ILOILO – Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. urged tourists who witnessed yesterday’s Dinagyang Festival highlight in Iloilo City to also explore Iloilo province.
Northern, central and southern Iloilo have points of interest that the Provincial Tourism Office is promoting, he said.
In northern Iloilo alone which is made up of the municipalities of Barotac Viejo, Ajuy, Sara, Concepcion, San Rafael, Batad, Balasan, Carles, Estancia, Lemery, and San Dionisio, there are lots of islands to explore. Among the more popular islands are the following:
* Agho Island – This eight-hectare island is one of the few uninhabited islands in Concepcion with extensive creamy-white sand beach and sprawling coral garden perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
* Calabazas Island – This is a 20-minute ride by motorized from Culasi Port in Ajuy town. The island is more commonly referred by the townsfolk as Parola because it is home to the ruins of an 1884 lighthouse, the second oldest in the country. Stroll along the coral rubbles where visitors can go swimming and snorkeling
* Tangke in Barangay Gabi, Gigantes Sur, Carles – a hidden saltwater lagoon formed by a surrounding wall of granite monolithic cliffs.
Visitors need to climb a steep rocky wall that serves as the lagoon’s fortress. An easier and short climb from where the motorized boat docks alongside its wall is done only during high tide. The lagoon’s rocky borders offer visitors one-of-a kind formations.
* Bulubadiangan Island – known for its beautiful panoramic view with the longest sandbar in all of the islands in Concepcion. It is one of the most-visited and photographed island beaches in the province. It offers amenities for those who would want to stay overnight.
Central Iloilo, on the other hand, boasts of eco-agricultural and eco-tourism destinations. Among these are the following:
* Jade Energetic Paradise and Adventure in Barangay Cabayogan, Badiangan – a family-friendly inland resort with accommodation and amenities, food and beverages and fun and adventure activities for everyone
* Mapols Farm in Barangay Bagacay, Pototan – a recycled-themed farm with creation areas and a café. It has picnic tables and bamboo cottages and a farm house available for renting. It also caters to group overnight camping.
* Mariit Wildlife Conservation Park in Barangay Jayubo, Lambunao – a facility for wildlife conservation, habitat preservation and environmental protection of the endemic Tariktik hornbill, Panay spotted deer, Visayan warty pig and cloud rat
* Damires Hills Tierra Verde in Barangay Damires, Janiuay – a 40-hectare inland resort where visitors can be one with nature and so some physical activities. They offer accommodation with venues for any kind of party.
* Ephrathah Farms in Barangay Sariri, Badiangan – a 14-hectare sprawling inland resort and farmland with charming accommodations and a popular venue for functions and events with family-run and adventure activities
* Bulabog Puti-an National Park in Dingle and San Enrique – designated as National Park in June 14, 1961. It has a rainforest trail with 33 caves, although only six are recommended for exploration. The trail will lead one to its most prominent cave, the Maestranza (Spanish for garrison) where an amazing heritage experience awaits every visitor. Maestranza is famous for its coral rock with Spanish inscription believed to have been written by a guerilla during the Spanish-American War.
* Buacari – located 21 kilometers away from the town proper of Leon, it covers 500 hectares of forestland with terrain ranging from hilly to mountainous. The Bucari campsite which is the heart of the Bucari Eco-Tourism area has an elevation of 773 meters above sea level while the Mansiga Viewing Deck, also found in the campsite, is 863 meters abode the sea level. Its subtropical highland climate makes it the “Summer Capital of Iloilo.”
Bucari offers a plethora of activities that include camping, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding and swimming in its falls one of which is the famous Imoy Falls, located in Barangay Camandag./PN