I first learned about Guisi Beach when I was planning for a getaway with my best friends two weeks ago. As a host, I wanted to bring my friends to a very special place; a place that doesn’t have any trace of mass tourism and that if when we upload our pictures in social networking sites like Facebook, no one can claim that they have been there too.
We have decided to take a holiday in Guimaras Island,Guimaras Island a very green and lush island worldly famous for having the sweetest mango on earth. lies just off the coast of Iloilo City of the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines. The island is itself still a well-preserved landscape; most tourists opt for Boracay Island, though undeniably one of the best beaches in the country is already a mass-tourism infested destination in the Philippines. But there are few people mostly local tourists from neighboring places like Iloilo and Bacolod who have been in this island.
As I googled some interesting places to see in Guimaras, I stumbled upon Guisi Beach. Most people who have been in Guimaras often stay in resorts along Alubihod Cove, a white-sand beach in the island but I want something different this time for my friends and this beach is the right one. The instant I saw some photos of Guisi beach in a travel blog, I felt the immediate attraction. I wanted to pack my bags and head off to the beach right away. I was seduced by this beach and so are my friends. When I sent some links about Guisi Beach to my photographer friend he was tempted to buy a new lens for his camera to capture every inch of the beach.
Though there are some destinations that are only good in photos, I was very confident with Guisi Beach – what you see, you’ll get more and I didn’t fail me.
Journey to Guisi Beach
The beach is located in Barangay Dolores (barangay is a local political unit in the Philippines like a county) in the town of Nueva Valencia of Guimaras Island. From the main port of the island, Jordan (pronounced as “Hur-dan”) it would take more than an hour. From the center of Nueva Valencia where most resorts are located, it would take more than 30 minutes. It is facing Panay Gulf and is on the southern end of Guimaras.
We went to the beach from our resort in Villa Igang which is located in the town center of Nueva Valencia at exactly 1 o’clock in the afternoon. From our resort, we have to walk to the popular resort of Raymen’s Beach Resort where there are many tricycles or side-car motorcycles which are common modes of transportation in the Philippines. We hired one for 300 pesos (less than $7) for a round trip journey to Guisi; the driver will also wait for us from one until five in the afternoon.
We traveled from muddy to rocky roads to Guisi Beach especially when we already pass the national roads. There was even one point that we have to traverse an uphill and the motorcycle can’t carry us all. Hence, we have to hop out of the motorcycle and catch our breath as we walk uphill.
Finally, after more than 30 minutes we heard a loud yet relaxing splashing of the waves. It turns out that from our stop, we have to walk down on slippery stepping stones going to the beach. It was drizzling when we came due to a low pressure that hit the Philippines during that time that caused scattered rains.
Every step I made, though very uncomfortable with my wet and slippery flip flops, my heart was throbbing with too much glee. Closer and closer I can see the big waves and the icy blue color of the beach. And finally, there she is — Guisi Beach.
Life is a Beach
The weather that day explained the big waves when we arrived but it didn’t deter me and my friends from admiring Guisi Beach. In fact, the big waves added more drama to whole place.
The moment we settled in our cottage which we rented out for 300 pesos, I grabbed my pen and started writing. Isaac, the official photographer of the group was like a hyperactive child walking around clicking his camera catching the waves and the surf. He was totally taken away by the beach; he can’t rest his hands and eyes for getting the best shots or even get his photographic masterpiece. My girlfriends, Pitch, Joanne and Cyril went straight to the beach and enjoy strolling in their bikinis that made the jaws of the locals drop.
The first word that came to me when I first saw the beach was “marvelous” and I said it to myself the moment I laid my eyes on Guisi Beach. All of us were totally awestruck like avid fans seeing their idols for the first time in flesh. It is extremely breathtaking with its virginal state, totally untouched by tourism. I can say that this beach is a traveler’s paradise that can put many known beaches into shame.
I have been to many white-sand beaches in the Philippines and I didn’t expect that the sand to be soft since it is not powdery white. It has this faint golden hue that blends with the cliffs and the limestone origin of Guimaras Island. I love walking along the beach barefoot and was mesmerized with its exotic charm. All you need a cold drink and just lie down on the beach for hours.
Guisi beach has the clearest water I have seen in my entire life. Clear with no single trace of trash or debris floating. Even along the shore, you can see some marine animals like fishes, starfish along with some weeds and sea moss. Even in deeper part of the beach, you can still see the bottom with some small fishes swarming around your feet.
Likewise, it is sheltered with big rocky corals that made the whole place very picturesque especially when the waves begin to hit the rocks. Isaac captured these images and they are simply stunning! There are cliffs and caves nearby made of limestone; at the left end of the beach is an 18th century Spanish Lighthouse, Guisi Lighthouse which is another attraction of the place.
There are 6 cottages along the beach which are made of native materials like coconut lumber and leaves as its roof. Hence, the place is still in its primitive stage in terms of attracting tourists. But I guess, it made the beach more alluring to me. There is also a small store that sells food but it is best to bring your own food and drinks since the supplies are not very complete.
Things to do
Aside from swimming, relaxing and admiring the whole place; there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy by yourself or with your friends while in Guisi Beach.
If you are a photography buff,Guimaras this place will leave you restless. The scenery, views and total landscape are worth capturing in your lenses. And when you have your photos, you don’t have to take time to edit them for they are all stunning. Boating trips are very common activities in that usually bring visitors to different islands and caves in Guimaras. Since the wind was so strong when we came, we skipped boating. But on a clear day, you can hire a local fisherman to bring you to nearby caves and admire the high cliffs close to the beach. If you want snorkeling, bring your own snorkeling gears because you can’t rent one in the beach. Guisi Beach is rich in marine animals and you don’t have to go far to see these creatures. In shallow waters close to smooth rocks, there are many fishes that will surely catch your fancy.
Guisi Beach is patronized by the locals who live nearby and they are very conservative. If you happen to arrive with some locals drinking and singing in the cottages, it is a typical Filipino way of relaxing and hanging out. They may seem aloof towards foreign visitors but don’t be bothered with the locals’ shyness.
Also, don’t expect them to speak or understand English very well. Filipinos are known to be very friendly and can easily converse in English but in this part of the country, only few people can understand and speak English. If you want and need to talk to them, talk slowly and make some gestures. Locals can understand you but might find it hard to talk to you.
Furthermore, since they are very conservative they are not used to seeing people wearing swimwear so it is best to just skip your bikini. You can wear the more covered swimwear like a tank top and a beach shorts if you want to avoid the locals ogling at you. And please don’t sunbathe along the beach topless or else you will start a commotion.
As much as I wanted to promote the beach, I still wish to visit it in succeeding years just the same as I first saw it. I don’t want it to have the same fate as those of other paradise islands turned into a party place filled with rowdy tourists. This beach is really a tropical Eden, a perfect venue for another Survivor series. I want travelers not tourists to visit Guisi Beach, people who have a high regard for its natural beauty.
I feel proud to have “discovered” this beach all by myself– well with the help of Goggle and to belong to some of the chosen few to have visited this well-kept secret. And selfish as it may seem, I desire that it would remain a “secret” particularly in terms of mass tourism where tourists don’t appreciate and respect the real essence of a certain destination. Guisi Beach is the perfect place to chill, relax and unwind and I hope it will stay that way for the longest time possible.
All photos courtesy of Cyril Cabilao and Ace Francisco