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Revisiting Guimaras Island

Almost a decade ago, I had the best vacation with my then husband and friends. An eclectic group - a Filipino couple, an American guy, and a French girl - we had decided to spend the New Year break in a small island off the coast of Iloilo: Guimaras. Not knowing much about the place, we first stayed at a resort in the town of Alubihod. The beach was nice, but there were too many people and we wanted some peace and quiet. Lucky for us, we chanced upon an even smaller island called Baras. It’s a private property with a few huts and a small cove, with another beach a rowboat across the way. It was perfect.

Many years and countless experiences later, I find myself back in the island, in a town much more isolated and even quieter. Nueva Valencia, it’s called. If you want a weekend of doing nothing by the sea, then this is the place you want to be.

How to get there

Getting to Guimaras via Iloilo City is easy. Hail a cab and ask the driver to take you to Parola Wharf. It’s right beside a mall where you can stock up on whatever you may need - sunblock, cash from the ATM, toiletries, snacks, etc.

The cab will drop you off right in front of the ticketing office where you pay PHP 15 for the 15-minute boat ride. Boats constantly leave for Guimaras from 6 am to 6 pm, so you don’t have to wait long.

Once you get to Jordan Pier, the gateway to Guimaras, I suggest you go to the tourism office to ask where the vans are. This way, you don’t have to pay a premium for the tricycle ride. I didn’t do this, so I ended up paying PHP 350 (they’ll ask for 400 but you can negotiate) for the 1-hr ride to Nueva Valencia.

If you do decide to go to Alubihod, the fare is about 200-250.

Czech Beach House

There are several resorts in the area, though not as many as Alubihod, as this isn’t a touristy area as of yet. I decided on Czech Beach House based on reviews on Agoda. It’s beachfront but not white sand. In fact, the beach isn’t much at all, but the place is beautiful and the vibe lovely.

Run by a Czech couple, Libor and Yvon, the resort is actually their home. They have a beautiful house with three rooms for rent. At the moment, they’re building two more rooms and a pool. You’ll have to share a bathroom, but with the size of the place, you need not worry about “fighting” for access.

I’m a beach person, so if you know me, you might be surprised that I enjoyed my stay at a place without a gorgeous beach - much less recommend it.

Here’s the thing: sometimes, you find something you don’t even know you were looking for.

In this case, it’s total relaxation and wonderful people. A hammock in the middle of a garden facing the beach. Yvon and Libor making you feel right at home, taking care of your every need without being intrusive. An uber friendly 12-month-old Doberman named Trouble. Homemade bread and marmalades, schnitzel, and Czech food. 

And, most surprisingly of all, NO CELL SIGNAL AND INTERNET. They do have WiFi but it barely works. Admittedly, this worried me a bit (okay, a lot) and first. After all, I needed to get work done - which I did, a bit. Since it was the weekend, though, I didn’t have urgent work to tend to. 

The result? I had my first weekend without social media, email, and PUBG in a long time. And guess what? It was good.

Getting around
As I said, I didn’t really do anything, so I haven’t got much first-hand experience to share, but some things you may want to know if you plan to do the usual tourist rounds...

  • You can rent a motorbike (a “real” one and not a scooter) to go around. Alternatively, you can hire a tricycle to take you on a tour of the island. 
mango pizza guimaras

  • Points of interest:
    • Mangoes! Eat as much as you can from the local market or your resort. Buy some in San Miguel to take home (ask the tricycle driver to take you to the place).
    • Mango pizza at Pitstop Restaurant
    • Trappist Monastery
    • Windmill farm
    • Lighthouse 
  • You can go island hopping, which I highly recommend if you need to fill up your beach meter.

Whatever you want to do, simply ask Yvon and she’ll make things happen for you.

Don’t take my word for it. Pay Guimaras a visit. Stay at Czech Beach House (book here), and give you body and soul a much-needed (even if you don’t think you need it) rest.


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