Our 20-minute ride from Iloilo’s Ortiz Wharf to Guimaras’ Jordan Wharf. One-way boat ride: Php 14.00/person
Have you ever had an “Invisible Travel and Food List”? You know a list of the places and food that you silently wrote in your heart to visit and eat? Maybe it was something that you read in a magazine or seen on the telly that made you say, “I’m going to see that place and eat that food!”. But since it was invisible, there was a tendency for the list to be buried and forgotten.
I just had an awakening moment when I recently visited an enchanting island that is known for its sweetest mangoes. Suddenly, the “Invisible Travel and Food List” was slowly unveiled. It became visible and edible. There was a revelation, an “O.M.G.” instant when I already made it to the island and had eaten its charm. I was under a magical beach and mango spell as we stepped into the grounds of Guimaras Island.
The toughest part of finally being in the island was how to leave on time. We didn’t have the luxury of exploring this beautiful place for even half the day. We only had less than that. So what did we do?
Here’s a list of the top 10 things that we did and enjoyed (hurriedly) as we took advantage of our 5-hour stopover: from Iloilo to Guimaras:
1. A swift visit at the National Mango Research and Development Center
This is where they study, research and grow some of the sweetest mangoes in the island. You’ll also find out the different varieties of carabao mangoes here.
2. Reflection and Pasalubong Shopping at Trappist Monastery
Since we had a very tight schedule, we made sure to buy some pasalubong first at the Trappist Monastery where they produce their own mangoes and other local and interesting products. This is the perfect place to also walk and reflect while enjoying a bit of sunshine and nature.
(Wala lang…I was just happy to see this typical Sari-Sari Store when we were asking for directions.)
3. People and nature watching while waiting for our boat (for island hopping) at Raymen Beach Resort
Raymen’s infinity salt pool. :p
4. Meet and get tickled (free “Foot Massage”) by sea creatures at Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center
SEAFDEC is a floating marine laboratory and marine reserved area that is supported by different countries for international research. Entrance Fee: Php 25.00/person
Here we “met” and got acquainted with the different fishes that they study. We also saw a beautiful school of Dory (delicious) and a Sea Turtle! [It’s Dory (just the same color) & Crush from “Finding Nemo”! :p] We also started squealing when we got tickled by some giant (but tamed) milk fish or bangus!
If you’re lucky (like us), you might also be able to touch and “pet” some sea cucumbers. Warning: They can spit!
5. Enjoy the view, contemplate on God’s magnificent work, bond, relax and even sleep with the gentle cradle of the waves and caress of the sea breeze while on the boat
I didn’t expect that our travel from one island to the next would take this long that we were able to take a nap on the boat. That or the sea breeze, sweet rocking of the waves and our view were just so relaxing that it can put one to sleep.
While waiting, picture here and there and ate some snacks! We had our breakfast inside the bangka. The mom and daughter tandem of Tanya and Isabella also enjoyed their own “Oreo” moments. We were so blessed to have a “celebrity” tour guide in Guimaras too. Look! We had Pharrell Williams himself…ooops it was Kuya Larry who took us around the island. He looks so “Happy, happy, happy…”.
6. Swim and snorkel at Ave Maria Islet
The beautiful but crowded islet of Ave Maria. Clear and shimmering waters plus white sand on our feet and jellyfish babies all around us! It would be nice to go back to this islet with less people around.
We were able to just swim and snorkel for a while since we thought those jellyfish babies will sting! We could have stayed longer but again we didn’t have the time. :)
7. Experience the
Bat Baras Cave
We weren’t suppose to go inside the cave anymore since it was kind of “traffic” but good thing we still pushed through. This is a home for colony of fruit bats and more jellyfish babies! I already find them cute since they don’t sting!
Inside the cave: I was initially hesitant to go down our boat because I was afraid to slip and get hurt with the rocks all around the place (masakit siya ah), and get sting by the jellyfish. But I couldn’t pass this moment, my first cave visit. :p It could have been more fun and easier to enjoy the clear waters here if we had our booties on. Isabella even had a painful “souvenir” on her feet from one of the rocks here. So note to self: Bring booties.
The impressive boatman as he navigated through the small opening of Baras Cave.
7. Taste and hoard a feast of the world’s sweetest mangoes!
(Okay, literally we were able to enjoy a feast of mangoes since the very timely Mango Festival was ongoing during our visit.)
Look at those mangoes!!! Yummy! Had some yummy fresh and cool mango shake while we had our drenched clothes naturally dry (haha) with the island’s heat.
At the Manggahan Festival 2015! Meet the royal mangoes that made it to the royalties of Buckingham Palace and the White House. Only Php 50.oo/kilo
8. Enjoy the breezy multi-cab ride by yourselves (imagine this whole vehicle for only the four of us)
9. Eat some Mango Pizza from Pitstop Restaurant
We wanted to try the famous Mango Pizza at the Pitstop Restaurant but they were full. Good thing they asked us to try their stall at the food court where the Mango Festival was held. Mango Pizza on-the-go as we head back to Iloilo! (Mango Pizza: fresh mango slices, cheese and cashews).
10. Get “emo” and take photographic moments inside the multi-cab
These are real candid shots, promise (okay, except the last one)! Dramatic and cinematic kasi uuwi na kami huhu…(because we’re heading home). Last few breaths of fresh air before we go back to the city!
Featuring: Tanya and Isabella
An example of a pseudo-candid shot. :p (Puede na po ba ako mag artista?)
I’m glad we were able to tightly squeeze in this trip on our third and last day in Iloilo (see itinerary here). Every thing was so quick but wonderful. I guess that’s the adventure about this trip. Every thing was done less than half the day.
I never thought that I’d be able to visit this beautiful island and taste its sweetest mangoes this year and tick it off from my imaginary travel and food list. I’m so happy that my friend Tanya insisted for us to visit this island despite our hectic schedule in Iloilo. We were able to manage to get someone to tour us around (thanks for her efforts and suggestion from friends) to make this trip possible.
What I learned from this trip was to really make each second of your life and experiences count. When you seize and appreciate each moment, your five hours can become a day of enjoyment.
Make this island and its sweetest mangoes a part of your visible travel and food list. It’s still on my list. 😉
Thanks to my friends for taking this photo of me. 😉 Until my next travel! Ciao! ♡
What’s on your “INVISIBLE TRAVEL & FOOD LIST”? Make them happen.