The pandemic may still be at large, but with the recent easing of lockdown restrictions, upcoming vaccination, accessibility of COVID-19 testing, and the public getting used to following minimum public health standards like mask-wearing and social distancing, traveling in the new normal will soon be par for the course. And what better place to travel to than Panay Island? Known primarily as the home of Boracay, Panay is a world-renowned travel destination with beautiful beaches, a rich cultural heritage, and delectable food. Read on for some of the most awesome activities and experiences to try on Panay Island.
Taste the sweetest mangoes on the pristine shores of Guimaras
Head southeast of Panay to Guimaras Island and satisfy your sweet-tooth cravings at the “Mango Capital of the Philippines.” Guimaras mangoes are renowned internationally as one of the sweetest mangoes in the world. Enjoy this delectable fruit fresh, or try a wide variety of local mango-flavored delicacies such as otap, biscocho, or butterscotch. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try signature dishes served with a mango twist like the Mango Pizza at Pitstop Restaurant.
If you are in town in May, you can even witness the vibrant Manggahan Festival. Join in the celebration of Guimaras culture and thanksgiving for their abundant mango harvest. This year, the Manggahan Festival will be held from May 11 to 22, 2021.
New Normal: As of February 2021, Guimaras Island is open only to tourists from the Western Visayas region. Local health and safety protocols, including screening at the port of entries, wearing of face mask and face shield, and observation of physical distancing, are being implemented.
Explore the historic and natural gems of Kalibo
Travel northwest to Kalibo, capital of the province of Aklan. Drop by the Museo it Akean and the Aklan Freedom Shrine to learn about local history and commemorate heroes of the Spanish and World War II eras. Pay homage at the Kalibo Cathedral (St. John the Baptist Cathedral), home to the Sto. Niño shrine for which the weeklong celebration of the famous Ati-atihan festival is held annually every January. Nature lovers can take a day trip to the Bakhawan eco-park and hike along the bamboo trail of this cool mangrove forest. Enjoy a peaceful trek at Tigayon Hill and Cave where you can marvel at the view of the nearby Aklan river at its peak.
New Normal: Remember to check local travel guidelines prior to your travel. As of March 2021, leisure travel is still restricted in Kalibo. Only travelers classified as locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) are allowed to travel in Aklan Province (with the exception of Boracay Island).
Work on your tan in beautiful Boracay
Whether you’re looking for an active and bustling vacation or a quiet and serene retreat from the city, Boracay has something for everyone. A top tourist destination in the Philippines, Boracay is famous for its powdery white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, picturesque sunset views, water sports activities, and lively nightlife. Stay at the White Beach, a 4-kilometer stretch that’s the center of the hustle and bustle of Boracay, and easily pick and choose among all that Boracay has to offer. For those looking for more rest and relaxation, you can opt for more secluded resorts in Balinghai Beach, Punta Bunga Beach, or Banyugan Beach.
Wind down from a day in the sun with a romantic paraw cruise in Boracay, and enjoy dining on a diverse variety of seafood fresh from the waters of Aklan.
New Normal: Tourists must register online at aklan.gov.ph or Tourist Boracay prior to the tip and present a negative RT-PCR swab test result taken within 72 hours from the date of travel. A round-trip ticket and confirmed booking from a DOT-accredited establishment are also required.
Discover the underwater world by scuba diving or snorkeling
An underrated spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, Panay Island offers an underwater adventure for divers of all levels. Different diving spots, accessible by boat from Boracay, have varying topography. Explore Buruanga point, a go-to dive for photographers, or check out the vibrant marine life at Black Rock and spot the occasional hammerhead shark if you’re lucky. More novice and advanced divers can visit the saw tooth profile of Nasog Point and swim through its underwater boulders and canyons.
Explore scuba diving in Boracay and sign up for an introductory lesson via KKday.
Sail to Bacolod and behold the city’s incredible heritage
Travel by sea from Panay Island to Bacolod for the famous Silay City heritage tour. Absorb the extensive history and culture of Bacolod and visit over 30 heritage houses verified by the National Historical Commission. Then, wander to Talisay City and wander The Ruins that’s dubbed as the Philippines’ Taj Mahal. If you appreciate stunning old-world architecture, the Spanish-era churches San Sebastian Cathedral and Hinigaran Parish Church are worth seeing. And don’t forget to try the best of the famous chicken inasal of Bacolod in Manokan Country!
Visit Bacolod in October and join the Masskara festival celebrations to enjoy the vibrant, colorful masks, street parties, and food fairs.
New Normal: Tourists traveling to Bacolod require a negative RT-PCR result taken within 3 days from the date of travel, along with round trip airline tickets, confirmed accommodation bookings, travel itinerary for the stay, online health declaration card, and BacTrac identification card.
There’s so much to see and do in the stunning Visayan destination—what are your favorite things to do in Panay Island? Head to KKday for more travel ideas and inspiration, as well as the best deals for your next vacation!
*Featured image via KKday Supplier