Best known as the gateway to the world-famous white sand beaches of Boracay Island and the site of the Ati-Atihan Festival every January, Kalibo is more than just a jump-off point for beachcombers. When the loud drumming and spirited dancing is over, the laidback town’s religious traditions remain strong, and Kalibo takes pride in its history and natural wonders. Organised in the 13th century by settlers from Borneo, this heart of Aklan province reveals hidden treasures to those with the will to take the ubiquitous tricycle around town and beyond.
Best of Kalibo
1. White Beach, Boracay
Powdery white sands, clear shallow waters and endless island vibe draw both locals and foreigners to one of the world’s most famous beach all year round. Flip-flops and sunglasses are de riguer; fire dancers and folk musicians can often be seen and heard. Chill out at one of the many nightspots or have an intimate candlelight dinner by the beach.
2. Bulabog Beach, Boracay
From November to April, the other side of Boracay comes to life with kiteboarders and windsurfers. In the off-season from May to October, sunrise watchers and water sports enthusiasts come in droves to hype up the still waters.
3. Ariel’s Point
A half-hour boat ride away from Boracay, Ariel’s Point offers five cliff diving platforms 3 to 13 metres above the water. The half-day excursion package includes buffet meals and unlimited use of watersports facilities, so you can focus on one thing: fun, fun, fun!
4. Island Hopping
Let your friendly boatman take you around the island for snorkelling and fish feeding, sightseeing at Crocodile Island and Crystal Cove, or just chilling out on Puka Beach. End the day with a sunset cruise on a wind-powered paraw, Boracay’s distinctive double outrigger sailboat. Lying down in the net in between the outriggers is pure bliss!
5. Bakhawan Ecopark
This lush 75-hectare mangrove forest offers tranquility in a former swampland. Be enthralled by the views along the 800-metre bamboo bridge. More adventurous travellers can satisfy their cravings by sampling tamilok—a thin, slippery woodworm regarded as a local delicacy.
6. Sampaguita Garden
Kitschy and unexpectedly cute, Sampaguita Gardens has a fine gallery for Precious Moments ornaments and figurines. What’s more, the extended Christmas season in the Philippines gets even longer at the resort’s Christmas Cottage that is open all year round!
7. Kalibo Cathedral
The Santo Niño de Kalibo honoured during the Ati-atihan Festival is enshrined in the cathedral, the fourth church to be built on the site after fire, war and an earthquake damaged the previous churches in the last 200 years.
8. Museo It Akean
Situated a few steps away from Kalibo Cathedral, the museum enlightens visitors about Kalibo’s 800-year history. The private collection, housed in the School of Kings building built in 1882, includes artefacts and antiques from the Spanish colonial period.
Yes, you can wear a pineapple. Weaving the fibre from pineapple leaves is a unique Kalibo specialty. Piña is sheer and stiff, making it an interesting material for formal wear, Barong Tagalog and haute couture.
Fresh seafood is so easy to find in Kalibo due to its proximity to the sea. Reasonably-priced prawns, crabs, fish and squid prepared with any sauce you can think of are best for sharing. When you run out of ideas, just find a table at Niño’s Ihaw-Ihaw and have a feast of everything!
11. Fruit Shakes
Under the hot sun, there’s nothing as refreshing as the Boracay’s famous fruit shakes. Mangoes may be the fruit of choice, but the various combinations will give you a reason to try a new variant every time. Jonah’s is a great choice on the tropical island, with the Banana Choco Peanut being the most popular.