Beautiful Batanes – Philippine’s Northernmost Tip.

BATANES, a traveler’s place in their Philippine bucket list, an absolutely gorgeous province consisting of a few islands. I had wanted to go to Batanes a long time ago, but the prohibitive cost of going there left me just dreaming for a while. This smallest province of the Philippines is so far up north that it’s closer to Taiwan than to the mainland.

Excitedly, I immediately booked a flight and it cost me almost 11,000 going to Basco via PAL (round trip). I know that some people can do Batanes for half the price of what I spent if you booked a promo-rate fare and if you can share your expenses with a travel buddy. But it was not my objective to cut costs. The objective is to enjoy Batanes at it’s fullest.

July 21, 2015 – I was so excited and at the same time, praying that the weather will be in my favor. Once I have stepped in Basco airport, I don’t know where to go next. I was contacting Marfel’s inn 2 weeks before my trip to make a room reservation but unfortunately, I did not receive any response from them.

I asked some of the airport staff where the lodging house is and they told me the direction, not far from the airport. When I arrived at Marfel’s, the friendly receptionist (Ate Maan) already told me that they don’t have any vacant rooms for the next 3 days. I was so frustrated and I don’t know where to spend my 3 days trip. My mistake was, I only rely in one lodging inn for my trip.

After 30 minutes of stay and talking to ate Maan, asking some places to stay, her phone rang and she excused herself. After the phone conversation, she happily told me that the other guests cancelled the reservation they made. I was so happy and almost hugged her!

She also asked me if I already booked a tour package and I honestly explained to her that my plan is to look for a local tour guide or habal habal driver. She contacted his friend and asked if he is available for the next 3 days. Fortunately, he is available for a week and don’t have any tour schedule.

Since I arrived in the lodging inn at 9 in the morning, I told my tour guide (Kuya Dale) to start the tour at around 10 in the morning. He agreed and explained to me that we will start the tour in North Batan. (Most tourist spots on the island are divided into 3: North Batan, South Batan & Sabtang island).

Hello there, Basco!

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Top tourist spots / attractions in North Batan:

211. Valugan Boulder Beach

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2. Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel

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3. Fundacion Pacita

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4. PAGASA weather station

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5. Tukon church

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6. Vayang Rolling Hills

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7. Naidi Hills

My 2nd day, as early as 6 in the morning, kuya Dale suggested that I visit Sabtang island and after lunch, we will visit half of the tourist attraction in South Batan. I woke up early and got ready for my Sabtang island tour. Sabtang is an island municipality across Batan and is a 45- minute to 1-hour Falowa (banca without outriggers) ride away from the port of Ivana. The falowa ride to Sabtang can get really quite rough but the weather was just perfect for my half day tour.

Sabtang is less populated and it is the only town in Batanes that has preserved the traditional Ivatan stone houses. Good thing is that, kuya Dale has a friend who is also a tour guide in sabtang that will wait for me in the port so he can be my tour guide for that day.

Top tourist spots / attractions in Sabtang island:

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1. Morong Beach

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2. Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint

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3. Chavayan Village

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4. Savidug Village

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5. St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel

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6. Sabtang Lighthouse

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7. San Vicente Ferrer Church

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8. The Old Beaterio

I have finished my Sabtang tour before 12 in the afternoon. I arrived in Basco at around 1 in the afternoon and kuya Dale is already waiting for me in the port so we can start my South Batan tour.

Top tourist spots / attractions in South Batan:

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1. San Carlos Borromeo Church

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2. Marlboro Country

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3. Honesty Shop

 

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4. Tayid Lighthouse

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5. House of Dakay

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6. Chawa Viewdeck

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6. Homoron White Beach

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8. Spanish Lagoon

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9. Alapad Pass

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10. Spanish Bridge

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11. Mahatao Boat Shelter

Batanes has loads of sights and adventure to offer. The rugged coastlines, steep cliffs and windswept hills which characterize the area’s topography are perfect for the many adventurous recreational activities one can do while they are exploring the area.
After my North/South Batan and Sabtang tour, I realized that I do not have to travel out of the country as of now. I believe that Batanes is the ultimate answer to my longing to visit other countries. Although one country is entirely different from the other, I am convinced that a visit to Batanes will definitely take your breath away.

Years later, I would learn that, yes, Batanes is really everything that people had said it was: so beautiful and so serene you’re tempted to keep all pictures to yourself, hoping against hope that by keeping its beauty to yourself, it wouldn’t be overrun by tourists and would stay beautiful forever.

TIPS:

– A regularly-priced return ticket to Basco can indeed be expensive. However, you can wait for seat sales in PAL.

– Stay in a Lodge, Not a Resort. I stayed in a lodging house called Marfel’s Lodge. I paid P350 per day for a fan room. You could use the kitchen to cook your own food, dining room, living room, and, best of all, there was a fast Wifi connection! 😀

– Once you have taken the 3-day tour (and if you don’t want to go to Itbayat Island), the question becomes: what else can you do in Batanes? You can hire the guide to take you to North Batan (1,500), South Batan (1,000) and Sabtang Island (1,000)

– Best months to visit Batanes is during dry months or summer, preferably from February to early June

– Landbank and PNB have ATMs

-Mobile signals of all networks are present although 3G and LTE are quite difficult

– Marfel’s Lodge has room for as low as 500 (July 2015) for a single fan room (contact: 639088931475)

– If you plan to tour Batan Islands, please contact my friendly guide, kuya Dale: 09293410941.

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