Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Captivating and Stunning Beauty of Batanes

From a variety of tourist spots in the Philippines, three places stood out in my travels and my three favorite places are El Nido, Siargao and BATANES.

Popularly called the “Land of the Insulars,” 
Batanes is made up of three major islands, Batang, Sabtang, and Itbayat, and seven islets. 

The terrain is quite rugged, with 42 percent of the land being steep hills and mountains. Visitors will be amazed to its stunning landscapes and rugged seascapes. All the islands have intermittent stretches of sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. 

The capital is Basco and the language is Ivatan. 

Tourist spots in Batan Island 

Indeed, Batanes is home to a wealth of historical, cultural and natural attractions.

It was summer 2011. I started my summer tour in El Nido, Palawan, then went to Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin, Cagayan De Oro, Bukidnon and the last stop was Batanes.

In search of a cheaper way to go to Batanes, I booked myself last week of May 2011. The best time to go to Batanes is between March-April when the water is a bit calmer and the sunny weather is at its best. But since I have numerous travels line up for that summer, I ended up getting a May booking for my tour when the weather is cloudy and there were already intermittent rains.  

SeaAir Flight

Anyway, the flight to Batanes through SeaAir departed past 6:00 am and I arrived in Basco around 8 am. 

The price of the round trip ticket was PhP10,240.00 (this is a promo price, the price is around PhP15,000)


My guide fetched me at the airport, his name is Elmer Antonio (contact nos.- 09215925583, 09086242984 ). My friend Rico referred the guide from his previous travel in Batanes. 

From the airport, I told him that we have to start immediately because of the cloudy weather that day. Usually, it will take you two days to have the Northern and Southern Tour of Batan island, but I requested Elmer to finish it in one day and he was kind enough to oblige. 

We went to the lodge and place my things and we started the tour.

Here are the places that we toured for the whole day.

Tukon Chapel

Tukon Radar Station 

Idjang Fortress

Mt. Iraya is a dormant volcano rising 1,517 meters above sea level. It is ideal for mountaineering, trekking and trailblazing.  

Valugan Boulder Beach

Vayang Rolling Hills

I was able to finish the first leg of the tour before 12 pm and took my lunch at Hiro’s Café.

After lunch, we continued the tour.

First stop, was the Japanese Tunnel.

Then, the Basco Lighthouse.

Naidi Hills offer a panoramic view of the Basco town proper, Mt. Iraya, and the famous landscapes and rugged seascapes that Batanes is known for.

Chawa Viewdeck

Batanes is also known for its lighthouse.

The second lighthouse that we went to that day was the Mahatao Lighthouse.

I even climbed and went to the top of the lighthouse. 

Going to the Mahatao Church, we passed by the oldest lighthouse in Batanes.

Then we reached the San Carlos Borromeo Church (Mahatao). 

It  was completed in 1789 and still retains its centuries-old features. It is located six kilometers from Basco.

The interior of the church dates back to the Spanish era. 

After the church visit, the Homoron Blue Lagoon and White Beach

Spanish Bridge

House of Dakay

San Jose Church (Ivana) was built in 1814 although its foundation dates back to 1795. It is located 14 kilometers from Basco. It was the only one that was not built in the espanada style.

One of my favorite stops was the Honesty Café. It is a self service and self pay for the drinks and the snacks that you have consumed.

Simple and plain rules are posted inside the store.

Then, the Songsong ruins a cluster of old stone houses abandoned after a tidal wave that hit the island of Batan in the 1950s. The area has a long stretch of beach.

After a few minutes, we reached the Alapad Loran Station.

Loran station used to house a US coastguard detachment for almost two decades.

Part of the tour was also the Marlboro Country.  It  is mostly wide open spaces wherein the major inhabitants are cows that are let loose to graze. The panoramic view from this spot of landscape and seascape is fascinating.

On the way home, I noticed that the usual mode of transportation in Batanes was riding a bicycle.

After, the long tour. We went back to Basco Lighthouse for the sunset viewing and I took my dinner at the lighthouse.

In Batanes, trekking is popular activity at Marlboro Hills and Naidi Hills. 

On the other, bird watching is popular at Cuyab. Here you can observe the migratory birds from China that flock the islands in search of a warmer climate over October.

The van rental for the tour was P2,000 and the fee for guide was P800. I paid  P1,000 for the lodging. And the total expenses for the entire day is PhP5,134.00.

Sabtang Tour

I woke up 5:30 am tired and still sleepy the second day because of the long and hectic itinerary from the previous day. Elmer and I went to San Vicente Port for our boat ride to Sabtang. 

There were plenty of people going to Sabtang that day. Good thing Elmer knew the crew of the boat and he was able to buy a ride to Sabtang. Our motorcycle was also boarded to the boat.

We arrive in the port of Sabtang.

We sped off to Barrio Savidug to see the famous vernacular houses. A 30-45 minute ride from the Port of Sabtang, we were cruising the muddy road that day. Sabtang island is an unspoiled and undisturbed island that has intermittent white sand beaches, steep mountains, deep canyons, and small level areas along the coastline. It was chosen as one of the 12 Best Destinations in the Philippines by the Department of Tourism in 1994.

First in the itinerary that day was the Sabtang Church which is just a stone's throw from the port area.

The interior of the San Vicente Ferrer Church was as majestic as the Basco Church.

We reached the vernacular houses after 30 minutes.

The limestone houses were built around 1795 with the help of imported masons, stone cutters and carpenters from the province of Cagayan. These stone houses are found all over Batanes but are popular in Sabtang.

We also spent an hour trekking the Tinan Viewpoint.

The view is simply breathtaking!

Trekkers will definitely enjoy their stay in this spot. 

The view is just stunning and captivating!

Then, we went to Barrio Chavayan.

This is one of the tourist spots in Sabtang.

Tatus or coconut crabs abound in the island.

The oldest man in Batanes lives in this barrio. When we arrived at his house, he was actually being interviewed by Japanese reporters.

We took lunch at the Nakbawang Beach.

One of the best beaches in Batanes.

Past 12 pm, we decided to go back to the port. 

Along the way back, we passed another lighthouse.

Unfortunately, we got stranded for two hours at the port due to engine trouble of the boat. I took a nap and waited. I told Elmer that we have to reach Naidi Hills before sunset for me to capture the sunset. After two hours of waiting, the boat was fixed and we reached the port of Ivana around 5 pm. 

Elmer hurriedly drove to the Basco lighthouse and we were able to reach the site just before the sun was about to set. And I told Elmer that aside from taking the picture, I will be taking my dinner again at the Basco lighthouse.

Dinner at Basco Lighthouse

I paid P1,000 for the lodging, P800 for the guide, P1,000 for the rent of the motorcycle and P150 for the boat ride 

Day 3

I planned going to Itbayat Island. But Elmer told me that the boat ride was good for four hours and I have to stay in the island for a day since the boat ride back to Batan would be the following day already. I decided not to go to Itbayat and this is the main reason I want to go back to Batanes in 2014.

Itbayat island is located north of Batan island. It is surrounded by massive boulders and cliffs rising from 20-70 feet above sea level and has no shoreline. Travel time is about four hours from Basco seaport.

Instead of going to Itbayat, I rented a bike and visited again the places in Batan up to Mahatao. Weather that day was sunny and humid.

I went again to Church of Sto. Domingo de Basco (Basco Cathedral). 

It  was established in 1783. It is the oldest and the most important church in Batanes. 

The church is dedicated to the Immaculate Concepcion, the patroness of Batanes.

The interior of the church

Biking happens to be one of the things that I enjoy doing and I went to the town of Mahatao.

Even though, It was the second time to see the seascape and landscape, I was still fascinated. 

I passed a cliff where the goats were grazing and eating the grass at the edge of cliff. I was amazed and awed!

Finally, I reached the town of Mahatao.

Then, after resting for a few minutes. I started going back to Basco. Going back was a lot easier, since I was now descending.

I took my late lunch at Pension Ivatan.

Then, I went for a little souvenir shopping.

Notice the headrest being sold at the souvenir shop.

I took a nap since I was so exhausted 

Then, around 4 pm, I trekked Naidi Hills anew.

I went to the top of the lighthouse.

I waited for the sunset.

The sunset that day was different from the previous day. It was a lot better. Dramatic.

And later, took my dinner.

There were plenty of us who took dinner at the lighthouse that day.

Day 4
Back to Manila

One of the souvenirs that I bought was the natural fiber raincoat/headgear called “Vacul.” It is an interesting souvenir to bring home.

The flight back to Manila was slated 12:35 and we arrived in Manila past one pm.

I really enjoyed Batanes!

Should you wish to travel to Batanes, here are the contact numbers for the tour

Contact Nos. in Batanes

Hiro’s Café – 09391986918 / 09391990279

Ivatan Lodge – 09088824510 / 09994780925 / 09205650399

Bunker Café - 09997274789

Related links -



Others –


  1. sir V. dapat noon pa kayo nagstart gumawa ng blog!
    Ganda ng Batanes. :-D

  2. cool sir!kala q manggugulat eh.. un pla nakakagulat s ganda hihi :)

  3. wow! ang gwapo nung nasa pic. lalong gumanda ung scenery. hoho :)sama mo namn kami sa susunod na pag ikot mo sir!

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