Exploring Breathtaking BATANES: A Primer

MAVULIS ISLAND. This is the northernmost island of the Philippines! Me and my travel buddy, Karl Mikel, dared to go in this place during our travel in Batanes!
MAVULIS ISLAND! This is the northernmost island of the Philippines! Me and my travel buddy, Karl Mikel (@exkarlsions), dared to go in this place during our travel in Batanes!

My Batanes trip is one of the most exciting travels that I’ve had. The province is beyond beautiful; you can’t help it but appreciate its beauty and magnificence wherever you may go. But going here won’t be so easy. Preparing to travel here is a must. Let me help you with some tips that I have come up with right after my experience in this beautiful place.

Here are the guidelines and reminders that I have come up with for your Batanes travel. I hope this really helps should you decide to go in this breathtakingly beautiful province in the northern part of the Philippines.

  1. PREPARE YOURSELF FINANCIALLY BEFORE YOU GO HERE.

It is true that some beautiful things really don’t come cheap and that is true with Batanes. The fare of the flights going in and out of this province is more expensive compared to the other domestic flights. While airlines tend to offer promo at times, the base fare of the flights for Batanes is still relatively more expensive. I guess that’s just fine, considering restriction of tourists and travelers going here should really be done. Why? For preservation and conservation.

Northern Batan Hills
NORTHERN BATAN HILLS. We duped our original itinerary and went somewhere while traveling the northern part of Batan Island. And voila! We saw these lush hills during our first day in the province.

Going in and out is the first part. Saving up for the actual trip itself is another. Activities here vary from island-hopping to sight-seeing to church-hopping. Going in and about would vary from place to place. For example, touring north Batan can be done using a motorcycle or a bicycle instead of availing a package tour. For South Batan, though, it would really be tedious and time-consuming if you’re going to do it using a motorcycle and bicycle. What’s the better option? Rent a tricycle that would take you around. You can also avail a travel group service. For Sabtang Island, it is the same. Either rent a tricycle or avail a travel group package. For Itbayat, you have to hire a guide that would take you around.

Next is food. While there are carenderias around Basco, their food is still more expensive compared to the ones in the metro or other provincial places. Example, fried chicken costs P40 while other viands cost P50 to P70. Rice is P20 per cup. If you want to eat in their restaurants, expect meals from P150 to P250 each.

Let’s talk about accommodation. Good news, there are very affordable homestays and lodges in Basco. The Ivatan Lodge offers P750 for a fan room that can accommodate a group of 5. Some homestays offer P500 per pax for an air-conditioned room (e.g. Cobico’s Homestay).

By the way, before I forget, take in mind whether you’re going here solo or in a group. It would really be more costly should you decide to travel here solo compared if you’re with a friend or group of friends.

To sum this part up, prepare your finances should you decide to travel to Batanes for these reasons: air fare, accommodation, food and travel activities.

 

  1. DECIDE ON WHEN YOU PLAN TO GO HERE.
SUNSET IN BATANES.
SUNSET IN BATANES. I have experienced some of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen during the entirety of our stay in Batanes. Trust me, I saw a beautiful sunset during each day of our stay there! Remember, we stayed there during the second week of May: still summertime!

While there are flights going in and out of Batanes all year round, travelers and tourists are encouraged to visit during the summer months (March, April and May) to make the most of their stay. Our tour guide in Itbayat said that it’s also good to visit during the month of September. They call it “little summer” because the weather during this month tends to be sunny, that is, if there is no typhoon around.

Speaking of typhoons, there’s a risk of being stranded in the province not only if typhoons are present while you are here, but also when unusually strong winds are affecting the area. More so, our tour guides said that going in and out of Itbayat, one of the major islands of Batanes, would really be challenging. The most common mode of transportation here is falluwa, a boat designed for rough waters and made to accommodate several dozens of people as well as supplies. Considering the treacherous waves surrounding the islands of Batanes, it would really be hard to get in and out of the islands should there be weather disturbances.

ITBAYAT.
ITBAYAT, Itbayat Island is said to be one of the largest uplifted coral islands in the world. By that, we mean it isn’t easy to go in and out of this island as its borders are mostly cliffs! Here’s a picture of Mauyen Cliff, which is located in the southern part of Itbayat. Note that the waves here look really calm.
  1. FIND AND CONTACT LODGES/ HOMESTAYS BEFORE YOU GO HERE.

While there are already a lot of homestays, lodges or hostels that can be found in Basco, it is still wise to reserve for your accommodation before going. Aside from avoiding hassle, your mind would be at peace that you have somewhere to stay even before going.

Wearing Kanayi!
WEARING KANAYI! Kanayi, or kana-i, is a native jacket made out of date palm leaves or dried abaca stalk that serves as protection from rain and cold weather for males in the province of Batanes.

We have tried the following lodges and homestays while in the province. I highly recommend each one of them, though I would put more of my thoughts about their advantages and disadvantages (if ever there’s some) in my individual blog posts about key destinations in Batanes.

Batan Island:

  • COBICO HOMESTAY
  • Nanay Maring – 0908-5012-412, 0927-8716-428

Sabtang Island:

  • RASAYAN NU IVATAN (Homestay in Sabtang Lighthouse)
  • 0921-4967-233

Itbayat Island:

  • CANO’S LODGE
  • 0919-300-4787

 

  1. DECIDE IF YOU ARE GOING TO EITHER HAVE A DO-IT-YOURSELF (DIY) TRAVEL HERE OR AVAIL THE SERVICE OF A TRAVEL AGENCY.

It would really be good if you can have a DIY travel here in Batanes, but it will also be wise at times to avail service of travel groups. Think of convenience when you’re going to avail a travel agency service. We have experienced both in our Batanes trip so I could tell there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

BLOW UR HORN.
BLOW UR HORN. One of the iconic symbols of Batanes is this road sign that says, “Blow UR Horn.” Said to be first built during the American occupation in the country, this, along with other road signs, are carved out from boulders or cliffs of the island. This one here in the picture is probably the most photographed “Blow UR Horn” sign because of its view of the Alapad Rock Formation.

Having a DIY travel in Batanes means you’re going to contact your own guide and rent for your own transportation. This is cheaper, especially if you’re traveling with a group. On the other hand, availing service from a travel agency would be a little bit more expensive but it would be more hassle-free. Besides, this would probably wiser if you’re going solo here in Batanes. Think about hiring a tricycle service the entire day which could go from P1000 to P1500!

 

  1. PREPARE YOUR ITINERARY. DESING IT ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF DAYS YOU’RE GOING TO STAY HERE.
BEAUTY OF MAVULIS,
BEAUTY OF MAVULIS. This is me while marveling at the beauty of the waters surrounding Mavulis Island. Should you decide to go here, you should put this early on in your Batanes itinerary.

Regardless if you’re going to have a DIY travel or avail a travel group service, you’d have to think about scheduling the activities that you’d be doing each day that you’re going to stay in Batanes. In our case, since we’re going to spend a full week (eight days to be exact) in this province, we had enough time to really go about the islands. Since Itbayat, the farthest inhabited island up north, was part of our planned travel destinations to go to while in Batanes, we had to go there early on our trip. We went there during the second day and went back to Batan Island (via Basco) on the fifth day. We then explored Sabtang Island and southern Batan during the sixth and seventh days.

 

  1. LASTLY, ENJOY EXPLORING AND APPRECIATING THE BEAUTY OF THE PLACE.
ENJOYING THE ROLLING HILLS OF BATANES!
ENJOYING THE ROLLING HILLS OF BATANES! Here I am jumping on the famous hills of the province!
ENJOYING THE GREEN HILLS OF BATANES!
Here’s another shot! Haha.

Take pictures if you want to or just leave the experience of being here in your memory. Make friends. Mingle with locals. Whatever you decide to do, just remember an important thing: enjoy! Also, be a responsible traveler. Leave no trace!  Do not throw trash anywhere. Do not get anything that isn’t allowed. One thing that you can do is leave a good impression to the good and kind people of Batanes.

A DAY LIKE NO OTHER.
A DAY LIKE NO OTHER. Or should I say days like no other? Yes, your days while traveling in Batanes would be like no other. I am positive you would be saying that yourself once you were able to travel here as well!

I hope this Batanes primer has helped you with your decision of going here in Batanes. I am telling you, even though it isn’t so easy going in and out of here, it is very much worth it exploring this blessedly beautiful place!

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