Batanes is the perfect destination for those who want to see breath-taking views along with a laidback vacation. If you’re looking for a place to recharge and reinvigorate yourself, Batanes is where you need to be.
An archipelago province in the northernmost region of the Philippines, Batanes is one of the must-see places in the country. With a landscape that one wouldn’t think is typical of a tropical country, tourists visit this region to appreciate the scenery and the culture of the Ivatans, the indigenous people of the region.
Only Philippine Airlines and Skyjet are the two major airlines that fly directy towards Basco, Batanes from Manila. Small airlines such as Wakay Air and Sky Pasada now also fly to Batanes daily. Tickets to Batanes are not on the affordable side, but if you’re lucky you can get them for cheap when the airlines have a seat sale.
If you have a lot of time in your hands, you can take a ferry to Batanes from Ilocos Norte. The trip takes 18 hours from Currimao, Ilocos Norte to Basco, Batanes. However, this option is not reliable since trips usually get cancelled due bad weather or rough waters.
There are no means to get to Batanes by land, but you can drive or take a bus to Currimao, Ilocos Norte and take the ferry from there. You can also drive to Tuguegarao where you can fly from there with Sky Pasada or North Sky.
You can hire a tricycle to take you around the island in each of the inhabited islands. For P 1,000 to P 1,350 the tricycle driver will take you to all the tourist destinations on the island, serve as your tour guide, and will even take your photos for you. Most tours will require walking and hiking so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
You can also rent a bicycle for P300 to P600 per day to bike around town for some DIY tour or just to enjoy the fresh air of Batanes.
Only three out of the ten islands in the Batanes archipelago are inhabited. You can tour Batan North, Sabtang Island, Batan South, and Itbayat Island. Each island has its own tourist attractions. Marvel at the stone houses in Mahatao, South Batan, take tons of pictures at Song Song Ruins and the Mahatao lighthouse. Test your honesty and take a break at the famous Honesty Coffee Shop.
Tour the Batanes archipelago with a do it yourself tour for some personal exploring, or avail of travel tours offered by BISUMI Tours and Services. No Batanes trip is complete without visiting the rolling hills of Marlboro country and having your picture taken a la Maria from The Sound of Music.
Recharge and contemplate on life at Valugan Boulder Beach, and hike your way around Itbayat Island where both the hike and the view will take your breath away. Prepare your camera or phone and make sure you have space for all the photos you’ll be taking of all the magnificent views you’ll be seeing while on tour.
There are only a few restaurants in Batanes. If you want to try Ivatan cuisine, Pension Ivatan serves Uvud balls and Vunes, and really good leche flan for dessert. Watch the beautiful sunset while some local Filipino food and beer at Octagon Bed & Dine.
Satisfy your pizza cravings at Casa Napoli in Basco. They make their pizza from scratch and serves it with potato mojos and San Miguel beer. The fanciest place in Batanes is Fundacion Pacita. From the top of a hill, it showcases beautiful artworks inside, offers a magnificent view of the sea and the mountains seen best in the morning, and of course, great continental food.
Batanes is a quiet place that values the simple island life. There are no bars here, and everything closes by sundown. Why? Because people come here to bask in the beauty of nature and to get away from all the noise of the city. Some restaurants do serve local beer to cap off your long day of touring.
There are more inns and lodges than hotels in Batanes. From budget homestay at Troy’s Lodge and Marfel’s Inn, to the more expensive Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge, there are many options for different types of travelers with varying budgets and levels of comfort being sought. Other options in other islands include the Diura Fishing Village in Mahatao, and Levinda Lodge in Itbayat.
Take note of the weather at different times of the year and book your vacation accordingly. The best time of the year to visit is in the summer (March to May) before the monsoon rains come in. Visit from December to February if you want to experience winter in Batanes.
Bring snacks and other small items that might not be immediately available or affordable on the island. Make sure to bring cash in small bills to avoid any hassle. Most of the establishments only accept cash payments, and there is only one ATM machine, which is in Basco.
If you’re a solo backpacker, join tours to make new friends with other travelers. Being part of a group in a tour will also mean less expenses for you since you’ll be splitting everything with the group.