IEC summer list: ‘must-see’ places this season

Beat the heat!

As summer has officially started, there are so many reasons why we should enjoy. The beach could be one of them or your favourite halo-halo, fruit shakes and summer grub. How about summer classes like ballet or voice lessons? The list goes on. But for someone who adores exploring places and hungers for a quick escape from the bustling city life, it’s time to get your backpacks ready and discover why summer is more fun in Western Visayas.

The region has so many wonders to offer and this is the perfect season to experience them all. Thalassophiles and beach bums, clad in their bikinis or board shorts, will surely love to plunge in pristine beaches of Western Visayas. Choices of beach resorts are simply endless but Guimaras, Northern Iloilo, Antique and the famed Boracay Island are top destinations. Spelunkers,trekkers, and campers will simply enjoy the captivating caves and majestic mountains of Iloilo, Antique and Capiz. Cycling enthusiasts would surely love to tug along their mountain bikes to a one-of-a-kind road trip and cross country trek in Guimaras, Iloilo and Antique. Inland resorts and leisure parks that mushroom just outside the metropolis are also good choices.

Like everyone else, your favourite IEC team has also their getaway destinations this summer. These are summed up in this article which can also guide you in your summer adventure this year.

Number one on our IEC list is Northern Iloilo’s island paradise – Isla Gigantes in Estancia town. Famous for its white sandbars and islets, Isla Gigantes is a delight for tourists who love the sea and enjoy island hopping without joining the flock who visits Boracay and Palawan.

The picturesque Antonia Island and the popular tangke or lagoon surrounded by rock formations that depict a huge water tank are a ‘must-see’. Also, the island is known for its rich aquaculture. Fresh crabs, fishes and other shellfishes harvested in its rich waters are a heaven for ‘foodies’. To get here from Iloilo City, simply take a bus or a van from Tagbak terminal to Estancia town. The travel usually takes up to an hour and a half. When you reach the port of Estancia, it only takes 45 minutes aboard a motorized bangka to reach this island paradise.

Another favourite summer destination in region six is the humble island-province of Guimaras – Home of the world’s sweetest mangoes. ‘Sandwiched’ by the islands of Panay and Negros, this island is a haven of unadulterated nature-inspired  adventure   making   it  at par with   othersummer  destinations in the country. Guimaras offers a complete summer package for families,friends or for those who wish to travel alone. With more than 20 beach resorts dotted all over the island-province selecting one that fits your taste is a good start.  Apart from swimming and sun bathing, island hopping, scuba diving, snorkeling or exploring the inlands and mingling with local folks are a ‘must-try’. If you wish to relax alone, simply grab a book and find a comforting spot along the beach or watch the magnificent sun slowly vanish in the horizon during sunset.

Top beach choices include Raymen Beach Resort, Alobijod Cove, La Puerta Al Azul, CleanWaters (Guisi) and Villa Igang in Nueva Valencia, Kelapa Ganding, El Retiro, and Abelardo’s in Buenavista, Cabaling, Natago,and Baras in Jordan, Inampulugan, Punta Punting, and Jesa Mar (Nauway) in Sibunag, and Vilches in San Lorenzo.

Of course while enjoying these beach resorts never forget to taste the island’s famed mangoes. From fresh fruits to bottles of jams and pickles, bags of dried mangoes, boxes of mango piyaya and muffins and even the delectable mango pizza you’re in for a mango-tasting adventure like you have never imagined before. To get to Guimaras simply take a 20-minute boat ride from Iloilo City, either through Ortiz wharf for those who are bound to Jordan, Nueva Valencia and Sibunag, or,  at Fort San Pedro for those who are going to Buenavista and San Lorenzo.

If the beach is too common for you, then you should try Bucari in Leon town - “Iloilo’s Little Baguio”. Surely there is no need for one to take a costly trip to Baguio or Tagaytay in Luzon just to escape the heat of the sun this season. Known for its cool climate and its lush forest and mountain, Bucari is a perfect destination for campers and trekkers.  Complementing its hiking trails are its cold spring and waterfalls that are simply a reward for every brave soul who dared to experience hiking in Bucari. The place is only a 2-hour drive from urban Iloilo.

Final destination in our list is something that won’t let you go farther from the city. Damires Hills in Barangay Damires, Janiuay is just less than an  hour drive from metro Iloilo but can offer you a wonderful time to commune with nature. On top of that, the resort offers lots of fun-filled activities like zip lining, ATV driving, biking, biking and trekking to name a few.  The resort has an infinity pool and kiddie pool, kids’ adventure park. It’s also a perfect place for company outings and team building activities. Accommodation facilities range from picnic huts, to cottages and villas.

Before spoiling yourself with the summer marvels of Western Visayas, make sure you are prepared to beat the heat.  Never forget to wear sun protection or sunblock and drink plenty of liquids. Of course never travel without your cameras and ’selfie’ sticks. Take plenty of photos, upload them in your social media accounts and share to the world your summer adventure this year. /JP (Ramon C. Salvilla & Neridel Genilo)