(SPOT.ph) Boracay, once known as the “Beach Party Capital of the Philippines,” is now stripped of its party places and all-night activities. Finally, we can just laze around the beach with no drunken tourists puking on the sand or photobombers taking over our selfies. Considering, however, that there are still a number of closed-down hotels and restaurants, roads aren’t fully repaired, and a sewage system is still in the works, it's a good time to take a look at what the rest of the province of Aklan has to offer.
We recommend booking a trip in January for the annual Ati-Atihan Festival, a whole week of merry-making, street dancing, and drink. And, of course, honoring the Sto. Niño.
Batason, Buruanga, Aklan
Fee: P2,500 per head (inclusive of boat transfer, meals, and activities)
Located 45 minutes away from Boracay Island, Ariel's Point is an adventure hotspot where you can jump off a cliff, kayak around calm waters, or snorkel around amid schools of fish. It's recommended as a daytrip if you're tired of the island's White Beach.
Appreciate nature at its best while trailing along bamboo bridges at the Bakhawan Eco-park in the province's capital, Kalibo. You’d need to walk the 1.1-kilometer trail that cuts across the 220-hectare mangrove forest, but the sweat is worth it as soon as you see the calm Aklan River flowing out into the Visayan Sea. Take time to appreciate the flora of different shapes and sizes and the colorful species of insects along the way.
Sitio Sapsapon, Buruanga, Aklan
Fee: P2,500 per head (inclusive of Hacienda Maria tour)
Thinking of taking a break from all the beach and water activities around Aklan? Sapsapon Cave in Buruanga, with all its amazing stalactites and stalagmites, is a good spot for spelunking. The tour inside the cave lasts for at least an hour so get ready for some walking.
Sampaguita Gardens Resort
506 Rizal Street, New Washington, Aklan
The Sampaguita Gardens Resort has a Christmas museum which houses variety of life-sized angel figures and dolls with captivating teardrop eyes. It’s perfect for a side trip as the holiday season approaches.
Piña Weaving Community
Old Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan
Aklan is considered one of the biggest producers of piña fabric in the country. Drop by The Herminia Piña Weaving Industry to catch a glimpse of how the people of Kalibo transform the leaves of a pineapple plant into elegant piña silk shawls, baro’t saya, barong Tagalog, and other handicrafts.
Barangay Jawili, Tangalan, Aklan
For a minimal fee, you can enjoy one of Aklan’s majestic waterfalls and marvel at cascading waters leading to seven natural pools. Go deeper into the forest and find a stream where you can take a relaxing dip.
Museo It Akean
Museo It Akean (Museum of Aklan) showcases the rich and colorful culture and heritage of Aklanons. The museum boasts replicas of Sto. Niño carved in wood and sculptures of Atis in festive attire—evidence of their devotion to the young Jesus and the province's vibrant festivity.
Barangay Nabaoy, Malay, Aklan
Nestled and hidden in the municipality of Malay, the Nabaoy River is an under-the-radar destination where you can have a picnic with the whole family. There are tables you can use for free all along the riverbank. After a hearty lunch, you can ride a bamboo raft and cruise down the river.
Barangay Poblacion, Balete, Aklan
Opened in 2016, Basura Garden proves that trash doesn't always have to go to waste—it can also be transformed into art. Check out how rubber slippers, old clocks, and used tires can serve as decor. It not only promotes upcycling, but also showcases the imagination and innovation of Aklan's locals.
Fee: P2,500 (day tour)
Hinugtan Beach is as breathtaking as Boracay’s White Beach minus the crowd. You can book a room and wake up in paradise or just rent a cottage where you can have lunch or laze around after taking a dip in the crystal-clear water.