Jewel of Western Visayas: A Traveler’s Tale of Guimaras, Iloilo


Guimaras, Iloilo: The Sweetest Island in the Philippines

As a seasoned travel blogger, I’ve had the fortune of exploring countless destinations around the globe. But few places have captivated my heart quite like Guimaras, Iloilo, a small island province nestled in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines

Known for its world-renowned sweet mangoes, pristine beaches, and the warm hospitality of its people, Guimaras offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Join me as I recount my journey through this enchanting island, where simplicity and natural beauty reign supreme.

A Paradise for Nature and Adventure Lovers

Guimaras’ rugged coastline, adorned with over 50,000 mango trees, some over a century old, sets the stage for an extraordinary adventure. This island is not only a haven for mango enthusiasts but also a playground for both pleasure seekers and adventure travelers. 

Guimaras Iloilo Mangga
Guimaras Iloilo Mangga

From the gently lapping waves on its sandy shores to the lush greenery that frames its rugged terrain, Guimaras is a testament to nature’s artistry.

Best Time to Visit Guimaras Iloilo and Practical Tips

To fully enjoy Guimaras, I recommend visiting between January and May, the dry season, when the island is at its most welcoming. However, do avoid public holidays to escape the crowds. 

While on the island, keep in mind that cash is king here, and Wi-Fi can be intermittent, so plan your finances and connectivity needs accordingly. For those staying off the mainland, be prepared for resorts powered by solar energy or generators – a true embrace of island living.

Accommodations: Where to Stay in Guimaras

For a complete island experience, I suggest staying in one of the low-key beach resorts in Nueva Valencia, like Raymen Beach Resort or Nature’s Eye Beach Resort, which I found particularly peaceful with its scenic views and proximity to local life.

Getting There: A Journey to the Island

Reaching Guimaras involves a journey through Iloilo. From Manila, a flight to Iloilo City, followed by a bus to the city center, and finally a ferry to Guimaras, marks the beginning of an unforgettable adventure.

Exploring Guimaras: Modes of Transportation

Once on the island, jeepneys, multicabs, and tricycles are the primary means of transport. For a more intimate exploration, a tricycle or motorcycle tour covering key spots like Balaan Bukid, Mango Farm, and Trappist Monastery is a must-try.


Top Activities and Attractions in Guimaras

  1. Island Hopping: Explore the beautiful islands around Guimaras, a must-do activity for any visitor.
  2. The Smallest Plaza: A unique attraction near Jordan Port, once recognized as the smallest plaza in the world.
  3. Mango Plantation Visits: Immerse yourself in the mango plantations and learn about the mango production process.
  4. Trappist Monastery: Experience tranquility and sample delicious mango products at this serene monastery.
  5. Mango Pizza at Pitstop Restaurant: Indulge in a unique culinary experience with mango-flavored dishes.
  6. Souvenir Shopping: Bring home mango-themed souvenirs like dried mangoes, jams, and cookies.
  7. Swim in Alubihod Beach: Enjoy the aquamarine waters of this popular beach.
  8. Guisi Lighthouse and Beach: Capture memorable photos at this historic and picturesque site.
  9. Guimaras Windmills: Witness the island’s commitment to renewable energy at the San Lorenzo Wind Farm.
  10. Manggahan Festival: If visiting in April or May, don’t miss this vibrant festival celebrating Guimaras’ mangoes.

A Taste of Mango Heaven in Guimaras Iloilo

Guimaras is renowned worldwide for its sweet, succulent mangoes. But there’s more to its food scene than just this golden fruit. My journey through Guimaras Iloilo unveiled a world of flavors, deeply rooted in Filipino culinary traditions.

Mango-Infused Delicacies

The island’s love affair with mangoes extends beyond the fruit itself. At a popular restaurant in Guimaras, I indulged in unique mango-infused dishes like mango pizza and beef bulalo with mango. The mango pizza was a delightful surprise, blending the sweetness of ripe mangoes with savory toppings in a perfect harmony of flavors.

Sweet Treats and Local Desserts

For dessert lovers, Guimaras Iloilo is a dream come true. The mango cheesecake at Café Conchita is a must-try. This exquisite dessert, priced at 130 PHP per slice, is well worth the splurge. Its creamy texture and the rich flavor of Guimaras mangoes make it an unforgettable treat.

Diving into Guimaras Iloilo’s Seafood Splendor

Guimaras Iloilo’s proximity to the sea blesses it with an abundance of fresh seafood, offering a plethora of options for seafood aficionados.

Fresh and Flavorful Seafood Dishes

At Breakthrough Restaurant in nearby Iloilo City, the seafood experience is as fresh as it gets. 

With live seafood displayed in aquariums, diners can select their preferred fish, shells, or crustaceans to be cooked in a variety of ways – whether in spicy sauce, garlic sauce, or grilled. The baked scallops and oysters, spicy crabs, and kinilaw (ceviche) are some of the best-selling dishes.


Savoring Guimaras Iloilo’s Traditional Filipino Cuisine

Guimaras Iloilo is not only about mangoes and seafood. It’s a place where traditional Filipino dishes shine, offering a taste of the local culture and history.

Local Delicacies and Comfort Food

The island offers a range of native delicacies like ibos and baye-baye. Baye-baye, made from toasted rice, has a distinct flavor and is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves, giving it an authentic touch.

Heartwarming Filipino Classics

A beloved dish among the Ilonggos is Kadyos, Baboy, Langka (KBL), a stewed pork dish with a smoky taste, thanks to the grilled or broiled meat used. The combination of soft pork, sour batwan fruit, and flavorful broth makes it a comforting and hearty meal.

Another standout is Pancit Molo, a unique take on the traditional pancit. This dish, a derivative of Chinese wonton soup, is a household specialty in Iloilo and varies in preparation from one home to another. It’s a dish that intrigues first-timers with its non-traditional pancit appearance.

Travel Tips for Guimaras, Iloilo

  1. Best Time to Visit: The dry season, spanning from January to May, is the ideal time to explore Guimaras, Iloilo. During these months, the weather is favorable for outdoor adventures, and you can avoid the crowded public holidays.
  2. Connectivity: While mobile signals are present, data can be intermittent. Some beach resorts in Guimaras offer Wi-Fi access, but it’s best to prepare for sporadic connectivity.
  3. Cash is King: In Guimaras, transactions are predominantly cash-based. Ensure you have enough cash before leaving Iloilo or Manila. While there are ATMs in Jordan and Buenavista, they are heavily relied upon by locals.
  4. Electricity Considerations: If you’re staying in mainland resorts, electricity is readily available. However, for offshore beach resorts relying on solar power and generators, it’s wise to bring power banks and extra batteries.
  5. Safety Measures: Guimaras is known for its safety, even for solo travelers. When engaging in adrenaline-pumping activities or island hopping, always prioritize safety. Wear life vests on boats and secure your gadgets in dry bags.
  6. Exploring Guimaras: Tricycle and habal-habal (motorcycle) tours are popular for navigating the island’s attractions. These tours are affordable and can be customized to include various landmarks.
  7. Day Tours: For a hassle-free experience, consider booking a day tour package from Iloilo to Guimaras.
  8. Island Hopping: A must-do activity in Guimaras is island hopping. You can rent boats from various points like Alubihod Beach or Nueva Valencia.
  9. General Tips: Always carry insect repellent, sunscreen, a dry bag for electronics, and a refillable water bottle. Respect the local culture, and support the local economy by purchasing local souvenirs and goods.

Immersing in Guimarasnon Culture

Guimaras, once a sub-province of Iloilo, became an independent province in 1992. The island’s inhabitants, known as Guimarasnon, primarily speak Hiligaynon, along with Filipino and English. 

The predominant religions are Roman Catholicism and the Philippine Independent Church, with the latter having a significant seminary in Jordan.

The cultural tapestry of Guimaras is vividly displayed during the Manggahan Festival in May. This event celebrates the island’s mango heritage with mango-themed parades, costumes, and a bounty of mango-inspired delicacies.

Guimaras: A Haven for Eco and Religious Tourism

Guimaras has become a hub for ecotourism, offering pristine beaches like Guisi, Alubihod, and Natago, along with ecological destinations such as Ave Maria Island and San Lorenzo Wind Farm. 

The island also caters to religious tourism, with landmarks like the Balaan Bukid Shrine and the historic Navalas Church, showcasing the island’s rich Spanish Catholic heritage. The Trappist Monastery is another highlight, offering a serene retreat and mango-based treats.

Final Thoughts

Guimaras, Iloilo, is a destination that promises a blend of adventure, tranquility, and cultural enrichment. 

Each visit unveils a different facet of this enchanting island, making it a must-visit for every travel enthusiast. 

Whether you’re basking in the sun on its golden beaches, partaking in the vibrant Manggahan Festival, or exploring its rich historical sites, Guimaras offers an experience that is both exhilarating and soul-soothing.


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