Guimaras (Day 1): My New Sanctuary
“I need to get to the port.”
This was the sole thought that was running through my mind as I picked up my luggage from the baggage carousel of the Iloilo Airport. I didn’t even notice how nice and clean the airport was because of my mad frenzy to get out of the terminal so I can catch a ferry to Guimaras Island, my first destination. It didn’t help either that I was not prepared for this trip compared to my previous trip. I can only parallel my preparation to that of a student cramming for an exam the next day.
It was great relief though to find that the tourism officers assigned at the airport were very helpful. They gave me instructions on how to get to Guimaras Island from the airport, even providing me with the advice to just take a van to SM City where I can hail a cab to get me to the port. This would mean that I will not be in the mercy of cab drivers who might have charged me about 3x the fare price. So after paying a Php50 fare, the commuter van I boarded was on its way to SM City Iloilo.
My Rush to Guimaras
I quickly boarded a metered taxi at SM City Iloilo and I asked the driver to take me to Ortiz Wharf, where I can board a ferry to Jordan Wharf in Guimaras. The driver told me that all ferries to Guimaras were moved to Delgado Wharf for that day because of seaboard conditions. I feared that I might end up in another part of the island if I went directly to Delgado and I guess the driver sensed my apprehension. He suggested that we go to Jordan Wharf to confirm before heading up to Delgado. I agreed.
In the end, I was dropped off at Delgado Wharf where I took a ferry to Jordan Wharf. The ferry can accommodate about 30-40 passengers. The fare is Php20 per head and the trip will take about 20 minutes as the vessel crosses the Iloilo Strait. I settled in comfortably on my seat. At last I was already headed to Guimaras.
Guimaras Island is one of the smallest provinces and located in the Western Visayas. The capital of the province is Jordan and it is also one of the busiest ports of the province as it serves as a major port of entry. The province is known for its sweet mangoes. In fact if you are coming to the island, the LGU has set up check points at the port to make sure that no mangoes are brought in from the outside to prevent the contamination of their mangoes. It is also a weekend getaway spot for those living in nearby areas considering its beautiful beaches and its proximity to Bacolod and Iloilo.
As you disembark from the boat, expect throngs of drivers offering their services to you. A tourism assistant is stationed at the port to help visitors with their query. Getting around Guimaras by public transport can be done by tricycle or by jeep. The former offers a faster way of getting around though it also comes with a price. The great thing about the LGU is that they have standardized the fare rates of these tricycles depending on the distance. You can ask assistance from the tourism officer.
Raymen Beach Resort
My 45 minute tricycle ride to Raymen Beach Resort offered a spectacular view of both the land and the surrounding waters of Guimaras. I did not expect that Guimaras would be this large in terms of land area. Be warned though that the ride may be scenic but very bumpy.
Raymen Beach Resort is one of the more popular resort destinations here in Guimaras. They offer day trips and overnight accommodations. It is situated in a secluded cove in Baras, a small strip of fine and flesh colored sand. The cove offers the finest sand in the island. The resort layout shows that the weekends can get a little bit crowded. The place was a bit hushed during my visit.
Be forewarned that SMART and SUN signals are down in the area.
For those wishing to go island hopping, you need not search around as boatmen will approach you as you step out to the beachfront. They offer relatively cheaper rates for the tours compared to other beach spots in the Philippines. A three-hour island hopping tour would cost about Php700 for 6 pax. It is relatively cheap and definitely worth it.
Standard Room Rates: Php1350 (good for 2, breakfast not included, no Television)
Amenities: Beachfront, Restaurant, WIFI is offered in specific areas.
Contact Details: (033) 3960252 / (0918) 5207271
Sunset Boat Ride
You can call it romantic and it is.
But the only thing was there were just me and the boatman aboard the banca that I rented for an afternoon boat ride. Baras is a quiet cove that the only activities that you can do are water activities or sing your heart out to the ever dependable karaoke. That is why it is an ideal place for family time. In my case, I opted to go for an afternoon ride to check out the surrounding hidden coves in the area.
My first stop was the South East Asian Fisheries Development Facility, a 30-minute boat ride from Raymen Beach Resort. It is a facility that handles aquatic studies. It serves as a sanctuary for different saltwater fishes and even clams. The facility in itself is situated in the middle of islets hence making a small cove ideal for setting up fishpens.
A minimal fee of Php25 is collected upon registration. An information officer then guides you around the facility composed mainly of fishpens with bamboo platforms. Extra caution is needed in traversing these floating platforms. Our guide was very helpful in providing us information about the program. They have a variety of fish that they breed in the area and you will be surprised as how big the fishes have grown, some as big as a four year old kid. They also study the behaviors of these aquatic animals and their reaction to changes in climate and the environment.
After 45 minutes at SEAFDev, I decided to check out the other islets in the area. My “manong” shared that there were some interesting islets to discover in the area. I relaxed with the sun setting in the horizon. The only thing missing was ice cold beer and it would have been a perfect afternoon ride.
Unfortunately, I was only able to catch a glimpse of the hidden coves in the area as we were not able to dock to these coves because it was getting dark and the waves were starting to get bigger. I decided to head back to the resort to call it a day.
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.