Guimaras Island, unlike Camiguin or Boracay, has a large area that it is impossible to visit the island’s interesting sites in a day. The sites are also scattered around the island that it was impossible to squeeze everything in a day. This was what I found out when I got to the island so I had to make do with what was accessible from Raymen Beach Resort.
My second day in Guimaras had me waking up early in the morning to make sure that I am able to maximize my visit to the island. I had lined up the spots to check out on land and to continue my island hop in the area.
Some 30 minutes away from Raymen Beach Resort, by rented tricycle, are the ruins of a lighthouse – better known as the Guisi Lighthouse. It was built in 1894 by the Spaniards to guide seafarers traversing through this commercial sea channel between Cebu, Iloilo, and Manila. It is considered the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the country. The ruins of the old lighthouse are a reminder of Spanish influence in the region.
The Guisi Lighthouse compound can be reached after a 10 minute hike from the drop off point. You need to register at the gate of the compound where the caretaker will gladly meet and give you a quick tour of the compound. The ruins of the lighthouse consist of a complex and the metal lighthouse. Those with a brave heart can still climb the spiral staircase of the old lighthouse to witness a spectacular view of the Panay Gulf and the nearby beach.
The Spanish lighthouse has already been replaced be a more modern lighthouse but it still a great site to visit when in Guimaras Island. It offers a peak into history and a great view of nature’s bounty in Guimaras.
Guisi Clearwater Beach and Rock Formations
A few steps away from the gate of the Guisi Lighthouse compound are steps that will lead you down a platform that will give you a nice view of Guisi Rock Formations and Guisi Clearwater Beach. The rock formations of Guisi are not as extensive but its beauty is simple that it reflects the laid back atmosphere of the island. These formations were a product of years and years of wind and water hitting the surfaces of these rocks creating smooth and unique formations. On a better day, one can go over the rocks to head off to the nearby beach. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that time of the day when I visited the area.
The Guisi Clearwater Beach is known for having clear waters compared to the other beaches in Guimaras. It does stand on its claim having very clear waters against its flesh-colored sand. The great thing about the beaches in Guimaras is that it is not too crowded which allows you to enjoy the beach more. If you are looking for some peace and quiet where you can enjoy listening to the rhythm of waves breaking along the sea shore then Guisi Clearwater Beach is the place to check out.
Tip: Roundtrip tricycle fare from Raymen Beach is Php300. If you are lucky enough, you can stop over by a house near the entrance of Guisi Clearwater Beach Resort to have a glass of fresh coconut juice.
Guimaras Island Hopping
My afternoon boat cruise the previous day was not enough for me so I decided to hit the beach again and check out the surrounding islands. I rented an outrigger boat and decided to spend the next 2 hours island hopping.
The first stop was a famous cave in one of the islands about 2 kilometers off the shores of Raymen Beach. My boatman said that the cave is huge that a boat can fit in and make a 360 turn inside it. However, getting inside the cave can be quite a challenge and it can only be done if the waves are gentle enough to usher the boat inside. We were lucky that we were able to get through the cave with ease. I really enjoyed looking at the different rock formations inside the cave. These formations were molded by the sea for years and it was great to have the privilege of having to see it as the boatman turned the boat around.
There are a lot of small coves where the boat can actually dock so one can enjoy the sun and the sand alone. They have Baras, Ave Maria Island, and Pawikan Island. My boatman suggested that I check out Pawikan Island – a sanctuary for the endangered species in the area.
Pawikan Island was named as such since it has been a home for the Pawikan where they are hatched, grown, and later on released to the sea. I was again fortunate enough to have a first-hand encounter with this gentle animal from the sea. The sanctuary only has one Pawikan under its care at the time of my visit. They have already released the other turtles in the wild but this particular Pawikan returned to the island.
I was in awe when I saw this gentle creature. It was my first time to actually see and touch a Pawikan. These endangered animals are kind and endearing. My close encounter with the pawikan made me realize to hold steadfast to one of my advocacies – taking care of the environment. I really hope that we will have more local governments focusing on preservation of wildlife and taking care of its natural habitat.
After my intimate encounter with the gentle creature, my boatman led me to an area where the water was tranquil where I can finally take a dip and enjoy the underwater view. I rented a snorkel and I had a quick swim. The water was clear and clean in the area and it was really exciting to see underwater life flourishing in the area. Unlike Boracay, the corals here in Guimaras are alive and you will be able to see a variety of fish in the area.
After a quick swim, I decided that it was time to head back to the resort.
Heading back to Jordan for my boat trip back to Iloilo City, I had a quick stopover at the Trappist Monastery. Tucked in the island of Guimaras is a sanctuary where spirituality and nature converge. The monastery is a huge compound that one can explore. It is a place of peace and serenity where one can reflect on his or her spirituality while being one with nature. Its chapel is open to weary travellers who want to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for a great trip or to anyone who is just searching for inner peace.
It is also one of the most visited places in Guimaras for “pasalubongs”. The monastery’s shop offers a wide variety of products made in the monastery from the farm produce of the island. It is definitely a stopover for those who have a sweet tooth or for those who would love to bring home a part of Guimaras to their loved ones at home.
A day in Guimaras is definitely not enough to fully explore and discover the island. For me, it was just starting. The island is ideal for family outings as it is so laid back that you can really spend quality time with your partners and your kids. Unlike other “party” islands, Guimaras offers a more intimate atmosphere for travelers. The island will force you to soul search, relax, and re-charge. It is definitely a sanctuary, not only to endangered species, but to any tired soul in search for some peace and quiet.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.