If you’re looking for laidback beaches and eco-charms, set your sights on Kalibo.
Most visitors to Kalibo will see it simply as a gateway to one of the prettiest, and buzziest, destinations in the Philippines: Boracay. But take a second look and it will reveal hidden gems, including one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines.
Things to do
Hit the beach
Head to Boracay’s centrepiece – a photogenic miles-long strip of powdery white sand and turquoise water. The idyllic tropical paradise is one of the most coveted beaches in the world, drawing up to two million tourists a year to its sunny shores. You’ll find a variety of budget accommodation at the southern end of the beach, while the northern end features upmarket hotels and resorts.
Romp in a swamp
The Kalibo Bakhawan Eco-park is an ecological success story. Established in 1990 to protect locals from storm surges, the 220-hectare forest (‘bahkawan’ means mangrove in the local language) features 26 of the world’s 70 mangrove species, as well as the chance to go kayaking, bamboo rafting and walking a 1.1km raised bamboo path which gives you incredible aerial views.
Join the festival mayhem
The renowned Ati-Atihan Festival, held in the third week of January, is when Kalibo goes wild. Held in honour of the Infant Jesus, the festival is inspired by the island’s indigenous culture and is a boisterous, colourful event with bright costumes, tribal dancing and all-night parties. The festival culminates on the Sunday with Mass in the morning, followed by a parade, then a procession and, finally, a masquerade ball.
Get away from it all
If you’re after a white beach without the crowds and commotion of Boracay, head over to the western side of Aklan. Unlike busy Boracay, Hinugtan Beach is much more laidback and serene. You’ll find basic eco-lodges and cottages strung along the shoreline with a distinctly chilled vibe. No reservations required.
Love some animals
If you’re an animal lover looking for a more unique travel experience, visit the Aklan Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, where you can hang out with various rescued cats and dogs who are being cared for and rehabilitated. You can even go for a run on the beach with the dogs who are able to.
Distance to Kalibo: 3km
Tricycle: A chartered motorised tricycle is the easiest and most common way to get from the airport – they can fit up to 8 passengers. You can also book a transfer through your Kalibo hotel. This is also the best way to arrange transport to Boracay, which is a 75-minute drive from Kalibo Airport.Back to top
When to go
It’s warm all year round in Kalibo and nearby Boracay, where there are basically two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season, especially from December to April, is the best time to go. Temperatures are slightly milder and the sky tends to be less overcast.Back to top
You can get to just about anywhere in Kalibo on a motorised tricycle for a standard fee of PHP ₱6.50.Back to top