While it’s no secret that the Philippines has some of the most beautiful sceneries in Southeast Asia, no matter how much I travel the country, I keep discovering so many underrated, hidden gems. While most people only end up exploring Boracay Island, located a short distance away is the beautiful province of Antique, Panay. Between its many waterfalls, cold springs, rolling hills, and rivers, this place is every nature lover’s dream come true. So for all you adventurous folks who want an off the beaten path experience, here are 10 awesome things you have to do while in Antique.
Hiking to the Antique Rice Terraces
Straight from the sandy white shores of Boracay, you can opt to explore the mainland as you go on an adventure filled expedition trekking through rice fields and exploring jungles. To reach the 600 hectare rice terraces, you have to conquer 5 mountains in a physically demanding 5 hour trek. However, at the end, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the two majestic Iglanit and Igtamoni Falls. To get the full experience, sleep in a local village where you can get a glimpse of their way of life, helping them out in planting rice and their other daily tasks. The whole experience is nothing short of spectacular and is a must for those who want to see more of what the Philippines can offer. Between the epic walk through the mountains, the waterfalls, the local village stay, and the rice terraces, this is an experience we highly recommend.
Go on a SUP Daytrip
Paddleboarding is one of the best and most enjoyable activities to do in the water! Now imagine doing that amidst a lush jungle deep in the rivers of Panay. Drive up the mountains in a jeepney (a local Filipino bus) and hop on your paddle board. From there, peacefully paddle down the river until it reaches the ocean as you surround yourself with nothing but stunning jungles. On the way, you can stop by local villages for a fresh coconut drink while observing people going about their day, enjoying the laid back and simple way of life. After around two hours of paddling, you will arrive at the beach where you can feast on a huge, well deserved BBQ lunch!
Seco Island Safari
If you’re looking for the ultimate off the beaten track experience, our recommendation is to head to Seco Island, an island 2 hours away from the mainland of Panay. Seco Island is frequented by loads of kitesurfers as the wind conditions there are just out of this world! As Seco Island is nothing but a sandbank in the middle of the most pristine turquoise blue waters, expect to sleep under the stars as you camp in tents or a hammock. Top the night off with delicious beach bbqs and of course, some Filipino Tanduay rum. For those that are into kiteboarding, the kite safari offers three days of epic kite conditions, jaw dropping sunsets, and star-filled night skies.
How to Do These Tours:
For these particular tours, we recommend contacting Surfers Home Boracay for a hassle free experience. These tours include transportation, guides, entrance fees, alongside with lunch and drinks. These tours are so well arranged, allowing you to discover a completely different side of the Philippines. They also have a campsite with tree top tents including a glamping area which they are launching soon so definitely check them out!
Experience the Kawa Hot Bath in Tibiao
After all the hiking and adventuring, reward yourself with a unique spa experience by relaxing in a hot bath in a giant wok. The water is heated by a fire underneath and is often infused with various herbal aromatics. Although it feels like you are being cooked in a giant cauldron, I promise this is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities worth checking out in Antique. These giant cauldrons or “kawa’s” are perched right by the banks of the Tibiao River as the gentle stream lulls you to relaxation! Head on over to Kayak Inn where you can find basic rooms and huts alongside with these giant baths.
Take a Cool Dip by Malumpati Cold Spring
Escape the heat of Boracay’s sunny beaches and head inland as you cool yourself off in Pandan’s Malumpati Cold Spring. The turquoise blue waters of this cold spring, is a tropical haven and is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and cool off. They have little huts located at the bank of the cold spring where you can find yourself easily chilling out and enjoying the art of doing nothing! As this place is quite popular amongst locals during the weekend, we recommend paying a visit during the weekdays to avoid the crowd.
Go Flower Hunting
Now I know flower hunting doesn’t exactly spell adventure but trust me, the Rafflesia flowers are the world’s biggest flower and are well worth traveling for. While it is only found in Southeast Asia, this particular flower is known not just for its size but also for its distinct foul odor which attracts flies. It only blooms for 3-4 days before it dies and withers. Located in San Remigio, you can find these giant Rafflesia flowers blooming just a short walk away from the road. If you head to the Rafflesia Information Center along the main road, you can easily hire a guide whose rate is around P150 ($3) guide for five people. Apart from that, there is entrance fee of P30 per person.
Hike Up Mt. Madjaas
If you’re looking for a full on adventure, challenge yourself and hike up Mt. Madjaas (2113m above sea level) While this typically takes around 3-4 days, for those of you who have time, the grassy slopes, waterfalls, and mossy forest makes this an ultimate outdoor experience. The climb is challenging and is quite difficult but being able to say that you conquered the highest peak in Antique is a notable achievement. For those who make it to the top, you will rewarded to a stunning view of Western Panay Island and its surrounding seas.
Cruise Along the River on a Bamboo Raft
While in Antique, head on over to Bugang River where you can ride on a bamboo raft while cruising along the Bugang River. Loosely dubbed as one of the cleanest bodies of waters in the Philippines, cruising down the Bugang River whilst enjoying the cool and lush forest surrounding it is a must in Antique!
Go Whitewater Kayaking in the Tibiao River
Once upon a time when I used to live in the beautiful sandy shores of Boracay, I was craving for a bit of adventure so I ventured by the Tibiao River for a full day of whitewater kayaking. While the rapids aren’t huge during the summer months, if you head there during rainy season, you’re in for a treat. After a full day of paddling out, relax in the many hot water kawa baths located by the riverside.
Go Caving in San Remigio
Known as the summer capital of Antique due to its yearlong cool weather, venture a bit further and explore the Igbaclag Cave and the Stone Castle. These karst formations are reminiscent of those towering limestone rock formations found in places like Palawan. Whilst Igbaclag cave is made up of two chambers with two openings, some parts of the cave are still left unexplored. The Stone Castle on the other hand even has a “balcony” like viewing area where you can admire the sweeping panoramic views.
While there is literally a plethora of other adventures and activities waiting to be explored in Antique, our advice is to just go! Get out there and venture out to some off the beaten path destinations and I promise, you won’t be sorry!