Owing to its postcard-perfect stretch of white sand and turquoise waters, Boracay remains to be the Philippine’s top tourists draw. The island’s attractions go beyond just the sand and the sea, with nearby airports making travel convenient and countless accolades keeping it in the spotlight. What many tourists fail to realize is that there are nearby gems they have yet to explore. From museums to inland forests, you will find many attractions that are worth a side trip. Here are five you should add to your list!
The provincial capital of Aklan, Kalibo is the third busiest international gateway to the Philippines. You can fly directly to Kalibo International Airport via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Singapore, Taipei, Beijing (China), Hong Kong, Incheon (Korea), and Busan (Korea). The airport also caters to domestic flights from Cebu, Clark, and Manila.
Kalibo is the home of Ati-atihan, the oldest and grandest Philippine festival. Visiting Kalibo in the third week of January will have you enjoying colorful parades and fun street dancing and parties. Tourists arrive in droves during this season, leaving accommodations all filled up.
Beyond just the seasonal festival, Kalibo’s attractions include nature and museums. You can head over to Bakhawan Ecopark, a successful mangrove reforestation project. There are also two museums worth visiting: the Tigayon Hill Museum that houses artifacts recently unearthed from onsite archaeological digs and the Mueso it Akean with its repository of local history. Kalibo also has a local ice cream shop famous for gourmet ice cream that uses local ingredients and flavors. If you have time to spare, head over to Healthy Options Homemade Ice Cream and give their hot chili ice cream a try.
Just a quick boat ride away from Boracay, the Carabao Island (also called the island of Hambil) is worth a visit. The island’s main attraction are beaches that are nearly deserted. This offers a great getaway from Boracay’s busy and crowded White Beach. You can reach the island by hiring a boat that is headed for San Jose, Romblon. You will find these boats at Bulabog Beach in Boracay. The fare will vary depending on the number of people and time of day.
You can also hire a boat that will take you from White Beach to Lanas. The round trip fare for four people will be around Php1,500 to Php2,000. The trip will take 40 minutes each way. You will love the peaceful seaside feel in Lanas. The place is mostly deserted, and you will notice many buildings and houses destroyed by what may have been massive tidal forces. Bring a grill with you, as you will need something to keep you busy as you spend quiet time on the island.
If you visit the island during the Amihan months (trade winds/northeast wind) of September to May, it’s best to head to Lanas and just take a motorbike ride to San Jose.
Another side trip from Kalibo worth taking is the highlands of Libacao. You get to enjoy the lush greenery of forests and mountain ranges. You can also have an exhilarating time with wild water bamboo rafting, an activity in Libacao that is gaining popularity among tourists.
The nearby Madalag is also worth experiencing. Here you will find one of the country’s cleanest inland rivers, the Timbanan River. It boasts placid, crystal clear waters. Take an hour-long trek from Maria Cristina in Madalag, and you will reach the Liktinon White Rocks. You will find a river with big boulders of river strewn all over it. The place is great for swimming.
Make sure you make arrangements with the municipal tourism office at each town before taking any of the trips mentioned above.
Located on the border of Ibajay and Tangalan is Campo Verde, a trekker’s paradise. The place is only 28 kilometers away from Kalibo. Campo Verde’s thick forests boast various species of Philippine hardwood, mahogany, and pines. You will find ideal spots for mountain biking and picnics. Complementing the lush forests are coasts with deserted beaches that offer an idyllic escape.
Ibajay is also home to an ecopark called Katunggan it Ibajay. This is a protected mangrove park with a basin called Bugtungbato-Naisud boasting 28 species of mangrove. Especially remarkable is the Avicennia rumphiana (also called a bungalon or apiapi) and the poag-ao, which changes colors from red, orange, to bright yellow until they start falling in late January.
Ibajay has a smaller version of Kalibo’s Ati-atihan, which is celebrated a week later. If you miss out on the popular festival, you’d know where to go!
The highest point in Boracay, Mount Luho stands 100 meters above sea level. If you want the best views of Boracay and Bulabog Beach, this is the place to be. You will encounter steep inclines, but the walk to the peak is generally pleasant. The trek starts at Bulabog Beach. You can take a mountain bike or simply walk up a circuit around the mountain, then down to the main road until you reach the Fairways.
You will encounter several Boracay locals and tourists having their morning run on the circuit. You will reach a quieter place after leaving Bulabog Beach. With only the chirping of the birds and the occasional distant banca disrupting the silence, you get to relax and just bask in the tranquility of the place. Moving farther north will have you reaching a sign on the road that will tell you where to pay your entrance fee. Here, you can climb up to a spot that offers a panoramic view of Boracay Island.
On your next Boracay travel, choose an accommodation that is a destination all its own. Tucked away from the island’s crowded beachfront party scene, Alta Vista de Boracay is a condotel nestled atop a hilly area. Sitting on a prime four-hectare property, the hotel offers stunning views of Boracay’s white sands, blue seas, and luscious greens. You can lounge at the property’s luxurious infinity pool, which is the best spot to enjoy the views, spectacular sunset included. To reach Alta Vista de Boracay, simply take a van or tricycle ride from the airport. The hotel is conveniently located 10 minutes away from the White Beach, providing easy access to the island’s top attractions.
Make sure you take the opportunity to take Boracay side trips the next time you travel to the island!