I tried to brainstorm for the perfect adjective that best describes Antique, the province that has captivated me right from the first time I went in 2016.
Magical. Mystical. Unique. Off beat. Kickass.
Nope. No word is just good enough.
Antique is better off as a word of its own, because as thick as Webster’s Dictionary is, and as articulate as Shakespeare might be, no word can really perfectly describe the humble beauty that lies within the province of Antique. I tried to compare it to Bali the last time I tried to write about it, but I realize now after my second visit that Antique is so much more than what I ever knew. Antique is a province that you can’t really compare to other places simply because it has its own charm that no other place does. Or comes close to, for that matter. (READ: There’s A Mini Bali In The Philippines That You Don’t Know About Yet)
To help you understand just how lovely this place is and how necessary it is that you put it on your Philippines itinerary, I’ve listed the most amazing things to do in this quiet little province. With the help of Katahum Tours, I was able to see another side of Antique I didn’t even realized existed. In no specific order, here’s a few reasons why and how I fell in love with this underrated paradise. Try not to fall for it yet. Wait until you experience it to yourself because I guarantee you, it’ll blow you away.
1.) Kawa hot bath
No trip to Antique is complete without submerging yourself in a huge pot over the fire. Although other provinces are making their knock off versions of kawa hot baths, there’s nothing like the real thing. Antique is the OG home that pioneered these epic primitive style baths. Forget flower baths in Bali. 2018 is all about the exotic Antiqueño kawa baths.
2.) Sunrise in Mararison Island
Because what better way to start your day than to chase the sunrise? Climb up to the top of Mararison to get that stunning view of the sun slowly peeking through the horizon.
3.) River tubing in Tibiao river
Sure, Ubud has Ayung River, but Antique has Tibiao. Tubing along this gorgeous wild river will give you a chance to indulge in the scenery while being active at the same time! It’s quite therapeutic too if you ask me. Another option is to go kayaking along the river, but quite frankly, I very much prefer the adventure of river tubing.
4.) Explore rice terraces
Watching the sunset over the rice fields along the highway is one thing, but actually passing by the rice terraces is a different story. You need not to go very far to witness some sick sceneries of rice terraces. Just by hiking Bugtong Bato Falls in Tibiao already gives you a close up view.
5.) Hike to Bugtong Bato Falls
This is a must Tibiao experience. Just a short 20-30 minute hike to reach the falls, this tiered waterfall is worth the visit. It was so good I had to do it for the second time.
6.) Literally chase Bugtong Bato falls
Not only worth the visit, but definitely worth chasing too. You can go up until the 3rd tier if you have enough stamina, and I really suggest that you do it.
7.) Buy cheap straw hats and other local goods
40 PHP for the cutest straw hats. That’s less than a dollar. I bought one at Target for $15 and it’s the flimsiest hat I’ve ever owned. The local ones are always way better.
8.) Visit the world’s biggest pearl at Tibiao Museum
Not kidding. It was huge, alright. Costing millions of DOLLARS, not peso, this giant pearl is quite a big deal. I had the chance to touch it up close and all I could think about is how I want it in my room.
9.) Get some legit fish spa action
The best place to do it is at Kawa Inn in Tibiao. Their owner Flord is a master in Fishery and did extensive research and hunting in the mountains just to bring the most legit fish for this. And let me tell you right now, fish spa night sound weird to some, but I kinda got addicted to it. And truth be told, after all the activities I’ve done while in Antique, those fishies sure do know how to clean some feet.
10.) River tubing in Bugang River, the cleanest river in the Philippines
River tubing in Tibiao river is more active because the currents and streams are stronger then. Here, on the other hand, is a completely mild and relaxing experience. It takes a short hike to get to the starting point, but once your floating down the turquoise river, it’s like being lost in my own world. This river is simply stunning and as much as I wanted to nap as I floated down, I couldn’t miss out on the scenery.
11.) Get a massage
Calawag Mountain Resort isn’t limited to just their authentic kawa baths. They have trained masseuses whose credibility traces back through generations. Flord only hires and trains masseuses that comes from families with lineage of traditional masseuse. It is locally believed that healing hands is a skill passed on through familial genes.
If you’re staying in Pandan, however, I still suggest grabbing the opportunity to get a massage from their highly recommended masseuse as well. One word: PRESSURE.
12.) Have breakfast at a private cove
After spoiling my body and soul with a good hike up top to watch the sunrise in Mararison, I came back to a pretty romantic breakfast setting on the cove of Enrique de Mararison Resort. It was such a beautiful setting and they served us local Antiqueño breakfast which gave the perfect balance in our boujee but humble moment. And although my husband wasn’t there to join this romantic atmosphere, I ate with my local hosts and it was pretty damn incredible.
13.) Watch the most beautiful sunset at Pandan Beach Resort
Sunsets all over Antique are hands down AMAZING. But watching the sun disappear through the horizon while sipping wine by the beach specifically at Pandan Beach Resort is an experience of its own. They might as well claim the sunset because they really do have the best spot to watch it in all of Pandan. They’ve also got Luna, the resident dog, willing to keep you company in case you’re out here soul searching.
14.) Lurk on one of the world’s most mysterious flowers– the rafflesia
A rare flower that I just learned about during my previous trip, Rafflesia is one of the world’s biggest flowers. People hike for hours to get an up close experience, but there are sightings around Antique that doesn’t require extreme trekking. However, this is no ordinary flower and when I said rare, I mean once in a blue moon rare. They only bloom at certain times, and no one really knows exactly when. And when they do, it lasts for a couple of days only. It’s best to consult a local about this. I wasn’t lucky to come across one, but hopefully next time!
15.) Sleep in an actual tree house at Calawag Mountain Resort
For $7, you better put this treehouse in your bucket list. I swear, Calawag Mountain Resort is the most millennial friendly resort ever, except, everything they offer is actually legit and extremely authentic. Imagine sleeping in a treehouse up in the mountains, right next to the rushing river– there’s nothing like it.
16.) Try Tibiao Bakery’s local bread delights
What’s traveling without trying out their local delights? Tibiao Bakery has been around for generations and not only do they make the freshest bread here, but they’re quite tasty too!
17.) Have a boodle fight served to you right in the middle of the river
I can’t believe I didn’t know about boodle fight until I moved to the Philippines. I thinks it’s the epitome of Filipino food culture because it’s all about sharing and bonding over food, which is definitely a quintessential Filipino past time. Now how amazing would that be right at the river, with the water rushing down your feet. Not only is it a legit Filipino experience, but the food is so good too!
18.) Learn spear fishing.
“Wouldn’t it be fun to learn spear fishing?” So off we went to tag along some locals of Mararison to do their thing. It’s a great experience, especially the water of Mararison is pretty gorgeous, but, my animal loving heart hurt a little. It’s not for everyone, but it’s something. I also learned that it is nothing like what they do in the movies.
19.) Hike on top of Mararison Island with the local dogs
Whether it’s for sunset, sunrise, or the middle of the day, a hike on top of Mararison Island is a must do in Antique. The view is simply fab. It’s a short hike so don’t worry. But what makes the experience even better are the friendly furry residents of Mararison that would love to accompany you up there! We were hiking with like, seven of them! They were pretty sweet and if you’re a bit of a dog whisperer, maybe you can get them to pose with you too.
20.) Chase Igpasungaw Falls
I hiked Bunga Falls twice already, so when I learned from our host that there’s another bigger and much more grand of a cascade in Antique, I couldn’t really refuse. The hike to Igpasungaw Falls, which is really more of a trek, can last up to 1.5 hours, but it’s such a fun adventure. Our guide brought a long rope with him and I was wondering if it’s because he didn’t trust us and thought we’d drown or something. But turns out, we needed it to cross on top of the cascades of how many tiers of waterfalls. We used it to rappel through canyons to reach the tiers too. There were probably about 4-6 huge tiers and by the time we got to the last tier, it was the perfect swimming hole.
21.) Swim in the beautiful waters of Mararison
Like I said, the water is just stunning. It was even better my second time around. I think there was a storm the week before I went in 2016, but either way, the water is too inviting to resist. If you’re not into it, you can just lay out and get a good tan at the sand bar.
22.) Try the most amazing spare rib dish
Pandan Beach Resort isn’t just limited to sunsets at the beach. Wine and dine yourself at their in house restaurant and order the spare ribs. Just trust me on this. If you’re into flavorful meat easily falling off the bones and melting off your mouth, this ones for you. Everything else in the menu is easily likable, but this one…it’s simply a must. It’s that meal that one day, people will go out of their way for just to get a bite.
23.) Find some pitcher plants and other mysterious flora and fauna
Antique is not just about the rafflesia. The biodiversity in this province is immense that whether you’re on a hike or just plain walking in the streets, you’re bound to see something amazing. The pitcher plant, a carnivorous plant known to trap their prey inside their pitcher-shaped body is one of the fool species that can be found in as you hike through Mararison island. It’s a cool thing to see.
24.) Go on a cave adventure at Libertad.
This is not something I was able to do, but this is definitely another fun, adventurous thing you can try right in the province of Antique! Waterfalls, check. Beach, check. Hiking, check. Rice terraces, check. CAVE, CHECK. Is there anything else that Antique doesn’t have?
25.) Make friends with the locals and be one of the locals
Antiqueño are one of the nicest, kindest, and most down to Earth Filipinos. Get to know them and if you’re lucky like me, they’ll treat you like family and spoil you rotten with delicious food!
26.) Go cliff jumping
End your river tubing at Tibiao river with a good jump. Or two, or three. There are no limits as long as you can keep swimming back and forth!
27.) Go on a sunset cruise around Mararison
Ah, the countless of things to experience in Mararison. I was very lucky to be able to stay at Enrique de Mararison, and one afternoon, after indulging in the sun for some good ole’ vitamin D, our hosts surprised us with a sunset cruise around the island. With a beautiful wine and merienda set up at the top of the bangka, it was such a perfect way to end the day. Sunsets in Mararison will surprise you. One day, it can look like the sky is on fire, and another, it can look like the most spectacular cotton candy skies painted in pastel. Marveling over it while cruising and wining it? Can’t think of anything better.
28.) Go crazy over Calawag Mountain Resort’s Instagrammable Corners
As of every other place in Antique isn’t instagrammable enough, Calawag Mountain Resort’s innovative approach to a Instagram-perfect scenery is outstanding. If their kawa bath setting and boodle fight authenticity doesn’t lure you enough, how about a fun hammock for the gang? And ocean swings, how primitive. Here in Antique, it’s all about the outdoor shower swing! For even more IG worthy photo inspiration from here, don’t be afraid to follow me on Instagram.
29.) Siesta and merienda like a local
Despite the awesome things to do in Antique, there are afternoons that are just meant to be quiet and spent in the most lazy way. What’s an hour to spare anyway for a quick power nap by the river? Or right by the ocean while enjoying the breeze? Or perhaps at the comfort of your room in Kawa Inn and then waking up for a fish spa sesh. The air in Antique is absolutely one of the country’s freshest so don’t be afraid to slow it down to breath it all in. Have some turon and a bottle of coke as a reward for letting yourself find such a glorious paradise.
30.) Go firefly watching
Easily one of the highlights of my Antique trip, there really isn’t anything like moments that we can’t document or photograph. There were trees in Malalison that lit up at night as beautiful fireflies danced around them. It was indescribable. We laid a blanket, had life conversations, laughed a lot, and allowed ourselves to be mesmerized by the mystical fireflies.
All of the above mentioned activities are made possible by Katahum Tours. They simplify itineraries, curate the right tour, and do all the work so you don’t have to.
Places I’ve stayed:
Kawa Inn, Tibiao – For booking and inquiries, click here.
Calawag Mountain Resort – For booking and inquiries, click here.
Pandan Beach Resort – For booking and inquiries, click here.
Enrique de Mararison – For booking and inquiries, click here.
Disclaimer: Thank you so much to Katahum Tours, Pandan Beach Resort, and Enrique de Mararison for your hospitality. As always, all opinions remain to be my own and I only recommend places and things that I know would be great for my readers.