At the mention of Guimaras, what usually comes to mind are beaches and sweet mangoes. The island has become the place of choice for short vacations for those who simply want to laze under the sun, take a dip in its cool waters and enjoy every bite of its juicy, delicious mangoes.
However, Guimaras offers more than that, as what I found out during a recent day tour with some colleagues. A day trip can be spiritual, educational and fun!
If you are planning a vacation with your family or friends, Guimaras is one of the best places to visit. It is only a 15-minute motorboat ride from Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo, and fare is Php15 per person. If you wish to hire a motorboat for your group, you can do so for only Php500.
Here are destinations that you can visit for a full day in the island:
San Meguil, Buenavista
Roca Encantada is an iconic landmark in Guimaras. The summer house of the Lopez Clan, it was built in the 1900s in honor of Doña Presentacion Hofileña Lopez. I remember spending idyllic days here with my family when I was a small child as this was considered the best beach destination in the island back then.
Today, the place has a modern exterior, with balconies offering a delightful view of the beach and serene waters of Iloilo Strait. It was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Heritage Institute.
Holy Family Hills
Tamborong, San Lorenzo
The Holy Family Hills is one of the pilgrimage sites in the island where you can have some quiet time of prayer and reflection. Built in 2000, the 52-hectare property features life-size Stations of the Cross and a huge shrine of the Holy Family as its centrepiece. It also has a chapel and prayer room if you want more privacy. Many people flock here especially during the Holy Week as they also commune with nature while seeking for spiritual renewal or guidance.
Another place of prayer is the Navalas Church. Built in the 18th century, it is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Guimaras. I noticed that its architecture has a close resemblance with that of Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo, which I mentioned to our guide. She explained that this is because Guimaras used to be a vista of Jaro during the Spanish regime.
Marceily Point is a relatively new inland resort that is a good option if you do not wish to go to the beach, but still want to swim and have a great time. Only a few minutes away from the Jordan Wharf, it features a huge pool, restaurant, bar and accommodations. They serve good food, which is why many locals celebrate their special occasions there. For more information, visit their Facebook page.
San Miguel, Jordan
Where did our group go for lunch? Where else but at The Pitstop, the island’s most famous restaurant. We just have to eat Mango Pizza. Aside from the pizza, the friendly staff served us their other bestselling mango-inspired dishes: Mango Bulalo, Chicken Adobo with Mango Twist and Bangus Sisig with Mango Bits. So when you are in town, bring your hungry tummies to The Pitstop. Check out their Facebook page for more details on the restaurant.
|Chicken Adobo with Mango Twist|
Festival of Mangoes
Manggahan Festival 2017 will be on May 11-20, which is a good time to experience Guimaras as you can participate in many exciting activities such as the Mango Eat-all-you-can contest. For a complete schedule of activities, check out Guimaras Manggahan Festival on Facebook.