Hey, you! Not to excite you more, but you are heading to the most honest (and beautiful as per me) province in the Philippines.
Whether you’re that traveler who has Batanes as her/his ultimate PH province bucket list or that curious tag-along traveler who has few ideas about it, you have to prepare your heart for you’ll definitely fall in love with this northernmost island. I was never the former because Batanes felt so quiet and simple for me, but when my parents tagged me along last December 2019, my heart and jaw both drop on every place we visit.
Since our elementary days, our Sibika teachers taught us that Batanes to be the northernmost province of the Philippines, already near Taiwan. And because of its geographic location, it is prone to typhoons; thus, houses here are made of stones, and the roofs are made of cogon to withstand even the strongest winds.
But what they didn’t teach is that this province also has majestic green rolling hills overlooking the vast blue ocean, rugged, dramatic cliffs, picturesque lighthouses, and gorgeous beaches. Batanes province consists of 10 islands, but only three are inhabitable – Batan (where Basco is), Sabtang, and Itbayat.
There are only three airlines that offer direct flights to Basco Airport – Philippines Airlines from Clark, Cebu Pacific, and Skyjet, both from Manila. All of the flights of these three airlines are only schedule at 6 AM. Only Philippine Airlines has a second flight at 10:30 AM. Also, all of the airlines use a small propeller plane, making it the scariest airplane ride I’ve been so far.
We flew via Philippine Airlines through Clark. My parents got our airfare for 10k PHP, which is reasonable on the holiday travel dates (Dec. 29 – Jan. 2). I’ve also read somewhere that airlines rarely put Batanes flights on sale to maintain the tourist limit of the island. So if you got your airfare for less than 5,000 PHP, then lucky you!
Batanes DIY Itinerary (w/ budget)
DAY 1 (North Batan Tour)
6:30 AM – Flight to Basco via Clark
We got the first flight of Philippine Airlines at Clark International Airport, and it is not delayed, yaaay!!
8:00 AM – ARRIVAL BASCO AIRPORT
Basco Airport is just a small airport, so the landing is scarier. And of course, same with their houses, their terminal is made of stone as well. Most of the homestay and hotels offer an airport transfer since the town of Basco is only 5 minutes away from the airport.
9 AM – Check-in in Batanes Seaside Hotel
My parents prefer a hotel than a homestay, so I booked Batanes Seaside as per my boyfriend’s recommendation. We paid 22,000 PHP for a family room for four nights. It is a beautiful hotel for those who have some budget for comfortable accommodation.
12NN – Start of North Batan Tour
12:15 PM – Basco Sign and Viewdeck
This Welcome to Basco sign is just near our hotel Batanes Seaside. You can see the Basco port, rock formation, and the town of Basco in the view deck.
1:00 PM – Mt. Carmel Chapel (Tukon Church)
This is the famous church in Batanes and the only church where non-locals/tourists can get married.
1:30 PM – PAG-ASA Tukon Weather station
Just a few minutes away from Tukon Church is the PAG-ASA Weather Station of Basco. Since the province is prone to typhoons, it has its weather station with a gorgeous rolling hills view outside.
1:45 PM – Fundacion Pacita
Fundacion Pacita is the most expensive hotel on the island. Well, just imagine staying in a hotel on a top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it sure is supposed to be expensive. We only by-passed it because the hotel no longer allows tourists on their grounds to respect their guests’ privacy.
2:15 PM – Didawud Idjang
Didawud Idjang is a rock formation that our guide told us to be the shelter of the first people, then the locals during the 2nd World War.
2:30 PM – Japanese Tunnel
The Japanese reached Batanes during World War II, and during those times, they slaved the Ivatans to dig a tunnel for them to hide. This tunnel is still alive as of today, but tourists are not encouraged to enter and explore it because wild animals like snakes might have inhabited deep the pit.
3:00 PM – Valugan Boulder Beach
My favorite of all the North Batan spots is the Valugan Boulder Beach. Valugan means “east” in Ivatan, and it is the perfect name for a beach on the east side of Batan Island.
We spent almost an hour here taking photos, sitting on the boulder to watch the crashing wave of Pacific Ocean and mesmerizing on the long stretch of the big and small stones along the beach.
4:30 PM – Vayang Rolling Hills
In the northernmost part of Batan Island is the Vayang Rolling Hills. It was a gorgeous lush of a green pasture where cows and goats are walking and eating freely. I don’t have a photo because it was already raining and we can’t get out of our tricycles.
5:00 PM – Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills
Just near the town is the Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills. You can reach it by walking or renting a bike. You can see the Philippine Sea from the hill, but if you climb up the lighthouse, you’ll see the whole Basco town and Vayang Rolling Hills. We also borrowed the Ivatan’s traditional clothes – Vakul for the girls and Kanayi vest for the boys. It is free to use, but a donation is encouraged.
6:00 PM – Immaculate Concepcion Church
Immaculate Concepcion Church is the local church of Basco.
6:30 PM – Pizza Dinner at Jino’s Easy
We saw this pizza place in town and spontaneously have dinner here because it is jampacked with locals. The pizza are a little pricey but it is good so I don’t mind.
DAY 1 EXPENSES: 1,300PHP
Clark Terminal fee – 150PHP
Batanes tourism fee – 400 PHP
North Batan Tour – 500PHP
Pizza Dinner – 250PHP
DAY 2 (SABTANG)
5:45 AM – Pick-up in hotel
Our guides picked us up early because the port to Sabtang is in the town of Ivana, 14 kilometers away from Basco, and the first boat ride is at 7 AM. Again, I booked a Sabtang tour with Kuya Jolito for P1400/person.
Inform your hotel night before if you’re doing a Sabtang tour so they can prepare your breakfast early.
6:30 AM – Ivana Port
The convenience of booking a local tour is that your local tour guide makes all of the arrangements. Kuya Jolito just asked us to sit, and he did all the talking and registrations.
7:00 AM – Braving the waves to SABTANG
The boat ride to Sabtang takes 30 minutes, depending on how big the waves are that day. If you’re prone to motion sickness, then this boat ride will be hard for you.
7:30 AM – Arrival to Sabtang
Upon our arrival in Sabtang, Kuya Jolito already arranged three tricycles to roam us around. Try to look for Tricycle #19. It has Toni G. and Coco Martin’s signatures because it is the one used in their movie. I tried.
8:00 AM – Morong Beach & Nakabuang Arch
Morong Beach is the famous beach in Sabtang. The sand is white and not fine. But the real head-turner in this beach is the Nakbuang Arch, a unique rock formation that looks like an arch. Tourists are lining up to take photos of it.
9:00 AM – Sleeping Beauty Mountain
Our guide stopped us in the middle of nowhere and asked us to observe a mountain from afar. The sleeping person figure in the mountain is so easy to spot.
9:30 – Chamantad-tinyan Viewpoint
Chamantad-Tinan Viewpoint is the most beautiful, for me, spot in Sabtang because of the mix of rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, and blue ocean views. We walk to the cliff up to the top of the mountain. We spent maybe more than an hour here because it’s so hard to leave.
11:00 AM – chavayan Village
t Chavayan Village is a preserved Ivatan village in the Southern part of Sabtang Island. The town has a sea view on one side and a mountain view on the other. Our guides guided us on the famous photo spots and walked us around this little town. It is a residential area, so please respect and observe silence in the area.
If you’re staying for a night in Sabtang, there are two homestays available in this village.
11:45 AM – Old Beaterio and St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
The last stop before lunch is this Old Beaterio, where you can have a photo inside a stone house. Just beside it is a small chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.
12:15 PM – LUNCH BY THE BAY
The Sabtang tour we availed includes lunch, which consists of turmeric rice, fried fish, vegetable, and the Ivatan meal of “lunis.” I don’t know if it’s unlimited, but when we asked for more rice and fish, they refilled our plates.
12:30 PM – Boat Ride back to Ivana
The last boat ride from Sabtang back to Batan island is at 12:30 PM; thus, a Sabtang day tour is just a half-day tour. And based on my experience, half-day is not enough to explore this island. Spend a night in Sabtang!
6:30 PM – Dinner in Octagon Bed and Breakfast
We spent the whole afternoon chilling and napping. By 6:30 PM, we walked from Batanes Seaside to Octagon for dinner, which is recommended by our guides.
DAY 2 EXPENSES: 1700 PHP
Sabtang Day Tour – 1400 PHP
Dinner in Octagon – 300 PHP
DAY 3 (SOUTH BATAN TOUR)
9:00 AM – Pick-up in hotel
Again, I, with my sister and cousin, availed a South Batan trike tour with Kuya Drix and Kuya Jolito for 2,000 PHP for three people (1,500 PHP for two people). My dad, younger brother, and uncle wanted to motorbike around, so they rented a Mio instead for P1,000/day.
Automatic motorbike Rental Contact Number: 09199939908 / 09163551108
9:30 AM – Chawa Viewdeck
The first stop of our South Batan tour is Chawa Viewdeck, a hundred steps down the cliff to the raging waves of Philippine Sea. It also has an overlooking gorgeous mountains that screams Batanes.
10:15 AM – Town of Mahatao
Mahatao is one of the six municipalities of Batanes and the next southern town to Basco. It is a small and simple town with just at least 2,000 population. We bypassed their boat shelter, where boats were parked during typhoons and stopped by San Carlos Borromeo Parish, the heart of Mahatao. We were asked to pay P15/person for their tourism fee and told us to write on their Blank Book Archives. The Spaniards give these blank books, and through the years, they let tourists write on one of the almost 700 books for memories safekeeping.
11:00 AM – Tayid Lighthouse
Tayid is my favorite lighthouse among all the three in Batanes. This one is gorgeous with the blue benches around and majestic view.
11:45 AM – Marlboro Hills (Racuh a Payaman)
The famous rolling hills in the south is the Racuh a Payaman or widely known as Marlboro Hills. It is a vast stretch from the top to the cliff with raging winds and cows freely enjoying themselves.
12:45 PM – San Lorenzo Ruiz
We stopped by this gorgeous small church in the middle of the road because the rain started to get heavy.
2:00 PM – Alapad Hills and Rock Formation
You will not miss this rock formation on your South Batan road trip, for it sure is an eye-catcher. Alapad has a small hill and a majestic rock formation on its side, which are mostly housed by goats. A photo here is perfect with the Batanes’ famous sign “Blow ur horn.”
2:45 PM – Muchong viewpoint
Comparing to other hills, Muchong Viewpoint is simple, but it is the shooting location of DawnChard’s movie Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit.
3:15 PM – Station of the Cross
We bypassed by the station of the cross of San Antonino Parish in Uyugan, Batanes. During the holy week, most of the Ivatans do their station of the cross here.
3:30 PM – Honesty Cafe
And of course, this famous store is located in the municipality of Ivana. It is just near Ivana Port, the port going to Sabtang. The first and original store mostly sells foods and drinks, but it was already extended at the back to sell souvenirs and clothes. It was nice to be here because this is something that you’ll never experience in Manila.
4:00 PM – House of Dakay
House of Dakay, which is also in the town of Ivana is the oldest stone house in Batanes. You can go inside (just remove your shoes) and experience what it is like to be in a stone house. It was surprisingly cold inside it.
4:30 PM – Maydangeb White Beach
A white beach in Batanes that locals go to, especially during summer. It is usually empty on December to February due to the big waves and ice cold water.
4:45 PM – Homoron Blue Lagoon
Just near the white beach is the Homoron Blue Lagoon. We only stopped by to take some photos because the stairs leading down is close due to the big and strong waves.
5:15 PM – Paulvana’s
Paulvana is the famous lunch place for tourist groups doing the South Batan Tour. It is in the municipality of Mahatao, and it is a set meal that costs P300/head (fixed). The food is good, though.
DAY 3 EXPENSES: 1,132 PHP
South Batan Tour for 3pax – P2000/3 = 667 PHP
Mahatao tourism fee – 15 PHP
Paulvana’s food – 300 PHP
Honesty Store Souvenirs – 150 PHP
DAY 4 (FREE DAY)
7 am – Fountain of Youth
Also known as the Rakuh-a-idi Spring, a fountain of youth is a human-made spring with the view of a rock formation and Pacific ocean in Uyugan Batanes. This place is usually famous for young people because the trek leading here is a little hard for the seniors.
10:30 AM – Diura Fishing Village
Just near the fountain of youth is the Diura fishing village, which you can drop by to explore. It is famous for the number of fishing boats parked in the sands.
12:00 NN – LUNCH at Cafe du Tukon
Since tourists are already not allowed to enter Fundacion Pacita, you can still eat at their Cafe du Tukon. Foods are pricier here, and you need to have a reservation beforehand. I asked for help from our hotel’s receptionist in reserving tables here. (Contact #0998 972 0028)
2:00 PM – Free Time in Basco town
Go back to the hotel and take a nap. In the afternoon, you can walk or rent a bike to explore more of the town of Basco, which is small; you can finish at less than an hour.
6:00 PM – Dinner at Beehan
7:30 PM – Astrophotography in Basco Lighthouse
Booking tours with Kuya Jolito gives you free astrophotography in Basco Lighthouse!! Sulit? Yes, very worth it; just pray that it won’t rain.
DAY 4 EXPENSES: 2,000 PHP
Tricycle Rental – 750 PHP
Fountain of Youth Entrance – 150 PHP
Lunch – 500 PHP
Dinner – 200 PHP
Meryenda + Tshirt Souvenirs – 400 PHP
11 AM – Flight back to Manila
We had the last flight back to Manila at 11:30 AM. The airport transfer only took us less than 5 minutes and maybe around 10 minutes for the airport check-in process. It was a small gate but an amazing interior. Bye, Batanes! I’ll come back to you.
TOTAL EXPENSES: 21,032 PHP
Airfare – 10,500 PHP
Batanes Seaside Hotel – P22,000/5 = 4,400 PHP
Day 1 (North Batan) – 1,300 PHP
Day 2 (Sabtang) – 1,700 PHP
Day 3 (South Batan) – 1,132 PHP
Day 4 (Free Day) – 2,000 PHP
Batanes is the right place for people who wanted to take a break from the city and rush life. The time feels so slow, and the internet is almost non-existent, which is better for your travel here. Goods, foods, and airfare might not be as cheap as in other provinces, but when you got to see and experience Batanes, you’ll understand that it is money worth paying.