Ilo-ilo is Panay island’s gateway to the major tourist attractions located in the Western Visayas region, such as the island province of Guimaras, the Islas de Gigantes of Carles, Concepcion and of course the reputable Boracay island in Aklan.
This time around, we were determined to go island hopping in Guimaras, so after sampling La Paz batchoy (where else but in La paz), we boarded a jeepney labeled “CPU” en route to Ortiz port. From the highway, it was still a few minutes walk to the ticketing booth, where to buy tickets for our Ortiz to Jordan boat transfer.
It took around 15 minutes for our pump boat to reach the port of Jordan in Guimaras. No wonder the fare was only P14 each.
We coolly approached their tourism desk, where we were both asked to sign their logbook. A tourist map was handed to us and we were advised to rent a tricycle for P250 as our means of transportation to Raymen Beach Resort in Alubihod beach.
Our boatman came to us. They offered a uniform rate of P500 for the first hour and P150 for the succeeding hours. We agreed to their terms and went looking for a room to spend the night. Since we’re into budget-friendly accommodations, we had to pick their cheapest room for P700 per night.
With our accommodation already set. We went out to find any willing driver to do the land tour with us, at least visit the Gussi lighthouse, Sadsad and Macopo falls. That was all we asked. P400 was the damage.
It took about an hour to get to the gates of the Gussi lighthouse. There was a minimal entrance fee. We were amused, because the caretaker became our instant tour guide. He even volunteered to take pictures of us and gave us a bit of history about the ruins, the old and new lighthouses. We gave him a tip of P50 on our way out.
Our next destination was Sadsad falls. But sad to say, we backed out from the challenging trek. Then we hopped over to Macopo falls. We survived the long way down and the longer way back up. It was just a small cascade, but still appealing in its own little way. We lost a lot of energy that’s why we had to cut short our so-called road trip.
As an added bonus, we were shown the vast mango plantation that Guimaras is nown for. We bought some sweet mangoes by the roadside and called it a day. Later that night, we binged on them. We weren’t really wowed by the sweetness, but we’re glad we tried it.
The following morning, we woke up a bit early; too eager to start our island hopping in Guimaras. We gave our boatman a ring and said to him that we were good to go. After a few minutes, he messaged us that he was waiting outside. When he saw us coming out, he offered to carry our food, snorkeling gears and swimming wear all the way to the beach. In no time, we were seafaring.
Our first stop during our island hopping in Guimaras was SEAFDEC, with an entrance fee of P25. Right beside the fish pens is a coral reef area, so we hopped on the boat again and snorkeled there for 30 minutes or so. We came across a lot of diverse marine life, even though the water visibility wasn’t so good.
SEAFDEC House Reef
Ave Maria Island
Afterwards, we proceeded to my favorite spot throughout the whole island hopping tour – Ave Maria island! We instantly fell in love with this patch of heaven in Guimaras!
Turtle Rescue Center
A sight to behold before docking. We’d never hesitate to acknowledge this corner a paradise!
There’s no entrance fee at this station, so instead, we put P30 into their donation box to help serve their cause. We were so distracted by the turtle that we forgot to interview the caretaker about their noble undertaking; hoping there’s no exploitation at play here.
This place blew us away. We’ve done numerous spelunking challenges in the past, but this one has its own sensational attributes. It mostly reminded us of the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
We swung by many other parts namely Isla Naburot, Natago beach, Fairy Castle and many more. We had spent 4 hours for this tour and paid a total of P950 plus tip so P1,000. The important thing is that we had so much fun during our island hopping in Guimaras!