Tibiao: The Heart of Ecotourism in the Philippines

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We are not adventure junkies. Nor are we beach bums. But we do love nature a lot.

When we planned our trip to the Philippines, we thought about visiting about ten places within three weeks. We wanted to see gorgeous, blue lagoons, swim with whale sharks, visit the oldest Catholic churches in the country, hike to the top of Chocolate hills, see the smallest monkey in the world…

The list was pretty long. But we changed our plan instantly after we arrived to Pandan in Antique province and we decided to take it easy and to stay more with locals rather than build a “we-were-also-there” itinerary.
After seven days in this incredibly friendly and family-like town, we moved to Tibiao, which was about 40km from Pandan and which turned out to be a perfect place to explore ecotourism in the Philippines.

We planned to explore the place and maybe do some trekking, but we did not expect to enjoy three days full of new eco-adventures and meeting amazing people.

Spirit of Tibiao

Unlike Pandan, where all events and local life happens around its ‘plaza’ or the main square in the center, in Tibiao daily life concentrates mostly around the main road or along the shore. Locals socialize in front of their houses, in bamboo huts near the beach and younger ones run around the sea or they play their favourite basketball in the court.

This place is a proof that as a traveller you don’t need a luxury destination with hundreds of tour operators with overpriced packages to relish the attractions in the area. We are not big fans of organized tours or packages at all, so we were very glad that our time in Tibiao was well-planned, but not strictly controlled.

Flord, a very helpful young man and the owner of Fish Spa in Tibiao, suggested some activities and places that would match our interests and tickle our curiosity. We did things we never thought to try and we are grateful we said ‘yes’ even to some crazy things:

Fish spa

Hold on, this is not a kind of spa where small fish tickle your feet. The idea is the same, but the species of fish is much bigger and it’s more fun to resist and to let them do their job!
Price: P 100/$ 2.3/pax/30 min.
How to get there: contact Flord (flord@tibiaofishspa.com) for more details.

Boat production

The majority of the families in Tibiao own a boat and we were lucky to bump into a workshop, where about fifteen men were constructing a boat. To build one takes about two months.

Natural salt production

One of the most interesting things we saw in the Philippines was the process of natural salt production. It looked simple, but as one of the producers explained to us, it’s a very demanding job and sadly, it’s also dying out slowly.

They use only natural ingredients like seawater and sand to produce salt from March through June. They are able to make 25 kg of salt in three days, which requires three proper filtrations.

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Natural salt production.

Meeting a local healer

Thanks to our Filipino friend Karmila we visited Remidios Maniba, a woman who showed us that miracles are possible. For more details, stay tuned and follow our “Sunday Story” series.

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Remidios Maniba: the healer.

Pottery and Brick Making

Not far from Tibiao, in Brgy. Bandoja you can see the process of brick production and possibly learn how to make a clay brick or a flowerpot. Ivana got her hands dirty and was very happy about her first hand-made brick!
Price: P 70/$ 1.6/pax

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
The only one brick production in the Antique province.

Zipline

Simply an awesome experience! As we said, we are not usually crazy for the kind of fun where your life flashes in front of your eyes, but surrounded by landscape like in Tibiao, we could not resist giving it a try. We would even do it again!
Price: (1-km trip): P 300/$6.8/pax + Tibiao Eco-Adventures Park entrance fee: P 50/$1.1/pax

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Gianni on the zipline.

Zorb

Okay, this kind of entertainment is invented for crazy people and (from my own experience) short people. You get into a HUGE, plastic ball with another brave person and an assistant ties you there. Ready! Steady! Go!

They push the ball down the hill and you scream for a long, seven seconds because this is one of the kookiest moments in life when you need to let out all the mixed emotions you’re feeling at the moment.
Price: P 300/$6.8/pax

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Ivana trying and surviving the zorb.

Trekking

Once you are in Tibiao, arrange a transport, a so-called habal-habal, i.e. a local with his own motorbike who will bring you to a Tuno village. From there you arrange another guide at the main gate who will lead you through a lush forest and rice-fields with banana and coconut trees around. You’ll also cross hanging bridges, which requires a bit of courage too.

The views are spectacular and the air is so thick and hot that you feel you’re in the right place to experience the tropical climate in Asia!
Price: a local guide we arranged in Tibiao: P 300/$6.8/day + P 100/$2.3 for a waterfall local guide/5 pax, motorbike, gasoline & driver: P 200/$4.6/day, entrance fee for trekking and waterfalls: P 100/$2.3/pax including a guide, too.

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Ricefields in the Tuno village.

7-tiered cascades of the Bugtong Bato Falls

After about one hour of hiking you can refresh yourself in the cool water of the waterfalls (you can also reach it within 30 minutes if you don’t take out your camera or chat with locals along the way).

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Conquering the third level of the falls.

If you still have energy and you are up for another new adventure, then you will definitely love to climb to the third cascade with the rope.

Well, if zipline pumped you full of adrenaline, then climbing the cascade will be a moment for overcoming fears and practicing focusing on your breath and coordinating your movements mindfully.

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
A boy climbing a rock of the falls.

Kawa

An absolutely great way to relax after cool waterfalls, Kawa is a hot tub that used to be a wok in the past. You can relax in the hot water with fresh herbs and flowers that will make your bath a soothing pleasure. We suggest having a Kawa bath in the evening or early morning, when the air is still fresh. A lodge for overnight is available there.
Price: Kawa bath: P 200/pax/$4.6/hour; P 1500/$34/room with fan or P 2500/$57/cottage Contact: Peter’s Lodge: (0920) 499-6903 and (0939) 492-8554

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Ivana getting ready for the kawa bath.

Tibiao whitewater river

We love this place! Although it’s better for kayaking than for swimming, we jumped into the river every time we came from a forest. It’s a wonderful place for meditation, too, as during the dry season you can easily sit in the water and let the stream of the river flow around you.

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
View on the Tibiao river.

Ever Land Inn

After all the activities you do in Tibiao and Tuno village, you can treat yourself with a Swedish massage in Ever Land Inn, a great example of eco-tourism! We stayed there for two nights sleeping in a tent under a hundred-year-old mango tree. Hearing the Tibiao River, concerts of night and early morning cicadas’ and geckos’, with no electricity, no internet connection… what else could you wish for a body and soul retreat?
Price: P 250/$5.7/pax, breakfast included; lunch, dinner: P 200/$4.6/meal, massage: P 350/$8/pax/hour Contact: 0947-5719488

Tibiao ecotourism in the Philippines
Us at the Ever Land having a welcome lunch.

We got more than we wished for, saw more than expected, tried more than we had planned and left more relaxed and connected with nature than we could have imagined. And that’s what Tibiao is all about: an active, meditative and eco-friendly place for replenishing your spirit and raising your adrenaline!

Where else to stay in Antique

Pandan Beach Resort

Kayak Inn Tibiao

Phaidon Beach Resort

Le Palme Beach Resort

Which is your favourite or unforgettable eco-adventure you’ve ever done? We would love to hear from you!  

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28 thoughts on “Tibiao: The Heart of Ecotourism in the Philippines”

  1. Now, that is what I call a real bath 🙂
    This place sounds very interesting if you want to disconnect with the cyber world and simply relax in the wild nature, which I have to admit doesn’t sounds like a bad idea at all. The closer we’ve been to a similar situation was when we volunteered in Thailand at a dog shelter within an elephant nature park. We were in the middle of the Northern Thailand jungle, more than an hour away from the close big city, sleeping in a bamboo hut with just a bed in it, surrounded by nature, elephants and a lot of dogs to take care of. It was an amazing experience, probably one of the best we’ve done to date, in fact we supposed to stay for only a week but ended up staying a month.

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Ahaha, yes, that was a proper hot bath! If it wouldn’t have been over 30C in the air, I would have loved it even more 🙂
      Awww, that must have been great time in the ENP! And the fact that you stay so long just proves it 🙂 I need to check your post/s about that 🙂
      Hugs!

  2. Your captivating pictures brings smile and tears of joy in my heart reminiscing the memories I had experience growing in a small rural village like this in Panay and Negros Province. Your candid photo of nature and people are priceless, a gifts to the people who appreciate the beauty of simple life. I hope that someday my small kids can experience this simple pleasures of life in Panay without their iPad, Internet and IPhone and a city Los Angeles even just for two months. My heartfelt thank for sharing this photo.

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Many thanks, Aventure! The landscape in the Antique province is stunning. We couldn’t stop taking pictures there. Moreover, it is a very relaxing place which allows you just to stop, relax and be more in contact with yourself and the nature, too.

  3. This is great! Definitely one to pin for later. We’re thinking of going later this year and your round-up of activities sounds perfect (husband won’t mind the enjoy-stuff-from-one-home-base angle, either).

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      If you are into the nature and adventures, then Antique province is a great place to go!

  4. My friends and I are planning to go there on July!

    So glad you had fun in our little corner in the world.

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi John, have a wonderful time in Tibiao! We enjoyed it a lot there 🙂

  5. This is actually my dad’s hometown. So when we were kids we’d visit during summer and All Saint’s Day there.

    Going up was just dirt road in the middle of the forest. I do remember just immersing in the water and feeling and listening to nature. So simple but refreshing.

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks for commenting, Jing. That’s so lovely to hear about your memories. This place gave us exactly the feeling you’ve described.

  6. I love all the photos and the activities you guys did. Do you know if there is any diving close? We just booked tickets to the Philippines on a whim – we’ve got a lot of planning to do! Only downside is we only have 11 days there and I just keep adding to the “must-see” list – haha!

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Katie,

      Cool, where exactly are you heading to? You can dive in Malalison Marine Sanctuary in Culasi, Antique. For this, you’ll need to contact Phaidon Beach Resort for details. Looking forward to your stories and photos from your upcoming trip as well!

  7. I guess it must be a great memories! Me and my amigos are planning to travel this April, I would like to know is it a right time to check the falls. I love waterfalls and I don’t want to end up lack of water in the falls. By the way which time of the year you visited this place?

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Prsna, we were in Tibiao in the beginning – mid April last year, so you are going to be fine there! Have fun at the waterfalls!

  8. I’ve never heard of Tibiao before. Sounds like a great place to chill. That Kawa bath looks fun. Plus, I’m into outdoorsy adventures so I totally wanna visit those beautiful places you mentioned! 🙂

    P.S. The zipline fees are cheap. I remember paying much more at Dahilayan in Bukidnon.

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Patricia! Tibiao is becoming more and more recognized as an eco-adventure gem in the Philippines and if you say you are an outdoors person, you would love love it there 🙂 Yup, prices are very friendly there in overall, too.

  9. Antique is indeed wonderful & full of surprises…just recently Antique was featured in Phil TV & other local media as a hidden rice terraces was found in one of its town (San Remigio). After watching that news, I remembered your blog and those beautiful pictures of rice paddies/terraces in Tibiao you posted…turned out, it just the tip of an iceberg 🙂

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Jessa, that’s some great news! Antique is indeed a beautiful spot in the Philippines, no wonder that media has started to promote it. Thanks for remembering our post and getting back to us 🙂

  10. Hi! I live in the Philippines and have traveled extensively in my home country but I’ve never been to Tibiao! Such a shame really, especially seeing how beautiful it is. I love to travel slowly as well, and this really looks like my kind of vacation. Will definitely have to put this in the bucket list! Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Liz, thanks for reading! Tibiao is a bit off-beat spot in the Philippines, but definitely worth the visit. Hopefully you get there one day yourself and experience its tranquility and adventurous spirit, too 🙂 Happy travels!

  11. efryl delos reyes

    Hello Ma’am, loving this post of yours, at the same time so grateful to read this of how you enjoy your stayed in our country the PH. and I love the KAWA thing (Im totally laugh out loud with ur cute photo and scared too with the guy thing pointing on you, but i know you all are just having fun) this was totally good and we do hope you can get a chance to visit again the Ph to relax and please do also visit our little angel Diane she would be happy to see u again.
    More travels and god bless you all . have a safe trip guys. 🙂

  12. Amazingly cool! We have been to many destinations in Antique, and just last year, the region’s Department of Tourism invited us for a familiarization tour of the province. It’s such a beautiful, raw, and underrated province. The natural attractions are simply gorgeous. The history and culture is rich beyond imagination.

    Antique, now, is one of our favorite places. We plan to go back there next year to climb the mighty Mt. Madjaas. 🙂

  13. Hi Ivana! Your blog is very helpful! 🙂 I am planning to go to Antique as my second stop from Boracay ( Boracay-Antique-Iloilo-Guimaras trip). May I ask if there is a lifevest that you can rent once you are in Bugtong Bato Falls? I wanted to jump to the water but not good in swimming, lol. I went to other falls ( like Tangadan Falls in La Union) and they offer lifevest for rent..

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Joycee,
      When we were there three years ago, there was no possibility to rent a vest since the falls are located in a very remote area, and they were just building infrastructure there. Things might have changed there, but not sure about the equipment to rent to tourists though. Enjoy the Philippines!

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