Batanes instantly took my breath away! I was smitten by its rustic charm and I never thought that I will be able to see Batanes up close this soon!
Batanes has always been on my list of go-to places here in the Philippines. With its majestic views, greenery, the commonly experienced wind-slashing and ear-buzzing weather, delicious local Ivatan specialties, plus all the amazing photos that you see of this incredible province, it is definitely a place I’ve always wanted to see! This mecca for nature lovers is an archipelago province in the Cagayan Valley region. It is the northernmost province in the country and also the smallest in population and land area with three inhabited islands: Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat.
Exploring the beauty of Batanes
The capital – Basco – is located on the island of Batan where the airport is. This is where we stayed for 3D/2N. Sabtang, on the other hand, is accessible by boat (called “faluwa”) where we were able to spend a good number of hours on the island.
So, how do you really prepare for a Batanes trip? I, for one, am not a fan of cold weather. And since we went there just last month, I knew I would have to brace myself for the cold and strong winds especially in the evenings. I do not know how to travel light so instead of scratching my head and blaming myself for not bringing the necessary items, I opted to pack a lot – cardigan, sweatshirts, scarf, windbreaker, hoodie, leggings, jeans and an umbrella. But the funny thing was, the weather that I was actually expecting in Batanes turned out to be just the opposite! The weather was cool but not as cold as I thought. I wasn’t even able to use my umbrella. Oh, well!
Batanes is one of the provinces in the Philippines that most Filipinos, including myself, dream to visit. I’m ready for you, Batanes! Or better yet… Are you ready for me? LOL.
After an hour and 15 minute flight via SkyJet and after hearing the pilot announce our final descent, the view from where I was seated gave me so much excitement and eager anticipation! And what better way to enjoy what Batanes has to offer, than by taking my Transitions XTRActive Adaptive Lenses out for a spin!
Seeing Basco Airport made it clear to me that I was most definitely in Batanes already!
The ideas are limitless when it comes to thinking of what to do in Batanes. Either go around for some sightseeing or food tripping, hop on the next faluwa ride and enjoy the scenery of Sabtang or just do whatever you fancy. So, allow me to take you around Batanes even just through this post.
No sleep and catching a very early flight is no fun. But when you see this place, you’ll know it’s all worth it! That’s the West Philippine Sea right there! Seeing nature’s beautiful hues of green, blue and brown will amaze you so effortlessly. It’s every photographer’s dream destination!
What a classic postcard view!
Racuh a Payaman a.k.a Marlboro Country
This is another spot that should not be missed! One can get a panoramic view of more greenery, hills and slopes.
Racuh a Payaman is what the locals call this place… Marlboro Country to foreigners. Being that this is a grazing area, you’ll see cattles and goats along the steep slopes.
This was where we had our al fresco lunch while enjoying the view and cool breeze.
Marconines Canteen offers guests a variety of viands from beef to chicken to vegetables and a bowl of steaming soup. Just the perfect meal for any hungry tummy.
These are volcanic rocks when Mt. Iraya erupted back in 400 AD. You might wonder why these rocks are smooth. Well, the waves from the Pacific Ocean eventually smoothened the rocks. Valugan which translates to “east” in Ivatan, is a nice spot for sunrise watching.
Transitions XTRActive lenses are ideal for people who are frequently both indoors and outdoors like me. It easily responds and adjusts from clear to dark and every shade in between. And so, my eyes were protected all the time.
This red-capped lantern is no different from the other 2 lighthouses in Batanes (Basco and Sabtang) – these were built to guide the seafarers traversing the ocean.
Located on a hill, the Tayid Lighthouse (Mahatao) is a modern 21st century structure built in 2000 with a hexagonal tower. But this lighthouse faces the Pacific Ocean instead of facing the West Philippine Sea like the Basco Lighthouse. This can be seen also from Racuh a Payaman or Marlboro Country and has become a favorite of tourists for its spectacular view.
According to our guide, this lighthouse (Tayid Lighthouse) should not be confused for Mahatao Lighthouse. They may both be in Mahatao but about 30 ft. apart from each other. The Mahatao Lighthouse which is near the San Carlos Borromeo Church was built in 1700s.
Located in Naidi Hills in Barangay San Antonio, the Basco Lighthouse is a 6-story building with a gallery or viewing deck on the fifth floor where you can get the perfect view of Batan Island.
Completed in 2003, this lighthouse serves as a tourist spot as well. It has an open view of the West Philippine Sea and Basco Town Proper
On a good day, you can get a nice view of Mount Iraya on the north.
Capture that perfect snap when the sun sets.
Sto. Domingo Parish Church or Basco Cathedral
Make a sidetrip to the Batanes Provincial Hall to see this beautiful church. Due to disasters, the church has undergone several renovations. It was burned and reconstructed around 1860 to 1863, refurbished in 1950, badly damaged in the earthquake of July 2000 and was rebuilt to its original form which was completed in 2011.
The Ivana Church or San Jose de Obrero Church is more than 200 years old and was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2008. This church is just across the Port of Ivana. So, when you leave Batan or head back via Faluwa, you definitely won’t miss it. With a square tower that looks like a fortress, the Ivana Church is truly beautiful!
This quaint and charming chapel was the project of the parents of the incumbent Secretary of the Philippine Department of Budget and Management – Florencio Abad, who comes from the same clan who owns Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge.
Inspired by Ivatan stone houses with handpainted images of patron saints by scholars of the Pacita Abad Center for the Arts, stained glass windows and lustrous hardwood, the Tukon Chapel sits beautifully atop a foothill and would make for a nice wedding venue.
Guess what? When I learned that I’d be traveling to Batanes, Honesty Cafe was among the top of my must-visit list!When you head over to Batanes, a visit to the Honesty Coffee Shop is a must. So, here I am finally able to see it!
The Honesty Coffee Shop which can be found near the Port of Ivana is an unmanned self-service store. Instead, you log what you bought (the prices of each item are displayed) and just leave your payment in the box. So, make sure to have loose change. Because at the Honesty Coffee Shop, honesty is truly the best policy!
Well… that’s all for now. But make sure to check back in a few days for my Sabtang Island and Faluwa ride experience.
Batanes, you were undoubtedly awesome!
Going to Batanes:
SkyJet Airlines flies from Manila Domestic Airport (NAIA Terminal 4) 4x a week (M-W-F-Sun) from Manila to Basco Batanes. Other destinations are: Busuanga (Coron) and Caticlan (Boracay).
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