By Ruth Santos
Photos by Karmila Rose Dimamay www.pandanbeachresort.org
Few people visit the unassuming province of Antique. An island endowed with majestic natural wonders, it is a place perfectly teeming a mix of adventure and relaxation.
Antique belongs to the group of islands in the Visayas Region. Its name was derived from Hantik, the local name for the large black ants common on the island. When the Spaniards came, they recorded the province as Hantique but read with a silent “h”, which was later completely dropped.
Cradled with long coastline to the west and mountains and forests to the east, Antique is often called “the place where the mountains meet the sea”. From lush mountains, natural springs, cascading waterfalls, and friendly locals, Antique holds many of nature’s wonders.
Where to go and What to do:
Trekking to the falls of Bugtong-Bato – Head to Tibiao and trek to the scenic view of Bugtong-Bato, a 7-tiered waterfalls. Only 3 tiers are “easily” accessible and the other 4 tiers can only be reached by skilled climbers. The first 2 waterfalls towers at about 12 to 15 meters. This is a 1.3 kilometer hike which will reward you with cool and refreshing waters within the falls’ basins. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the natural pool formed in its cascading waters.
River Kayaking at Tibiao River – Tibiao River kayaking is a 3km long route with different degree of rapids that fit beginners and experts. It is usually placid during the summer months, making it ideal for newbie kayakers. Crystal clear waters and lush landscapes surround the Tibiao River.
Let the Kawa Hot Bath sooth your aches away – Also in Tibiao, the Kawa hot bath is a unique and soothing experience. It is a therapeutic sauna by means of an over-sized woks used as a bath tub. The wok is filled with water strewn with leaves, ginger slices, and flowers then placed over fire woods to heat up. The herb-blended water relaxes and alleviates tired muscles.
Make your own pottery at Bandoha – Bandoja is a small village found in Tibiao. Blessed with 450,000 metric tons of clay preserve, it is well-known for its pottery and brick-making. Learn the art of pottery and create your masterpiece.
Go for an adrenaline adventure in Tibiao Eco-Adventure Park – The Tibiao Zip Trip is found in Tibiao Eco-Adventure Park. A 500m 2-way zip line cable, it is the longest zip line in Panay Island.
Marvel at the boulders of Butong River – Also found in Tibiao is the Butong River. Named after the plentiful species of bamboo found along its bank, it has the biggest boulders good for rock climbing, stone diving, and has clear cold water for a relaxing dip.
Traverse the Malakagat Hanging Bridge – The Malakagat Hanging Bridge offers a picturesque view of the white water river of Tibiao and the cone-shaped mountain of Brgy. Tuno.
Navigate the Tigbaboy Hanging Bridge – The Tigbaboy Hanging bridge is the first hanging bridge in Tibiao. It is a 65-meter suspension bridge, which you can cross using a habal-habal.
Sunset watching at Tiguis Beach – End the day at Tiguis beach. Well-known for its white cliff, canopy of trees, and cool blue sea. Settle down, commune with nature, and watch as the sunset fades.
Firefly watching – The night turns magical when the fireflies light up the night. It is as if little fairies came to visit, or the twinkling stars dropped by. The experience is made more romantic when shared with someone special.
Visit Nogas Beach – An uninhabited marine reserve in Anini-y, the island is surrounded by white sand beaches, mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass. Also in the island is the Nogas Island Light House whose caretakers are the only residents of the island.
Cruise the Bugang River – Hailed as the cleanest river in the Philippines, the Bugan River can be found in Pandan, Antique. Bamboo rafts are available for visitors who wish to cruise the river. Drift downstream passing five barangays and marvel at the breathtaking scenery and surreal landscape of age-old trees.
Bathe at the Malumpati Cold Spring – Located in the municipality of Pandan, the Malumpati Cold Spring is a popular destination among locals and tourists alike. Clear, turquoise waters make it a perfect dipping spot.
Sira-an Hot Springs – The Sira-an Hot Springs can be found at the town of Anini-y, the southernmost province of Antique. Elevated bathtub-sized pools overlooking the sea are available for guests wishing to enjoy the therapeutic soothing hot water. Aside from loosening up aching bones and muscles, the sulfuric water is said to be able to cure eczema and fungal infections
Unplug in the tropical island of Malalison – In the municipality of Culasi and home to a small, friendly fishing community, the island of Malalison can be found. Away from the stress of urban life, sits an unspoiled white sand beach with waters teeming with marine life. See the stunning views of the mainland and get to visit Nablag Islet which is accessible through a sandbar visible only during the low tide.
Where to stay:
Hometel University of Antique
The Dive House
Anna Sophie Hostel & Garden
Pandan Beach Resort
Phaidon Beach Resort
RosePoint Beach Resort
Le Palme Beach Resort
How to get there:
There are no direct flights to Antique. From Manila, budget airlines such as Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, TigerAir Philippines, and Philippine Airlines fly daily to Aklan or Iloilo.
If coming from Iloilo, from the airport ride a van going to Molo Terminal. From there, ride another van or jeepney going to antique. Travel time is approximately 2 hours.
Another option is to take RORO buses from Manila to Iloilo which will pass by Bugasong, Antique. Travel time is around 16 hours.