Monday, April 6, 2015

Itbayat Island, Batanes

En route to Itbayat with Kareen Pamela, Red Chuca and Carole Carl

Living life to its fullest and enjoying every minute of it.. =)

And one of the best places to do it is in Batanes.

Holy Week 2015
I arrived in Basco, Batanes on Palm Sunday. From my notifications in Facebook, I learned that Red Chuca's group were in Basco. Upon arrival in Basco, I immediately called Red and inquired about his whereabouts and I learned that they were in Sabtang. 

It rained that morning. But I remained hopeful that I could get the best possible weather in Batanes for my one-week tour of Batanes. Last time I was in Batanes, I was able to tour only the islands of Batan and Sabtang. But my top priority was to visit Itbayat Island. And luck was on my side. I needed a group to share the expenses of the tour and Red was kind enough to include me in their Itbayat tour. Hoooray for Red! =)


onboard the motorized boat to Itbayat and we were seated at the roof of the boat

ITBAYAT ISLAND is the closest inhabited island to Taiwan. When in Itbayat, it makes one feel closer to Taiwan than mainland Luzon. According to our tour guide, the island is one of the world’s largest uplifted coral reefs. There are small uninhabited islands, namely: Siayan, Matarem, Misanga, and Mavidus which form the northernmost tip of the Philippines.


from Ironwulf

  
How to get there

Option 1
Book a flight either from PAL or SkyJet from Manila to Basco, Batanes. Regular round trip fare is around P12,000 - 15,000. Travel time is one hour and 15 minutes. 

Board the boat going to Itbayat in Basco (near NFA). Fare is P400. Travel time is  2.5 - 3 hours.

Option 2
Book a flight either  from SkyPasada (P4,000) or NorthSky (P3,000). The flight is from Tuguegarao to Basco, Batanes. Travel time is less than an hour.

Board the boat going to Itbayat in Basco (near NFA). Fare is P400. Travel time is  2.5 - 3 hours

Option 3
Again, choose any of the flights going to Basco.

Book a flight in 8-seater plane of NorthSky to Itbayat. Fare is P1,300. Travel time is more or less 15 minutes. But the flight is not regularly scheduled. it depends on the weather and the number of passengers..


NorthSky Air
Basco – 0949-155-0100
Itbayat – 0920-965-1495
Tuguegarao – 0929-570-1350 / 0908-275-6188

Sky Pasada
Office Hours in Batanes – Monday, Wednesday, Friday (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday – 9:00 – 11:30 (Airport) / 12:00 NN – 4:30 pm (Ticketing)
Flights – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (starting March 9, 2015)
Tugeugarao – 0999-992-9378 / 0927-496-2894


Tip: Book your flight at least 6 months before the intended date to have  the best discount for the fare.

There are only 3 boats going to Itbayat, namely: MB Veronica, MB Ocean Spirit, and MB Itransa. We boarded MB Veronica, the biggest boat. Better be at the port between 5 - 6 am because all the boats leave at the same time. 



Best time to go to Batanes is from March - May only or during summer. Strong and turbulent waves may hit you during rainy season (June - November). 

Along the boat ride, you will see the landscapes of Itbayat.


Goods thing it was summer and the sea was calm and our ride was fairly smooth.

Chinapoliran port

 After 2 hours, we are meters away from the port. There are two ports and one town in Itbayat. I was already excited. After 4 years of waiting, Itbayat was just meters away!

Red alighting from the boat

The best part of going to Itbayat is the experience in the port itself. One has to jump from the boat to the cemented pavement. Good thing the sea was calm during that day.


The view from the top of the port was stunning!


The interesting part was how the cargoes were unloaded and brought to the top of the port.


From the port, we were fetched by a van. Normally, a tricycle ride was available only to the town. And the fare in the trike is P150 for a group.

We arrived at the Cano’s Lodging House, a lodging establishment owned by Mrs. Faustina Cano (0919-300-4787) Agan St., Brgy. Sta. Rosa, Itbayat, Batanes, Philippines. Homestay fee is P250/pax a day.

We were given a 20-minute briefing about Itbayat. Originally, we were billeted here but for one reason or another, we were transferred to another lodging place.


Just a stone;s throw away is a make-shift canteen and we consumed whatever was then available. Rice porridge was the man menu along with kwek-kwek, puto, and boiled egg. =)

Oh, I forgot, there was spaghetti worth P15.00.




We were billeted at SM Lodge. Yes, there is SM in Itbayat! =)

Fee - P300/pax a day's stay
Breakfast / meal - P200/pax

By the way, the island has both Globe and Smart.

the town plaza

After breakfast, we went to the Municipal Hall and paid the tourist fee of P50.00/pax.

Red making the registration

It is a must that you should register at the municipal hall and pay the tourist fee.

motorbike tour

Rental Fees 
Tour guide - P1,000/day
Motorbike rent - P1,000/day
Tricycle rent - P2,000/day (Jayson - 0918-213-9749)
Van rent - P4,000/day

Better make the necessary reservations!

Red chose the tricycle tour for a  maximum of 3 pax only and I was left with the motorbike tour. One of the best rides in the Philippines.

the last gate


South Tour
Torongan Hills, Torongan cave, Itbayat airport, Lake, Barrio Riley

North Tour
Viewdeck

East Tour
Rapang Cliff

West Tour
Paganaman port


We started our tour with the 1.5 hours trek to the Torongan Cave. We had to pass 5 gates before reaching our target. Along the trek you will be entertained by the view of forest and trail of Itbayat.

Our guide that day was Jayson (0999-932-7744).



Finally, we reached the entrance of the Torongan Cave!


The Torogan Cave was an ancient dwelling place in Batanes believed to be the first landing place of the Austronesians from Formosa, 4000 BC.


Caving or spelunking is one of my favorite ecotourism activities and Itbayat is known for having numerous caves.


After 15 minutes of walking cautiously, we reached the opening of the cave at the other side of the island.


We used a different path and reached the Torongan Hills


A little more of walking and we reached, Torongan Cliff.


There is also a ancient burial site located in the hill.This is an area where stone boat shaped burial markers are found. This area is believed to be the burial ground of the ancient settlers of the Torongan Cave.


Red and Kareen making a GoPro video

On our way back, the group was even more excited to go to the other spots.


Our next stop or just 15 minutes away was Yawran Village.
The village still uses the traditional houses in Batanes. But this is different from the stone vernacular houses in Sabtang. The houses are made of cogon grass.



Kareen admiring the lake

Then, Kavaywan Lake, the only lake in the entire islands of Batanes.



We sped off and burn some tires at Itbayat Airport which is bigger than Basco Airport. There was a plan to make this as an international airport but it did not materialize.



We went back to SM lodge and took our late lunch (P200/pax) and rested for 30 minutes. Thereafter, around 4 pm we continued our tour and registered and paid at the Sta. Rosa Barangay hall. Fee is P20/pax.




The Viewdeck
Just 3 kilometers away from the town, the deck is one of the spots to watch the sunset. On a clear day, the islands of Batanes can be seen from this point.

Red riding the carabao

Red and Carole took turns riding the carabao and took some pictures of their adventure.



Last stop for the day and certainly the second best part of the tour!

top view
Paganaman Port


This is the fishing port and the site for our sunset viewing!
Best place to take a swim since there is a lagoon.



We are minutes away from the sunset!


The sunset (though cloudy).


From another angle, again, the sunset! =)

Our guides Mang Pepe (left) and Jayson (right)

The following day we went to Rapang Cliff and I made a separate blog for that adventure.

Thank you Red Chuca, Carole Carl and Kareen Pamela for this adventure! =)

Enjoy Batanes! =)

Helpful Information

1. Cano’s Lodging House – Lodging and Services owned by Faustina Cano (0919-300-4787) Agan St., Brgy. Sta. Rosa, Itbayat, Batanes, Philippines

2. Tour guides -  Jayson (0999-932-744) Pepe Valiente (0949-6200-184)

3. Mt. Karooban is the highest point in Itbayat, about 280 meters above sea level.

4. Kumayasakas Cave and Water Source is an underground stream on the northwest of Itbayat and is a newly developed water source for the community.

5. Nahili do Votox is an ancient settlement with boat-shaped burial markers.

6. Mt. Riposed is one of the 2 volcanoes in the island

7. Rapang Cliff is a  natural park is comprised of forest, natural cliffs and rocky hills where natural bonsai trees abound along the grazing area for goats. Amidst its natural splendour is a natural bell which is a flat stone that lies naturally upon another stone.

8. Manoyok is the sinkhole that serves as a giant drainage of the town of Itbayat.

9. Sta. Maria Immaculada Church was built in 1854 and it took more than 40 years to built it (1888).


If you want a place to stay in Basco

Batanes is best enjoyed if you have the most comfortable, affordable, convenient, and best accommodation.

I highly recommend staying at Ysabelle Homestay.
It is home away from home.It is owned by Ms. Elma S. Batallones. She is one of the kindest, hospitable, and accommodating persons I have ever met in my tour in the Philippines.

Address: corner Santana St., Brgy. Kaychanarian, Basco, Batanes (near LandBank)

e-mail: elmasbatallones@gmail.com

Room rates 
Aircon - P1,000/day
Non-aircon - P500
Twin sharing - P350/pax


Among the things I enjoyed while I was billeted in the homestay was the following:

a.  cable TV facility
b. "paluto" or do your own cooking
c.  motorbike rental / bike rental
d.  shower
e.  WIFI

You will definitely enjoy her various tapsilog, tocilog, bangsilog, longsilog and other specialties. But my personal favorite is her noodles consisting of bihon, miki bihon, pancit canton and the pancit kabagan .

On my last day of stay, I even requested to her cook "dorado" and I really enjoyed the sumptuous meal!

In my three nights of staying, I fully enjoyed the comfort of my sleep.
Your stay in Batanes will surely be complete and comfortable at Ysabelle Homestay.


Enjoy your stay in Batanes, book your stay at Ysabelle Homestay.


                             2 pax 


     2-4 pax room / fully airconditioned
                    P1,500/day


They also have a restaurant. You can dine or make your "paluto". But you have to call your order in advance.


They also offer tour and travel services or simply rent their motorbike for your personal tour.


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2 comments:

  1. So for a solo traveler, tour will cost p2000 1000 for guide and 1000 for motorbike)?
    Lodging 350/pax/day - if solo traveler, will I have to pay for the whole room?
    How many shared bathrooms at the lodging? are they clean?

    ReplyDelete
  2. kavaywan is one of the lakes in itbayat like the one near napocor and others

    ReplyDelete