Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Guimaras Island

A short 15 minute hop in a motorized outrigger from Ortiz Port in Iloilo City and we were on Guimaras Island. (The fare is P14.00 each way.) We could see the island from the dock in Iloilo. It was a fun ride with water splashing into the outrigger when the waves were particularly high. I got slightly wet as I was sitting right by the porthole. When we arrived at the Jordan pier, we made arrangements for a jeepney to take us to our hotel through the tourism desk which is a few steps from the waterfront. It costs P400.00 for the ride to Nueva Valencia with a stop at the Trappist Monastery along the way. We visited the church inside the monastery grounds before we approached a monk to pray over us. It was a calming experience and so glad we did this. Then we shopped at the in-house gift shop where they sold everything with mango in it: mango tart, mango polvoron, mango jam, mango flavored biscotti, mango piaya, and dried mangoes. Mango is of course the prime commodity of Guimaras Island. In fact, they have the sweetest mango in the whole world. But don't despair if you don't like mangoes. They had other goodies in the store. I found religious gift items like rosary bracelets (which I bought for friends and family in the U.S.).

Ortiz Pier and Guimaras Island in the distance

The ride uphill to Nueva Valencia was smooth in parts where the highway is paved. In a few months, the road will be completely paved and it will be a pleasant ride through mango orchards and roadside fruit stands. We bought mangoes to take home with us. A kilo costs P60.00 ($1.50). What a steal!


We didn’t have hotel reservations so we were taken to two places before we made our choice. The first hotel was a little bit crowded but it was a newer hotel than the one we chose. At Villa Igang Resort (where we stayed), there are lots of things to discover like their mangrove sanctuary, coral cave, butterfly garden, fishponds, and walking trails. And it is totally private, tucked far enough away from the main road. But the hotel’s bedsheets were too old and worn and we had to ask for new sheets and towels from the Hotel Manager who was gracious and responsive to our requests and suggestions on improving the hotel rooms. Though the rooms were only P1,000.00 a night for a non air-conditioned room ($25.00), this was no excuse to put old sheets on our bed! (They also have airconditioned rooms which would be great for summer stays.) The food at the restaurant was a little bit wanting as well. Good thing we had brought a lot of snacks and had a full lunch so we weren’t that hungry for dinner. Instead, we spent the evening in front of the karaoke machine which we had to feed P5.00 per song. But it was fun!

Mangrove Sanctuary at Villa Igang Resort

The next morning we explored the mangrove swamp following the bamboo bridge trail. At the end of the trail is the butterfly garden. We didn’t find any butterflies though. Maybe it wasn't the right season? We also explored the north side of the property where Villa Corazon is located. Villa Corazon is a two condo building (perfect for families) with its own private beach. We counted four short stretches of beach at the Villa Igang property. The water is so clear you can see starfishes and blue crabs (alimasag) from the jetty.

One of the caves in Villa Igang

My biggest find was the cave right outside our hotel room. I had to pass through a low clearing to enter the cave. The water was knee deep and there were rocks and boulders which made the going slippery. I wore my flip flops and it kept me from sliding though I did fall briefly into thigh high waters. There’s enough light inside the cave as it opens to the sea. I had my camera with me so I couldn’t swim to other parts of the cave and not knowing how deep the water might be in those areas, I didn’t dare go too far.


At the end of the day as we stood near the grotto, we were rewarded with the most beautiful sunset. We watched as the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving a trail of fiery light across the sky. Too fast I thought, wishing it could have lasted longer!

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Images by Charie

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