Once upon a time, in the remote municipality of Anini-y, Antique, there lived a beautiful enchantress who brewed magic spells in a pot. However, the villagers were afraid of her powers and strange ways. Aware of the fear and resentment the people felt on her, the dejected spellcaster retreated to an isolated island just off the shore. With the place devoid of people, she began transforming and enchanting the island to her own whims.
Well, that’s just our own, unofficial version of the legend of Nogas Island, a 24-hectare government reservation island less than 5 kilometers away from Anini-y’s shore. But it could be true, you know. That’s because we found it to be one of the most interesting and strangest islands we’ve ever visited. Let us tell you our tale.
Okay, first things first, and that is to fill up our tummies. Before proceeding to our last destination for the Experience Antique familiarization tour, we stopped by Kanyogan Garden Restaurant in the city of San Jose. It is a popular food destination by locals and tourists alike.
Let’s see what makes this restaurant a superstar. Well, it’s not surprising. They serve sumptuous dishes such as kangkong cracklings, buko tinolang manok, grilled tuna, and sizzling mixed seafood. By the time we finished our satisfying and delicious lunch, we felt we were about to burst!
After lunch, we had a long ride to reach Anini-y (pronounced anee-nee-ee), the southernmost municipality of Antique. Due to the municipality’s proximity to the coast and small land area, locals took fishing as the municipality’s main industry.
Our guides were already waiting for us when we arrived. After putting the things we don’t need in our rooms, we strolled down the beach where our pump boats were docked. Note the dark color of the coarse sand, which suggests that this area may be volcanic in nature.
We left the mainland and started the short boat ride to Nogas Island, which is 4.8 kilometers from the shore. Note the form of the hill in the background; it fits the profile of a small volcano.
It seems the powerful enchantress living in the island has been alerted to our presence. As we approached closer, ominous, dark clouds slowly formed over the island, signalling a thunderstorm is coming. The wind, once warm, started to get cold.
We safely arrived at the island; our boat ran aground as the tide receded. Could this be a bad omen? Whether it is or not, the view of mainland Panay and the calm sea surrounding it was absolutely fantastic.
We alighted from our boat and walked towards the mysterious island. A white shore made of coarse sand, crushed pebbles, bleached corals, and the remains of seashells forms a border between the sea and the foreboding green woods.
Except for two other tourists, Nogas Island was virtually deserted. We had the entire island to ourselves.
The low tide exposed the rocks and tidal flats that surround the island. It’s like being in the middle of a long, lost continent.
Because it was low tide, we had a chance to hover around beautiful coral fields. We do hope that in the future, boatmen would be careful in casting their anchors. Ours carelessly tossed their anchors in a very rich coral field. We actually cringed in silent sympathy for the corals.
There are a lot of open-air cottages that are constructed for friends, colleagues, and families. But we could not help but think. Are these cottages there to lure innocent victims to the enchantress’s dungeons? Are these her versions of the gingerbread house in the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel?
This was becoming weirder every minute! In most islands we have visited, stray dogs always come to welcome us. But in Nogas Island, the denizens are dozens upon dozens of cats! We have never seen so many cats in a single setting.
You do know that witches prefer cats as pets, don’t you?
The centerpiece of Nogas Island is not the beach. It is this white tunnel of gnarled calachuchi (plumeria) trees that line up towards the center of the island. We could feel eyes on us, watching our every move. At times, we thought that any of those calacuchis will reach out and grab us!
Walking in this quiet tunnel, serenaded by the sound of the sea and the eerie chirps of crickets, made the moment spellbinding.
At the end of the calachuchi tunnel is this hundred-foot tall modern lighthouse. But we already know that this is just an illusion. It masks its true form—a dark, moss-covered brick tower with no entry except a window at the top.
At the very top of the tower is a beautiful maiden with long golden hair, waiting for her prince to rescue her.
The thick woods beyond the lighthouse looked absolutely sinister, but that was also what made us want to explore this strange realm even more. Should we go in? After a bit of deliberation, we decided to proceed.
The thick, uncut vegetation makes the island a perfect refuge for birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
But we didn’t dare go beyond this monstrous 100-year old balete tree, which guarded the trail. Look at the photo; something is causing it to blur.
The balete’s encompassing, sinewy arms and vines seem to form a gate to prevent us from going beyond. Perhaps, if we did not heed this “warning,” we would have caught sight of the enchantress’s castle.
As the afternoon wore on, the sky became darker, and we could here peals of thunder beyond. Rain later came in heavy sheets as the thunderclouds came closer, concealing the island with a mysterious gray mist.
The rain overtook us while we were cruising back towards Anini-y, and we were totally drenched when we reached the shore.
It was a pretty cold, totally wet ride. Thus, we warmed ourselves up by taking a dip at the Sira-an Hot Spring and Health Resort where we spent the night. The water is heated naturally by geothermal heat, which further suggests that Anini-y must be volcanic in nature.
Our account of Nogas Island may sound all gloom and doom. But on the contrary, we were totally enthralled by the beauty of the island. The gnarled calachuchi tunnels, the dark woods, and the group of friendly cats coming to us in the hopes of a cuddle were all part of a magical experience.
Perhaps, the spellcaster who resides there never warned us to stay away from her realm after all. Most likely, she was welcoming us into her beautiful home where she lived happily ever after.
Our one-week Experience Antique was finally over, and our sojourn was absolutely beyond awesome, absolutely beyond our wildest dreams. There are so many amazing destinations and exciting adventures that lay in the nooks and crannies of this lovely province. Its community-based tourism programs totally show a lot of promise; and they are potentially the right solutions in maintaining a balance between tourism, cultural immersion, and environmental preservation.
We wholeheartedly invite you to experience Antique! We are sure you will be captivated by her charm and magic just as she did to us. Kruhay!
We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to Antique Governor Rhodora “Dodod” Cadiao and Antique Provincial Tourism Officer Mr. Flord Calawag for inviting us to participate in their Experience Antique familiarization tour. It has been our greatest privilege to be part of this familiarization tour. It is a prestigious honor to be called to promote the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful provinces in the country.
Thank you to all the mayors, tourism officers, LGU staff, and guides who made our adventures incredibly fun and memorable. You are true ambassadors of your beloved province.
Thank you to all resort owners and residents who welcomed us in their warm and comfortable abodes. We also would give our gratitude to the restaurateurs who prepared healthy and delicious culinary delights that filled us with energy and inspiration.
Finally, we would like to thank the talented bloggers and digital influencers who joined us in this familiarization tour. This trip could not have been more fun and engaging without you. We hope and look forward to join more exciting adventures with you.
- Gael Hilotin of The Pinay Solo Backpacker
- Jessica Ayun, contributor of Two Monkeys Travel Group
- Lee Rosales of Momma Lee Adventures
- Ivan Man Dy, Tour Operator and Owner of Old Manila Walks
- Kenneth Ephraim Surat of #iKEN
- Jelito de Leon, freelance Lifestyle Photographer
- Hannah Cepe of The Soulo Traveler
To facilitate your tour around Anini-y and Nogas Island, Antique, get in touch with the following:
- Mr. Edsil Villamar (Tourism Officer) – 0916 – 878 -2604
- Mr. Flord Calawag (OIC Antique Provincial Tourism Office) – 0927-699-5727 / 0919-813-9893
- Ms. Jola Lyn Tingson (Antique Natural Tourism Program Head) – 0977-811-0017
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Province of Antique
- Phone Number: 0995-5034544
We strongly recommend contacting any of these officers before your trip so they can coordinate with the accommodation providers and the necessary people to help you with your island hopping tour. Once you arrive in Anini-y, head first to the municipal hall to register. Then see the tourism officer/staff for assistance.
The best way to enjoy an Experience Antique tour is to allot 8 days for the entire trip. Below is a suggested daily itinerary:
- Day 0 – Arrival at Kalibo
- Day 1 – Libertad Caves
- Day 2 – Malumpati Spring in Pandan and Igpasungaw Falls in Sebaste
- Day 3 – Mararison Island in Culasi
- Day 4 – River Adventures in Tibiao
- Day 5 – Cultural Immersion at the Antique Rice Terraces in Valderama
- Day 6 – Rafflesia Site in Valderama
- Day 7 – Igbaclag Cave in San Remegio and Nogas Island in Anini-y
- Day 8 – exit at Iloilo
- P 80 per person – bus fare from Iloilo City to San Jose (same rate applies on the return trip)
- P 60 per person – jeepney fare from San Jose to Sira-an Hot Spring Resort, Anini-y (same rate applies on the return trip)
- P 750 per boat (5 pax capacity) – round trip boat fare from Sira-an Hot Spring Resort to Nogas Island and back
- P 20 per person – entrance fee at Nogas Island
- P 20 per person – environmental fee
Because this is an experiential blog, we included San Jose in our itinerary and rate sheet since we stopped by the said city. However, you can ride a bus from Iloilo City directly to Anini-y. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Anini-y. From there, you can ride a habal-habal or tricycle to reach Sira-an Hot Spring and Health Resort. Alternatively, you can ride a V-hire from Iloilo and tell the driver to drop you off the resort since the van actually passes by the facility.
* Rates are subject to change without prior notice. We did not include our expenses for guide fees, meals, snacks, souvenirs, accommodations, tips, and other fees in this rate sheet as you may have different needs, preferences, itineraries, and sharing scheme from us.
1. For large groups or for a more private tour, you can hire an air-conditioned van from Southwest Tours. Use the following contact details:
- Cellphone Numbers: 0917-568-2441 or 0947-891-1658
- Email: email@example.com
2. For great-tasting food in San Jose, Antique, dine at the Kanyogan Garden Restaurant. Get in touch with them by using the following contact details:
- Street Address: Bantayan Road, Atabay, San Jose, Antique
- Phone Number: (036) 540 7961
- Facebook Page: Kanyogan Garden Restaurant
3. For accommodations in Anini-y, Antique, stay at Sira-an Hot Spring and Health Resort. Use the following contact details:
- Street Address: Brgy. Nato, Anini-y, Antique
- Phone Number: 0926-582-2984
- Facebook Page: Sira-an Hot Spring and Health Resort
4. Pack light but bring the following:
- water (at least two liters)
- trekking sandals
- aqua shoes
- umbrella, hat, or sarong
- snacks and softdrinks
- lunch (you can bring packed meals)
- swimming attire
- goggles/mask and snorkel
- extra dry clothes
- extra money for emergencies
- personal medicines
5. Don’t forget to waterproof your belongings by placing them in a high-quality dry bag. Alternatively, you can wrap your items in plastic bags before putting them in your backpack. The plastic acts as a lining to prevent your items from being soaked.
6. Do not litter and dispose of your garbage properly. Do not throw anything, even organic wastes, to the sea. Pack them up and bring them back to the mainland for proper disposal.
7. Keep your sandals, flip-flops, or aqua shoes on to protect your feet from sharp rocks as well as broken glass and other debris that may be hidden under the sand.