Guimaras Island is a favored destination by both foreign and domestic tourists because of its picturesque beaches, waterfalls, springs, offshore islets, and its famous mangoes, which is considered one of the sweetest in the world.
Guimaras is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest and youngest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros.
There are many theories on how Guimaras got its name. Available historical documents can attest that pre-Spanish Ilonggos had known Guimaras as “Himal-us” though some Spanish historians had written that Guimaras may have been named after a peninsula in Portugal called Guimaraes, or from names of places in Spain such as Guimaron in the provinces of Leon and Galerea, Gimenia in Catalonia, Gomera in the Canary Islands, and Guimaraon in another province.
On the other hand, 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 noble son. 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.
Most likely, people would associate Guimaras with its mangoes, which is their most important product and the Philippines’ best export quality mangoes.
They are grown in mango plantations spanning more than 8,000 hectares throughout the island, which create an awesome verdant landscape and the characteristic ambiance of rural life in this “Mango Country”.
Guimaras mangoes are considered as one of the sweetest in the world and the only mango variety in the Country certified as pest-free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jams and other delicacies.
The best time to enjoy Guimaras’ mangoes is during the Manggahan Festival held every May 22 to commemorate the province’s charter day.
Guimaras is also well known for its white-sand beaches, pristine seas, and secluded offshore islets. Among its most popular destinations include Alubihod Bay with its calm waters, and Guisi Beach, where visitors could enjoy the province’s natural beauty.
White sand beaches, multi-colored corals, fish, and other marine life are also found in Igang and Tando Bays and Taklong islets. For those who opt to relax in a secluded and luxurious destination, there’s Costa Aguada Island Resort in Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island Resort, and Isla Naburot.
We stayed the whole day at Raymen Beach Resort in Alubihod Bay, Nueva Valencia. It can be accessed through a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City to Jordan Wharf and a 45-minute jeepney ride from Jordan Wharf, or a 1-hour boat rides directly from Iloilo City.
We spent our afternoon with another island-hopping adventure. First, we visited the Pawikan Caring & Feeding Station at Barangay Lawi and had a personal encounter with the endangered pawikans. Second stop was at the snorkeling site. It bored me to death because unlike in Galera, there were no fishes around. It looks like they all disappeared after the oil spill incident. Then, we stopped by to this another uninhabited white sand beach. The finale was our visit to one of the caves in Guimaras. It’s my first time to get into a dark cave. Creepy but thrilling and exciting at the same time!
A single day in Guimaras isn’t again enough.
We missed visiting Guimaras public market and Trappist Monastery for mango shopping (literally, mangoes!); and historical landmarks such as the McArthur’s Wharf, Guisi Lighthouse, Punta Blanco Target Range, Navalas Church, and Roca Encantada. We could also opt to relax in more secluded island resorts such as Costa Aguada, Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island, and Isla Naburot. If we even stayed really longer (until the end month of April perhaps), we would also witness the start of the Manggahan Festival!
So many places to visit, so little time. Oh yeah, I’m officially 27. And I served a freshly grilled pampano, hot la paz batchoy, and warm cooked rice on my birthday!