Guimaras is a small and a quiet town. It lives in its own pace, not affected by the fast changes taking place in nearby places – one can probably attribute that to the fact that Guimaras is separated to the mainland by seas. It is this simplicity and calm that give Guimaras its charm and enchantment, the reason it attracts a wide array of tourists from different countries around the world and the reason it’s one of the leading destination spots in the Philippines.
But, while you may not be able to imagine what you might do once you reach Guimaras (aside, of course, to swim), you’ll be surprised to find that Guimaras offers a broad range of activities and attractions to first-time and regular visitors alike. You can go for water adventures, land tours, or even participate in the province’s cultural activities.
Below are some of the things you can do while in Guimaras island:
Visit historical places. There are many places in Guimaras that played an important role in the history of the country. Many of these places have survived the test of time and are now among the popular tourist destinations in this Philippine province. Primary of these is the MacArthur’s Wharf (Buenavista Wharf). As its name implies, this wharf was constructed by General MacArtur and his men, primarily to connect communities. This paved the way to easier transportation and industrialization during that time.
Another place to visit is the Guisi Lighthouse that can be traced back in 1894. It was aimed at guiding ships traveling at night. And though it’s not in use today for such purpose anymore, it has become a major must-see in Guimaras. And of course, there’s Roca Encantada, a house owned by the Lopez Family and is considered today as a Heritage House. The name is a translation for enchanted rock, so called because the location is a rocky hill.
Try water adventures. Everybody knows that Guimaras island has lovely and charming beaches and seas, but there’s actually more. Other than lounging in the white-sand beaches, you can go a little more adventurous by trying such activities as snorkeling and diving. There are certain spots in Guimaras that are ideal for these activities (i.e. areas near Ave Maria beach for snorkeling).
All you need is to bring with you some snorkeling gears or rent them when you’re there. Of course, don’t forget to include island hopping in your water adventures – this is what Guimaras is famous for. It has beautiful islands and islets that you can explore, and you can access them by boat on a tour. You can check out the Siete Picados, the so-called islet of seven sins, with a lighthouse built in the biggest of the seven islands. And while Guimaras is known for beaches, you might want a different water adventure by visiting Sadsad Falls and enjoying its cool water that drop from a height of 150 ft. The place is open to the public, so it’s a must have for those who want a cheaper alternative.
Go on a pilgrimage. If you happen to visit Guimaras during the Holy Week, you might want to join the procession of people that go on a pilgrimage to the Bondulan Point, considered as the highest point in Guimaras. There, you will find a chapel and a giant cross that’s visible all over Guimaras island. From the top, you can see Iloilo City, from an angle that most people describe as “breathtaking.”
Participate in the Manggahan Festival. The Lenten season is sometime in March or April, after which you can extend for the Manggahan Festival that is celebrated in May. Guimaras is famous for its big and sweet carabao mangoes, top in quality that they’re even exported to other countries. These mangoes are showcased during the said festivity, and most people in Guimaras participate in the celebration. It’s a fun event that you’re bound to remember after your vacation.
Buy Guimaras goods. After all other activities that you do in Guimaras, don’t forget to get souvenirs and food to bring your loved ones. And when it comes to Guimaras island delicacies and specialties, the most popular is The Trappist Monastery. It’s the only one in all of the Philippines, and it sells goods that have been made by monks. There are jams, cookies and bread, as well as candies. There are also accessories and rosaries for devotees, all at affordable prices.
Guimaras is ideal for people who are looking for cheap vacation in the Philippines. Because it’s not yet fully developed and commercialized, the resorts are not yet that expensive. In fact, you can get a place with a rate as low as a few hundreds for a night of stay. And with the wide range of activities available, it’s perfect for both young and old.