Guimaras is mainly known for its sweet mangoes, but there is more to this enchanting province than meets the palate. Its pristine beaches, thriving forests, agri-tourism ventures, and rich waters teeming with marine life make it an ideal destination for nature lovers and farming enthusiasts.
Guimaras is situated in the Panay Gulf, right between the islands of Panay and Negros. While covering just over 600 sq km of land, the island province supports flourishing fruit, vegetable, livestock, and poultry farms, as well as a thriving fishing industry. These agriculture and aquaculture communities and cooperatives are open to people who are interested in the practicalities of running a farm. The province is especially known for its mangoes, which serve as the focus of the Manggahan Festival every May. At this time of the year, one can expect the seaside resorts and hotels in Guimaras to be filled with tourists vying for crates of sweet mangos and a spot on the island’s pristine beaches.
Guimaras does not have an airport, so it can only be reached by taking a ferry from Iloilo or Negros Occidental. If coming from Iloilo, you can go to Ortiz Wharf or Parola Wharf where there are scheduled ferries to the island. The boat ride lasts about 15 minutes, and the ferries leave the port every 15 minutes, starting at 5:30 am.
If coming from Negros Occidental, you can take a ferry from either Pulupandan Wharf or Valladolid Wharf. Pulupandan is a 45-minute boat ride from San Lorenzo in Guimaras, while the boat ride from Valladolid to Nueva Valencia takes about 2 hours.
Jeeps, tricycles, multicabs, and motorbikes are the main modes of transportation in the island. Motorbikes and tricycles are readily available for shorter trips. Finding jeeps, on the other hand, can be a challenge. These vehicles are almost always full, and you have to wait a while before you see one on the road. Touring by commuting is a bit of a hassle because of this. The most convenient way of seeing the island is by renting a motorbike or multicab, and hiring a local guide.
Aside from its famous mangoes, Guimaras also boasts a collection of tropical beaches and picture-perfect coves. The provincial capital, Jordan, is home to several resorts and seaside accommodations, while the nearby Nueva Valencia has Alubihod Beach and Guisi Beach. The islands around Jordan also offer a lot of sights that will please beach lovers.
Ave Maria Island and Natago Cove both have fine, white sand shores and crystal-clear waters, while Baras Beach and Isla Naburot offer beachfront cottages. Turtle Island and SEAFDEC's Igang Marine Station, on the other hand, will prove to be exciting destinations for those who are interested in marine ecology.
But if you’re more into history, you won’t be disappointed with the Spanish-era Guisi Lighthouse in Nueva Valencia. World War II has also made its mark on the island, which can be best seen by visiting McArthur’s Wharf, Punta Blanco Target Range, and Camp Jossman Headquarters in Buenavista. Much like the rest of the country, Guimaras also has its share of churches and religious sites. Jordan has the Consolers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery, and Balaan Bukid Church, then there’s Holy Family Hills in San Lorenzo, and the century-old Navalas Church in Buenavista.
Start your holiday with an island hopping tour around Jordan and Nueva Valencia. After exploring the sea and engaging in an informative tour of the SEAFDEC Igang Marine Station, try travelling inland to see the bounties of the main island of Guimaras. Visit Dagsaan Ecopark in Buenavista and see how upland farmers protect and preserve the flora and fauna in the area. If you’re not afraid of heights, you can also climb up the viewing deck and take panoramic images of Iloilo City and the southern and eastern side of Guimaras.
Bucoy, Capitoguan, and Higante caves in Jordan are perfect spots for spelunking with friends. If you’re traveling with the family, Camp Alfredo Adventure Resort offers activities that will thrill every age. Here, they have facilities for ziplining and rappelling, as well as trekking and trailing areas.
For those who want a more relaxing but educational holiday, head to Dasal Sibunag Vegetable Growers Association. The association encourages its visitors to harvest vegetables, and it also holds classes that focus on the techniques of running and maintaining a farm. Other ventures that support the province’s agri-tourism endeavors are Guimaras Wonder’s Farm, Spring Bloom Farm, and the National Mango Research and Development Center.
Did the SEAFDEC Station tour whet your appetite for seafood? Satisfy your cravings with Sa Payaw Seafood Grill’s excellent selection of grilled dishes. The Pitstop Restaurant in Jordan, on the other hand, offers familiar Filipino and western foods topped with a sweet, fruity twist. You can also dine in Banzada Restaurant in Sibunag to get an eyeful of Iloilo City and a mouthful of appetizing Japanese dishes.
If you feel like retreating to your own private paradise for the night, reserve a cottage in any of the island resorts surrounding Jordan. Among your options are Baras Beach, Natago Beach, and Isla Naburot. Many hotels in Guimaras can also be found in the city center, just a few minutes away from some of the province’s most popular tourist destinations. Accommodations here cater to all sorts of travelers, so you don’t have to worry about finding one that will fit your budget.
Visit in April while Guimaras’s world-famous mangoes are in season. Manggahan Festival, which celebrates this golden fruit and the provincehood of Guimaras, also takes place in this month.
Before you leave, make sure to swing by The Capitol Grounds for a quick souvenir shopping for your loved ones at home. Here, you’ll have an easy time looking for handcrafted home decors and food products from the Trappist Monastery.
If you need tour information, just head to the Tourism Center off Jordan Port. The place is surrounded by find friendly tour guides, as well as tricycles and minivans for rent.