Hedonists head for Panay’s most sought- after destination: the long and luscious white-sand beach at Boracay. It’s all that many visitors to the region, or for that matter the country, ever see. Despite offering the attractions of the Visayas in a microcosm, the rest of Panay keeps a low tourism profile, which makes its other parts appealingly low-key. These include tropical Guimaras Island – just a short commute from the lively regional capital of Iloilo City – and stunning World Heritage–listed Spanish churches. A rugged coastline runs south and west, and a more domesticated one to the north and east. Inland, remote and little-explored mountains and waterfalls beckon active hikers. Adventure sports – particularly mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and rock climbing – can be arranged out of Iloilo.
The amazing Ati-Atihan Festival, held in Kalibo in January, is the Philippines’ most famous fiesta. Much of Panay’s festive tradition can be traced back to its indigenous tribal groups, namely the Ati and Ata, and communities of both groups remain on the mainland.