Panay travel guide

On the Visayas region’s western section lies the island of Panay, which is home to several naturally beautiful beaches and untouched lush forests. The entire island encompasses provinces including Aklan, Iloilo, Guimaras, Antique and Capiz, spanning an area measuring 12,011 square-kilometres.

Legends say that Aklan was bought from the Ati by ten Bornean datus when they landed on a place in Iloilo, which is now known as the town of San Joaquin. In 1569, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Panay from Cebu and found tattooed people, which led him and the other Spaniards to refer to the island as Isla de los Pintados. Spanish officials named the island based on the town of Pan-ay in Capiz where one of the earliest settlements was located.

Visiting Panay from Boracay

Tourists visit Panay for scenic views and the tropical climate. But apart from lovely beaches and lush forests, Panay also has its share of historical spots and old churches, making it an interesting island to visit for tourists who are fond of exploring vestiges of the past.

Panay is also remarkable for its festivals, particularly the Ati-atihan festival in Kalibo, the Halaran thanksgiving festival for their god, Bululakaw in Capiz, and the Binirayan Festival of Antique.

In general, people from Panay are very hospitable and friendly to visitors. The seafaring people from Antique are very helpful, but because of their secluded location within the rugged mountain ranges, they don’t speak conventional Bisaya. They have their own distinctive dialect, Kinaray-a, which originated from Austronesian influences. Most can read, write and speak English, though.

Panay is most famous for its tempting beaches, which invite a lot of visitors to come to the island for a weekend getaway or holiday. During peak season from November until April, Panay teems with visitors from all over the Philippines and other parts of the world, making its seaside locations bustling with tourist activity.

Because the main activities for visiting Panay island include water sports, swimming, and exploring the remote wilderness areas, the best time to visit the island is from November until the end of April (dry season). The rest of the year is wet, and rains plague Capiz, Iloilo and Aklan.

Meanwhile, the climate in other parts of the island is also wet withe the dry season only lasting for up to three months. In general, rainfall is heavier around September and lower from March to April.

Planning your time of visit to Panay is important if you want to make the most of your stay. Tour companies in Manila can organise trips which enable visitors to explore the scenic attractions of the island, including secluded beaches and mountains, depending on what you want to do during your holiday. Most trips begin in Kalibo Aklan, and from there you can go to attractions like Boracay, Jawili Falls, Lezo Village and Malumpati Springs among others.

The most challenging way to tour Panay is via an island roundtrip so you can see the entire island and its major attractions. The trip starts in Kalibo towards the north and upon reaching Nabas, you need to cross over to Pandan. Towards the south, places like Sebaste, Culasi, San Jose de Buenavista and Tibiao are visited until Iloilo City is reached. The entire second day of the tour is reserved for exploring Iloilo. On the third day, you to the north to visit old Spanish churches on the way to Passi. From there, you can either visit Suhoton Cave or Roxas, or go back to Kalibo.

In Iloilo, one SM City mall exists and it is the most popular and largest mall in the city which opened in 1999. There, visitors can find a range of boutiques and establishments offering convenient services to both locals and tourists. In beaches like Boracay, tourists can find an abundance of souvenirs made with seashells. More tourist-oriented beach resorts offer more shopping facilities to visitors ranging from convenience stores to markets selling local produce.