as they say. And what’s more amusing is that now matter how notorious and well-traveled the place is, people are managing to keep it virgin and they love doing it. They love their home.
When we were island hopping, (well, technically sight-seeing because it was super low tide that our boat cannot get to the shore safely,) I noticed the water was still clear and beautiful. I couldn’t help but compare it to the island hopping experiences I had at some provinces near Manila. I was standing at the front end of the boat and it made me realized, “wow, humans really are assholes.”
Guimaras Island Hopping – Baras Cave
Though we didn’t get the chance to experience the island hopping per se, our boatmen and guides didn’t fail to give us the most of the tour and at least told us stories I won’t spoil here, and brought us to this beautiful cave.
Baras Cave is one of the favorite stops of the tourists in Guimaras on their island hopping, which makes it almost always crowded. It is a small cave with two openings just small enough for the boat to pass through. But it’s nice that locals are keeping the boats outside for the travelers to enjoy the enchanting cave while swimming and chilling. Plus, I still have doubts on how safe these boats are to the environment, but thanks for bringing us to where these beauties are. Hehe.
Bats are still confortable inside the cave even though their bed was not that far from the light. Another sign that the place wasn’t abused and that animals are well taken care of.
Read more of my Guimaras isaland hopping experience here >>
San Lorenzo Windmills
Another attraction on the island of Guimaras is a line of windmills in San Lorenzo. It’s more or less 30 minutes from the town proper, but the trip is worth it. Yep, I didn’t know they have a “Bangui-like” windmill view here, but apparently, it’s famous among the tourist and locals are very much excited to share this pride. Also, unlike what we have in Ilocos, the windmills in Guimaras are beautifully standing on hills which makes it even more relaxing to look at.
These windmills were said to be put up by Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corp. (TAREC), and is reported to provide 54 megawatts of electricity through Sta. Clara Construction Corp.
We visited the spot during sunset and it was spectacular. Maybe more than spectacular. Or I’m just in love with the sunset? It really made me realize sunsets are my most favorite part of the day.
Guimaras is indeed an island worth seeing. I’d like to discover more of you, Guimaras! ‘Til next time!
Read more of my BIGG adventure!
- Garin Farm Inland Resort experience and travel guide
- Guimaras: more than mangoes and beaches
- Lakwatsa in a day: The Ruins + Compuestuhan Highland Resort
- Are you a hobbit? Well, I am.
- The Ruins: at least something lasts longer than relationships (pun intended)
- Guisi Lighthouse and Ruins: one reason why looking back to our past is still wonderful
- Fall in love with local art and artists as showcased by #ILOMOCA
|◘◘◘ WHAT TO EAT|
“Where are we eating?” Is one of the questions and one of the important things I need to know when going out. Good thing we have a great Manong who knows exactly what I am craving for: seafoods.
Biking’s Seafood Resto is seems small, but they have more than one hut to accommodate more diners. Plus, they offer really cheap and yummy food.
I came to Guimaras with a strong decision of commuting so we have enough time at every stop we will make. Good thing I didn’t trust myself then (lol) and hired a tricycle instead. For 1500php (around 29USD), not only the transport you could be thankful for, but the wonderful experience, the beauty of nature, and nice company you can trust. Not to mention your time and effort and safety.
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