Panay Island of the Western Visayas Region is divided into four provinces: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo. Among these provinces, Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan seems to be the most well known island destination. But Boracay isn’t the only island in the Panay area that’s worth visiting.
With islands up to par with some of the world’s best-loved tropical destinations, the often-overlooked province of Antique (pronounced as an-tee-keh), just two hours south of Aklan province, has a lot to offer for travelers looking to explore more of the rich and diverse Panay landscape.
Cradled by a long coastline to the west and dense forests and mountains to the east, Antique is an excellent ecotourism destination for travelers, whether they’re beach bums or adventure seekers. If you’ve had your fill of Iloilo’s hearty cuisine, Capiz’s fresh seafood, and Boracay’s happy hour cocktails, head over to the western edge of Panay and discover some of Antique’s best locations.
Frolick in the tropical island of Malalison.
The most striking feature of Malalison (or Mararison), 15 to 20 minutes to the west of the mainland in the municipality of Culasi, is the long sandbar that greets visitors to this tiny island community.
According to local folklore, Malalison is one of three islands (including Maningning and Batbatan) believed to have been the banished daughters of Mt. Madjaas. Considered the highest peak in Panay, Mt. Madjaas (which also means mataas or tall) rises over 2,000 meters above sea level and overlooks the three islands comprising Culasi.
Malalison is home to a small, friendly fishing community. Although most visitors usually come here for day trips, it’s possible to camp at the beach or stay at the village’s multipurpose hall for the night. The facilities are bare, and the island does not have round-the-clock access to electricity, but this is exactly what makes the island perfect for those who want to unplug.
At the back of the village are grassy hills that visitors can hike to for stunning views of the mainland and nearby islands, including the Nablag Islet, which one can walk to via a sandbar during low tide. Malalison is also gifted with waters teeming with marine life, as well as an unspoiled white sand beach for swimming.
Take a dip at the Malumpati Cold Spring.
The municipality of Pandan, at the northern end of the province, is home to the clear, turquoise waters of Malumpati Cold Spring, a popular weekend destination among locals. Malumpati’s waters flow all the way to the Bugang River, another popular destination in town.
Glide along the mystical river of Bugang.
Aboard bamboo rafts, visitors will cruise along the crystal clear waters of the Bugang River, considered one of the Philippines’ cleanest bodies of water. The cruise passes through five barangays and along a dense forest and sparse villages.
Overrun by vegetation at the banks of the river are old, chipped statues of a woman flanked by two crocodiles on either side. This statue represents the local legend of Inday Gamay, a woman who was the subject of a fierce battle between crocodiles Manunggong and Mandurriao, both of whom died fighting in the Bugang riverbank, where Inday Gamay is said to have been hidden.
Ride the rapids of the Tibiao River.
Tibiao, south of Culasi, offers nature adventures that start with the inland habal-habal (motorcycle) ride along muddy tracks surrounded by dense forest. The Tibiao River in Barangay Tuno cuts across the greenery, providing a good place even for newbies to try their hands at kayaking. The water is usually placid during the summer months, but the rainy season brings in stronger currents for a more adventure-pumping ride.
Attempt to scale the seven tiers of Bugtong-Bato Falls.
Further inland from the Tibiao River, about an hour’s trek past terraced rice paddies and suspension bridges, brings visitors to the first of seven waterfalls that comprise the Bugtong-Bato Falls.
Getting past each tier is easily a test of outdoor skill, since one needs to climb up almost-vertical slopes to get to the second tier and then the third, which has an inviting natural pool. Most travelers stay only up to this point.
Bask in the glorious warmth of a kawa bath in Tibiao.
After all these muscle-demanding activities, travelers can retire to a relaxing hot bath unique to Antique: on a giant wok, or kawa, traditionally used for cooking muscovado sugar, with water heated by wood fire roaring underneath. The giant woks — some big enough to hold six people — sit amid verdant surroundings at the banks of the Tibiao River.
How To Get There:
For the mentioned activities above, head to three towns: Pandan, Culasi, and Tibiao, all of which belong to Antique province on the western side of Panay Island in the Visayas.
Via Caticlan from Manila:
- Take a one-hour flight from Manila to Caticlan via Cebu Pacific or PAL Express.
- From the Caticlan airport, ride a tricycle to the Caticlan Jetty Port (5 minutes).
- From the Caticlan Jetty Port, ride a bus going to Culasi (around 2 hours, ₱82)
- From Culasi town proper, hire an outrigger boat to Malalison Island (15 to 20 minutes from the mainland, ₱700 to ₱1000 for a whole day tour). Visitors are encouraged to contact John Sumanting, local tourism officer, at +63 916 324 5068, to assist in booking trips to Malalison Island.
Via Iloilo from Manila:
- Take a one-hour flight from Manila to Iloilo City via Cebu Pacific or PAL Express.
- From Iloilo International Airport, take a cab to the Molo terminal along MH Del Pilar Street, Molo District.
- Take a van to Tibiao (3 hours, ₱220), Culasi (₱243) or Pandan (₱288)
From Culasi to Tibiao (or vice versa):
- Take an Iloilo-bound Ceres bus from the Culasi town proper and ask to be dropped off at the intersection at Barangay Importante leading to Bugtong Bato Falls before the Tibiao town proper.
- From the intersection at Barangay Importante, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) inland to Barangay Tuno in Tibiao town. Follow the reverse route to get to Tibiao from Culasi. Distance from Tibiao to Culasi (or vice versa) is 17 kilometers.
Where To Stay In Antique
Felipe S. Alpas St., Centro Sur, Culasi, Antique
+63 920 476 2508
Barangay Dionela, Pandan, Antique
+63 36 278 9379 / +63 922 812 7863
Barangay Importante, Tibiao, Antique
+63 930 137 5197 / +63 921 570 1947 via Edwin or Shiela Endrico
University of Antique Hometel
University of Antique, Tibiao, Antique