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GUIMARAS Day Tour: Island Hopping In #NuevaValencia

Guimaras is a big island and is actually a province in itself but it is dwarfed by the sheer size of Panay Island. You cannot blame me therefore if I imagine it to be a satellite island of Iloilo Province. I simply see the resemblance ( and significance) of these satellite islands to key tourist destinations in the Philippines. Cebu got its Mactan island counterpart, Davao got Samal Island and Bohol got Panglao. Not to mention, there is also the Negros-Siquijor tandem. These smaller islands next to big towns/ cities compliment the tourism offering of the area.


Fifteen minutes by boat and you are already in Camiguin ready to be transported to a different world. The island province is well known for its mangoes, and windmills and old ( crumbling) lighthouse and beaches too. Recently, many Instagram posts has put it in the "island hopping destination" map and we though to give it a check ourselves.


We were booked at Richmonde Hotel in Iloilo City so the best option for us ( since we didn't want to miss maximizing our stay in the best  hotel in Iloilo ) was to go on a day trip.

We left the city early, at around 9:00 am ( if you can call it early) and were in Guimaras in no time.
The are two point of entries to the island, eaither via Buenavista or Jordan so better check what your itinerary is because there are separate ports in Iloilo city for each entry points. If you are to visit, say the windmills, better enter via Buenavista. Since our goal was to check some of the island in Nueva Valencia, we to the Iloilo-Jordan route.


Mode of Transport
There are no taxis in Guimaras so the only mode of transport are jeepney and tricycles. While jeepneys are cheaper, you have to wait longer to have them filled so as they could leave for their destination. So we opted to take a tricycle instead. Fare to Nueva Valencia is standard, 250 pesos per tricycle regardless if there is only 1 passenger. Going back, they charge 300 pesos, the extra 50 pesos supposedly as charge for their return trip to the town.


Alibuhod Beach
So what you want to do is to get to Alubihod Beach. This is a public beach but since it is in a small cove with private resorts covering all the cove, you need to go through any of the resorts to get to the beach. That means you need to pay an entrance fee of 25 pesos per head.

Alibuhod Beach is pretty decent. Nothing to wow for but sand is white so that is good enough. water is clean but not the clearest one can find. With so many amazing beaching in the Philippines, this would fall on the average category. Good enough though. We didn't swim here becuase it was already almost lunchtime when we arrived so we decided to go straight to island hopping instead.

Island Hopping Nueva Valencia

The only way to do island hopping is to rent a boat chartered by an association within  Alibuhod Beach. Don't even think of finding a fishing boat that you can rent at a cheaper price because all boats here are commercial and outsider boats are not allowed. There is a small outpost by the middle of the beach and standard rates are published here.

Island Hopping Rates
The announcement goes:starting October 21, 2017, passage rate will be Php 600 (1st hour)  for 6-8 pax and 200 pesos for every succeeding hour.

That works like a taxi with a flag down rate of 600 pesos. If you are 8 pax max that is already very economical though. There were only the two of us so it was a bit more pricey but still worth it. We spent three hours on top of the 1st hour so we paid Php1,200.00 plus tip which is not mandatory.  The thing I like though is they got big boats, so without the hassle of feeling cramped in a small vehicle, we were able to do our island hopping in a relaxed way. Plus, since we had the boat all for ourselves, there was no pressure to rush.


Island Hopping Options

Turtle Island
Baras Cave
Ave Maria Beach
Lamurawan Island
Fairy Castle
Clif Diving

To be honest, there is nothing to wow for in all the destinations listed. It was just a typical day tour island hopping but I find it a welcome respite away from the city. And guess what, we actually enjoyed it. Perhaps because we were the only tourists in the spots we visited so there is this nice not so crowded, exclusive feels to it.

A few disappointments, the turtles in Turtle Island are long gone so they now call it NO-Turtle Island. lols. Also, Ave Maria Beach is reduced to a small spot of sand with a rock in the middle thanks to a strong typhoon that hit the area a year or so ago so the sands in once sprawling beach have been washed away. So don't believe the photos in the brochure back in Alibuod beach. Di na sya ganun kaganda. So we opted to do swimming in Turtle Island instead where we docked in a tiny tiny cove with sandy white beach and a small cave that leads to the sea. We enjoyed crawling through this passage back and forth.

Baras Cave

One of the surprises of the tour was Baras cave. A small cave not brought about by freshwater eating into rock minerals but by the constant battering of the waves. I said small because it is a short cave barely two ot three full-size boats in length but wide and high enough for our big boat to get in. It was not so scary at all because there is another opening on the other side. What makes it beautiful is the the lights coming from two openings project a magical lighting to the rocks inside. Since our boat could squeeze in and dock into a rock plate inside, we were able to step out of the boat and take photos. I love my silhouette photo taken here.


Lamurawan Island

Then there's Lamurawan Island. A small abandoned island with a grotto on top that serves as a scenic vista point on the surrounding islands and mainland Guimaras. Again, the perks of being the only ones here was that we were able to take our time climbing up and snapping tons of photos while at the same time enjoying the view. The sea was so calm and the sky was clear. It was a perfect day to go up and sweat amidst the scorching sun. 


Cliff Jump Floating Cottage

We originally thought of this tour of Guimaras to be quick, specifically the island hopping part. We were ready to head back home after Lamurawan Island but our boatman proposed cliff jumping. I am not into cliff jumping and actually oppose it specially in rivers but my partner loves it so we gave it a go. Our boatman said it is a different kind of cliff jumping and he is actually right.

So there is this floating cottage ( big cottage) where they put up tarzan jump and a bampo port where you can climb up and jump. Brilliant! So you don't have to bother climbing a cliff and jump off. Here, you can effortless climb and jump and repeat. I figured out later that a couple of locations in the Philippines have this kind of floating cottage for such recreation. So is this going to be the trend?

I enjoyed the tarzan jump and did it several times despite the scare of dropping in what I am aware of as deep water. Deep I know because the water is dark and one could not make sense of how deep it is. It helps that seawater is more buoyant than freshwater. The cliff jump ( the one where you climb the bamboo stairs) I failed to do. It looks low on photo but when you are up there it feels like jumping from a two-storey house. I am scared of heights so I only climb up for the photo opt. lol


Mangoes Anyone?

One of the regrets of this tour is that we didn't even bother to stop by one of the many stalls by the road along the way back and forth Nueva Valenncia to sample Guimaras mango. I don't know. I guess both of us were not in the mood to buy fresh mangoes to carry back at the hotel. Sayang di nasample-an. Although, we grabbed a couple of dried mangoes and other delicacies in the Pasalubong Center by the port. There are so many goodies to choose from. They even have mango piyaya. Anything they could make out of mangoes. With the dried mangoes, I could tell that Guimaras mango is actually not the very sweet one I am very familiar with growing up as a boy in Pangasinan where our former house was surrounded by mango trees that I climb every summer to pick fresh fruits and have them ripen back home. I actually though Cebu mango is better. Very sweet with no pungent taste.