The rugged coastline of Guimaras in Western Visayas, Philippines is framed by lush greenery staring out towards the island-speckled sea. This tiny province is synonymous with mangoes, with more or less 50,000 mango trees (some are over 100 years old) thriving in its fertile soil. But Guimaras is not only home to the world’s sweetest mangoes, it also overflows with natural attractions that lure both pleasure seekers and adventure travelers. This is why I’ve written this Guimaras travel guide blog to help you plan your trip!
GUIMARAS PRE TRAVEL GUIDE
BEST TIME TO VISIT GUIMARAS ISLAND: The dry season – January to May are the best months to visit Guimaras. As much as possible, avoid public holidays as it can get too crowded. If you are visiting during the rainy season, check the weather forecast, do not proceed if the weather is bad.
GUIMARAS WI-FI: Mobile signal is available but mobile data can be quite intermittent. Some Guimaras beach resorts have Wi-Fi.
GUIMARAS MONEY: Cash is king here, everything is on cash basis. Stack up cash before leaving Iloilo or Manila. Landbank ATM is available in Jordan and Buenavista, but as most locals rely on them, best to just withdraw before leaving Iloilo.
GUIMARAS ELECTRICITY: If your resort is located in mainland Guimaras, electricity won’t be a problem. But if you choose a beach resort offshore, some rely on solar power and generator only. If that’s the case, bring power bank and extra batteries for your camera.
GUIMARAS SAFETY: Guimaras Island is a tourist-friendly place, it is safe for travelers, even for solo female travelers. Years ago, I have tried solo traveling in Guimaras – I did the island hopping and land tour and I find it pretty safe and enjoyable. But take extra precaution when doing adrenaline pumping activities. Also, when taking the boat to and from Iloilo and doing the island hopping tour, wear your life vest. Do not proceed to Guimaras if the weather is bad to avoid any unfortunate incidents. Secure your gadgets on a dry bag.
GUIMARAS BEACH RESORTS
Guimaras island has plenty of low-key beach resorts to choose from, but Nueva Valencia is the preferred base of many travelers especially those who plan to go island hopping since most of the islands included in the Guimaras island hopping tour are close by.
Here are some of the top Guimaras beach resorts according to popular booking sites:
- Raymen Beach Resort
Location: Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
- Jannah Glycel Beach Resort
Location: Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
- Andana Resort Guimaras
Location: Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
- Cabugan Adventure Resort
Location: Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
- Nature’s Eye Beach Resort
Location: Nueva Valencia
My friend Marcos and I stayed at Nature’s Eye Beach Resort during one of our visits in Guimaras. I like the atmosphere of the place as it is quiet and it has a scenic view of the islands below. It’s also a perfect spot for sunset watching. There’s a small village adjacent to the resort where you can mingle with the locals and experience local lifestyle. The only downside is, it’s too far from Jordan Port. So, if you plan to do the usual Guimaras island hopping, this is quite far. But, they also offer an alternative island hopping to islands that are close to this Guimaras beach resort.
GUIMARAS TRAVEL GUIDE
HOW TO GET TO GUIMARAS
Manila to Guimaras Via Iloilo
1.From Manila (Philippines), take a flight to Iloilo. Travel time is roughly 1 hour and 25 minutes.
2.From Iloilo International Airport, take a passenger van to SM Iloilo. Fare is ₱70 ($1.38, £1, SGD 2, AUD 2).
3.From SM Iloilo or from downtown Iloilo City, you may take a jeepney or taxi to Ortiz Wharf.
4.Get in line and purchase your ferry/boat ticket to Jordan Wharf. Fare is ₱15 ($0.30, £0.24, SGD 0.40, AUD 0.43) at daytime (6:00 AM – 5:57 PM) and ₱22 ($0.43, £0.36, SGD 0.59, AUD 0.63) at nighttime (6:00 PM).
5.Board your boat to Jordan Port in Guimaras. Travel time is about 15 minutes.
6.Take a jeepney or tricycle to your resort.
Cebu to Guimaras Via Iloilo
1.From Cebu (Philippines), you can fly. Travel time is approximately 1 and 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can also take an overnight slow ferry from Cebu Port to Iloilo.
2.If coming from Iloilo International Airport, follow Step 2 – 6 above.
GETTING AROUND GUIMARAS ISLAND
Jeepneys and multicabs are available to take you around Guimaras, but they are usually full. Fare is around ₱15 ($0.30, £0.24, SGD 0.40, AUD 0.43) – ₱50 ($0.98, £0.81, SGD1.35, AUD 1.43), depending on your destination. If you are a large group, you can also hire a multi-cab for your Guimaras land tour for ₱1,500 ($30, £24, SGD 0.40, AUD 40) – ₱2,000 ($39, £32, SGD 54, AUD 57).
For places that aren’t reachable by jeepneys, you may take a tricycle, fare is ₱20 ($0.39, £0.32, SGD 0.54, AUD 0.57) per 2 km ride, but if you are alone, expect to pay more.
Tourists also usually prefer Tricycle tours in Guimaras. Rate is ₱1,200 ($22, £21, SGD 32, AUD 34) for a whole day tour, good for 2 -3 persons. If you want to include the San Lorenzo Wind Farm, add additional ₱300 ($6, £5, SGD 8, AUD 8). The Guimaras tourist spots typically included in the tricycle tour are:
- Balaan Bukid (hike for 30 minutes, you can skip this if you want)
- The Smallest Plaza
- Mango Farm
- Trappist Monastery (Mango Products and Souvenirs)
- Pitstop Restaurant (Mango Pizza)
- Guisi Lighthouse and Guisi Beach
- Alubihod Beach
- San Lorenzo Wind Farm
I remember during one of my visits to Guimaras (I’ve been to Guimaras 3 times), habal-habal (motorcycle) drivers offers tours around the island. Usual rate is ₱1,000 ($19, £17, SGD 26, AUD 28) for a whole day tour. Guimaras tourist attractions included are the same as those in the Guimaras tricycle tour listed above. If you are traveling alone and you are on a budget, this is another option. Just make sure you are provided a helmet for safety reasons.
By Boat Rental (Guimaras Island Hopping)
One of the top things to do in Guimaras is island hopping tour. Although the usual jumping off point is Alubihod Beach (since it’s closer to the islands), nowadays, you can rent a boat in Nueva Valencia or other parts of Guimaras.
Here’s the Guimaras island hopping rate starts:
- boat (good for 1-10 persons) – ₱600 ($12, £10, SGD 16, AUD 17) for the 1st hour and ₱200 ($4, £3, SGD 5, AUD 6) for succeeding hour
- boat (good for 11- 16 persons) – ₱800 for the 1st hour and ₱250 for succeeding hour boat (good for 16 – 20 persons) – ₱1,000 for the 1st hour and ₱300 for succeeding hour
- Snorkeling gear rental – ₱1,000 ($20, £16, SGD 27, AUD 28).
You can choose from the following island destinations:
- SEAFDEC (Igang Marine Station)
- Tatlong Pulo
- Ave Maria Island
- Turtle Island
- Baras Cave
- Fairy Castle
- Lamurawan Island
It is possible to visit a few islands for 2-3 hours. Prepare to shell out around ₱800 – ₱1,000 at least if you want to enjoy island hopping in Guimaras.
GUIMARAS THINGS TO DO
1.GO ISLAND HOPPING IN GUIMARAS
Guimaras is best known for 2 things – their sweet mangoes and their beautiful islands. So, while you are at it, these two must be on your list of top things to do in Guimaras.
Guimaras takes pride in its island-speckled shores, a usual jumping off point for the island hopping is Nueva Valencia, usually along the coast of Alubihod Beach you can find touts and boatmen offering island hopping tours. Rates depend on how many hours it will take for you to finish the tour (See the detailed rates I mentioned above). Like I said, it is possible to visit a few islands in 3 – 4 hours, so allocate at least half day for the island hopping tour in Guimaras.
If you don’t know which island to visit, you can read my Guimaras tourist spots blog, just click the link below for the island photos and more detailed guide.
2.SEE THE SMALLEST PLAZA
Entrance Fee: FREE
Open Hours: 24/7
Near Jordan Port is the Smallest Plaza, once hailed by Guinness World of Records as the smallest plaza in the world. This is usually part of the Guimaras tricycle land tour.
3.EXPLORE THE MANGO PLANTATION
Entrance Fee: FREE
Within the confines of the National Mango Research Center is a sprawling mango plantation. You can find one just along the main road of Guimaras. The center is composed of several buildings for horticulture, mango production, research, packaging, etc. You can also purchase a variety of mango seedlings here.
4.VISIT THE TRAPPIST MONASTERY
Entrance Fee: FREE
Open Hours: 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM ,
The Trappist Monastery in Guimaras (Abbey of Our Lady of the Philippines Monastery) is run by the Cisterian Order of Strict Observance. It’s one of the more popular tourist spots in Guimaras because of their delicious mango products sold as souvenirs. Tourists who also wants to experience a peaceful retreat in Guimaras can also stay here.
5.TRY THE MANGO PIZZA
One of the top things to do in Guimaras is to feast on mango-flavored food and Pitstop Restaurant offers a unique one – Mango Pizza. Not only that, they also serve mango bulalo and adobo with Guimaras mango.
6.BUY MANGO SOUVENIRS
One of the top things to do in Guimaras is to indulge on mango products and take them home as souvenirs for your family, friends, or coworkers. Mango products such as dried mangoes, mango jams, mango cookies, etc. are sold by souvenir shops and stores in Guimaras. You can find some stores along the road near the Guimaras Capitol. They also sell Guimaras mangoes that you can take home. If flying international, check the Customs policy of the country you are flying to, usually perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, etc. has to be declared to avoid hefty fines.
Also take note that it is prohibited to bring in mangoes from other places in Guimaras. You can take out the mangoes from Guimaras to other places.
7.SWIM IN ALUBIHOD BEACH
Entrance Fee: Depends on the beach resort
Mention Guimaras beaches and Alibuhod Beach comes to mind. It is the most popular beach in Guimaras and it’s not surprising why. Alibuhod Beach has a swirling mix of aquamarine and seafoam water lapping a cream sand shore. It’s a perfect place for swimming and a good base when exploring Guimaras. Resorts have mushroomed here over the years. If you’re doing the island hopping in Guimaras, this where you can rent a boat for the island hopping tour.
8.PHOTO OP AT GUISI LIGHTHOUSE AND GUISI BEACH
Entrance Fee: ₱10 ($0.20, £0.16, SGD 0.27, AUD 0.29) Environmental Fee
₱30 ($0.59, £0.49, SGD 0.81, AUD 0.86) – Swimming at the Beach
How to get to Guisi Lighthouse and Beach:
1.Ride a jeepney bound for Dolores or Pandaraonan Nueva Valencia.
2.Alight at crossing Pandaraonan. Travel time is about 45 minutes.
3.At crossing Pandaraonan, ride a motorbike to Guisi Lighthouse.
One of the top things to do in Guimaras is visiting the crumbling, age-old Guisi Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is already in ruins, in fact there’s already a new one beside it, but it’s still a beautiful sight to behold. The Guisi Lighthouse was built during the waning period of the Spanish Government who colonized the Philippines for roughly 370 years. While you are at it, the surrounding denim blue Guisi Beach fringed by rocky cliff is also a worth a visit.
9.SEE THE GUIMARAS WINDMILLS
Guimaras is admirable for its shift to renewable energy. It is the first coal-free province in the Philippines, banning the use of coal and other polluting energy resources. Guimaras is now home to the 54 megawatt windfarm in San Lorenzo, one of the biggest windfarms in Southeast Asia. You can include the San Lorenzo Windmills in your Guimaras tricycle tour for additional ₱300 ($6, £5, SGD 8, AUD 8), good for 2 – 3 persons.
10.EXPERIENCE MANGGAHAN FESTIVAL
Guimaras Island’s main festivity is Manggahan Festival, celebrated around April and May each year, right after the harvest season of the sweet mangoes of Guimaras. During Manggahan Festival, a parade is held at San Miguel and a mango-eating contest!
GUIMARAS ITINERARY + BUDGET
Here’s a sample DIY Guimaras itinerary with budget, good for a party of 2. Feel free to tweak this depending on your budget and schedule.
*Airfare and souvenir is not included in the trip expenses.
*Since this sample budget is good for 2 people, island hopping, tricycle tour, resorts, and tricycle transfer to and from beach resorts are divided by two. Total rates mentioned per day are per person for a group of 2. If you are a party of 3 or more, sample Guimaras trip expenses would be cheaper. If you are a solo traveler, you can check my sample budget and itinerary for Guimaras on my other Guimaras tourist spot blog, CLICK HERE.
|Day 1||Arrival + GUIMARAS LAND TOUR|
|04:05 AM||Depart Manila|
|05:15 AM||Arrival in Iloilo|
|05:45 AM||Shuttle bus to SM Iloilo. ₱70 ($1.38)|
|06:30 AM||Taxi to Ortiz Port in Iloilo. ₱100/2 = ₱50 ($1)|
|07:00 AM||At Ortiz Port, ride boat to Jordan Port, Guimaras. ₱15 ($0.30)|
|07:30 AM||Arrival in Jordan Port. Hire tricycle (with driver) for land tour|
|Start of Guimaras tricyle tour. ₱1,500/2= ₱750 ($14)|
|07:45 AM||See Smallest Plaza. FREE|
|08:30 AM||Visit San Lorenzo Wind Farm. ₱25 ($0.59)|
|09:30 AM||Explore Mango Research Center (Mango Farm). FREE|
|10:00 AM||Visit Trappist Monastery. FREE|
|10:30 AM||Biy souvenirs at Pasalubong Center|
|11:00 AM||Lunch and try Mango Pizza at Pitstop Restaurant. ₱250 ($5)|
|12:00 PM||Photo op Guisi Lighthouse. ₱10 ($0.20)|
|12:30 PM||Beach bumming in Guisi Beach. ₱30 ($0.59)|
|02:00 PM||Swim in Alubihod Beach. End of tour. ₱30 ($0.59)|
|03:00 PM||Head to Beach Resort in Guimaras.|
|03:30 PM||Resort check-in. ₱1,047/2=₱523.50 ($10)|
|07:00 PM||Dinner. ₱200 ($4)|
|09:00 PM||Pack luggage. Sleep.|
|DAY 1 EXPENSES||₱1,953.50 ($37.65, £33.69, SGD 51.75, AUD 55.18)|
|DAY 2||GUIMARAS ISLAND HOPPING|
|08:00 AM||ETD Alubihod Beach|
|08:30 AM||Start of Guimaras Island Hopping. ₱500($10) for the1st hour) +|
|₱200 ($4) for succeeding hour|
|SEAFDEC. ₱30 ($0.59)|
|Ave Maria Island. Donation|
|Baras Cave. FREE|
|Lamurawan Island. Donation|
|(total is ₱1,000/2 = ₱500 ($10) for 3 hours island hopping)|
|11:30 AM||End of island hopping tour.|
|ETD Guimaras beach resort.|
|12:00 PM||Hotel check-out.|
|12:30 PM||ETD Jordan Port. ₱300/2 = ₱150 ($3)|
|01:15 PM||Boat to Ortiz Port in Iloilo. ₱15 ($0.30)|
|01:45 PM||ETA Ortiz Port, Iloilo.|
|Back to Manila or proceed to next destination.|
|DAY 2 EXPENSES||₱665 ($13.3, £17.62, SGD 11.47, AUD 18.78)|
|TOTAL||₱2,618.50 ($55.27, £51.31, SGD 63.22, AUD 73.96)|
GUIMARAS TRAVEL TIPS + REMINDERS
- Everything is on cash basis, so stack up cash before you leave Manila or Iloilo.
- It is possible to do Guimaras as a day trip from Iloilo, just start early.
- Bring insect repellant lotion, sunscreen, and dry bag to protect your gadgets.
- Stay hydrated. Bring your own refillable water bottle.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Do not cross to Guimaras when the weather is bad. As much as possible, avoid traveling here during rainy and stormy season.
- Always wear your life vest while onboard the boat.
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