Antique Province, a hidden gem in Western Visayas, is a traveler’s paradise waiting to be explored. Its serene countryside, picturesque mountains, and pristine beaches make it a perfect destination for those seeking a tranquil and off-the-beaten-path adventure. Let’s take a deep dive into Antique’s fascinating history and discover what makes it a must-visit destination.
Antique, derived from the word “Hantique,” meaning “ancient” or “old,” is one of the oldest provinces in the Philippines. It was once a part of the Kedatuan of Madja-as, an ancient confederation of pre-colonial Philippine states. In the 16th century, the Spanish colonizers arrived and established a settlement, which later became the capital of the province. Antique played a crucial role during the revolution against Spanish rule and became a province of the newly established Philippine Republic in 1901.
HOW TO GO THERE
To get to Antique, take a flight to Iloilo City, and then take a bus or van to Antique. The journey takes around 3-4 hours, depending on traffic. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Manila to Caticlan or Iloilo and then take a bus or van to Antique.
THINGS TO DO
HIKE TO MT. MADJAAS:
One of the top things to do in Antique is to hike to the summit of Mt. Madjaas. At 2,117 meters above sea level, it is the highest peak in Panay Island and offers breathtaking views of the Antique countryside. The hike is challenging and can take up to 2-3 days, depending on your level of fitness. Along the way, you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna, including mossy forests, pitcher plants, and hornbills. The summit provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and islands, making it a must-visit for adventure seekers.
VISIT MARARISON ISLAND
Mararison Island, also known as Malalison Island, is a beautiful gem located off the coast of Culasi in Antique Province. This small island is a hidden paradise, with crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can reach Mararison Island by taking a boat from Culasi, which takes around 15-20 minutes. The island is small enough to explore on foot, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy, such as swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.
One of the most popular activities on Mararison Island is hiking to the summit of Mount Malalison. The hike takes around 2-3 hours and is a challenging but rewarding experience. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the island and the surrounding sea. Another popular activity is snorkeling, as the island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and marine life. The crystal-clear waters make it easy to spot a variety of fish and other sea creatures.
TAKE A DIP IN BUGANG RIVER
Bugang River is a stunning natural attraction located in the town of Pandan in Antique Province. The river is known for its crystal-clear waters, surrounded by lush forests and rocky cliffs, making it an ideal spot for swimming and relaxation. Visitors can take a dip in the cool and refreshing waters of the Bugang River, which flows gently through the town of Pandan. The river’s clear waters are perfect for swimming and are suitable for all ages. The riverbed is made up of smooth stones, making it a comfortable spot to lay back and enjoy the scenery.
One of the highlights of Bugang River is the Bugang River Eco-Adventure Tour, which is a guided tour that takes visitors through the river and its surrounding areas. The tour is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the area while also learning about its history and culture. During the tour, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming, kayaking, and cliff jumping. The tour guides are knowledgeable and will share interesting information about the area, such as the local flora and fauna, as well as the customs and traditions of the local people.
For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, there are plenty of spots along the river where visitors can simply relax and take in the stunning scenery. The rocky cliffs and lush forests provide a serene backdrop, making it an ideal spot for a picnic or a quiet afternoon by the river.
EXPLORE THE UNDERGROUND CAVES OF MALUMPATI
Located in the municipality of Pandan, Malumpati Cold Spring is a unique natural attraction that offers visitors a refreshing and rejuvenating experience. The cold spring is known for its icy-cold water, which flows from underground caves and streams. The water is crystal clear and provides a refreshing respite from the tropical heat.
But the real highlight of Malumpati Cold Spring is its underground caves. The caves are located within the Malumpati Ecotourism Park, a sprawling nature reserve that offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and bird watching. The park is situated on the banks of the Malumpati River, which is surrounded by lush vegetation and towering limestone cliffs.
As visitors enter the caves, they’ll be greeted by an otherworldly landscape of stalactites and stalagmites. These are formed by the slow dripping of mineral-rich water over thousands of years, creating intricate formations that look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie. Some of the stalactites are several meters long and can be traced back to the Pleistocene era.
Aside from the stunning rock formations, the caves are also home to a diverse range of fauna, including bats and blind fish. The blind fish are a unique species that have adapted to living in complete darkness, losing their sight in the process. Visitors can spot these fish swimming in the underground streams, adding to the surreal ambiance of the caves.
SOAK IN THE KAWA HOT BATH
When visiting Antique Province, one of the must-try experiences is the Kawa Hot Bath. Located in the town of Tibiao, this unique attraction offers visitors a chance to soak in a traditional Filipino hot bath, surrounded by stunning natural scenery.
The Kawa Hot Bath is a traditional Filipino practice of bathing in a large cauldron, which is heated by firewood. The cauldron, or kawa, is typically made from large metal drums that have been cut in half and cleaned thoroughly. These cauldrons are then filled with water, and firewood is lit underneath to heat the water.
The practice of soaking in a Kawa Hot Bath dates back centuries and is said to have therapeutic benefits. The hot water, which is infused with local herbs and flowers, is believed to help soothe sore muscles and alleviate stress. It’s also a unique way to experience the local culture and traditions.
Upon arrival, visitors will be led to a designated area where the Kawa Hot Bath is set up. The cauldron is heated by firewood, and local herbs and flowers are added to the water, infusing it with a soothing fragrance. Visitors can then climb into the cauldron, and soak in the hot water for as long as they like.
WHAT TO EAT
Antique is known for its unique cuisine, a blend of indigenous and colonial influences. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the local delicacy called tamilok, a woodworm that is eaten raw or cooked in vinegar.
WHERE TO STAY
Antique Province offers a variety of options for accommodation, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. Here are some of the best places to stay in Antique:
La Parola Orchids Beach Resort – La Parola Orchids Beach Resort is a hidden gem located in Pandan, Antique Province. This beachfront resort offers spacious and well-appointed rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and local cuisine. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing and peaceful vacation in the Philippines.
The resort is situated in a secluded location, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The moment you arrive at the resort, you will be greeted with the serene and peaceful ambiance of the place. The rooms are spacious and well-designed, with modern amenities such as air conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom. The interiors are adorned with local materials and decorations, giving you a glimpse of the local culture.
One of the highlights of the resort is the swimming pool. It’s a great place to cool off on a hot day, or to simply relax and enjoy the view of the ocean. The pool area is surrounded by lush gardens and trees, providing a natural shade from the sun.
The resort’s restaurant serves fresh seafood and local cuisine, using locally-sourced ingredients. The menu changes regularly, depending on the availability of the ingredients. The restaurant also offers a selection of drinks for a romantic dinner by the beach.
Phaidon Beach Resort – This eco-friendly resort is located on the beautiful Mararison Island. It offers comfortable cottages and villas, a restaurant that serves fresh seafood, and a variety of activities such as snorkeling and hiking.
Ucoy Beach Resort – This resort is located in Libertad, and offers spacious rooms and villas with private balconies, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and local delicacies.
Bugang Riverside Inn – This guesthouse is located in Pandan, and offers clean and comfortable rooms with a view of the Bugang River. It also has a restaurant that serves local cuisine.