Whenever someone asks about Itbayat in Batanes, people would initially think of the very difficult boat ride and the uncertainty of being able to return to Basco just in time for your flight back home. But Itbayat Island is more than just an island in Northern Batanes. It is more than meets the eye and a world of its own.
Itbayat is the northernmost inhabited Island in the Philippines but not the last island of the Philippines. Mavulis Island lies at the border of the Philippines and Philippine Navy and Coast Guard ensures the island is not occupied. It is uninhabited simply because it does not have permanent residents.
Many believe that the first inhabitants of Batanes are Austronesians from Taiwan. The oldest known dwelling has been traced back to Torongan Cave in Itbayat.
Map of Itbayat
Basco to Itbayat
The cheapest way to travel from Basco to Itbayat is through a 3-4 hour Fuluwa boat ride for 450 pesos.
We arrived in Basco thursday morning via Philippine Airlines. Before we started our half day North Batan Tour on the first day, we made sure to purchase our ticket to Itbayat near the town plaza. We have 8 days in total to spend in Batanes and we really wanted to include Itbayat in the tour. So we decided to put it on our second day to account for any schedule changes due to inclement weather.
There is no direct flight from Manila or Clark to Itbayat. Tourists must first travel to Basco airport and then ride the boat to Itbayat island. Previously there were flights from Basco to Itbayat but as of April 2021, the website and Facebook of Northskyair is not operational.
Batanes Itinerary with Itbayat
Our 8 days Batanes Itinerary with Itbayat went as follows. Day 1 North Batan and Basco town chill tour with Fundacion Pacita followed by Itbayat on Day 2-3. Day 4 includes South Batan Tour and Milky way stargazing in Naidi Light house. Day 5-6 is for Sabtang and North Batan continuation on Day 7 plus buying of pasalubong.
|Day||Batanes Itinerary with Itbayat|
|2||Travel to Itbayat (3-4 hours) checkin to homestay, Half day Itbayat Tour|
|3||Morning hike to Rapang Cliff, check out, travel back to Basco|
|4||South Batan Tour, Naidi Lighthouse Milky way|
|5||Sabtang Whole Day tour, overnight in Sabtang|
|6||chill in Sabtang, Return to Basco in the afternoon|
|7||Continuation of North Batan Tour|
|8||Return to Manila|
If there were any delays in returning to Basco, you can adjust the succeeding days. Never put your Itbayat schedule at the end of your trip. If you are unable to return to Basco, you will have to spend more to rebook your flight or buy a brand new ticket with another carrier.
It is safest to go to Itbayat if you are on a minimum of 6 days trip. You can try it on a compressed 5 days tour but it will be tiring as there are limited boats going to and from Itbayat and a possibility of delay in your return. Check out my Batanes Itinerary here
Sample 5 days Itinerary
|Day||Batanes Itinerary with Itbayat|
|1||Arrival in Basco, South Tour|
|2||Travel to Itbayat, Half day Itbayat Tour|
|3||Rapang Cliff, Return to Basco, Basco Town tour|
|4||Sabtang Half day Tour, North Batan Tour|
|5||Return to Manila|
The boat ride from Basco to Itbayat is not the best experience that you will have. It’s as rocky as hell as there are no outriggers to stabilize the boat. Make sure to find a comfortable place to lie down and sleep during the trip otherwise you might get sea sick and throw up.
Itbayat as an island does not have it’s own beach. Most of the ports of Itbayat lies where there is a small piece of land that touches the water. The road heading down the port is usually steep and lined with stairs. This allows people to safely carry their belongings without slipping the slopes of the island.
During our trip, we used the port in San Rafael. However, there are alternative ports including Chinapoliran port, Paganaman Port and Mauyen port.
Chinapoliran Port is the main port used by the townsfolk of Itbayat. It is most known due to the steep ascent from the port. Aside from this, you would need to jump from the boat going to the port. The reason for this is the strong waves moving the fuluwa. To add to this, there is no plank that can be used to assist the passengers to cross over.
Our total budget for 2 days tour in Itbayat per passenger was ₱4332. It is certainly more costly to go to Itbayat but the experience is definitely one of a kind.
₱456 Boat to Itbayat per pax
₱5740 2 days tour itbayat for 2 pax
₱600 1 nyt itbayat for 2 pax
₱500 food for 2 pax
₱456 Boat to Basco per pax
Our trip in Itbayat was a friday in November 2018. When we arrived in Itbayat port, it was already cloudy and by the time we arrived in our homestay, it started to rain. We let the rain weaken before proceeding to our tour. A small amount of rain will not deter us from enjoying Itbayat.
Itbayat Town Plaza
The first stop in our Itbayat tour was in the town plaza where we had to register and pay for ₱110 the environmental fee from the tourism office. We did not stop here for a long time as it was raining apart from paying the fees.
Note: Make sure to have spare cash on hand if ever you will get stranded in Itbayat.
Lake Kavaywan is located near Itbayat Airport. It serves as a reservoir for the water in Itbayat and is used by nearby farms and for grazing farm animals. You can see on the left side the photo the end of the runway of Itbayat Airport.
The rain started to get stronger so we had to take shelter for an hour in the airport. During the time of visit, the airport was still not fully fixed from the damage of one of the typhoons.
After the rain subsided, we continued our tour to Torongan Cliff on the eastern side of the island. Torongan Cliff is one of the most famous places to visit in the island. It features an endless view of Itbayat’s cliff and the old port. The strong waves of the Pacific Ocean slowly carving of the edges of the island makes it look like a photo from another country.
As you can see in the photos below, there are no beaches in site in Itbayat. It is believed that the island was pushed from the ocean floor and some features of the island are the coraline rocks.
After enjoying the cliffs of Itbayat, we then proceeded to the place believed to be the dwelling of the old Ivatans known as Torongan Cave. Torongan cave has a height of 30 meters and length of 150m from entrance to the sea exit.
Peter Bellwood, Eusebio Dizon and Armand Mijares has published an extensive article entitled “Archaeological Excavations on Itbayat and Siayan Islands” that details the ancient artifacts recovered from the area.
From the signpost, we reached the entrance of the cave and climbed down a short staircase that leads to the mouth of the cave. The most prominent feature of the cave are the elongated stalctites hanging from the ceiling. There are also large boulders of rocks laid along the entrance.
As you descend the boulders, you will see a huge opening that protrudes towards the ocean. The soil here is somehow soft with claylike texture. It is also believed that there was once a river that flowed through the cave that exits the ocean.
The opening towards the sea is presumed to be the original port where the previous ivatan ancestors entered the island. The proximity to the ocean and the ease to dock are probably the reasons why they chose to stay in the cave.
After visiting the cave, we returned to our homestay as it rained again that afternoon.
Day 2 Itbayat
At 3:00 in the morning, we departed from our homestay to catch the early morning sunrise at Rapang Cliff. The wind was chilly probably due to the rains from last night. By 3:30 am we started our treck with a clear sky, however, it started to drizzle again as we walked going to the cliff.
We hiked for almost two hours from the jump off point to the cliff. The sun slowly crept through the horizon and the wind blew inward from the sea. Finally, we reached the cliff at 5:30 am. You can see the layers of clouds along the horizon.
As soon as the sun started to rise, It slowly gave a colorful blue and yellow hue. The clouds slowly dispered showing the magnificence of the rolling hills and the endless cliffs
Notice the coraline like structures on top of the cliff. They are pretty sharp and may injure you.
From the top of the cliff, we slowly descended to the grassland. Imagine how high it is to descend from the top. But don’t worry, it was a bit easy
After this, we returned to our home and prepared for our trip back to Basco.
Check these homestays in Itbayat and Basco Batanes.
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