This is an excerpt from Billy Joel’s Famous Song, and this is exactly how i described this place.
This face 😭 is literally what i’m feeling as i’m writing this post.
My 2017 kicked off with the outstanding view of this island. If you’re gonna visit my Bucket List page, this is my number 1. (I won’t elaborate the whole statement, i’m gonna reserved it some other time 😜 ). Anyway, let me give a brief background of the place.
Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines. This place is one of the topmost if not the top of every filipino’s bucketlist. Situated at the northern part of Aparri, Cagayan and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the south China Sea. It was believed that this place is nearer to Taiwan than in mainland Luzon.
The province is composed of 3 inhabited islands: Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat, tho’ there are other unhabited islands namely: Misanga, Siayan, Ivuhos, Dequey and the northernmost tip of the country, the Mavulis Island. It has 6 municipalities: Basco, Itbayat, Ivana, Mahatao, Sabtang and Uyugan. The capital of the province is Basco, where the main airport is situated.
This area is the only place in the Philippines wherein its entire landscape and seascape are lawfully protected.
Its location made it typhoon prone, making the birth of what the province is famous for, the Stone Houses. Same as the entire Philippines, April – June are the summer months, July – October, the Wet months while November to March are the chilly months.
How To Get Here?
There are only 3 airlines fleeing this province:
Skyjet Air – www.flyskyjetair.com
Philippine Air Lines – www.philippineairlines.com
Sky Pasada – Flees from Tuguegarao, Cagayan and Pangasinan
*All of them fly once every morning to Basco
Going to Batanes is quite challenging, as there are so many hidrance along the way. One of them is booking a plane ticket. It’s notorious in being expensive! A two way fare ranges from 9000 to as high as 17000 php. Flights rarely go on promotion so once you’ve encounter that rare opportunity, grab it and never let go coz i promised you, it would be worth it!
Another factor is its crazy weather! More of this as i go on.
Where To Stay?
There are so many Homestays in Basco, their price varies depending on the season. Can be as low as 300 per person or can go up to 12k per night.
I often visit Tripadvisor for this.
My Batanes Journey
Our original itinerary is to stay for 5 days being the 6th as our departure from Basco. We are booked via PAL, less than 1 month from the time of our departure. We didn’t planned this trip, just pops out of frustration. We were planning some things and we thought going here could be an answer to all our questions and hesitations.
As the weeks went by, and only days ahead of the schedule, i can already feel the excitement, the feeling that i haven’t felt for quite a while. The last moment i felt like this was in 2011 when i first landed in Seoul.
We were at the airport 45 minutes past the hour of 3. At 4 am, the counter opens, checked our luggages, received our boarding passes and went to the departure gate. As we wait for our boarding time, PAL announces that our flight will be onhold due to weather disturbances on our arrival airport. We never paid attention as we were busy figuring our new “very cheap” camera. Then after a few minutes, they announced that we’re ready for boarding. We’re still as excited as ever.
The flight was delayed for another 30 minutes because of air traffic. Finally, we started our journey at around 6:45 am. After about an hour and 1/2, the pilot said that we’re about to land at Basco Airport. He submerged the plane in thick clouds for 5 minutes, then announced that we have to wait until the weather clears up before landing. So he maneuver the plane away from the clouds, waited for 10 minutes and suddenly announces that the weather in Basco has completely deteriorated and that we’re flying back to Manila! “Say whhuuuut?!!!”
We’re in shocked and completely speechless! This is the first time we experienced such a thing!
After we arrived, we immediately went to the PAL counter, we badly needed to rebooked our flight, as i dont want to put my vacation leave to waste. We weren’t able to rebooked on the day after, instead we got the one which is 2 days after. It shorthen our trip but its better than never. Devastated we went home with sadness in our faces. At home, i cancelled our previous homestay booking and again, disappointment flutters me when i’ve learned that Skyjet was able to land. 😭
The Mystery Unfolds When The Thick Clouds Clear Up…
After 2 days, we didn’t ask someone to accompanied us to the airport, instead we just use the GrabCar app. It’s raining when we arrived at the airport. Did the same procedures and wait for our boarding announcement. When the 1st boarding announcement came at around 5:30 am, they said that the boarding will be onhold due to weather conditions on the arrival airport and the next announcement will be at 6 am. “Oh no, not again!”
Time came and they mentioned the same thing. We were a bit nervous as we both wanted to push this vacation already. Third announcement came but still the same. Our hearts are pounding already, i prayed silently and asked God to grant our wish. When the airline staff made his 4th and final announcent, all passengers were asked to line-up as he said that they are ready for boarding! Yey! Atleast 1 step closer.
After 1 hour, the captain said that we’re about to land in Basco. I was nervous again and said to myself “o gosh not again!”. Our plane submerged in thick clouds, so thick that you won’t see anything. Turbulence arises, i’m still crossing my fingers and still nervous. After a good 10 minutes, i suddenly saw the ocean! My heart pounds in excitement! “O gosh this is it!” While the plane is getting nearer, i had my first glimpse of Batanes Rolling Hills. and THAT FEELING! Unexplainable, It’s So surreal!
After a nerve wracking flight, we finally landed in Basco Airport. It was raining hard but still my heart is grateful. Kudos to our very brave pilot! 😊
Upon arrival, one should pay an eco-tourism fee of 350 php. I find it expensive, but you will undertand why after exploring the province.
We were fetch by our accommodation staff. Our hometel is located 2 mins from the airport! 😂 Crazy huh?!
Villa De Babat
They ranked no. 1 Inn/bed and breakfast at Tripadvisor. You may directly contact ate Luz at +63 999 366 4755, she’s very kind and accommodating.
Located 2 mins from the airport, 1 min from the main road. 5 mins from central Basco.
Very clean! Cannot asked for more! Constantly changing our towels everyday.
We had an amazing experienced at the Villa. Ate Luz is very accommodating, they gave us free breakfast upon arrival and our room was updated from standard to deluxe for free! 👍🏻 The house is very homey and is close to almost anything and everything. Plus the backyard gives you a closer glimpse of Mt. Iraya.
DAY 1: Walking Tour (Free Day)
It’s raining heavily on our first day, also the wind is blowing harshly. But this doesn’t stop us from enjoying our first day.
1. Walking Tour Around Central Basco
The famous Vakul – worn by Ivatans to protect them from the sun.
2. Basco Arc
3. Lunch at Octagon Bed and Dine – This is where Toni Gonzaga and Coco Martin stayed during the filming of “You’re My Boss”
5. Dinner at Casa Napoli – Quite famous Pizza Parlor in Basco
We were back at the Villa around 7 pm. Entire Basco is dimmed and gloomy at night. Plus the fact, that its raining heavily on our first day.
DAY 2: South Batan Tour
“Here comes the Sun…. do dum du dumm”
The Sun suddenly shows up on our 2nd day. They said that it was raining for the past week, and its a relief to have that sunshine finally. God is really good as He don’t want to spoil our tour. 😊
Prior to this day, we already hire our Tricycle driver. We opt to do this instead of joining a tour group. We got to save more aswell as enjoy the sceneries and embrace the air in a more traditional way.
1. Chawa View Deck
2. Mahatao Church or San Carlos Borromeo Church
3. Diura Fishing Village
4. Blue Lagoon
5. White Beach
6. Alapad Hills – This is the exact shooting location of Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez famed movie “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit” and the birthplace of “I dawn zulueta mo ako” mockery.
7. San Jose Church in Ivana
8. Honesty Coffee Shop – This is a famous coffee shop known around the world. Its a self-service store, wherein there’s nobody to assist you. You get what you like and put the payment on the box. Only God knows if your honest enough! 👍🏻
9. House of Dakay – This is the oldest Stone House in Basco. About 130 years old!
10. Unknown Hills
11. Tayid Lighthouse
12. San Lorenzo Ruiz Church
14. Lunch at Paulvanas
15. Marlboro Country
16. Our Lady Of Miraculous Medal
17. Dinner at D’Islands
DAY 3: Sabtang Tour
“Waves will Take you There…”
On our 3rd day, the weather still is unpredictable as ever. We woke up at 4:30 am as we needed to be in Ivana port at 6:30 am to catch the only boat that goes to Sabtang. Our driver fetch us at around 6 AM and we arrived in San Vicente Port insted at around 6:30 am. (Sometimes, the passenger boat is in Ivana Port) You need to go to the table counter and register your name in the manifesto.
After grabbing our life jackets, our boat brave the harsh waves to Sabtang. The 30 minutes boat ride is as crazy as hell… 😂 It’s like being submerge in a roller coaster for a good 30 mins, i just have to close my eyes to fight it.
I don’t have problems riding a boat but this Sabtang trip is an exemption. My vertigo kills me after! SWEAR! So if you’re brave enough to go to Itbayat then by all means! A word of caution tho’ it’s a tremendous 3 hr boat ride! 😱
Anyway, our trike driver in Basco suggested a trike driver in Sabtang. So upon arrival, we just contacted our driver, it just happens that our contact was the head of tricycle drivers in Sabtang! So he gave our tour guide / driver Kuya Julian Alasco.
You should register first at the Tourist office before the Tour. It’s located 5 mins from the port.
1. Sabtang Lighthouse
2. San Vicente Ferrer church
3. Savidug Community
4. Savidug Idjang Fortress
4. Sabtang Town Stone Houses
5. Chamantad Cove / Tinyan Viewpoint
6. Chavayan Community and Stone Houses
7. St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and Old Beaterio
8. Morong Beach
9. Lunch at Morong Restaurant
We finished the tour at 12 pm. As we needed to return at the port for the 12:30 pm boat ride to Basco.
Another crazy and dizzy ride. After battling the waves, we therefore conclude that it’s a No No for Itbayat! It’s a freaking 3 hours boat ride to that island!
We chilled a bit and relax at our homestay for a few hours. We then decided to go out and rent a bike! 😊
You can rent a bike here:
I bought some souvenirs, then we had dinner at Pension Ivatan for some authentic Ivatan cuisines.
DAY 4: North Batan Tour
“There must be more than this provincial life…”
This is a chill day…
After breakfast, we decided to rent a bike again, and drove the streets of Basco. Chasing the trail facing Mt. Iraya is such an exhilirating experience.
Before 12 nn, Kuya Ronald fetch us and drove us to Cafe Du Tukon to have our lunch. The sosy side of Basco. Owned and operated by the Abad’s.
After that, we started our last tour in Batanes.
1. Fundacion Pacita – Right beside Cafe Du Tukon. This is the most expensive lodging in entire Batanes. 1 night cost about 10k-12k. The view is breathless tho’ so its okay.
2. Tukon Church – Built by the Abad’s for the wedding of their daughter.
3. Pag-Asa Station
4. Japanese Tunnel
5. Valugan Boulder Beach – The stones was believe to be from the last eruption of Mt. Iraya.
6. Basco Cathedral
7. Vayang Rolling Hills
8. Naidi Lighthouse
9. Dinner at Beehan
Departure in Basco 😔
Kuya Ronald – our Tour guide / Tricycle Driver for 3 days. You may contact him at (0929) 435 3154
Meet Nanay Vera – The very bubbly Turmeric Queen of Basco! Heheh
These are my Pasalubong! I’m quite generous! Yah know! 😀
Truly, Batanes will leave you heart-broken when its time to let her go. The simplicity of life here will make you realized your life’s worth. Ivatans are the most trust-worthy people you will ever meet in this lifetime. Their pleasant morning greetings and warm good nights can make you feel that goodness still lingers.
The landscape, the rocks, the hills and the ocean are mesmerizing…. Batanes is an evidence that life can be simple and drop-dead gorgeous!
Internet is almost none existent, so prepare yourself to unwind, relax and be captivated. So drop that laptop and mobile phones and be nostalgically incline to what God gave us from the beginning. The serenity and simplicity of life.
Indeed she is expensive and hard to get but once she captured your life, you will just sigh and say… it’s So Worth it! ❤️💋 Dios Mamajes Batanes, you’re indeed one of a kind! And i’m grateful that i became a part of your mesmerizing Beauty, inside and outside! 😘