The Other Side of Guimaras Island: Forget the White Sand Beaches While in Buenavista

Friday, May 10, 2013



Ask any local from Guimaras or someone who has been there about the best spots in the island province where one can spend a vacation, and they'll most likely recommend the beach resorts in Alubihod or Guisi. Ask any tourist about their preferred island vacation and they'll most likely tell you about white sand beach resorts...or pretty much about anything that they can brag about in social media sites showing that they have lived and experienced — even for a short time — the much-coveted island paradise life.

Staying Away from Cliché
But there are many places in Guimaras that contrast from this cliché. From the gleaming strip of white sand beaches in Alubihod to the laid-back, and a 'few shades darker' sand beaches a few kilometers north of the island province's capital, Jordan, there lies Buenavista — a second class municipality with a population of 47,000.

It was not just the white sand and maybe the girls all clad in beachwear I was missing out on but for all the charms and 'sweet' wonders (Guimaras is known for its sweet mangoes) I heard of about Guimaras, I discovered that there are, in fact, better places to see and visit in Buenavista.

Places of Interest in Buenavista, Guimaras
One of the iconic places in Buenavista is Roca Encantada, or 'Enchanted Rock', where the famous summer house of the Lopez family idly sits on top of — well — a rock.

Built in the early 1900s in honor of Dona Presentacion Hofilena Lopez, this house continues to withstand the tests of time and of Mother Nature — so much so that it was declared as a 'heritage house' in the island by the Philippine National Heritage Institute. Surrounding the house is a strip of beach like no other. The west side transforms from a beach to a meadow-like garden of sea grass and mangroves during low-tide while its east side offers a long strip of beach dotted with coconut trees.

Not far from the house is the Siete Picados, or the Islets of Seven Sins, which is actually a cluster of 7 limestone islets with a lighthouse built on the biggest islet. The original Spanish lighthouse was built in 1884 but was replaced by a concrete tower in 1904 by the Americans.

Further inland is the oldest structure in the island — the San Isidro Labrador Church or commonly called as Navalas Church. Built in 1880 using coral rocks that were abundant in the area, this church served (and still is) as the cradle of Roman Catholicism in the island. Surrounding the church premises is a stone fence with a belfry that rang to call on the devotees. It also used to warn the inhabitants of approaching Moro pirates from Mindanao.

There are also a number of resorts in Buenavista to accommodate backpackers and travelers. Here's a list I got from the travel brochure of the Buenavista Tourism Office:

Abellardo's Beach Resort
East Valencia, Buenavista
0927-5285483/0915-9413103
Neptune Pittman's Garden Resort
Tastasan, Buenavista
0916-2352791
Kelapa Gading Beach Resort
East Valencia, Buenavista
0917-6245989/0919-7813295
Pagatpat Guest House
Tastasan, Buenavista
0927-8686125
LT Mountain Resort
Tanag, Buenavista
0920-2411555
El Retiro Beach Park
San Miguel, Buenavista
0905-8428073
La Cheska Plants & Pool
Tastasan, Buenavista
0920-241155
Sancrest Island Resort
Rizal, Buenavista
0927-7382243
Meiwa Pension House
Mclain, Buenavista
0927-9962223
Tequero Adventure Resort
East Valencia, Buenavista
0927-3771467/0917-9465781

How to Get to Buenavista, Guimaras
Read this post first if you want to learn how to get to Guimaras Island. From the Buenavista wharf, take a jeepney going to El Retiro Beach Resort (full review to follow). Travel time is approximately 30 minutes and the fare is PHP20.00. Alternatively, you can also catch a motorcycle ride for PHP100.00 from the wharf.


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More Posts about Guimaras
Want to learn more about Guimaras before you come and visit? Do check out some of my other posts about Guimaras. If you have some questions, feel free to drop a comment below and I'll try to respond as soon as possible. Otherwise, I'm probably out on a hiatus again in God-knows-where.


      
West side of Roca Encantada with meadow-like garden of seagrass and the mangrove area

I was just about to head back to the resort when the sun decided to burn like this.

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