Ask any Aklanon about Nábas, and chances are these are the two words you’ll hear: cold springs.
Traveling from Kalibo International Airport, Nabas is the town before Malay and its island paradise of Boracay. This makes for a good tandem—Boracay gives you the sizzle, while Nabas provides the refresher.
The last time we were there, we crossed paths with two groups of vacationers, one from Scandinavia and the other from Russia, which only means that the town is slowly—and coolly—placing itself on the international tourism map.
1) Dip into spine-tingling cold at Hurom-hurom
If the usual train of thought goes as Nabas → cold springs, the next arrow would point toward the town’s pride, Hurom-hurom.
Pools of varied depths allow you to choose between merely dipping your ankles and submerging your entire body in water that flows directly from a mountain spring. You’d think you were bathing in some Banawe or Sagada stream—swimming in the water for half-an-hour straight will numb your nerves.
This natural bounty doesn’t seem to run out, as the clear water spreads over much of the resort’s grounds, enveloping your feet before spilling over to the neighboring natural brook.
2) Chill to the island experience in Manyuko
Hurom-hurom is best for daytime jaunts. Nearby Manyuko, on the other hand, rocks for overnight escapes.
The spring water is directed into a huge pool ringed by picnic huts, an open bar, and cottages for overnight stays. The water here doesn’t gurgle and gush as it does in Hurom-hurom, but the creature comforts are tops.
The resort’s stated aim is to bring the “Boracay experience” to Nabas, minus the tourist throng (and the sand, of course). The accommodations are cozy.
Reggae is the resort’s theme, and guests bask in the mountainside air, their senses massaged by Bob Marley’s songs, as they sip their cocktails by the pool, float on the water, or rest in their beds.
3) Go caving & swimming in Basang
Another next-door resort, Basang, has a distinct offering—one of the country’s longest caves.
From the site’s cold spring pools, Basang Cave is an easy, five-minute hike up a mountainside trail. A century-old narra tree and a massive rock of black marble guard the cave’s entrance. Twenty minutes’ worth of exploring will be enough for casual visitors, but serious spelunkers might choose to spend hours pushing much, much deeper.
The chambers seem to go on forever, because the cave goes under the mountains straight to the adjacent province of Antique. Entrance is Php 400 for a group of 20 pax, or just twenty pesos per person.
4) Go hot, go cold, pick your pleasure
If you can’t get enough of the cool waters listed above, Nabas is a muse of endless bounty. Aside from her cold springs, she has a number of small waterfalls.
And when you’re already feeling numb and looking for some warmth, you don’t need to jump off to Boracay’s hot, hot scenes. Nabas is also blessed with a 21-km stretch of beach. It’s really water, water, everywhere here.
5) Witness the indigenous innovative at the Bariw Festival
The middle of May, right smack in the heat of summer, might just be the perfect time to visit the town, not only for the obvious cool-me-down-quick appeal of the cold springs, or Boracay’s peak season, but because your visit will coincide with the Bariw Festival.
The feast flaunts another of nature’s gifts that keep on coming—the bariw leaves, from which the Nabasnon weave sturdy and colorful bags, hats, mats, and purses. During the celebration, townsfolk clad in indigenous bariw costumes dance on the streets to the tune of bamboo instruments.
6) Visit a very intriguing Rizal monument
While in town, don’t forget to drop by the town plaza to check on the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. While Rizal stands in every town plaza across the archipelago (talk about being omnipresent!), his statue in Nabas is peculiar, as well as controversial, at least for German visitors.
The reason: a swastika prominently adorns his monument. Put up in 1925, the statue is far from being in sympathy with the Nazis, and simply harks back to the ancient symbol’s representation for many things good.
And we won’t blame Nabas for insisting to exude this positive vibe. Why won’t she, when things are looking up, and nature’s abundance is all around?
Where in the World is Nabas?
The town is located nearby Caticlan Airport which services Boracay Island, and along the national highway to the Kalibo International Airport in Aklan’s capital. All major Philippine airlines fly to both airports many times a day. There are Boracay travel agencies offering tours to Nabas.
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(Text adapted from the original version, written by the same author and with contributions from Khiara Kimpo, which appeared in the now-defunct Side Trip travel magazine, January-February 2013 issue. Many thanks to Jessica T. Ignacio, president of the Aklan Public Information Officers Association; Jonathan Cuevas of Manyuko Cold Spring Resort; Engineer Bhoreck Santiago of Basang Cave and Cold Spring Resort; and to Roselle Quimpo Ruiz and the members of her group, namely Josefel M. Enrique, Concepcion P. Labindao, and Antero Al Inac Regno.)