Well this took a while to post. Sorry but sometimes life gets in the way. But here’s the final entry of our Iloilo-Guimaras trip.
The Enticing Guimaras Island
We woke up early the next day for breakfast. The boat to Estancia Port leaves at 8 AM so we cannot be late. When we got there, however, we learned that the boat leaves at 9 so we waited for like an hour. I got motion sickness on the way back to Estancia Port, good thing I managed not to throw up.
We rode a van back to the bus station where another van picked us up and took us to the port. Guimaras is just a 15-minute boat ride away from Iloilo City. When we reached Jordan Wharf in Guimaras, our tour guide Kuya Dennis picked us up. We stayed in Raymen Beach Resort in Alubihod, Nueva Valencia. It was about a 45-minute drive from the wharf. While on the way, Kuya Dennis switched to full-on tour guide mode, which we appreciated. He showed us the Smallest Plaza, which used to be the smallest plaza in the world until Brazil built a smaller one. He also showed us the schools, the municipal hall and the mango plantation. He told us that the reason why Guimaras mangoes are sweet is because of the rich soil they are planted on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the season for mangoes so one kilo costs around 180 pesos. But Kuya Dennis informed us that on April during the mango season, one kilo only costs around 40 pesos only!
The drive to the resort actually made me forget Manila and its congested traffic. Fresh air and great views, I so could use more of those every once in a while.
Because of the setback with the boat earlier, we were already an hour late for our scheduled island hopping tour. So we got changed really fast and got on a boat. It was already around past 3 at that point.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much from Guimaras. It’s probably because I don’t know much about it except for their mangoes. But when we started off towards our first island…
We were greeted with beautiful rock formations and clear blue waters. We obviously all fell in love at first sight with Guimaras! We were taken to the Ave Maria Islet, named as such because the rock formation looks like a praying lady from afar. There’s a spot in the rock formation for cliff diving.
I was the only one who wasn’t able to jump off the cliff. When RZ decided to jump, our tour guide said “We’re not leaving here until everyone jumps!” So I started walking towards the jump-off point but I realized that I’m wearing contact lenses. Haha narrow escape!
We went to Baras Cave next. But we only stayed like 5 minutes. The light was fading fast at that point already so it was really dark inside. We also heard bats.
We were supposed to spend that day island hopping and the next day on a day trip around Guimaras. But since we were late, it became apparent that our island hopping tour wasn’t enough. So we asked for an additional two hours to island hop the next day before going on the day trip.
We came back to the resort and swam at the beach. The beach near the resort was really clean. Usually with the other places we have visited, the beaches near ports and resorts have murky waters and are not good for swimming anymore. But it’s obvious that the resort has been well-maintained.
Can I just say that I have eaten food in this vacation that I normally wouldn’t eat back in the city. Like squid and kilawin. But it wouldn’t help to be a picky eater while on vacation so I ended up eating all those food and I liked them! I ordered a green mango shake and I can truly say that Guimaras mangoes are the sweetest. My green mango had no hint of sourness at all haha!
I wish I took more pictures of the resort. It really is a beautiful place that’s perfect for relaxing. We sat by the beach after dinner, drank beers, and just talked. I think I forgot to mention that there was absolutely no signal in Gigantes so we weren’t able to update our social media accounts. Though it’s a good thing ’cause at least we legitimately enjoyed nature and each other’s company without being distracted by our phones. In Guimaras, there was a signal but it wasn’t that stable. So while sitting by the beach that night, we also managed to upload a few pics. We enjoyed our last night on vacation.
The next morning, I got up at around 5:30. I went and sat down by the beach and watched the sunrise. I saw people there, including Mac, taking time-lapse videos of the sunrise.
After breakfast, we hopped on a boat again and went back to the Ave Maria Islet where we tried to go snorkeling. I said TRIED because around 5 minutes into swimming, we all felt itchy and painful pricks on our skin. It turned out that it was jellyfish season. 😦 The jellyfish stings felt like around a hundred injections on my skin. It was a real bummer because the water was so clear and there were a lot of beautiful fish swimming around.
So we just went back to shore where a kind family gave us vinegar for our jellyfish stings. Not wanting to go back into the water, we just took jump shots on the beach. I also wish we were able to have a picture taken with Iyanna, the little girl who held the GoPro while we ran behind her on the beach.
The Natago Beach is a privately-owned beach resort. There are also rooms available to rent. Our tour guide mentioned that the room seen above can be rented for 5k a night, but there are no limit to the number of people who can stay.
We wanted to swim on the beach but when Pao started wading in the water, he felt jellyfish stings again. So we just took pictures.
Our next stop was the SEAFDEC Research Station. I think it was the farthest among all the islands. It consists of about four islets connected by floating bridges. I didn’t expect much here because it’s a breeding and research site. But it turned out to be very enjoyable and educational. We hand fed large bangus (milkfish). We also saw giant groupers, clown fish and sea bass. They also have huge snappers.
It had started drizzling while we were in the SEAFDEC, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures with my phone. I think I’ll just edit this post after getting the other pics from my friend. 🙂
We were greeted with rough waves on the way back to the resort. But still, we can’t help but admire the clear waters. We didn’t have much time because we still have the day trip so we had to hurry up. But we cannot resist taking a last dip on the Alubihod Beach before we go.
We had about 5 minutes each to shower. After showering and packing, we were off to our day trip! We weren’t able to complete our itinerary because of the time constraint. 😦 But it was OK, we still had fun.
Our first stop was the Guisi Lighthouse. It was a Spanish-colonial lighthouse built in the 18th century.
We actually climbed the old remains of the metal lighthouse. But only Kuya Dennis and two of us can go at a time. When we got to the top, it was really scary because there’s almost nothing to hold on to and it felt like the lighthouse would collapse anytime. Kuya Dennis offered to take our picture using my phone. According to him, he can make the place look like an island.
After the lighthouse, we went to the Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery. It is the only male monastery in the whole country. The monks belong to the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance. They’ve never set foot outside of the monastery since taking their vows.
We went to the gift shop where we bought mango bars and otaps. The gift shop was managed by the monks themselves. We also met a Trappist monk named Peter Paterno. He blessed us and took pictures with us!
We also went to the Trappist main church, which was very beautiful.
At this point, we were already in a hurry so we just took pictures of the mango plantation by the side road.
We had lunch at a place called the Pit Stop Restaurant. We had…
Who knew mangoes and pizza go so well together? Like the baked scallops in Gigantes, I still find myself craving for this until now.
After lunch, we were taken back to Jordan Wharf and back to Iloilo City where we stopped by stores to buy pasalubong. Then we got to the airport about an hour and a half before our flight. Then it was all over and we’re back to reality that is the city.
When we go back from a really good vacation, everything’s the same. We go back to work or school and fall right back to our everyday routine. But we’re not the same because we’ve been far away, somewhere that we haven’t been before. And that opened our eyes and our minds to new things. So somehow, as we go back to our real lives, it’s like we’re clutching a little secret in our hearts. That’s how I feel after every vacation. I kind of like to think of vacation as more than a “get away” or a means to make people jealous on social media haha!
My friends and I have vowed to make 2016 a year of travel. We’ve already got a few destinations lined up starting on February! I need to save, save, save and find a better job ha!
Anyway, I think it’s so easy to feel hopeless towards our own country with all the crimes, the terrible traffic, and the political leaders. Heh. But I believe that if we get out of the city every once in a while, there are all sorts of reasons to fall right back in love with the Philippines. There are thousands of other worlds (or islands) outside Manila that I’m sure will make people appreciate the country more and more. Beautiful views, yummy exotic food, picturesque beaches and friendly, happy people. Those are what the Philippines should be known for. So in 2016, we hope to see more of those. ‘Til next time!
P.S.: Technically, this is my first time to make a travel post and I realized that I’ve still got a long way to go haha! Next time I’ll try taking more pictures and noting details of the trip. Special thanks to my friends Pao, Mac and RZ and my bf Johar for letting me use some of the pictures they took. 🙂