I have been to the summer capital of the Philippines and the world’s oldest Chinatown. Been to many eskenitas in Iloilo City but, I figured, I have not yet explored the city’s closest island neighbor, Guimaras. Join me as I explore destinations and discover the rich history and culture of the island paradise that is Guimaras.
About Guimaras Island. Situated in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros is Guimaras Island, among the smallest provinces in the Philippines. To the northwest is the province of Iloilo and to the southest is Negros Occidental. The entire island is part of the Metro Iloilo Guimaras, one of the twelve (12) metropolitan areas of the country. The province consists primarily of Guimaras Island, and also includes Inampulungan, Guiwanon, Panobolon, Natungan, Nadulao, and many surrounding islets. Formerly known as Himal-as, Guimaras was a subprovince of Iloilo until it was made an independent province in May 1992.
From Iloilo, we traveled to the Iloilo-Guimaras Ferry Terminal at Parola, just beside CityMall. The pumpboat ride will take around 15 to 20 minutes from Iloilo to Buenavista (fare is Php 15). At the Buenavista wharf, we dropped by the Provincial Tourism Office and was issued a ‘Clearance Form for Conduct of Guimaras Tour’. It is important for tourists as well as tour operators to be issued this form. We were warmly met by our driver, Nong Rocky.
Roca Encantada. Located along Navalas Beach in Navalas Buenavista is a famous landmark known as ‘Roca Encantada’, the summer house of the Lopez Clan built atop a hill. Roca Encantada is Spanish for ‘enchanted rock’. The mansion was constructed in honor of Doňa Presentacion Hofilena Lopez in 1910. Roca Encantada offers a picturesque view of the beach front and the ‘La Islas de Siete Picados’. The mansion is now declared as a ‘heritage house’ by the National Heritage Institute. Entrance fee is Php 50 per person.
Navalas Church. The oldest Roman Catholic church and the only existing heritage church in the island of Guimaras is Navalas Church built in 1880. It is located in Barangay Navalas in Buenavista Guimaras. It was said that coral reefs/rocks were made into slabs and was used as significant material in the construction of the Navalas Church. It was also said that there used to be a bell made of silver and gold alloy that signals the coming of raiders. The bell was eventually taken and thrown into the sea, the site believed to be near Siete Picados. Navalas Church has a rich and colorful history. Over the years, primary benefactors were given the honor to select the church’s patron saint, and it is Saint Isidore, the farmer. (Source: Municipality of Buenavista). Also, a big shoutout to our awesome Navalas church tour guide, Nong Roque ‘Hard’ Chaves for the warm welcome! Also, no entrance fee.
About Navalas. According to the Book of Records of ‘Historica Geografica y Estadistica de Filipinas’ by Agustin de la Cavada Mendez de Vega: “Navalas Coast is full of sand and coral reefs/rocks, much battered by big waves”. The name of the place was originated from the word ‘sand’ or in dialect ‘balas’. Naturally, the ‘sandy place’ was popularly called in dialect as ‘Mabalas’, which due to the influence of the Spaniards, was later spelled as ‘Navalas’. (Source: Municipality of Buenavista)
Guimaras Windmills. I have to say, the Guimaras Windmills is indeed a sight to see. According to Choose Philippines, it all started in 2010 when the province conducted a study on where windmills will be best located. Qualified municipalities were San Lorenzo and Sibunag. Starting 2014, wind turbines were erected in San Lorenzo, then gradually in Sibunag and Nueva Valencia. Windmills can produce enough electricity to supply the entire Guimaras island and excess supply is given to Panay Island. The viewing area of the Guimaras Windmills offer a breathtaking view no tourist should miss out on. Also, there is no entrance fee.
Aside from delving deep into Navalas history and the dynamics of the Guimaras Windmills, we also had the chance to explore the many resort and accommodations in Guimaras Island. These are the following: Playa de Paraiso, Guimaras Mountain Resort, Andana Resort, and Alubijod Cove.
Playa de Paraiso. Nestled in Barangay San Enrique in San Lorenzo Guimaras, Playa de Paraiso is an ideal point of departure for excursions. With the tagline ‘Relaxation is more fun in Playa de Paraiso. The place that fits your taste’, Playa de Paraiso is indeed a comfortable haven for quality R&R. Book a room here.
Room Rates: Standard Corner (Php 2,000) | Standard Pool Side (Php 2,500) | Superior Beach Front (Php 2,500) | K-Rooms (Php 2,500) | Deluxe (Php 3,500) | Maximum of 6 persons per room, excess person is Php 200 per head, and corkage is Php 250 each room
Cottages Rates: Big Cottage (Php 1,000) | Medium (Php 500) | Small (Php 400) | Entrance Adult (Php 20) Kids (Php 10) | Swimming Pool Adult (Php 60) Kids (Php 40) | Corkage Php 100 per cottage. For reservations contact Marj Celis at 09054132493 or 09182740380
Playa de Paraiso is an ideal point of departure for excursions. With the tagline ‘Relaxation is more fun in Playa de Paraiso. The place that fits your taste’, Playa de Paraiso is indeed a comfortable haven for quality R&R.
Guimaras Mountain Resort. ‘Come, enjoy, have fun and relax!’ is the byline of Guimaras Mountain Resort located at Piňa Darugan in Buenavista – 4km away from the Jordan Wharf. It is a ‘complete getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and not far from the pristine sand beaches of Guimaras’. Facilities include: Cabana, Emilinda Lounge, Function Rooms, and the Pavilion.
Room Rates: Deluxe Matrimonial (Php 2,300) | Deluxe Twin (Php 2,300) | Family Room (Php 2,700) | Additional Pax is Php 700. Inclusions: Free breakfast and one (1) queen sized bed and one (1) single bed. Amenities: Fully airconditioned room, hot and cold shower, flat screen LCD TV, complimentary toiletries, bath and face towels, room service, and round the clock security guard.
Cabana/Cottage, and Swimming Pool Rates: Cabana/Cottage Day Use: Small (Php 400) Big (Php 600) | Night Use Small (Php 700) Big (Php 1,200) | Swimming Rates Adults (Php 120) Kids (Php 100) . For more information contact Guimaras Mountain Resort at 09264296604, 09264296588, or 09955088869.
‘Come, enjoy, have fun and relax!’ is the byline of Guimaras Mountain Resort located at Piňa Darugan in Buenavista – 4km away from the Jordan Wharf. It is a ‘complete getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and not far from the pristine sand beaches of Guimaras’.
Alubijod Cove Resort. Located in Poblacion, Nueva Valencia Guimaras is Alubijod Cove Resort and I have to say the place is quite comfortable and conducive to water activities. Entrance fee is Php 50 for adults and Php 30 for kids. Pavillion use for 8 hours is Php 5,000 (aircon) and Php 3,500 (fan use).
Room Rates: Rooms 1 -4 (Php 3,800 with aircon good for 6 to 8 pax) | Rooms 5 – 12 (Php 1,800 with aircon good for 2 pax) | Rooms 13 – 17 (Php 2,800 with aircon good for 4 pax) | Rooms 18 – 22 (Php 2,800 with aircon good for 4 pax) | Rooms 23 – 24 (Php 3,800 with aircon good for 6 pax, beachfront). Excess person is Php 250.
Located in Poblacion, Nueva Valencia Guimaras is Alubijod Cove Resort and I have to say the place is quite comfortable and conducive to water activities.
Andana Resort. Andana Resort is probably one of the newest resorts in Guimaras island. (located in Poblacion, Nueva Valencia Guimaras) Andana Resort is a 70-room luxury resort with white sand beaches, serene waters and mesmerizing scenery. I have to say, Andana Resort is mindblowing! It took me a while to fully grasp the fancy exteriors and unique architecture. Facilities at Andana includes a lengthy swimming pool, a spa service, a full service restaurant, a beach bar, and an inflatable water park. I do apologize, I was too busy nosing around Andana that I forgot to ask for the room rates!
Andana Resort is a 70-room luxury resort with white sand beaches, serene waters and mesmerizing scenery.
Biking’s Seafood Resto. Of course, a travel itinerary is not complete without including a restaurant. Biking’s Seafood Restaurant is a cozy place near Guimelco and offers everything seafood. Specialty of the house is the Mixed Seafoods (Php 175). They also offer Adobado (choice of Alimusan, Tangigue, Pantat), Sinigang (choice of Kanlay, Lapu-Lapu, Gingaw, Maya-maya, Managat, Tangigue, Pasayan), Kinilaw (choice of Pasayan, Tangigue, Suglaw), and much more. They also serve short orders.
Nong Rocky, our driver, also took us to the Trappist Monastery Gift Shop for pasalubong. We also dropped by Holy Family Hills in Tamborong, San Lorenzo, a pilgrim site in the island. We ended our day and our driver took us back to the Buenavista Wharf and we were on our way back to Iloilo by 5pm.
We also dropped by Holy Family Hills in Tamborong, San Lorenzo, a pilgrim site in the island.
The experience was amazing. We were able to visit 10 places in as little as one day! I have to say, one day is definitely ‘kulang’ to explore the entirety of Guimaras – we have not even explored the surrounding islands. I guess there is always a next time.