Antique is a province of the Philippines located in the region of Western Visayas. Just a couple of hours away from the gateway to Boracay, the country’s most famous beach party destination, Antique offers a different kind of getaway.
“Off-the-beaten path” is the description that immediately comes to mind. In a span of six days exploring the province, I found myself visiting stunningly beautiful uncrowded beaches, rice terraces hidden in a remote mountain village, multi-level waterfalls, clear rivers and springs and clambering up karst cliffs. The best part was we had these destinations all to ourselves. Many thanks to Katahum Tours for letting us experience a little bit of everything Antique has to offer.
For those who are interested in visiting, here’s a quick rundown of what you can do in this underrated province.
WHERE EXACTLY IS ANTIQUE:
Antique is located on the western portion of Panay Island, bordering Aklan, Capiz, and Iloilo to the east. It faces the Sulu Sea to the west.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Compared to its neighbors on Panay Island, Antique still remains a bit off the tourist radar. There are currently no direct flights to the province, but you can get here via land travel from Aklan or Iloilo.
- Via Aklan: Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, TigerAir Philippines and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to Kalibo International Airport in Aklan. From there, take a tricycle to the Kalibo bus terminal and ride a Ceres Bus to Antique.
- Via Iloilo: Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, TigerAir Philippines and Philippine Airlines have direct flights to the Iloilo International Airport. From the airport, take a van to Molo Terminal (P50.00). Then take another van (P110.00) or jeepney to Antique. Travel time is 2-3 hours.
WHERE TO GO/WHAT TO DO:
Mararison or Malalison Island
This 55-hectare hook-shaped island is blessed with refined cream sand and coral beach and picturesque mountain ridges that visitors can trek to. The island is reachable by a 15-minute boat ride from Culasi.
Named after the Kinaray-a word for “elbow” because of it’s shape, Seco Island is a 1.5 km island paradise with fine white sand and beautiful beach reachable by a 2.5-3 hour boat ride rom Tibiao. It is declared as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) through a local ordinance and being such, all activities in the island are regulated and that includes the entry and exit of tourist and fishermen alike. The area is ideal for camping, beach outings and kitesurfing.
A recently rediscovered hidden 600-hectare wide rice plantation in Brgy. Fullon, San Remigio, a remote mountain village reachable by a 4-5 hour hike. This cluster of rice terraces spread in a combined area of 600 hectares has been preserved by the Iraynon Bukidnon, an indigenous group in Barangay (village) General Fullon, and is deemed a cultural treasure. Getting here requires an 18 km route on food from the town of Valderama to San Remigio, crossing five mountains.
The remaining forests in San Remegio including the Igbaclag Cave form an essential connection between Sibalom Natural park and the forests of the central Panay mountain range further north. Adventure seekers can scramble over the jagged rocks to get a spectacular view of the mountain ranges.
Located in Sebaste, Antique, this spot offers a refreshing getaway with more than 9 levels of cascades where you can take a dip. Getting here is an easy 30-45 minutes trek from the main road. Contact: Jessie Estolloso, Tourism Officer, 0912-4988994
Bugang River & Malumpati Health Spring
Bugang River is government’s Hall of Fame awardee for cleanest river in the Philippines. Naranjo Water Park is a relatively new waterpark along Bugang River where you can do various low-impact ecotourism water activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, pedal boating and river cruising. Contact: Bong Venus, Tourism Officer, 0918-4489348
Malumpati Health Spring, a favorite among locals for swimming and picnics, feeds into the Bugang River. Visitors challenge themselves by jumping off from the diving platforms from various heights. For a more relaxing cruise, ride an inner tube and float around the cool waters.
The Rafflesia Speciosa is a rare flower endemic to Panay Island. There are 28 species of Rafflesia in the world found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand & the Philippines. They are quite rare and are known to bloom for only 3-5 days at a time. Brgy. Aningalan, dubbed as the “Antique’s highlands” and “summer capital of Antique”, is home of the critically-endangered Rafflesia speciosa and endangered Rafflesia lobata.
Contact: Charity Sanchez, Tourism Officer, 0908-5663379
After a day of activities outdoors, it’s great soak in a gigantic kawa (jungle hot tub) bath over a fire. The large vats were originally used by the locals for cooking brown sugar, but have since become a unique attraction for tourists.
Tibiao Fish Spa
Dip your feet into a pool filled with fish that nibble away dead skin to leave feet clean, soft and smooth. The Fish Spa, which originated in the town of Tibiao, utilizes a local variety of “therafish” sourced from the highlands of Antique.
WHERE TO EAT:
There aren’t a lot of commercial restaurants in Antique. Some inns and resorts have their own in-house restaurants, while you can get a taste of local dishes from carinderias.
MammaMia Italian & Filipino Restaurant
An authentic Italian restaurant in Tibiao, Antique that serves really delicious pizza and pasta dishes. This pizzeria run by Daniel Orsini from Milan, Italy sources ingredients all the way from Italy, using cheese like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Gorgonzola and Asiago. Wash it down with some Gold Eagle Beer.
The restaurant at Naranjo’s Water Park serves short orders and Filipino dishes including exotic dishes: crocodile sisig and ostrich salpicao (meat is sourced from Cagayan de Oro).
WHERE TO STAY IN ANTIQUE:
Ann Sophie Hostel
For those planning to head to Malalison Island, Ann Sophie Hostel located in Culasi is a good choice. The hostel had 11 basic but comfortable air-conditioned and 10 fan-cooled rooms, hot & cold showers, their own in-house eatery, a small function hall. WiFi available. They also have a hostel branch on Malalison Island itself. Contact: Thelma Palacios, Owner, 0920-4762508. Rates: http://culasitourism.com/2015/11/12/anna-sophie-hostel/
Kawa Inn in Tibiao offers 3 air-conditioned rooms and 3 family backpacker rooms rooms decorated with local flair. Themed native rooms showcase the banig (traditional hand-woven sleeping mat), sadok (wide-brimmed hat made of palm leaves) and abaca (a type of textile native to the Philippines), to name a few.
The inn also has a restaurant, laundry services and free-wifi, and a few kawa baths where guests can relax and soak in. Huge metal basins with fire ignited from the bottom and a potpourri of leaves and flowers floating in the steaming water serve as a hot tub for weary bodies. It’s also located in the same space as Tibiao Fish Spa. Contact: Julie Fate Pineda, Manager, 0917-4503121. Rates: http://www.katahum.com/accommodation-facilities/
Pandan Beach Resort
A beachfront boutique resort with backpacker, standard & deluxe rooms ranging from P250 to P2500 per person/night. Pandan Beach Resort is located in the Pandan Bay beach area of Barangay Dionela, one of the 34 barangays (villages) making up the town of Pandan (pop. 32,000). It has air-conditioned rooms, restaurant and a private black sand beach.Every year, the resort hosts a paddleboating competition for local fishermen here. The whole resort is decorated with paddles painted by local artists. The whole places is well-designed and as an in-house restaurant serving good food. Contact: Gigi Bautista, Manager, 0917-8371155. Rates: http://www.pandanbeachresort.org/rooms-rates/
WHAT TO BUY:
The age old weaving art of patadyong is still alive in Antique. The patadyong, pre-Spanish clothing item or loose skirt worn by Filipino women particularly in the lowland regions of the Visayas, is considered the most popular product of the municipality. Other quality handloom woven products like bags, handkerchiefs and textiles used for clothes are also sold at the Bagtason Loomweavers Association in Brgy. Bagtason, Bugasong, Antique.
Contact: Mario Manzano, Manager, 0906-8438687
The province of Antique is rich in mineral deposits. Along the highway in San Remigio and Sibalom, you can stop by a few stores that sell unique gem and decorative stone crafts and trinkets. You can also buy crystals and uncut stones at Eliza’s Gem Store, in Brgy. Aningalan, San Remigio, Antique.
This trip was made possible by Katahum Tours. Katahum is a Visayan word that means beautiful. The tour operator specializes in eco-tours which advocates for sustainable management of natural resources, environmental education and the preservation of cultural treasures. They offer various tours and can tailor-fit tours according to your group’s needs. If you’re booking tours with them, please mention that you read about them in TRAVEL UP. 🙂