Watch the Guimaras teaser video:
Known mostly for its mangos, the island province of Guimaras is a worthy ecotourism destination despite its recent history.
In 2006 a tanker owned by Petron sank 19km off the coast of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras and leaked 130,000 gallons of fuel into the waters. It is widely considered to be the worst environmental disaster in modern Philippine history.
Fast forward 11 years to my first visit to Guimaras. I am here to see how the environment is recovering, and to determine if Guimaras is still a viable ecotourism destination.
This island is far from developed for tourism in comparison to places like Palawan and Boracay, but there is adequate information on the net and you will be greeted by tourism officers once arriving at the port of Jordan. It is still recommended to book accommodations before arriving.
Agoda is one of the only booking services that has a selection of properties on Guimaras, so it was my go-to booking app and website while traveling the Philippines.
Also at the port, you will have no problem finding many transportation suitors in the form of tricycles, vans and jeepneys; but note that most resorts are a long drive away from Jordan, so don't be surprised at higher rates than expected in the provinces. Resorts are fairly basic and can be found mostly along the shores around the island, with the highest concentration of them in the towns of Nueva Valencia and San Lorenzo.
The port town of Jordan is the most common way to land on Guimaras as it is just a 14 peso (.28 cents in US Dollars) and 15 minute pumpboat ride away from Ortiz wharf in Iloilo City. As of 2017, there are no terminal or environmental fees to pay when transiting to Guimaras Island.
The most popular and widely known resort on Guimaras is Magic Island, which was built in 2012 (6 years after the environmental disaster) but in 2017 it costs more than double the price of nearby resort. I stayed directly across the water from Magic Island at Cabugan Adventure Resort.
These resorts are both linked to property information and overnight costs.
Tourists here are mostly Filipinos living in the Western Visayas region specially Iloilo and Bacolod. There are not many travelers from Manila or even Cebu on Guimaras.
The Road to Recorvery
It was encouraging to see many water activities and island hopping tours available at the resort.
In this iphone video, I was chasing mudskippers along the banks of the lagoon. I have never seen mudskippers in the wild before now! They were plentiful, and hiding among the upward growing roots of new mangroves.
Please Continue to Support Guimaras
Manggahan is a bucketlist trip for me. Hopefully, I will get to experience the festival some day soon, but the island is full of many resorts, beaches and friendly people. It is a worthy ecotourism destination and you should consider supporting it.