Friday, November 2, 2012

A Day In Guimaras (Island Hopping)

27 October 2012. Guimaras.

The province of Guimaras is just a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo, so we thought we'd spend a day discovering its wonders. According to the province's website, Guimaras is composed of five municipalities and ninety eight barangays, with Jordan as its capital. Although Guimaras is so near Iloilo, there's a stark contrast between the two provinces - Iloilo is more advanced; Guimaras is so laid-back.

As always, I searched the net for things to do in Guimaras and came across Maan, who offered a day tour of the province for the sweet price of Php1,900.00 per person. The rate included land tour, island hopping, snacks, and lunch. Maan was the sweetest guide ever, who regaled us with her province's history and fun facts.

Guimaras, from Iloilo, may be reached from either Parola, Ortiz, Muelle Loney, or Lapuz wharves. We took the boat from Parola towards Buenavista for Php13.50 per person. The trip from Parola starts at 5.30 in the morning, and a boat leaves every 15-30 minutes until 9 in the evening. We started the tour early, taking the 7.30 trip to Buenavista. We met Maan at the Buenavista wharf and had a delicious Php98.00 breakfast of longsilog at Tita Nel's Restaurant.

On board our air conditioned van, we travelled down south to Nueva Valencia for our island hopping. From Buenavista, we passed by the municipalities of Jordan, San Lorenzo, and Sibunag, so we practically toured the whole province of Guimaras.

Raymen Beach Resort was the jump off point of our island hopping. From Raymen, we proceeded to Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) Igang Marine Station. According to its website, the marine station is located at the southwest portion of Guimaras. It consists of four islets and clusters of fish cages which are interconnected by foot bridges. According to Maan, the station likewise depends on donations of tourists to help with the expenses. Jas and I saw huge species of fish, and we learned that they are being kept there for breeding purposes. I was able to have a close encounter with an abalone, and we were warned to view the fish at a safe distance less we become their lunch.

Next stop was the Turtle Island, so named because turtles arrive at the island to breed then leave afterwards. Again, donations are encouraged to help with the expenses. I think the island, or the care of the turtles, is being maintained by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Last stop was the Baras Cave, a mini-version of Palawan's Underground River. Visitors may dock at its rock formations but we chose to admire those stalactites from our boat.
Lunch was supposed to be at Raymen's but our boatman suggested we try the newly opened resort, Jannah - Glycel Beachhouse. Since it was new, we were the only ones in the resort. We had a sumptuous lunch on the resort's hut with a beautiful view of Guimaras.