Monday, March 26, 2012

Guimaras - Island Hopping Tour

Because Guimaras is an island, it is only natural that island hopping tours are offered to its visitors by the locals. The usual starting point is Alubihod (or Alubijod) Beach where the resort we were staying in (Raymen Beach Resort) was situated. Raymen offers the usual tour of roughly 7 islands/places and the tour can be accomplished within 3-4 hours (longer if you take your time swimming in each island/site). You pay by the hour anyway, and regardless of whether you book from Raymen or not, the rates are standard all over the island.

If memory serves me right, the places one can visit in an island hopping tour include Ave Maria Beach, Lawi Marine Turtle Rescue Center, Buho Ramirez Cave, Natago Beach (you can anchor and swim there if the owner of the island isn't there, since it is privately owned), Sol y Luna and Baras Beach Resort/Cave. You can also venture out to the SEAFDEC Research Center if you're interested in big fishes and fish feeding.

We opted to do the tour in the morning because the locals said the waves tend to be bigger in the afternoon. We started our Guimaras island hopping tour at 9:00 AM and proceeded first to SEAFDEC (Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center) as it was the farthest and I promised my son fish-feeding.

the rock formations you see on the way to SEAFDEC were amazingly beautiful

feeding sea bass with smaller fish; I forgot exactly how much the entrance fee was but I believe it was P25/person and P10/child under age 12; because my son loved it there, we also gave our guide/host some tip for snacks

it doesn't look it but these sea bass are HUGE! I, unfortunately, didn't get a great shot of the giant groupers

Our next stop was Lawi Marine Turtle Sanctuary, which actually only has one turtle for show (a baby still, at 3 years old). Apparently, turtles only lay their eggs there every 6 years, and the last time that happened was 3 years ago. When the turtles come laying, volunteers and biologists help make sure the eggs are not stolen (by people, to sell) or eaten (by other animals). The hatchlings are cared for and the weak ones are given time to grow some more before being completely released into the open sea.

The lone turtle in the island is supposedly scheduled to be released by October of this year; I believe we paid P20/person (kids weren't charged) here

We chose not to make a stop at Ave Maria Island anymore, which is just across the turtle sanctuary and proceeded instead to Baras Cave. And when I say cave, I mean the boat goes into the cave to rest on the slippery rocks of Baras Cave. You'd hear bats inside and you'd have to swim out to really be able to do some swimming.

entrance/exit to the cave is at the far right

Because we had kids who wanted to swim and play in the sand, our boatmen (I really couldn't call them our tour guides because they never offered information, didn't really regale us with trivia or any Guimaras-pride stories) brought us to the other side of Baras Cave (different from Baras Beach where Baras Beach Resort is) so we can frolic in peace.

sand here isn't as fine as the one at Alubihod Beach but we were surprised to realize that Guimaras seems to offer white sand everywhere you go

water is also just really clean and teeming with fish

After this, we decided to call it a day. We would have wanted to land on Natago Beach but we couldn't so we just viewed it from afar.

the home of the German owner of Natago Beach... don't have a picture of the beach itself because I wasn't quite sure where to point my camera. Told you, our boatmen weren't really chatty

The rates for a Guimaras Island tour, as of March 2012, is as follows:
4-6 persons – 400 per hour plus 150 pesos per exceeding hour.
8 persons – 500 per hour plus 150 pesos per exceeding hour.
10 persons – 600 per hour plus 150 per exceeding hour.

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