Have you ever watched one of those tv shows, or read an article about insanely beautiful islands? One of those islands off the beaten track and those you dream of going to at least once in your lifetime but you know you might never get to? Be it because of exorbitantly priced flights or the sheer number of hours/ days it takes to just get there?
Well, let me tell you a little secret. That undiscovered secret island dream is now within reach! Need a little more convincing? Here are 4 reasons why Guimaras should be your next secret island destination!
1) Untouched beach paradise!
White sand beaches and sandbars that connects two islands together at low tide? Checked.
Crystal clear jewel toned waters? Checked.
Floating cottage in the middle of the ocean where you can jump off into the above mentioned crystal clear jewel toned waters? CHECKED!!
Barely any other tourists around to ruin your pictures? YAAAASSS!!!
Two mornings of island hopping just wasn't enough. I wanted our boat to stop at every single pristine beach, just to frolick in the waters under the sun and do more of just soaking up the natural beauty of the Western Visayas. The rock formations were just as beautiful, a jarring contrast of sharp and jagged VS the soft, lapping waves of the ocean.
Places to visit:
- Ave Maria Islet
- Pirate Cave
- Igang Marine Station
- Taklong Island Marine Reserve
- Suba Malawig Mangrove Eco Tour
We spent nights at:
- Jannah Glycel Beach House
- Magic Island Resort
Amenites were basic, clean and comfortable, with amazing views!
2) Manggahan Festival = Mango Errthang!
The Manggahan Festival is an annual celebration of mangoes in the island of Guimaras, where they are also grown and harvested. Known as one of the sweetest mangoes in the world, these golden fleshed juicy babies certainly does not disappoint! It is a month long cultural festival and peaks in the 3rd week of May. There is even an all-you-can-eat mango buffet! Fortunately for mango lovers (PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR! ME! ME! ME!), this also means that you can find anything and everything mango here! We had our fair share of mangoes on the trip, from sweet to savoury. Be prepared to be amazed by how versatile Guimaras mangoes are!
Below are just some of the mango delicacies we savoured-
- Mango Shake
- Mango Sticky Rice
The Pitstop Restaurant:
- Mango Beef Stew
- Mango Chicken Adobo
- Mango Fish Sisig
- Mango Spaghetti
- Mango Pizza
Mc Nester Food Products:
- Mango Carbonara
The island itself generally makes full use of mangoes, so expect to want to try everything. I came home with a bag full of mango products, such as mango ketchup, mango puree (for drinks), mango polvorone, dried mangoes, mango jam and of course, 10kgs of fresh mangoes!
3) Unique cultural experiences/ Hospitality of the people
From the moment we landed in IloIlo, everyone we met was really friendly and eager for us to have a good time and enjoy their country, not just for its beautiful landscape but its people. The Manggahan Festival showed us that these people have a fierce pride of their culture, their identity and they are not afraid to show it! We were treated to performances where different tribes within Guimaras competed for the lauded top spot of best cultural performance. Decked in layers upon layers of colourful costumes, they danced their hearts out under the scorching sun at midday, each while telling their story with an unwavering megawatt smile on their face.
I had a sneak peek of their warmth and hospitality when we first landed in the island of Guimaras; they had a big welcome banner with MY name on it! (GASP! Cover face from embarrassment and yet, touched by their gesture). Their pride at having us on their island did not stop there. There was about approximately 5 announcements during the mango festival itself, announcing that we were there. And, we had umbrellas sheltering us from the sun everywhere we went during the festival. Even though we insisted that we were good without the umbrellas! They served with pride their sticky rice with sugar to us at every tea time, for a local mid afternoon snack, knowing that we will love it. Travel wise, we even had our own dedicated mango "limo"!
Another incident that touched me was that the owner and staff at Jannah Glycel Beach House, where we spent the first night, knew that my companion and I are Muslims and so she got halal chicken specially for us from the nearest mosque, just so we could have some meat for dinner! (THANK YOU!!!)
Cebu Pacific Air flies to Iloilo, a province of Philippines, up to 3 times weekly. We took a late night flight (3.30am!!) and was ready to fall asleep right after takeoff. However, we were happily interrupted by the cute air steward (ooooh hello there! *wink wink*), who promptly gave us blankets and eye masks to aid us in getting much needed rest before our island adventure! The whole flight from Singapore to Iloilo took slightly more than 3 hours.
From Iloilo, Guimaras is just a 15-20 min boat ride away. Welcome to untouched paradise!
“The Philippines’ largest airline, Cebu Pacific Air flies from Singapore to Iloilo thrice weekly. Lowest year-round fares start from SGD 142 each way. For bookings and promos, visit www.cebupacificair.com or call +65-315-80808.”
CEBU PACIFIC AIR IS GIVING AWAY A PAIR OF TICKETS TO ILOILO TO KICKSTART YOUR OWN SECRET ISLAND ADVENTURE!
TO WIN, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IN THIS FORMAT-
Why you need this much needed break :
*Contest ends 4 June 2016, 11.59pm. All entries after that will be disqualified. Results of giveaway is final. Winner will be announced on 6 June 2016.
P.S: Thank you Cebu Pacific Air for bringing us there. To the good people at the Philippines Department of Tourism Region 6, thank you for hosting us and making sure we were well taken care of. Special thanks to Pam and Rosemary, for making sure we had fun, every step of the way. To our new friends Winifred and Melissa, you guys are the coolest Singaporean Blahgaars. ❤️