Kalibo is the capital and oldest town of Aklan--the oldest province in the Philippines. [Aklan was founded in 1213 by settlers from Borneo and included what is now the province of Capiz.]
Generally an unprepossessing place, Kalibo is mainly a jump-off point for Boracay. However, the city is transformed during the third week of January, when the locals and a myriad of visitors participate in the famous Ati-Atihan festival and Kalibo bursts forth into an incredible party lasting Friday through Sunday. If you intend to come for the festival, book your hotel and flights several months in advance.
Kalibo is also known for its piña, a delicate fiber and fabric made from pineapple leaves. Extraction and weaving of piña is a long and arduous process. In town, the small Museo it Akean, Martelino St near the church, is housed in an interesting old building. The museo is currently under renovation and when it reopens, it will contain a number of antiques that were unearthed in the area.
A 30 minute drive north will take you to Afga Beach in the town of Tangalan. Afga is a peaceful, long stretch of mostly light gray sand with a small patch of white sand in front of the privately owned Casa Blanca. The best time to come here is the end of April through November; January-March is amihan (when winds come from the Pacific); currents and waves offshore tend to be strong. If you want to stay overnight, there are a few resorts with very simple beach cottages for rent ($5-7); no hot water. Nearby Jawili Falls, popular with Kalibo residents, is a thin stream of fresh spring water that trickles down into several pools.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
Daily trips from Manila via Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines. The flight takes 50 minutes. Cebu Pacific has a seasonal flight 3 times a week from Cebu. Kalibo's small airport is a few kilometers from town proper. Tricycles will take you to town for $0.75.
Kalibo-Roxas City-Iloilo City. The trip between Iloilo city and Kalibo takes approximately 3 hours. Air conditioned buses and minivans leave from along Osmeña Ave and Quezon Ave near the Shell gas station. The trip should cost you $2.50 (per person one way).
Kalibo-Caticlan. The trip to Caticlan should take 1 hour and 45 min. Southwest tours has a bus that meets incoming flights at the airport. Cost is $10 round trip. You may also go the cheaper way by getting a tricycle to town, then an aircon minivan to Caticlan ($2.50 one way) or even cheaper if you don't mind packing into a jeepney or non-aircon minibus ($1.50).
Accommodations and transport for Ati-Atihan are booked months in advance. Homestays are available through the city's tourism association. Lodging is simple and prices can triple during Ati-Atihan time.
Beachcomber Inn, 467 N. Roldan St. Tel. 262-4846, Fax 268-4765. 20 rooms. $24-33 per single or double, $40 for the suite. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
High-end for Kalibo. Rooms are nice and clean, and the hotel has a generator (blackouts are common during summer). We particularly like the third floor rooms, they are bright and have an interesting table with a glass top and stone and marble block base. All rooms in this cream and gray building are airconditioned, have cable TV, bathroom (with hot water). The managers, who also double as the receptionists, are very accommodating and helpful.
La Esperanza Hotel, Osmeña Ave. Tel. 262-5658, Fax 262-3989. 18 rooms. $17.50-22.50 per single, $32.50 per double, $62.50 for the suite. Probably Kalibo's "most high-end" as double rooms have one waterbed and one "foam" (regular matress) bed, and the suite has a king-sized waterbed (aside from the double foam bed) and a jacuzzi. The terminal for buses to Iloilo is next door; though convenient you may hear horns early in the morning. All rooms are clean, have cable TV, bathroom (with hot water), and aircon. This family run place has a small restaurant and the staff are friendly.
Garcia-Legaspi Mansion, 159 Roxas Ave. Tel. 262-5588, Fax 262-3541. 5 aircon rooms, 2 non-aircon rooms. $19-24 per single or double aircon (with hot water), $14-16.50 per single or double aircon (no hot water), $10 per single or double non-aircon. On the third floor of a building owned by the Garcia family, this place has clean, good sized aircon rooms with cable TV. The manager is a wealth of information, very helpful, and can help make arrangements for car rental. The Garcia-Legaspi Mansion is on one of the town's busiest streets and most of the rooms face the street; we had a broken window in our room so it was a bit noisy. The family will be opening another hotel near Beachcomber, which is in a quieter area.
Villa Atong-Atang, M. Laserna St. Tel. 268-6830. 12 aircon rooms, 3 non-aircon. $17-19 per single or double aircon, $8 per single or double non-aircon. In a huge old house in a relatively quiet area. Rooms are clean, a bit dark, and the bathrooms are small. The staff are friendly.
Glowmoon, S. Martelino St. Tel. 262-3073. 7 aircon rooms, 7 non-aircon rooms. $17.50 per single or double aircon, $9 per single or double non-aircon, $11.25 per triple non-aircon.
Probably one of Kalibo's oldest hotels, rooms here are small, dark, and only the aircon rooms have bathrooms (no hot water).
Little Glowmoon, F. Quimpo St. Tel. 262-3072. 5 aircon rooms, 4 non-aircon rooms. $15 per single or double aircon, $5 per single or double non-aircon. Little Glowmoon (owned by one of the children of Glowmoon's proprietor) is in a small peach building. Aircon rooms have bathrooms (no hot water) and cable TV; fan-cooled rooms have a common bathroom.
WHERE TO EAT
Most of the inns serve a simple breakfast and snacks. For those without operational restaurants, the staff can buy lunch or dinner for you. If you are looking for a fast-food type meal, Jollibee is near the church.
Although Kalibo's airport is small, it has a large selection of places to eat while waiting for your flight. Favorites are Korean Friends Restaurant for very good Korean food, and Mingoys for Spanish food--its 3 branches in Manila are very popular.
A popular place to go in the evening is just outside town, on the way to the ship port, where a row of restaurants specialize in fresh grilled seafood. Sikini (stands for the Filipino dishes: Sinigang, Kinilaw, and Nilaga) has good native food. For ambiance, Aquafresh is in a pleasant setting on stilts beside fishponds, and is slightly more expensive.
Willhelm Tell, Roxas Ave, has good European sausages and great rosti (hashbrown-like potatoes, unfortunately we did not get to try the "mushed potato" made every afternoon). The owner doubles as the chef and his staff are very well trained and can explain all the different sausages and other items on the menu. Servings are generous, about $2.50-3.00 for a meal.
Kamay Kainan, Arch Reyes St, is a small and charming restaurant. Colorful kiping (rice flour paste shaped into a leaf then dried, and can be eaten once fried and loaded with sugar) hang from the ceiling. This place serves good Filipino food, and a meal costs $1.50-2.75.
Kurts, Arch. Reyes St, beside Kamay Kainan, is a popular for mami (soup with noodles) and other quick snacks.
Mix & Match, L. Barrios St, is a popular place for Filipino food.
Peking House, L. Barrios St, is called by the locals "the only real Chinese restaurant in town."
WHERE TO SHOP
Piña and abaca products, baskets, and hammocks are Kalibo's most popular handicrafts and export items. You may preview most of the crafts at the Hugod Aklanon Tourism and Trade Center, Kalibo Tourism Center, Burgos St between Veterans Ave and Mabini St. This is also a good place for maps and info on Kalibo. The tourism officers are very helpful! The market, along Roxas Ave, is a good place for baskets, bags, and hammocks; Linda's Baskets (across the street) has good selection of baskets and bags. Clay pots and a greater variety of products are available on market days, Wednesdays and Sundays, when wares from nearby towns are brought in and sold.
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