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May 1, 2008

Batanes: Where East Meets West (Batanes Travel Guide)

Updated: August 31, 2010


Batanes, the smallest province of the Philippines, lies at the northernmost tip of the country about 190 kilometers south of Taiwan. Out of the 10 islands included in the Batanes group of islands, only 3 are inhabited, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. The smaller islets are Dequey, Siayan, Mabudis, Ibuhos, Diogo, North Island, and Y'ami. Because of its cool and windy weather, Batanes is also referred to as the Home of the Winds. It is also the place where the Pacific Ocean meets the South China Sea so the water current is usually rough.


Below is a 3 days and 2 nights stay Tourist Itinerary Guide to the island of Batanes, the closest place you can get to whisper to God.

Photos courtesy of: Liz Reyes

Getting There



By air: Only Sea Air flies to Batanes on a daily basis.
Note: to see schedules of flights and promos, see Sea Air's websites or call their hotline number.


Sea Air
  • Tel no: (02) 849-0100
  • Website: http://www.flyseair.com


Things You Need To Know



Accommodation: Before heading to Batanes, be sure you have booked your reservations first to avoid hassles, especially during peak seasons. Lodgings, hotels and resorts are only a few in Basco so it’s better to spend the day touring or resting instead of looking for a place to stay during your vacation. However, if you are a backpacker and is in for some adventure, you can always ask the locals in the place where to stay and they would gladly assist you.

  • Batanes Resort- (+63 78) 533-3444/ (+63 78) 533-3456 (Batanes) and 9272393 (Manila)
  • Batanes Seaside Lodge- 09178825609
  • Shanedels Inn and Café- 09204470737
  • Pension Ivatan
  • Ivatan Lodge- ivatanlodge@ yahoo.com
  • Fundacion Pacita - 9272902404 (myla.pisig@fundacionpacita.ph)

Meal: Food being served in Lodgings and resorts usually costs a max of 200/head. If you want a quick meal and to save, there is a canteen at the town proper called SDC canteen. It is in front of the Police station and beside the provincial capitol. Meal per head only costs less than a hundred.

Tour: It is best to travel Batan by foot or through bikes and motorcycles. However, if you are pressed for time, it is better to hire a vehicle and guide to tour you around Basco. Before going to Batanes, you can always book in advance your touring with the resort or lodge you are checked in but you can opt to arrange for that once you have arrived in your resort too. However, when touring Sabtang, one really needs a tour guide so make an arrangement with your hotel. You can try the tour guides below.

  • Kuya Nards- 09082994288 and  09153827136
  • Kuya Jack- 09993720371 
  • Kuya Cyril- 09479625585 
  • Kuya Alberto Jr. - 0908368195
  • Kuya Peter- 09264259631 (Sabtang only)


Important Things You Need
  • Insect repellent lotions (you’ll never know)
  • Sunblock
  • Shades
  • Camera (leave everything but your money and this one)


Budget

Bring more than enough cash because there are no ATM machines in Batanes, especially credit cards.

* Good for one person only
  • Airfare – Php 11,600 (roundtrip/without promo)
  • Accommodation – Php 1,800 (2 nights)
  • Food – Php 1000
  • Touring – Php 4,250
  • Miscellaneous – 385 (bike rental, terminal fee, tourist fee, other fees)
  • Pasalubong – Php 1,000

You need to have: Php 20,000/person is the safest budget if one will follow the itinerary below. Please note that prices computed above is based on the maximum price already and is subject to change if you travel in big group and if there’s an airline promo. You can also haggle with the touring in Sabtang to get it at a cheaper price.


Daily Itinerary

First Day

Travel time from Manila to Basco, Batanes' capital, is 1 hour and 15 minutes so with flights usually in the morning, it is expected for you to reach Basco as early as 7:30AM-8:00AM.

After arriving in your hotel, eat your breakfast and fix your things for the 9:30 a.m. touring. Make sure you have arranged your touring with the hotel’s receptionist few hours before the actual tour. Bring snacks (you will have a very long trip), lots of H2o, extra money and of course, your camera. Touring Batan Island will be like circling the whole island so steal the chance to take a picture of the view that amazes you because you will not pass again on that same spot on your way back.

1st stop: Mahatao View Deck. Mahatao View Deck is a perfect site for picture taking as it offers a great view of the sea. It has many stone benches suitable for resting and picture taking.

2nd stop: San Carlos Borromeo Church. San Carlos Borromeo Church is the first church in Mahatao that was built during the 19th century. Near the church is the oldest and smallest light house in Basco. Lamp was being used then to light the said light house which served as a guide for offshore fishermen on their way home. The church is considered as one of the National Cultural Treasures by NCCA because of its cultural significance and architecture.

3rd Stop: House of Dakay . The oldest house in Batanes is located at Ivana. The stone house was built in 1887 out of limestones and corals and it was said that this is the only house that survived the strong earthquake that hit the island a few years it was built. The current owner of the ancestral house is Lola Florestida Estrella, an Ivatan woman in her mid 80’s.

4th stop: San Jose de Ivana Church. Like the San Carlos Borromeo Church, San Jose de Ivana Church is made of limestone construction with original baroque architecture. The church was built during the 19th century by Dominican priests.


5th stop: Honesty Café. Few steps from the San Jose de Ivana Church is the Honesty Cofee Shop. The honesty of the Ivatans and the people going there are tested because no one mans the store. If you want to buy something, you just have to get it and list down the item/s you bought and drop the payment to a drop box provided by the store owner. Every item has a corresponding tag price so you would know how much each costs. The shop also has coffee cups and hot water thermos for those who wish to buy coffees.

On the way to your next spot, you will be able to pass by several sites that might be of interest to you like the Ghost town or the Ruins of Songsong and the abandoned US Coast Guard Station. The town of Songsong was hit by a tsunami in 1953, the houses were destroyed and the people abandoned this seaside community, thus earning the nickname Ghost Town though there are no casualties from the said disaster. The residents of Songsong were evacuated to the province of Mindanao.

If you have watched the movie Batanes (film), you will be able to pass by the house, where Iza Calzado lives on the said movie. Just ask your guide and he will gladly point to you the house and you can even have a picture in front of it.

6th stop: Marlboro Country. The Payaman, also known as Marlboro Country, offers a breathtaking view of farm fields and the Pacific Ocean. The Mahatao Lighthouse and Mt. Iraya can also be seen from Marlboro Country. The hills got its name because it looks so much like the setting of the commercial of the Marlboro Cigarette.

7th stop: Mahatao Lighthouse.
The Mahatao Lighthouse is not that popular as compared to the lighthouse of Basco but it has its own beauty that attracts the tourist. This octagonal lighthouse is located in the town of Mahatao, near the Marlboro Country.

8th stop: Lunch Time. You can take your late lunch at SDC canteen at the town of Basco. Food at SDC canteen are the usual carinderia food but they have lost of breads and cakes for dessert. One meal per person will cost less than a hundred. As an option, you can also head back to your hotel and take your lunch there and have a rest before resuming your tour.

3:30 p.m: Resume Tour. 3:30 is a perfect time to resume your tour because the sun is not at its hottest already.


9th stop: Tukon Church. The Tukon Church, a project of the Fundacion Pacita Abad, is relatively new church in the hills of Tukon. It has life-size paintings of saints in its ceilings, all made by Ivatan artists who are all scholars of the Pacita Abad Center for Arts.

10th stop: Radar Tukon
Radar Tukon is a weather station on a hill. Tukon is an Ivatan word for hill. It gives you a 360 degrees view of Batan Island. If you are into photography, doing a panoramic shot of the landscape is a perfect idea. Pacific Ocean in the East, South China Sea in the West Mt. Iraya on the North and rolling hills leading up to Mt. Matarem in the South. Beside Radar Tukon is the island's PAGASA station.



11th stop: Fundacion de Pacita Abad
The Fundacion de Pacita Abad is the house of the former Education Secretary’s (Sec. Butch Abad) sister Pacita Abad, an international painter known for her modern and colorful work of arts. A true blooded Ivatan, Pacita studied in the United States and was able to hone her craft by traveling and working in different countries. Right after she passed away, her house on the hill of Tukon now serves as a gallery where her works are displayed.





12th stop: Valugan Bay. Valugan or east in the local language of the Ivatan, is where the bay got its name because it is located on the east side of Batanes. Valugan Bay is a boulder beach perfect for picture taking and resting while watching the waves touch the big rocks. You can even try closing your eyes and hear what the winds has got to say to you.



13th stop: Rolling Hills



The Rolling Hills in Batan is also an alternative spot for taking a picture of the sunset. The lush green hills are comparable to the Windows wallpaper except that it doesn't need some photoshop anymore. If you have a scooter, motorcycle or bike, you can actually consider driving it in the hills.

14th stop: Basco Lighthouse. Located in the Naidi Hills, the Basco Lighthouse is a favorite spot in taking the sunset. One can actually go up the lighthouse for a more scenic view.

After the sunset, you can ask your guide for a stop over if you want to look for souvenirs along Abad St. But since there are only few stores there that sell souvenirs, it is still better to hunt for them in Sabtang or at the Basco Airport. Take your dinner at your hotel and make sure that your pre-arranged tour to Sabtang Island the next day is confirmed, including the service vehicle and the person who will be your tour guide. Get the number of the important people whom you need to be in regular contact with during your stay in Batanes. You can tell your tour guide in Sabtang ahead of time that you want your lunch to be in Nakabuang Arch (this actually where all tourists go for lunch).

Second day

Wake up real early to catch the Falowa ride to Sabtang Island. Make sure you ask your service to pick you up before 6:00 a.m to catch the 6:30 trip to Sabtang Island and that there is a ready guide and service for you once you reached the place.

The 30 minute Falowa ride to Sabtang is quite extreme so be ready to secure your personal belongings, especially your cameras and videocams for they might get wet as the water is rough because you will be sailing in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea.

Upon arrival at Sabtang, you might want to have a breakfast first at the mini eatery in the port then pay the Php 100.00 per head for the tourism fee at the Municipality of Sabtang, few steps from the port. The first site that will welcome you to Sabtang is their very famous lighthouse. It's like a giant marker and host that welcome each and every tourist that visits the island.

1st stop: Savidug Stone Houses
95% of the houses in Sabtang Island are still made out of coral and lime stones. The first town in Sabtang that you will visit is Savidug. It has a long row of stone houses situated in a very quiet and friendly community. Your service will drop you off the very first house in Savidug and will wait for you at the end of the street so you will have plenty of time to check out the houses and take some pictures for souvenirs. If you have watched the movie Kadin, you will notice a very familiar house along the street where sugarcanes are extracted. It is the house of Angel Aquino from the said movie and you can also take a picture in the wooden sugarcane extractor.


2nd stop: Savidug ChurchSavidug Church is the only church in the town of Savidug. Like the ones in Basco, it is also a Dominican church. After paying a visit to the church, before your next stop, you will pass by a beach where limestones are being cooked for building Ivatan house. From the beach you will notice a mountain resembling a woman in slumber, thus earning it the name “Sleeping Beauty” for the Ivatans.

3rd stop: Chamantad-Tinyan Sitio Views
This is probably one of the best places in Sabtang to take pictures. The stunning view of the Pacific Ocean is a perfect backdrop for every picture. To fully enjoy the view, you need to go down the not so steep mountain and discover the secret paradise hiding behind it.
4th stop: Town of Chavayan
One of the highlights of the tour is your visit to the town of Chavayan where you will see the community of Ivatans and actually see them making Vakuls. Vakuls are Ivatan women’s headgear that are used to protect them from rain, wind and sun, it’s counterpart for men are called Talugong.


Vakuls are made out of Palm dates’ leaves. Vakul usually costs 400 plus but cheaper depending on its size while Talugong ranges from 500-800. They also sell a very unique Ivatan slippers used in fishing which costs Php 150.00 and Kanayi or vest also made out of Date’s leaves. If you want to take a picture of the elderly Ivatans and the kids, they are very willing to pose for you so grab the chance to take a souvenir photo with them.

Again, if you have watched Kadin, the house where Peping lives in the movie, might interest you. Just ask the townsfolk if where’s the house where the movie Kadin was shot and they will gladly give you the direction. However, since the town of Chavayan is just small, you will surely spot the house if you roam around the town, including the old church of Chavayan. Rico Cardona, the one who played Peping, is not from Sabtang but from Batan, but the girl who played as her little sister, is the one who lives in Sabtang.

5th stop: Nakabuang Arc. As what was mentioned, one needs to have a pre-arranged lunch at Nakabuang arch for you to enjoy the beach, the sceneries and the food at the breathtaking sceneries of Nakabuang beach. Just ask your friendly tour guide where you need to arrange your lunch. The famous Nakabuang Arch is a natural sculptured rock along Nakabuang Beach, the place is perfect for lunch and swimming because of its great view and white sand.


Below is a sneak peek of the usual meal in Nakabuang Arch that’s worth Php 200-250.


2:00 pm: Leave Sabtang Island for Batan. The one who dropped you off Sabtang Island will also be the one to take you back to Batan Island. The Php80.00 fare back and forth will be given to the Falowa pilot once the boat docked in Batan.


Rest of the day: Upon arrival in the resort, you can rest for about an hour or so and and arrange a bike to hire for you to tour the town of Basco in the afternoon. That is if you still have enough energy. Start your bicycling at 5:00 p.m. and be sure to bring with you your camera and money if you feel like buying anything. Bike around the town of Basco and wait for the sunset at Batanes port. After watching the sunset, scout for a place to dine in like Shanedel's Inn, Batanes Seaside Lodge and the like.


* Kuya Balong (09152991871) - Bike rental

Note: If you still have an extra day, you can go to Itbayat Island where the Falowa ride takes 3 hours. Chemtrad also flies from Basco to Itbayat but flight schedule is not regular so you may need several days to wait for Chemtrad’s next flight if you don’t want to brave the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea for 3 long hours.


Third and Last Day
Wake up 5:00 a.m. (depending on how long it would take you to prepare) because your service will most likely pick you up at 6:00 a.m. for your 7:30 a.m. flight back to Manila. Check in your baggages, pay the Protected Area fee of Php 15.00 then take one last look at the souvenir shop located at the Basco Airport before you go inside the terminal.

Manila Bound: If the flight is not delayed, you will reach Manila before 9:00 a.m. You'd definitely miss Batanes once the plane has landed at MIA but there's always next time so be sure you save lots of money before you plan on returning to Batanes, the place where East meets West.



* Also posted in WikiPinas Travel Guide





13 comments:

enrico.agodilla said...

Hi this post is really great and helpful. I am planning to go to Batanes next month and this blog really helped a lot. Thank you very much!

Toni said...

no prob! thanks for dropping by. ^_^

decaf said...

Hi there!
Great post about your Batanes trip! Really helpful info specially that my friends and I are planning on going there summertime next year. By the way, did you avail of the tour package? I noticed that you had 'tours' listed in your costing and was wondering if this is because you availed a package or this is really how much touring around costs.. Thanks! :D

lakambini said...

really helpful and informative post. great research. ikaw ba kumuha ng pics? galing!

am also planning to post some of my batanes pics in my multiply site, hope you don't mind if i place a link to this post in reference to travel info, more pics, and background on the places.

Toni said...

hi enrico,

you're welcome.hope u enjoyed ur visit there. ^_^

Toni said...

Hi decaf!

i did not avail of the tour package, we just asked the resort if they know someone who can be our guide. yeah, roughly 1300-1500

Toni said...

hi lakambini,

sure, no prob! what's ur multiply site anyway? Thanks!

Thunder God Jupiter said...

great post. its time to backpack!

Toni said...

Thanks!!! =)

Jason said...

very informative and well-crafted review. thank you! :) sobrang makakatulong 'to sa pagpunta namin this month. much thanks! :)

Toni said...

Thanks! Glad to have helped. Enjoy your vacay in Batanes! =)

CYRIL said...

hi ! toni,

im a friend of kuya jack and i'd like to inform you that he has new mobile # 09993720371....he accidentally lost his mobile phone....please update his mobile # in your blog....many tnx

Toni said...

Hi Cyril,

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Thanks also for the update about Kuya Jack's new mobile number. Salamat! ^_^