Often referred to as Mango Country, Guimaras is a great deal more than just an exporter of ‘the golden fruit’ to the world. Guimaras is also an up and coming tourist spot that is becoming ever more attractive to travellers looking for less commercialised beaches and active hiking trails.
Located off the coast near the southern city of Iloilo on Panay, the island is also one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, perfect for those seeking to visit intimate villages, pristine virgin beaches, cavernous escapements, crumbling churches and stunning natural attractions. Its charming towns provide exciting havens for adventure and discovery, being home to impressive historic churches and vibrant markets.
Attractions around Guimaras
One of the most famous cave areas in the island capital, Jordan, Biri Cave can be accessed through the mountain side. Expect low and narrow inlets. Novice spelunkers may have a hard time taking on the cave.
Another limestone wonder is 200m-long Higante Cave which lies on top of a hill, offering a wide range of stalactite and stalagmite formations. The area is also lined with charming nipa huts that provide impressive views of the Iloilo Strait. Buho Ramirez Cave is smaller at only 40 to 50ft-deep, but is a great source of spring water.
Two beaches can be found in the island capital of Jordan, namely the Guevara Beach and Natagong Beach which are both located at Barangay Sinapsapan. Nearby Macopo Waterfall is one of the most stunning natural attractions in Jordan, surrounded by looming cliffs.
Located in San Miguel, this Trappist Monastery is one of Guimaras’ most sought after landmarks. The only one of its kind in the Philippines, it serves as a sacred enclave for monks. Here, you can purchase some popular products like jellies, candies and jams, which are made out of fruits and natural harvest from the Trappist grounds.
Balaan Bukid Shine is distinguished by its stunning chapel and large imposing cross, located in the area called Hoskyn. The shrine and chapel can be found on top of a mountain, offering panoramic views of the neighbouring Iloilo City, right across the Guimaras Strait. In Ravina, Southern Orchard mango plantation is the second largest in Guimaras, spanning some 220 hectares and boasting of some 14,000 mango bearing trees. It can be reached in less than 15 minutes coming from the Jordan Wharf.
Located in Nueva Valencia, imposing Guisi Lighthouse dates back from the 18th century. It stands bold on top of a mountain, guiding mariners that pass through the island during night time. Also on top of the mountain are some interesting Spanish ruins.
Nueva Valencia contains far more beaches than the capital, Jordan. The municipality boasts Punta Tando Beach, Guisi Beach, Mabalid Beach, Guiwad Beach, Rumagangrang Beach and Dalum Balas, all of which make great places for lounging around the sand and enjoying the rich nature.
The neighbouring islands of Taklon and Panobolon also offer a good collection of beaches while other locations like Unisna, Yato and Guiwanon boast stunning places to soak up the sun.
The agricultural farms of Nueva Valencia and Sibunag are also worth visiting, for a taste of the coastal and village life. While historic McArthur’s Wharf was built by the prominent Lt. Douglas McArthur, way back 1903. Navalas Church is the oldest church in Guimaras and this bold structure has survived the many ravages of time.
Located on the shores of Sitio Boro Boro, impressive Suli Cave has holes leading to a picturesque lake area. And nstled on a stunning rock formation, Roca Encantada refers to the summerhouse of the prominent Lopez Family. The two most popular beaches in the municipality of Buenavista are San Miguel and Navalas Beaches.
Located in Sibunag, Krystell Citrus Farm and Nursery boasts a wide range of citrus trees, ranging from pomelo to oranges and calamansi. While Guimaras Beekeepers Association Cooperative is responsible for processing honey products, including pure honey, bread with honey, natural antibiotics, beeswax soap and honey candle plus other interesting honey products.
Activities around Guimaras
With the islands numerous cave areas, spelunking is one of the most sought after activities in Guimaras. Impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations can be discovered inside of these cavernous havens, while scenic natural attractions await on the other side.
Pagtaltal sa Guimaras is a traditional Lent presentation that is staged by Jordan’s townspeople, just how Germany’s Oberammergau is celebrated. The ceremoney ends through a pilgrimage to Balaan Bukid or the Holy Mountain. The identity festival of Manggahan sa Guimaras is held to commemorate the province’s anniversary, offering great cultural presentations that depict the rich heritage of the province.
Despite its coastal location, Guimaras is still home to a few terrain features that offer great venues for cycling and mountain biking. Guimaras is also home to some of the oldest church constructions in the Visayas, not to mention the most impressive, especially the Trappist Monastery and the mountaintop Nalaan Bukid Shrine.