Batanes: Your very own Heaven on Earth

 

Heaven on Earth fittingly describes Batanes. Not known to many but it is the number one travel destination to seasoned Philippine travellers.

Visitors will literally forget that they are in the Philippines even before their plane lands.

Their culture is different. They bury their dead surprisingly like the Vikings. The people speak a different language. Their houses look different. If you are a Lord of the Rings follower, you will love the place. The weather is different. If you are anal with following a schedule, this is not the place for you. There, the weather rules. It is not typically tropical. It is the only place in the country that experiences four seasons. It is closer to Taiwan than Manila. It’s topography is likened to Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand due to its windswept hills and boulder-hemmed shores. You will forget your sanity and start singing “The Hills are alive… ” like a crazy person.

 

Getting there:

Seair (http://flyseair.com/) flies twice daily to Basco, Batanes. To minimize on cost (one way costs Php 7,039.20) watch out for promos that Seair regularly gives away — Feb and Sept, for half the price during the Philippine Travel Tour Expo and the Philippine Travel Mart, and for various discounts year-round online.

 

Topography: 

The hills come alive in Batanes. The terrain is picturesque at every turn. No explanation needed for it is heaven on earth.

 
Chamantad-Tinian, Sabtang, 2010

Chamantad-Tinian, Sabtang Island

 
Rolling Hills, 2010

Rolling Hills, Batan Island

 

Racuh-a-Payaman, 2010

Racuh-a-Payaman, Batan Island

 

Architecture:

If unique architecture is what interests you, then there is Sabtang Island. It has most of the traditional houses intact and in perfect condition. As they say, it is a place that exists in another time. Ivatan houses are made of lime and stone. This to withstand the strongest typhoon. The walls are meter-thicked, while the roofs are foot-thicked made of cogon. To get to Sabtang, take an Ivana-bound jeepney/van from Basco (first trip is at 530am for Php30/35) and get off at Ivana Port. There are three fallowas that service the Ivana and Sabtang Port (first trip from Ivana is at 6-630am and the last trip from Sabtang is at 1pm). Make sure to inform the boat captain if you intend to have him wait for you. 

 
Savidug, Sabtang Island, 2010

Barrio Savidug, Sabtang Island

 

Historic:

History buffs will not be disappointed because there are four 200-year old churches worth visiting: Santo Domingo in Basco, San Jose in Ivana, San Carlos in Mahatao and San Vicente on Sabtang. Chavayan church in Sabtang is the only one left of its kind – thick cogon-thatched roof. The village of Chavayan itself is a UNESCO World Heritage nominated site for its preserved traditional set up.
 
Chavayan, Sabtang Island, 2010

Barrio Chavayan, Sabtang Island

 

Chavayan Church, 2010

Chavayan Church, Sabtang Island

 

Archaeological Attraction:

When there is good weather, rejoice! Head to Ivuhos Island and create your own adventure à la Indiana Jones. In Ivuhos Island, you will find boat-shaped burial markers. The burial sites are marked with stones which are laid down to the shape of the local boat “tataya,” with a pit carved in the middle from limestone bedrock. It is said that only Vikings are known to have made boat-shaped burial markers.  

 

Basco Port, 2010

Tataya

 

Weather:

However strong the materials used, there, the weather is king. A testament to this is the village that was wiped out by a great tidal wave back in the day. It is now called “The Sung Sung Ruins” or ghost town by some. Though it is said that the best time to go to Batanes is during the summer months, it is to be borne in mind, that the season has nothing to do with it when bad luck comes your way because the weather rules in this part of the country. We visited on October but were graced with sunny weather the whole time. Nevertheless, be prepared to have your schedule derailed.

 

Sung Sung Ruins, Batan Island 2010

Sung Sung Ruins, Batan Island

 

Beaches:

Batanes Islands is situated between the Balintang Channel and the Bashi Channel, where South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean merge. It is no surprise that its shores are so ruggedly beautiful. On the way to the northern part of Batan Island, you will encounter beautiful boulder-hemmed shoures by the road side. Nakabuang Beach in Sabtang Island, meanwhile, is an example of how the ocean is wild in this part of the country. An arch was naturally formed by the rough waves of the sea. 

 

Chanarian, Batanes 2010

Chanarian, Batan Island

 
Nakabuang Beach, Sabtang 2010

Nakabuang Beach, Sabtang Island

 

Transportation:

There are a few public vehicles plying its streets. In fact, only at the airport will you find a line of tricycles waiting for passengers. Because the province is so small, the locals ride their own bicycles to get to one place to another. However if you plan on touring the island, there are a number of jeepneys and/or vans for hire. Also, most resorts have motorcycles for rent. While for the budget conscious, tricycles are available for charter at a minimal fee (Php 150/hour in Basco & Php 900/half day in Sabtang). To get from one island to another, Ivatans use the “falowa.” Its round bottom makes the journey smoother despite the big waves in Batanes.

 
Basco Port, 2010

Fallowa

 

Accommodation:

Finding a place to stay is not hard, but be sure to book ahead during peak season (summer months).  There are a number of resorts and lodging houses scattered around the town of Basco. Fundacion Pacita is one such place with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. It was the home of internationally acclaimed artist Pacita Abad. The government-run Ivatan Lodge, meanwhile,  is the favorite of backpackers. For just Php 200/night, it is sufficient for the no frills kind. Clean and Safe.    

 
Fundacion Pacita, Batanes, 2010

Fundacion Pacita, Batan Island

 

Food:

Although a favorite destination of some of the most high-profile individuals of the country, surprisingly, Batanes has few restaurants. Canteens and cafeterias nevertheless have mushroomed everywhere. Backpackers usually head to the SDC Canteen run by the Dominican Sisters, where a meal costs for about Php 50. For your last night, you may want to splurge and try Casa Napoli’s home-made pizza (Php 300).

 
Casa Napoli, Batanes 2010

Casa Napoli, Basco

 

People:

If that has not convinced you still, maybe the people will. Though naturally shy, they will not hesitate to help visitors.  If safety is a concern, worry no more because the province has zero to none crime rate.

 
Chavayan, Sabtang Island, 2010

Chavayan Boy

  
Savidug, Sabtang Island 2010

Savidug Farmer

 

 A place that exists in another time. Dream it or Live it. Your choice.

   

Basco Contacts:

♦ Accommodation
◊ Ivatan Lodge (Php 200/pax)
Elisa A. Castillo – 0930-8511884

tricycle charter (Php 150/hour)
◊ Glenn – 0919-9854506

 

Sabtang Contacts:

Accommodation
◊ Chavayan Homestay (Php100/pax)
Harold Gabotero or Alejandro Havana
◊ Heritage House (Php 150/folding bed; Php 600/room, good for 2pax)
Glo – 0908-3997873

tricycle charter (Php 950/half day)
◊ Edwin Hubalde – 0918-3694083

van charter (Php 1500)
◊ Rudy Grecha – 0908-5607833

tour guide (Php 500)
◊ Emilio Fedel (BCTA) – 0921-5201265
◊ Rudy Grecha – 0908-5607833

 

*** Click here for our itinerary and here for an accounting of our expenses.

 

 

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~ by Happy Sole on December 7, 2010.

38 Responses to “Batanes: Your very own Heaven on Earth”

  1. You’ve been to Batanes. Thanks for visiting our province.
    Dios mamajes.

  2. yipeeee! I came, I saw, I conquered BATANES! waaaaaaa! thumbs up! its really a paradise!

  3. great post, gwen! now i miss batanes 😦

  4. Wow! Batanes! I’m still saving up for my trip to this place. Di pa napupuno ang alkansiya ko para dito 😀 I’m really enjoying your stories and your photos of Batanes.

    • thanks for dropping by! contrary to everyone’s belief, one doesn’t really need to break the bank to be able to go to and enjoy Batanes… bilis-bilisan mo na ang pag-puno ng alkansya mo. hehe happy travellin’!

  5. watch out for promo flights. saw about a week ago P6K all in round trip ticket to Basco. Not bad at all! someday, i’ll go there!!!

  6. thanks for visiting my blog and recommending a nice info about my PROJECT: TOUR MANILA…

    🙂

  7. What a great, useful entry! And fantastic photos. Saving it for when I finally get to go 🙂

  8. One of my future trips! Ive heard alot of interesting news about this place and being a photo hobbyist, it is something to be explored with my lens.

    • Hi Reymos, do go. I’m sure you will love Batanes as much as your lens will. Thanks for stumbling upon my site. Otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered your amazing travels in your site as well. Happy travellin’!

  9. ganda naman I’ve been planning a trip to batanes but for some reasons it’s always been cancelled. sana this year matuloy na ganda nung mga pics

  10. Loving these shots of Batanes. It seems so romantic actually, I can imagine it would be so epic to get married on a cliff here overlooking the sea.

  11. Hi! We are going to Batanes on March 12 to 16 and we are so excited!
    I just wanna ask DIY kayo? no tour guides or the tricycle drivers nyo na serve as your guides?

    Ganda ng mga pics mo!

    • hi! DIY po kami… yung tricycle driver namin ang naging tour guide na rin. you can replicate our itinerary if you want. Batanes is soo maganda. Enjoy it to the max! 🙂 thanks for appreciating my photos.

  12. […] Click here for photos and here for our […]

  13. […] Travellers to this Heaven on Earth are rewarded to friendly people and  a culture different from the rest of the country. Find out how, here. […]

  14. I would love to go here soon! Nice pictures. 🙂

  15. […]  Be amazed at the beauty of Batanes, here. […]

  16. […] Batanes closely resembles Scotland with its wind-swept hills, boulder-hemmed shore, and limestone houses. Don’t forget to bring your own magic wand! Read more … […]

  17. Thanks for posting the contact infos in Sabtang. I’ll be making a return visit next week. 🙂

    Just a bit of a correction – Songsong ruins and Nakabuang beach are both in Batan, not Sabtang. 🙂

    • clearly, that’s a typo error. but thanks for pointing it out.

      the correct info are:
      Nakabuang Beach – Sabtang Island
      Sungsung Ruins – Batan Island

  18. Haha, nagkamali rin pala ako!

  19. […] Tourists have been raving about the homey pizza place in the northernmost tip of the country.They say it’s all in the dough, which is freshly made from scratch by the house chef-owner. Read on how to get to Batanes, here. […]

  20. Hello, what’s the contact number of Harold Gabotero or Alejandro Havana regarding the Chavayan Homestay? Thanks

    Ibarra Siapno
    photographer

    • Hello, they didn’t have contact numbers when we visited. You may contact Edwin Hubalde, our tricycle driver, to make the arrangements for you. – 0918-3694083. Good Luck!

      • Alrighty thank you very much! =)

        Ibarra Siapno/ Photographer

        FB page: IBARRA photography

  21. Thanks so much for this helpful post! We’re planning to stay in Batanes for 3 months and are looking for cheap digs.

    • wow! 3 months in Batanes.. that’s awesome! when is the start of the trip? 🙂 Batanes is such a charming place and everyone there is nice. planning will be a breeze. looking forward to your posts..

    • Wow…that’s very very good…i’m planning to go home around march next year, and i want to see the place too..thinking of retiring early to enjoy a simple. I am looking for a cheap place to retire in the philippines with low crime rate, and i think batanes is the right place..the only thing that i dont know is how much money needed per month to retire in batanes..any update would be greatly appreciated….thanks

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