For adventure seekers, the province of Antique offers an excellent ecotourism destination. Despite its proximity to major tourist hubs like Kalibo and Iloilo City, the province has managed to retain its rugged and “off-the-beaten-path” charm that appeals to intrepid travelers.
Located in the Panay Island of the Western Visayas Region, Antique offers a little bit of everything. It continues to surprise even those who have been there, with stunning natural spots recently “rediscovered” and exciting new attractions being developed to cater to the growing number of tourists.
If you’ve already visited the tropical island of Malalison, rafted down the rapids of Tibiao River and soaked in a kawa (jungle hot tub bath), here are some other unique activities you can do in this underrated province.
1. Bask on the beach of Seco Island
If you’re willing to brave a two and a half to three-hour boat ride, you can visit the stunning Seco Island, a small reef atoll that’s been declared a Marine Protected Area in Tibiao, Antique.
Named after the Kinaray-a (local language) word for ‘elbow’ because of its shape, Seco Island’s 1.5 km-long beach is covered with fine white sand giving you a clear view of the sea in the shallow portions. The area is surrounded by hectares of corals and is ideal for day tours, beach outings, and kitesurfing.
2. Hike to the Antique Rice Terraces
You’re probably familiar with the rice terraces in Banaue and the Cordillera region, but did you know that there are rice terraces in Antique?
The Antique Rice Terraces is a cluster of rice terraces spread in a combined area of 600 hectares. It has been preserved by the Iraynon Bukidnon, an indigenous group in Barangay (village) General Fullon, a remote mountain village in San Remigio, Antique.
Getting here involves a trek of four to five hours crossing five mountains, but if you’re a mountaineer up for a challenge, then visiting this natural wonder should be at the top of your list. The terraces are located in a valley beside two waterfalls, Iglangit and Igtamoni, which supply the “taramnan” (rice fields) with water.
The terraces are close to the head spring of the Sibalom River, which is abundant with freshwater fish and shrimp. The community here is truly off-the-grid. They have no electricity and many households here live off the land, making a visit here a truly unique experience.
3. See a species of the world’s largest flower in bloom
The Rafflesia is known as the world’s largest flower, with some species in other countries like Borneo growing up to 3 feet across and weighing up to 15 pounds. Interestingly, Rafflesias are parasitic plants without any leaves, stems or roots.
There are 28 species of Rafflesia in the world found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Brgy. Aningalan, known as “Antique’s highlands” and the “summer capital of Antique” because of its cooler temperatures is home to the rare and critically-endangered Rafflesia speciosa and endangered Rafflesia lobata. Consider yourself lucky if you get to see one up close, as these oddly beautiful flowers are known to bloom for only 3-5 days at a time.
4. Relax by the Riverside at Naranjo Water Park
Bugang River is a Hall of Famer awardee for being one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines, with lush forests protecting the river’s headspring. A local favorite swimming hole is the Malumpati health spring, where adrenaline-junkies like to jump off from a diving platform or treetops into the clear waters below.
Naranjo Water Park is a relatively new water park located along the river in Pandan, Antique where you can experience ecotourism activities such as stand-up paddle-boarding, river kayaking, paddle-boating, and river cruising aboard bamboo rafts. The water park also contains a riverside restaurant on stilts.
5. Take a Dip at Igpasungaw Falls
For those who want to commune with nature, take a hike and head to waterfalls hidden in the mountains. Located in the unassuming town of Sebaste, Antique, Igpasungaw Falls offers a scenic spot to take a dip. Unlike some other spots that require challenging treks, getting here is an easy thirty to forty-five-minute trek through forested trails.
There are more than nine cascading waterfalls to explore here, with basins around two meters deep where visitors can swim. Some of the smaller cascades are coated in slippery moss that make it easy to slide down into the cold pools below.
6. Scale up the Peak of Igbaclag Cave
Igbaclag Cave is a natural tourist spot with karst rock formations that can be found in Barangay Aningalan in San Remigio. The site, which is surrounded by several picnic cottages and forest trails, is managed by the Aningalan Community-based Tourism Organization.
For the more adventurous, the karst formations here pose a unique cliff scrambling challenge to scale up up to the peak of Igbaclag Cave. But once you get to the top, you will be rewarded by a spectacular view of the forest, which form an essential connection between Sibalom Natural Park and the forests of the central Panay mountain range further north.