Guimaras Island Discovery Tour
by Danny Tariman
Guimaras Island is an island province consisting of only 5 municipalities. It is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines. The island is between Panay Island (where Iloilo City is) and Negros Island (where Bacolod City is). It is just about 15 minutes ride from Iloilo City.
The island is the family tour destination this time of the year.
We left our hotel in Iloilo City early at about 8 o’clock in the morning and went straight to Ortiz wharf. It was a cloudy morning, but our spirits are high as we will be exploring a place we have not yet set our foot—the Guimaras Island. We are all excited to see what this island has to offer.
It was an easy boat ride for us. It seems to me that boats are the common means of transport in this part of the city. They come and go every 15 minutes or so.
We reached Jordan Jetty Port in just 15 minutes after we left Iloilo City. Jordan is Guimara’s capital. Maybe because we look like strangers, a tourist assistance office personnel approached us as we walked towards the port entrance. (Thank You, Lord!) He lead us to the tourism office and have ourselves registered.
It was a good welcome experience! The desk officer showed us tour itineraries to choose from, and explained to us some of the highlights of Guimaras. Since my son had evaluated the tour options earlier, we were able to discuss with him our choices quickly. He also presented various options for land travel arrangements, with the associated costs.
Leaving Jordan, we passed by the “Smallest Town Plaza” few minutes after we left. It was a small park where a monument of our national hero Jose Rizal stands. We did not stop here.
We continued our land trip, passing well-paved roads. While cruising along mango plantations on the left and on the right, the rain poured heavily. I was whispering a little prayer in my heart that the weather will clear. Finally, after about one-and-a-half hour ride, we reached our first stop: the beach!
We checked-in at Raymen Beach Resort. It was a nice resort – with good reception hall, restaurant, rooms for guests staying overnight, and of course, beach-front cottages. It had clean shower and changing rooms too. We pre-ordered our food at the restaurant so we can eat our lunch without the usual wait for cooking.
The weather cooperated when we reached the beach! It was sunny now.
Oh the beach! It was really beautiful, unspoilt by modern development. Creamy fine sand and turquoise waters, wow! It was really inviting for a good swim! While we were at the beach, we had the opportunity to taste some local delicacies.
We had a sumptuous lunch at the beach resort. We were able to eat immediately as we had pre-ordered the food when we arrived. Our meal? Fresh seafood (crabs and fish) and of course, an island popular dish, the “pancit molo”.
After we had our lunch, we drove to our next destination: Guisi Lighthouse Ruins. This was another long trip –about 30-40 minutes with a rough road, just few meters before reaching the lighthouse. It was indeed ruins — rusty, old, non-functional lighthouse surrounded by remnants of what-used-to-be staff house. But the view was very nice. My daughter who is much into this kind of discovery tour, managed to climb the wobbly rusty stairs, with me reminding her all the way. Haha!
After some 30 minutes of photo shoots, we moved on to our next stop. The lighthouse was the farthest point we reached. And so it took same long hours to return to Jordan.
On our return, we had a short stop at Camp Alfredo, in Sibunag. It got camping grounds for family, zip line, swimming pool, and other facilities. Since we were short for time, we just had some photos at the entrance gate.
We passed by the mango plantations too. It was huge tract of land planted with mango trees all over. No wonder, when people speak of Guimaras, mangoes are usually mentioned!
Our next stop was the Trappist Monastery. We first stopped at the Trappist Shop where we had the best buys from Guimaras: mango bars, fruit bars, cashew nuts, plus souvenir items. But we didn’t stopped just to shop; we looked for the church where the monks pray. It was a good distance from the shop, and so we took our ride.
We arrived at the Monastery Chapel at a time when the monks were still praying. It was a very solemn moment hearing the chants of the monks. We also knelt down to give our thanksgiving to the Lord and pray.
We hit the road again, and since it was about 2:30pm, we thought of having a good snack at “The Pitstop” — a popular restaurant in Buenavista town, which is famous for its mango pie. We were definitely not disappointed. It was the first time we tasted a bright yellow-colored pizza which is topped by mango bits and cream! It was really one-of-a-kind, a “must” for visitors of Guimaras Island.
We have one more stop: the Holy Family Hills in Tamborong, San Lorenzo. We were curious on what this hills will give us, as the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary, & Jesus) is close to our hearts. We drove for another 30-40 minutes to this hill. The roads were paved up until we reached a dirt road which was still few kilometers from the hills.
When we reached the entrance, we were greeted by a rural setting: dirt roads, greens, and trees. It was a refreshing sight. The park has a number of life-sized statues of various saints of the Catholic church. It seems that the images of Stations of the Cross are lined throughout the big area. Very near where we parked our vehicle was the “Last Supper” scene. Of course, the image of the Holy Family towers at the top.
This was the final stop. We then went back to the jetty port in Jordan town for our return trip to our hotel in Iloilo City.
Really a great family adventure! A great family experience! And a great bonding moments!