Exploring Batanes has never been so fulfilling and relaxing that many people dream of this once in a lifetime experience. The peaceful ambiance and the picturesque landscapes have made this elusive province a part of the bucket list of Filipinos and foreigners alike. If you are planning for your Batanes tour, let me help you get to know more about the tourist spots included in the Basco, North and South Batan tour so you can prepare for your itinerary.
Batanes is best traveled with an itinerary for a 4 day North / South Batan and Sabtang tour or 6 days with Itbayat. Transportation modes include bike rental, motorcycle, tricycle or vans and boat for interisland crossing. If you can find a discounted or Piso fare flight with Philippine Airlines to Batanes, then your budget travel for 4 days will be around ₱6000 – ₱8000 and up to 12,000 with Itbayat tour
If you are travelling as a solo backpacker, your best option is to go via bike or motorcyle. You can also choose to go on a tricycle but may need to shoulder the tour for 2 persons. You can haggle with the tour operator but they usually offer fixed rate to avoid competition. If you are friendly, you can find other solo travellers in the airport or on facebook groups to share your expenses.
I was able to visit Batanes in 2017 and 2018 for a seven and eight days trip with Itbayat on the second time. Here’s a sample itinerary based on my experience.
Note that Itbayat trips depend on the weather so I would suggest that you place it at the beginning of your Batanes itinerary so you can adjust accordingly. Also, you can add an additional day or two in your flight to account for changes in schedule. Remember that return trips can get very expensive if you will rebook.
North Batan Tour
Batanes North Batan Tour focuses the general area near Basco town and Mount Iraya. The itinerary includes Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (Basco Cathedral), Tukon Church (Mt. Carmel Chapel), Dipnaysuhuan Japanese Tunnel, Fundacion Pacita, Vayang Rolling Hills, Valugan Boulder Beach and Basco / Naidi Light House. The price for the tricycle tour costs ₱1,500 for two passengers for the North Batan Tour.
This tour can be done on a rented bike as the hills are not too steep and can easily be completed in half a day. If you are travelling with 4 or more passengers, you can get a van to save some money.
I will also recommend to do the North Batan Tour on your first day or on the day bundled with half day tour in Sabtang. The sunset view from Naidi Lighthouse is one of the best you can get. You can also watch the sunset in Vayang Rolling hills.
If you want to take a milky way shot in Naidi Light House, you can ask your tour operator (for an additional fee) or you can just walk following google maps. It will take around 20-30 minutes walk from town proper. Make sure to time your visit on a new moon.
South Batan Tour
Batanes South Batan Tour itinerary has more than 10 stop overs. This includes Chawa View Deck, San Carlos Borromeo Parish, Tayid Lighthouse, Rakuh a Payaman, Marlboro Hills, Alapad Rock Formation, Blow Your Horn, Honesty Cafe, House of Dakay, Maydangeb Beach, Huhmurun Blue Lagoon. The tour will take half day to a whole day and around 45 kilometers back and forth and is one of the most extensive part of the Batanes tour.
Using a bike for South Batan tour is not recommended as you will be passing by a lot of hills especially the one going to Marlboro Hills (Rakuh a Payaman) and Blow Your Horn (Alapad Rock Formation). A rental tricycle would cost ₱2000 for 2 passengers. You can also choose to rent a motorcycle if you are travelling alone.
South Batan tour can be completed in half a day. However, I would recommend that you take a full day so that you won’t get too exhausted and won’t rush too much if you plan to visit all the destinations.
Also, some of the spots I listed here may not be included in your tour and may be charged separately by the operator. If you have completed your tour, have a spare day and wish to go to other areas, you can take the jeepney going to Imnajbu or Uyugan. If you plan to go to spring of youth, check which day they are NOT cleaning the pool.
South Batan Tour can also be combined with half day Sabtang tour. Upon arrival in Ivana Port, you can go to Rakuh A Payaman Marlboro Country. However, I will not recommend this as the early morning Sabtang tour will consume a lot of energy.
Hike Mount Iraya
Mount Iraya in Batanes can be hiked in 1 day with accompaniment of a local tour guide. This 1,009 meter active volcano is seen at almost all part of Batan Island and at its feet lies the 1.25 km long runway of Basco Airport. The hike starts around 4:00 AM or 5:00 AM is recommended as the entrance of the mountain lies 2km from the Provincial Capitol and will take around 30mins walk. From the entrance, a steep ascent will welcome the hikers and this will continue for around 1 hour until you reach a gradual ascent through a thick mossy forest. Then nearing the summit will be a 60-80 degree steep climb in between giant reeds which will continue for an hour or more depending on your pacing and the quality of the soil.
When we climbed the mountain, we ran out of water due to the difficulty of trail. There were no springs along the trail to refill. Closer to the summit, there was a combination of steep slope that you would need to hold on to a spiky grass. I would recommend to bring thick gloves for protection.
The mountain was included in Republic Act 8991 establishing the Batanes Islands as Protected Area. This means that all acts, including hiking, must be authorized by the municipality and DENR.
Batan Island Tourist Spots
Basco Cathedral is also known as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral or Sto Domingo Church. This 1783 AD church was built after the then Governor General Jose Basco y Vargas established Batanes as part of the Philippines. The original structure was made up of cogon grass and wood but was changed to stone church in 1795 after a series of fires and storms that destroyed the church.
Mount Carmel Chapel (Tukon Church)
The Mount Carmel Chapel was constructed in 2005-2008 through the generosity of several people from Metro Manil. It has become the center of worship of Sitio’s Tukon Community and nearby parishes. In early 2009, the Mount Carmel became part of the regular North Batanes Tour, Making it one of the most photographed structures in Batanes. The chapel has witnessed many weddings from locals and tourists alike.
During the ravaging of Super Typhoon Ferdie in September 13, 2016, the Mount Carmel Chapel was not spared. The Tegula roof tiles were totally blown exposing the interiors of the chapel to elements. The barangay Pastoral Council of Sitio Tukon’s initiative is to rebuild the chapel and make it resilient to the elements.Mount Carmel Chapel
PAGASA Radar Batanes
The main source of reports for weather in Batanes. The Pag-asa Doppler Radar was destroyed during the Super Typhoon Ferdie in 2016
Erected on top of Tukon Hills, Fundacion Pacita offers visitors and guests a well rounded experience from the beautful art gallery of Pacita Abad, the stone-walled hotel, the luscious gardens and breath taking view overlooking Mount Iraya to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
At the entrance of the property, you will be greeted by the smiling statue of Pacita Abad. Then, you can fill your belly with food and beverage offered by Cafe de Tukon and feast your eyes at the art gallery Galerie du Tulaan. When you are full, you can relax at the garden near the hotel.
Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
This Dipnaysupuan Japanese network of tunnels runs deep in Tukon Hills. They were primarily used during the Japanese invasion. The several openings provided escape routes for the refugees during World War II.
Valugan Boulder Beach
Located in the east side of Batanes, Valugan Boulder Beach is one of the best places to catch the sunrise. It can usually be included in the North Batan tour for those who have limited time, but if you do have a spare, it is best to catch a glimpse of the morning sun with the bolders filled beach. It is said that the boulders were from the eruption of Mount Iraya and was polished over time by the strong waves that splash the shore.
Vayang Rolling Hills
Vayang Rolling Hills is a pastureland located at the west side of Batan Island. The undulating hills that extends towards the sea that mimics the waves of the Pacific ocean makes it one of the most sought after locations in Batanes. This is also one of the few areas where you can see all three islands at once.
Basco Naidi Lighthouse
The most photographed light house in Batanes, Basco Lighthouse or Naidi Lighthouse stands atop Naidi Hills where the original American Period Telegraph was located. The lighthouse was built in 2003 following the proposal of the then Congressman Florencio Abad to serve as both lighthouse for the sailors and tourist attraction for locals and foreigners.
Batanes Provincial Capitol
Basco is the capital of Batanes Province and at its center lies the provincial capitol building. The original wooden structure was built from 1783 to 1785 during the term of Governor Don Jose Hueva V. Melgarejo and was later on renovated after world war 2.
Welcome to Batanes Arc
Located in Ibuhok 1, this famed Welcome to Basco Arc delineates the boundary of Basco and Mahatao. You can get a good view of Mount Iraya and the Pacific Ocean. You can reach this by bike from the town center.
Chawa View Deck
The rocky fortress of Chawa View Deck is at constant war with turbulent waves slamming the coast line of Mahatao. If you are brave enough, you can climb down the stairs and practice your water bending techniques. Be careful as the rocks are spiky and some are wrapped with moss.
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port
Built in 2007, Mahatao Boat Shelter provides a dock for fishing and other water vessels during typhoons. The stone wall connecting the island from the mainland would serve as a break water to protect the boats from crashing to each other while anchored in the port, thus, reducing damages to properties and livelihood of the Ivatans.
San Carlos Borromeo Parish
Located in the town of Mahatao, San Carlos Borromeo Parish church was originally built in 1787 with light materials. After getting damaged by a strong typhoon, the renovation commenced to establish a stronger church made of stone in 1872.
Tayid Lighthouse was one of the three proposed lighthouses by the then Batanes congressman Butch Abad. The lighthouse is located on the east side to provide light for those crossing the eastern seaboards of the province.
Rakuh-a-idi Spring, Spring of Youth
Batanes spring of youth, also known as Rakuh-a-idi Spring, is not your fairy tail dream come true to keep your youthful glow. It is but a pool with spring water for youth and the young at heart. This area is usually not included in the south tour but can be added for an extra cost.
Diura Fishing Village
Diura Fishing Village is a small cove located South east of Batan Island and home to a fishing community. The rock and sand comibination and a long shoreline with calm waters makes it a good breeding ground for fishes. The area is close to the spring of youth and if ever you come to Batanes and want to take a quick dip, then, you can certainly enjoy a swim with the marine life.
Rakuh a Payaman
Many compare the vast pastureland of Mahatao, Batanes, known as Rakuh a Payaman, to the infamous Marlboro Country featured in the 1970s commercial for a cigarette brand. You can see Mt Iraya and Tayid Light house from this part of Batanes. The endless grassland meeting the sea and the sky makes a perfect cover photo and will certainly gain a lot of likes and shares in Instagram and Facebook. Come to think of it, the scene looks like your old windows desktop wall paper, isn’t it?
Before starting your South Batan Tour, you can inform your tour operator or tricycle driver that you will be taking your lunch in Marlboro Country so that they can prepare your food in advance. I can say that the food is definitely delicious but a bit pricey.
Rakuh a Payaman is located at southwest portion
Alapad Rock Formation
Blow Your Horn
Scattered on several dangerous curves of the Batan island, the Blow your Horn signage tells the driver of the vehicle to blow or honk their horns to signal their approach to prevent any accidents. This is unique to Batanes and has become a tourist spot by itself and has been printed on several souvenirs for the province.
Imnajbu and Itbud comprise the two barangays of Uyugan. The long stretch of sand and rocky beach at the south eastern side of Batan Island mixed with the peaceful community as so relaxing that a day can pass as if its but a moment to remember.
Our Lady of Miraculous Medal
Ruins of Songsong
The ghost town of Sitio Songsong was previously inhabited but got ravaged by a tsunami in 1950. The remains are what’s left giving the monicker Ruins of Songsong.
Honesty Coffee Shop
Owned by couples Jose and Elena Gabilo, This 1995 Honesty Cafe souvenir and Coffee Shop was established to showcase the honesty of the Ivatans to locals and tourists. A small collection box is located at the side together with a log book where buyers list the goods they take together with their payment.
San Jose de Ivana Church
San Jose De Ivana was the second church built after Basco Cathedral and was meant to spread Catholism in the towns of Ivana and Sabtang. The church has gone through major renovations and the current structure was rebuilt following the 2000 earthquake.
House of Dakay
The House of Dakay is one of the five houses in Ivana that remained intact following the 1918 earthquake that leveled the town. The structure made of lime and stone was built in 1887 and is considered as one of the oldest. There are some blogs that say that the house is a UNESCO world heritage listed site but upon checking the UNESCO list and the UNESCO tentative list, the house is not found although batanes is listed in the tentative list.
Needless to say, the house indeed is one of the strongest structure to date to have stood the test of time.
Maydangeb Beach is a 150 meters long white sand beach located right next to Huhmurun Blue Lagoon in Mahatao. Maydangeb beach is made up of white fine sand with very little waves and perfect for families who wish to escape the heat of the summer season. This is in contrast with Huhmurun which is mostly rocks and boulders,
Huhmurun Blue Lagoon
Huhmurun Blue Lagoon, according to the locals, was originally the bathing area of the Friars / priests during the Spanish era. The closed area of the lagoon is perfect for bathing and is protected from strong waves of the Pacific.
How to go to Basco Batanes?
Batanes is an island north of mainland Luzon. The best way to go to Batanes is by flight from Manila (Cebu Pacific NAIA terminal 3/ Skyjet domestic airport) or Clark (Philippine Airlines). The flight duration from Manila to Basco will take 1 hour 50 mins. You can also reach Batanes from Tuguegarao Cagayan via Skypasada. The rough seas of the pacific ocean makes it very difficult to travel by sea for tourists to go to Batanes.
Hotels and Homestays in Basco
Check this Hotels and Homestays in Basco Batanes. A one night stay in a homestay may cost from ₱400 per person while a room per night on a hotel / inn / apartment may range from ₱2000 to ₱22000 in Fundacion Pacita
Marfel’s Lodge Annex
Reyes St, Basco,
San Antonio, Batanes
Residencia du Basco
Payin,1 Street, Basco
DDD Habitat Lodging House
Nunez St, Barangay Kaychanarianan