Motag Living Museum curator and Aklan resident Louise Henwood reveals her favorite secret spots in Aklan and neighboring Antique.
1 Ilig-Iligan Beach in Barangay Yapak, Boracay
Boracay Island is beautiful, but it can get too crowded during the peak season. Henwood recommends heading to the far end of Boracay island towards the Barangay Yapak area, where you'd find Ilig-Iligan Beach, a quiet haven compared to other beaches on the island and a great spot for snorkeling. Make sure to book a ride back to your hotel because there are no transport available in the area.
New to Boracay is Jeepney Hostel & Kite Resort, just by Bulabog beach, offering accommodation from P500 for dorm beds and P1,000 for private rooms. Close by is the Oasis Resort and Spa, providing a getaway from the noise and bustle of Boracay. It offers simple, quiet, clean, spacious and comfortable rooms with killer views from the roof terrace that’s big enough for a wedding party.
2 Nagata Falls in Malay, Aklan
Located deep in the barangay or village of Nabaoy in the municipality of Malay, Aklan, Nagata Falls offers you Malay country up close and the chance to cool off in the falls' crystal clear pool. To get to the falls, hire a tricycle from Caticlan airport, the gateway to Boracay, to take you on a 15 to 30-minute ride to the barangay hall of Nabaoy or the Nabaoy Primary School, from where it's a three to four-hour trek to the waterfalls. “The walk itself gives you an opportunity to see the beautiful Malaynon landscape and its flora and fauna,” Henwood said.
3 Nabaoy River in Malay, Aklan
Nabaoy River which provides fresh water supply to nearby Boracay, is a popular picnic spot, right in the heart of rural Aklan. Stepping into the riverbed feels like getting lost in a scene from Jungle Book. Henwood said, “Bahay Banlock, my home, can provide bunk house accomodations or lunch by the river. A little more upmarket is Finca Verde resort, my next door neighbors.”
4 Palhi Beach in Malay, Aklan
Palhi beach in Naasog, Malay, Aklan has a very small pretty beach with a view across to Boracay. There is an entrance fee of about P100, but the beach area is quite delightful and empty. From Caticlan, you can hire a tricycle to take you to Palhi Beach.
Note: Before visiting these three tourist spots of Malay, the local government's tourism office is requesting visitors to send an email to to Mayor Ceciron S. Cawaling and chief tourism operations officer Felix Delos Santos Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Phaidon Resort in Pandan, Antique
What glitters in Phaidon Resort is sand, not gold. Swimming in the ocean is a unique experience as the water sparkles with each movement due to glitter-sized particles that look like gold. The stunning seaside hotel with restaurant charges P150 for an entire day’s use of a thatched hut. Rooms for overnight stays cost from P2,750 to P3,700. Shallow, kid-friendly waters create a setting ideal for family outings.
Contact Phaidon Resort at +6336 278 9901 or +63929 599 2308.
6 Malalison Island in Culasi, Antique
This is an alluring detour for those bound for Boracay. The serene Malalison Island isn’t too far off from Caticlan port and you get to enjoy its near-empty shore and hike up Malalison hillside.
From the terminal near Caticlan port, there are available buses bound for Culasi. From there, it’s a 15- minute boat ride to Malalison.
To learn more about the allure of Antique’s newest gem, read Notes from…Malalison Island.
Outside of Panay...
7 Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro
Bulalacao has seven islets that are blessedly untouched. Not many tourists have discovered its powder white-sand beaches, said Henwood. “There is nothing there and (it) is totally unspoilt.”
Get to Bulalacao by hiring a boat from Caticlan or taking a van from Calapan pier in Oriental Mindoro.
How to get to Aklan and Antique
Skyjet, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia fly daily from Manila to either Caticlan or Kalibo airports, the gateway to Boracay. Most hotels take care of airport pick up and land and boat transfers from Caticlan.
To get to Antique, fly from Manila to Kalibo airport, from where you can get on a Ceres Liner bus to Antique.
For more information on Aklan tours and transport, contact the Aklan Province Provincial Tourism Office.
About our insiders
Louise Henwood is Motag Living Museum’s curator and consultant. Additional information from Lark Mendoza of the Oriental Mindoro tourism office (Visit Oriental Mindoro Tourism Office Facebook page) and Judy Julian from Katahum Tours.
Cover photo by Carlos Legaspi
Published July 2016