Summer getaway and Holy Week retreat in Guimaras Island

By , on March 8, 2016

Getaway vacation cottages overlook emerald green ocean in the Guimaras Islands, Philippines  (Art Phaneuf Photography / Shutterstock)
Getaway vacation cottages overlook emerald green ocean in the Guimaras Islands, Philippines
(Art Phaneuf Photography / Shutterstock)

MANILA – Aside from being known for its mangoes, which is dubbed as the sweetest mangoes in the world, Guimaras, an island province in Western Visayas, is one of the perfect destinations for this coming summer vacation and Holy Week.

Only 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City, Guimaras has many activities to offer. Go island hopping, trekking, snorkeling, go on a pilgrimage, or some outdoor pictorial with its picturesque beaches, islets, rock formations, mountains, waterfalls, religious and historical sites and other interesting tourist spots.

The province is also a tourist-friendly destination; a good place to try solo trip.

Alubihod beach in the town of Nueva Valencia is the most common jump-off point for island hopping.

From Alubihod, island hopping destinations include Turtle Island, Ave Maria islet, Baras beach and cave, Natago beach and Naburot islets.

Another jump-off point for island hopping in Nueva Valencia is in Guisi beach, which is less crowded than Alubihod but also has white sand shoreline. It also has interesting destinations such as Magic Island, Floating Cottage, White Sand Cave, rock formations, and sandbar.

Do not miss Guisi Point not visiting Guisi Lighthouse, a century-old lighthouse with iron tower now covered with rust and surrounding buildings in ruins. Although the tower is all rust, one can still climb to the top of the 38-foot lighthouse which is a perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Boat renting for island hopping costs Php500 for the first hour and Php150 to Php200 per hour for the next succeeding hours.

The town of Buenavista in north of Guimaras also has breathtaking views worth visiting for. It has cool fresh spring water and beautiful beach. The town is also rich in historical and religious tourist spots.

Looking for a destination for spiritual journey this Holy Week? Guimaras has religious sites to offer and is also home to the Trappist monastery which welcomes individuals from different religions.

Balaan Bukid Shrine in the town of Jordan is a pilgrimage site for Catholics. A large cross and a chapel are situated on the top of the mountain. At the summit, Balaan Bukid Shrine offers scenic view of Iloilo City across Guimaras Strait.

Those seeking for spiritual experiences, particularly Marian devotees, and nature lovers would love to visit the Marian Shrine in Barangay Montpiller in Buenavista.

For a deeper spiritual retreat, stay for at least a day in Our Lady of the Philippines Monastery in Jordan.

Join the contemplative Trappist Catholic Christian monks in the country as they pray seven times daily.

The monks start the day with a Vigil prayer at 2:30 a.m., followed by daybreak prayer called Lauds at 5:30 a.m., a mid-morning prayer called Terce at 6:45 a.m., sixth hour prayer called Sext at 11:30 a.m., mid-afternoon prayer called None at 1:45 p.m., day’s end prayer called Vespers at 5 p.m., and Compline, the last common prayer before retiring for the night at 6:45 p.m.

Before going home, purchase some souvenirs and mango biscocho prepared by the Trappist monks. They are cheaper than those in Iloilo and in airport which are also made by the Trappist monks.