Batanes may be the smallest province in the Philippines; however, it boasts a little bit of everything for every kind of traveller. You name it, this archipelagic province has it — from verdant rolling hills and secluded beaches to unique architecture and delicious local cuisine. Situated on the northernmost tip of Luzon, Batanes also boasts remote and serene surroundings giving travellers a taste of off-the-grid living. Breeze through our Batanes travel guide to maximise your trip here!
Getting to Batanes
The best and fastest option to visit Batanes is direct or connecting flights to the provincial capital of Basco. From Metro Manila, getting to Basco takes only about an hour and 40 minutes. Moreover, Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, and SkyJet Airlines operate regular flights here. To score more affordable flights to Batanes, opt for weekday flights instead of weekend or long weekend flights. Generally, weekday flights are less expensive and most cost-effective, especially for budget travellers.
Getting around Batanes
Opting for public transit? Riding a tricycle is the most common way to get around Batanes. You’ll also find jeepneys travelling from Basco to Mahato, Ivana, and Uguyan daily. Additionally, you can consider renting a tricycle or jeepney for a full-day tour.
Alternatively, a van or car is an ideal option for groups and families travelling together. This provides added convenience for carrying luggage and allows for more personalised itineraries. If you don’t mind roughing it, there are bicycles and motorbikes available for rent as well. Ultimately, the best way to get around the province depends on your travel style, preferences, and budget.
Where to stay in Batanes
No matter where you choose to stay in Batanes, you’re guaranteed a delightful stay with picturesque mountainous views and peaceful surroundings. From hotels and resorts to guesthouses and homestays, there are many accommodations available across varying budgets. However, you might have a better chance of finding modest stays in Basco, since this is where most tourists stay and where a majority of the attractions are.
This traditional Ivatan stone house accommodation is just the perfect home base for your trip to Batanes. Nestled between Basco and Mahatao, it allows for stunning ocean views and cool sea breezes throughout your stay. Fully equipped with modern amenities, cosy quarters, and spacious living areas, you’re sure to enjoy quiet evenings of relaxation after a day’s worth of exploration.
Where to eat in Batanes
One of the best ways to get to know Batanes is to explore its cuisine — an adventure through the tastebuds if you will! Ivatans’ culinary style is known for its simplicity, freshness, and use of local produce and ingredients. Just picture a plate full of fresh mahi-mahi, lobsters, and grilled pork with tons of root veggies like sweet potatoes and yam on the side.
Want to eat like a local? Come to Vunong Dinette at Jessica’s Place in Basco for genuine Ivatan dishes and hospitality. For breakfast or meriyenda, consider farm-to-table eatery Cafe du Tukon or Honesty Coffee Shop on the southern end of the main island.
What to see in Batanes
1. Batanes Lighthouses
Batanes is famous for its stunning landscapes adorned with iconic lighthouses along its rugged coastlines. There are currently three existing and functional lighthouses, each similar to each other but unique in their own way — definitely all staples in any Batanes travel guide and itinerary.
In North Batan, the 66-foot tall Basco Lighthouse sits atop the Naidi Hills, treating you to panoramic views of the town and even the West Philippine Sea. Right on the other end of Batan, in Mahatao, you’ll find the Tayid Lighthouse. It boasts a similar exterior of red and white, but it features a hexagonal structure and lantern top compared to the rounder form of the Basco Lighthouse. Lastly, the Sabtang Lighthouse proudly stands as Sabtang Island’s only lighthouse and primary landmark. Its stone-finish column is the first thing that greets you when you alight at San Vicente Port.
2. Vayang Rolling Hills and Marlboro Country
Dominated by hills and mountains, it’s no wonder Batanes makes for a picturesque hiking hotspot. Two of its most famous hills include the Vayang Rolling Hills and Marlboro Country. The latter, located in Mahatao, is a sprawling pastureland characterised by verdant lands that meet the sea. Meanwhile, the former offers the best vantage point to witness majestic views of Mount Iraya.
3. Tukon Church
Tukon Church, aka Mount Carmel Church, is famous for its distinctive architecture and traditional stone exterior. More than an eye-catching sight, it holds great cultural and religious significance — a testament to the Ivatan people’s craftsmanship and faith. Whether for prayer, cultural appreciation, or simply marvelling in awe-inspiring views, a visit to this church promises a truly enriching experience.
4. Ivatan Stone Houses
We can’t put together a Batanes travel guide without the Ivatan Stone Houses, another iconic gem that reflects Batanes’ cultural identity. These traditional dwelling places, locally known as vakul ed Ivatan or Matuab, are crafted with thick limestone walls and a thatched roof made of cogon grass. This architectural choice offers structural integrity that withstands powerful winds, storms, and other natural calamities. On your visit to Batanes, don’t miss the chance to see the House of Dakay, the oldest surviving Ivatan house dating back to 1887!
5. Valugan Boulder Beach
In Batanes, expect a unique beach experience! Valugan Boulder Beach is renowned for its extensive three-kilometre stretch of boulders and stones. Unlike most beaches, it features a rugged shoreline that makes swimming impossible. Nonetheless, you can enjoy a leisurely walk along the shoreline and revel in Batanes’ coastal views.
So, who’s ready to explore the Philippines’ northernmost frontier? Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply a seeker of authentic travel experiences, Batanes awaits you. Inspire your itinerary with our Batanes travel guide and you’ll be set for an adventure of a lifetime.
Featured image credit: SHARMAINE MONTICALBO via Canva Pro