How to get to Batanes? By land, you can ride a bus from Manila to Tuguegarao. Then fly via North Sky Air to Batanes. This is kinda hassle so do your best to find a flight directly from Manila. By air, as of the moment, there are only 2 airlines that fly to Basco – PAL and SkyJet. You can find discounts for this usually pricey fare like in Travel Tour Expo. For more details, check this link http://traveltourexpoph.com/
Batanes is comprised of 3 main islands – Batan Island (where you can see Basco, with two tours North Batan and South Batan), Sabtang Island (the prestine island, 50-60 minutes boat ride from Batan Island) and Itbayat Island (about 3-4 hours boat ride from Batan Island, chopper plane can rented but it’s pricey). Here is a summary of a visit to Batan and Sabtang islands for about 7 days.
Sabtang Island. For those who travel alone, it will be better to find a group of travelers to share expenses on a tour. There are 3-4 boats that can carry you to Sabtang but you need to follow the schedules in the morning (6am-7am) and afternoon (1pm-2pm). If you are not fond of waves, drink meds to survive it. It’s like rafting 3 times harder! At the port, rent a guide to tour you on the whole Sabtang Island. A tricycle with a built-in side car with a roof can accommodate 4 people. You can visit these places,
St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and Old Beaterio
Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint
Sabtang Weavers Association
Morong Beach, Mayahaw Arch and Nakabuang Cave
It will be better to have an overnight stay in Sabtang Island to feel the old Batanes.
Have lunch at Morong Beach. There are cottages that offer foods like typical Filipino dishes and the most famous Coconut Crab. You may not find the food is delicious and yet it is so pricey!
From Itbud to Imnajbu, Walk about 2-3 kilometers (be careful for sunburns when walking, bring sun block lotions). Before entering the last barangay in South Batan – Imnajbu, there is what you called the Alapad Hill and Rock Formation, a beautiful formation of mountains near the ocean. This is the setting of Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez movie “Hihintayin Na Lang Kita Sa Langit” that really describes a paradise here on Earth. After staring at that beautiful place for an hour and eating lunch – fried camote,walk again to visit Imnajbu. This is the last barangay with 200 residents. You may have to find local transportation back to Basco.
South Batan. From Basco, there is a sarao or a jeep that travel until the last barangay of South Batan. Jeepney passes by Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Itbud and Imnajbu. Jeepney schedules are almost every day but there arelesser schedules on Saturday.
Uyugan, is the 3rd municipality in Batan Island (Basco and Ivana are the two). Uyugan people are so nice. You can put together a nice meal with some barbeque from a local stand and the local canteen sells rice for dinner. Sit at the beach and wait for the sunset.
Get up early to watch the sunrise in Uyugan beach and catch up the jeep on a Sunday,early at 6AM.
Ivana. After taking a jeep,take in Sunday mass in San Jose De de Ivana Church in front of Ivana Port. Good thing the mass is a mixed of Tagalog, English and Ivantan (local dialect) so you may still understood the homily. Walk 2-3kms to leave Ivana. At the National Road, you can pass by Canteen of the South, House of Dakay and Old Spanish Bridge. So it is really better to walk than to hire another tour guide.At the border of Ivana and Mahatao you can look for a jeep to bring you to the center of Mahatao.
Mahatao. Visit the San Borromeo Church and beside it is Batanes Blank Book Archive. Since everyone is watching a Pacquiao fight on that noon, locals are in their houses watching it too. After resting for awhile, look for a driver/ tour guide who can help you to visit 3 spots – Marlboro Country, Tayid Lighthouse and Diura Fishing Village. At the end of the day, get back to your lodging with your dinner (garlic yellow rice and puso ng saging) and a bottle of beer to celebrate the beauty of Batanes.
The next day, get up early to soak the Disvayangan beach. It’s like you own the whole beach yourself! Ride a tricycle to Chawa View Deck. There you can see the whole South China Sea and Pacific Ocean.Enjoy the view while waiting for a jeep to Basco.
North Batan. Tour this last on your list as this is the nearest from Basco. North Batan tour for a tricycle costs 1k. This is because of high terrain that you need to climb using a motorcycle only. Visit these places:
Basco PAGASA Weather Station
Fundacion Pacita (no day tripper is allowed L)
Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
Valugan Boulder Beach
Vayang Rolling Hills
Near the Basco Municpal Hall is the Immaculate Concepcion Church. Naidi Hills, Basco Lighthouse and Bunker’s Café are about 20-30 minutes from city proper, so you can walk to visit it.
All in all, here is a summary of expenses,
Kindly take note that prices may change.
Other Travel Tips by Jess
- Create your itinerary or list down all the places that you need to visit. Do research in internet. List the places, lodge or hotel addresses and contact numbers, tour guides name and contact number. List the things that you want to do and the best to do in the place that you will travel to. For Batanes itinerary and other tips, you can visit http://www.pinoyadventurista.com/. It will be better to have a hard copy as there are some places in Batanes with no mobile data signal or WiFi.
- Speaking of mobile data, phone signal, only Smart does! There are some lodges that has WiFi access points.
- Visit the local tourism office inside Basco Municipal Hall. Officers are really friendly and can give you free maps, tour rates, tour guide contact numbers.
- Every Ivatan is extra super nice. You can call the older people as Auntie and Uncle.
- North Batan can be tour for 3-4 hours. South Batan for 5-6 hours, better the whole day. Sabtang Island for 6-7 hours, better for overnight stay.
- Once you know one lodge or hotel, you will know every lodge or hotel in the town. Just be friendly to ask. Use the map from the tourist center to look for a house in Basco after arriving from Mahatao.
- Ask local of what are the schedules of jeepney. Saturday has lesser jeepney schedules as they said this is a “Farm Day” as drivers became farmers as well. Jeeps rove around Basco especially on National Road, just keep an eye of it
- For those who knows how to ride a bike and drive a motorcycle, some lodges offers these to rent per hour or per day.
- Bring cash. Your credit or debit card will not be accepted. There are two banks in Basco – Landbank and PNB. Only Landbank has an ATM for cash withdrawal but it oftenly on offline mode. Western Union and LBC is available though.
- Bring biscuits, coffee sachets, candies and other foods that can ease your hunger. LOL! Foods in Batanes are pricey. A cup of rice range up to Php 20 and the ulam is about Php 60-80 in a local canteen. Their gasoline tank costs more than Php 2,500, this explains the pricey details of foods. Remember, the ship freight.
- Since gasoline is pricey, transportation is pricey as well. As mentioned, ask locals of jeepney schedules to lesser your transpo cost. Tricycle is pricey too. There are tour packages that include transpo, but of you are comfortable hitching, especially if you travel alone, it can be easier. All locals are really nice, kind, pleasant to be with. If they see you walking, they will offer you a ride. If you hitch with them you can learm their stories, how they live and how it is to be an Ivatan, how it is to be not just a tourist but a traveler.
- Keep in mind that Batanes has an erratic weather, so it is better to travel once you see the sun. Don’t hesitate 🙂
This article is posted in Trip Advisor. To visit my profile, go to https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/members/HeartofJess
Travel Date: April 2014