Guimaras Island is perhaps best known for producing the sweetest mangoes in the world! Previously part of Iloilo, the island has unique distinction of being the producer of the sweetest and most delicious mangoes, which are reportedly served at high echelon places such as the White House and Buckingham Palace.
The famous mangoes are generally considered one of, if not the sweetest in the entire world and the only mango variety in the entire archipelago that is considered pest-free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To this, the Manggahan Festival is held every twenty second of May to commemorate the island’s charter day, and to celebrate and give thanks for the abundance of the sweet produce on their shores.
White sandy beaches, check. Abundant marine life and rich coral reefs, check. Definitely Guimaras has the features that attract tourists. And since it became an independent province on May 22, 1992, it has enjoyed a steadily growing reputation as a tourist destination for its beautiful, picturesque natural landscape that includes lovely beaches, waterfalls, springs, off-shore islets, and of course, the best-tasting mangoes.
HOW TO GET THERE:
As there is no direct flight to the island, one has to board one of the daily direct flights to Iloilo from Manila. Then take either the pump boat in Parola, at the mouth of the Iloilo River, bound for MacArthur Point in Buenavista; or a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) vessel that leaves the Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo to Jordan Wharf five times a day.
ISLA NABUROT. With stunning white sand and impressive coral reefs, this islet is frequented by snorkeling and diving enthusiast. With lovely chalets on its cliff, one can opt to stay for a while.
MARINE RESERVED AREA/SEA TURTLE TEMPORARY FEEDING & CARING STATION. Sitting on the beach area of Barangay Lawi, this community project of the municipality aims at the preservation of the sea turtles, called here ‘pawikan’, which are already considered an endangered species. These sea turtles nest on the island. And after being hatched, they are cared for in an aquarium-nursery which resembles a floating cage where visitors can view and touch them. They are then tagged and released into the sea at a certain point. When they reach maturity, the fully grown turtles periodically return to the beach at mating season and lay their eggs on the sand.
NAVALAS CHURCH/PARISH OF ST. ISIDORE THE WORKER. The oldest Roman Catholic Church in the province of Guimaras, built in 1880-1885, has withstood the passage of time and has since been an iconic structure in the province. A bigger bell than can be found in its belfry today was said to be over four feet tall but was said to be carted away by pirates and dumped in the sea. The façade was left untouched while the interior was renovated and restored. Located in Navalas, Buenavista.
AVE MARIA ISLET. Situated where the Marine Reserve Area of Jordan is, Ave Maria is a white sand beach that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. A swimmable distance from Turtle Island, this enchanting little islet has pristine white powdery sand that is so amazingly supple.
TINIGUIBAN ISLET. A 1,544 square meter islet in front of SEAFDEC Igang, Marine Sub-Station, where rare red shrimps (prawns) may be seen during high tide. Excellent for swimming and snorkeling and just lazing around the beach and enjoying the beautiful azure seas. Located in Pandaraonan, Nueva Valencia
BARAS BEACH. Offering exciting water activities such as boating and wind surfing, with pristine waters and powdery white sand, Baras Beach is also perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Situated in Lawi, Jordan.
NATAGO BEACH. Nestled between two mountains, Natago Beach, or ‘Hidden Beach’, has very interesting rock formations with, arguably, the most interesting feature being a mansion located on its cliff.
FALLS/SPRINGS/CAVES. The Island of Guimaras (and its adjacent islets) is home to numerous falls, caves, and natural springs that are absolutely marvelous, such as Macopo and Sad-Sad Falls in Sta. Teresa; Labi-Labi Spring in Daragan, Buenavista; Biri Cave in Poblacion, Jordan; Bucoy Cave in Balcon Maravilla, Jordan, where one has to crawl into as the entrance is so low, with phosphorescent crystalline rocks, or quartz, and a mini-lake about six meters deep and five meters wide; Buho Ramirez Cave in Lawi, Jordan, that has three openings with gushing water that certain studies show can be a good source of spring water to supply up to two barangays having more than four hundred households;
Capitoguan Cave, also in Balcon Maravilla, Jordan, which is considered a bat sanctuary, with an abundance of stalactites and stalagmites; Higante Cave (Giant Cave) in Espinosa, Jordan, that according to local folklore was once the domain of a giant; Hurot-Hurot Cave also in Espinosa, Jordan; and Pirate Cave in Lawi, Jordan, that locals say was the secret storage of pirate treasure.
Get insights on how Guimaras Mangoes, one of the world’s sweetest mangoes, are produced at the National Mango Research and Development Center. With the aim of developing the best-tasting and sweetest mangoes in the world, the Institute is where visitors can witness the seedlings being grown. Visitors to the island are forbidden from taking in any mangoes from outside the island as these may carry pests that can damage the ones on the island. The people of Guimaras take pride in their produce and exert such effort to ensure that the excellent quality of their mangoes is maintained.
For a picturesque island and beach view, pay a quick visit to Guisi Lighthouse. Erected on top of a hill during the Spanish colonial era, this 18th century lighthouse provides a spectacular view of the beach and the ruins of a Spanish settlement. Old and rusty, this lighthouse can be climbed by the intrepid visitor and gives a full view of the picturesque town with its coves and rock formations and the clear blue waters of the sea.
There is a new and sleek lighthouse amid the ruins but the old one captures the imagination. Located in Nueva Valencia.
Buy your souvenirs at the Trappist Monastery in San Miguel, Jordan. Located in Brgy. San Miguel, Jordan, one can arrange transportation to visit the monastery with the aid of the Provincial Tourism Office Outpost, which is about twenty to thirty minutes away from the Port via Jeepney or multicab.
The monks of the order earn their livelihood through agriculture, growing vegetables for their own consumption and also mangoes, pineapples and guava that they in turn process into jellies, jams and juices that are sold at the Trappist Gift Shop. Most, if not all the ingredients used are grown on the monastery’s grounds.
Established in 1972, the Trappist Monastery is the only male monastery in the country that is run by the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, which was founded in 1098 near Dijon, France. Descended from a reform movement undertaken in the 17th century at the monastery of La Trappe in Normandy, this order of Cistercians separated from the main order in 1892 and were henceforth called the Trappist.
Practice target shooting or other thrilling activities at the Guimaras Adventure Park in Alaguisoc, Jordan. The 28-hectare Guimaras Adventure Park is the perfect place to get that adrenalin rush from paintball, war games, rappelling, horseback riding and target shooting.