When talking about vacations in Panay Island in Western Visayas, people usually go for the beaches of Boracay or the heritage tours of Iloilo. Rarely is the province of Antique included in tourist itineraries, but that only means missing out on everything this quaint and charming province has to offer.
Dubbed as the “Province Where the Mountains Meet the Sea”, Antique is every adventurer’s paradise. Tucked between its highest peaks and the shore are rice terraces, gushing waterfalls, and turquoise rivers. And scattered on its waters are tropical beaches and island havens that are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see.
To help you plan out your trip and draft an itinerary to Antique, here we’ve gathered 8 of the best ways to explore the province.
Bask in the glory of the Antique Rice Terraces
Just like the world-famous terraces up north in Banaue, Antique also has its own heritage terraces but they have remained hidden from the tourist eye. In fact, it was only in 2014 when these terraces have been rediscovered and given its well-deserved attention from the tourist community.
Sprawled out in over 600 hectares are the perfectly preserved terraces of the Iraynon-Bukidnon indigenous group. The lush steps of the terraces are set against Antique’s green mountains and forests. Reaching the terraces via an uphill hike is not an easy feat, but you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view you won’t soon forget.
Try out river tubing in Tibiao River.
The swirling rapids of Tibiao River are sure to take you for a ride as you cross the river riding only a small inflatable tube. These rough Class 4 rapids are perfect for an exhilarating race across the river’s white waters, enough to keep your heart pumping long after your course.
Aside from tubing, you can also opt to ride a raft or a kayak across Tibiao River. At calmer waters, you can have a good swim on the aquamarine waters or jump from one of the rocks. Not to mention the breathtaking scenery you’re blessed with along the river, and this instantly becomes a must-visit when you find yourself in Antique.
Simmer in a Kawa hot bath.
Along Tibiao River, you can also spot the Calawag Mountain Resort where you can have yourself steaming in a big pot of boiling water. Known as the Kawa hot bath, you can relax inside a cauldron while the water is heated by a gentle fire. The water is spruced up with various herbs and flowers, almost like you’re being cooked in a stew.
Pair the Kawa hot bath with your favorite drink and the rushing sounds of the Tibiao River, and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind pampering session.
Chase the Bugtong Bato waterfalls
This seven-tier waterfall is simply phenomenal. Especially after a rainy session, the Bugtong Bato waterfalls are loudly roaring into a refreshing cascade. Take a dip in the cold and refreshing waters of the pool, or challenge yourself and visit all three of the accessible layers of the waterfall.
The short hike to the Bugtong Bato waterfalls is already very rewarding. On the uphill trek, you get to pass by babbling streams and friendly communities, and you get a view of the picturesque rice terraces.
Soak in the sun at Mararison Island
Mararison Island must automatically be included in your Antique itineraries. It’s enchanting, easily accessible from the mainland, and for such a small island, there’s so much to do for the entire day. Stroll along the dream-like rolling hills for the best views of the coast. On the rockier side of the island is the rustic Gul-ob Beach and Cave where you can admire the different rock formations.
If you prefer white, sugary sands, head to the other side to Kawit Sandbar. The peaceful beach is perfect for some lazy sunbathing or an exciting snorkel.
Scuba dive at Nogas Island.
Head to the southern towns of Antique, and ride a boat to Nogas Island, a small, uninhabited island that’s also a secret marine sanctuary. This charming island is just surrounded by white sand and crystal clear waters, ideal for a dive to see the rich marine environment. Swim amongst the colorful corals and tropical fishes like clownfish, angelfish, and cardinals.
Nogas Island is not as well-known among tourists, so most days, you’ll have this marine sanctuary all for yourself.
Ride a bamboo raft across the Bugang River
Bugang River brings Antique the title of the country’s cleanest inland body of water, and you’ll have to see it to believe it. The water is so clear that you can see the river floor wherever you are along Bugang River’s 6-kilometer length.
The best way to explore the mystical river is aboard a bamboo raft which will take you across the river’s prime locations and dense forests. You can also opt to stay at one area like the at the Naranjo Water Park, where you can try paddleboarding or a serene round of river tubing.
Another great area to lounge in is at the Malumpati Cold Springs, with its ice-cold waters perfect for a relaxing dip.
See the sunrise from Seco Island.
For those who are on the lookout for pristine, untouched islands, Antique offers Seco Island. Reaching this remote island by boat takes around two hours, but all your worries will go away as soon as you land on Seco Island’s fine white sands. Here you can do some kiteflying, sunbathing, or lounging on a floating cottage.
The best time to travel to Seco Island is before dawn, so you can catch the beautiful sunrise from the uninterrupted horizon. If you’re lucky, you might even meet some wild dolphins swimming with you on your boat ride to this small sandbar paradise.
Words don’t do justice to how captivating Antique is, and you’ll have to go visit to experience its wonders for yourself. Don’t expect your trip to be luxurious, but instead, expect it to be charmingly raw, breathtaking, and a whole lot of fun.
So pack your bags, hop on a plane, and let’s go explore the beautiful province of Antique!