“Seeing nature in its raw beauty is such a humbling experience as no technological advancement can match the history of nature evolving through events and time into wonderful mountains-capes and seascapes.”
I haven’t really firmed up my bucket list of destination but this early Batanes is on that list. Batanes has caught my interest for its natural wonders and rich heritage. I’ve been wanting to visit the place for quite some time so even if the Friday flight was booked, we just went on to book on a Wednesday for a 6 days and 5 nights adventure instead of the regular 4 days and 3 nights. I’m not necessarily good on long vacations as I am so used to living such a frenetic paced life but let the luster of Batanes keep me occupied for the duration of my stay.
Since we were planing in early than our tour group, we had two days to explore Batanes on our own. It was both a challenge and also a great opportunity for an adventure. The SkyJet Flight was at 5:30 AM so first task was to settle down and try to catch some sleep at our hotel, DDD Habitat, which is just located nearby the airport. Basco is such a small town and places are easily accessible by walking. People are very friendly and we went to the Basco Lighthouse walking and just asking for directions. The Basco Lighthouse is surrounded by lush green hills, the open sea and the bright blue sky. It was enchanting just seeing how the lighthouse merged with its backdrop along with several bunkers nearby. Since we were planning either to run and bike around the place, we rented a tricycle to do a reconnaissance of the place. We then passed two towns in Mahatao and Ivana, where the Honesty Coffeeshop was located. The Honesty Coffeeshop was really a unique shop with no one watching the shop but relies on people’s honesty to pay for what they got.
Dinnertime and we headed to the Bunker Cafe. The Bunker Cafe is situated just beside the lighthouse and shares the picturesque view of the ocean, the lush green hills and the sunset. They were kind enough to accommodate us on our first visit even if we didn’t have reservations. The place is a popular attraction at night for sunset lovers and also those who wants to see the Lighthouse at night. It was an excellent place to chill and the food is just great! They are only open for dinners and had my first 3 dinners here and loved the food and ambiance every time.
It’s time to explore the island, the sporty way we’d love to do, biking and running. You can actually explore the island by biking. Batang Island is about 28 kilometers from end to end and the bike rentals is very reasonable at P25 / hour and they would pro-rate the extra minutes. It was scorching hot as it was about noon when we started biking but the view was splendid from the vast stretch of the ocean to the mountain-capes, some rock formations and some stretches of climbs, curves and descents. They also have the iconic “BLOW UR HORN” signs all over the place. The bike ride was about 13 kilometers and had us biking from Basco to Mahatao and back. The next morning we did a 5 Kilometer Run which was mostly uphill and the view was going through Basco Lighthouse and the road going through the rolling hills.
By the time we finished our run, our tour group was already at the hotel and the tour started in the afternoon. The first day of the tour was devoted to nearby location in Basco. The first stretch was Tukon Chapel, Radar Station and Fundacion Pacita. Tukon Chapel is a small but picturesque stone chapel. The radar had us ascending to a steel ladder for a panoramic view overlooking Basco. Fundacion Pacita is the premier hotel in Basco and is situated at the hills with a view of the coast line. We had a short stop at the Japanese Tunnel, which can go deep and also steep in some areas and lead you to several exit points. Also located within the area is Valugan Boulders Beach which has as it name suggest boulders of rocks instead of sands. The place is perfect for sunrise watching and has Mount Iraya as part of its backdrop.
We then headed back to Basco with a short stop at Basco Cathedral and proceeded to Vayang Rolling Hills which was such a visual delight with the rich green ambiance coming from the hills and overlooks the ocean. The place is maintained the natural way with cows and goats doing the gardening as part of their meals. With its high altitude and proximity to the seascape, the place is perfect for Sunset watchers. And speaking of Sunset watching we had our sunset to chase in the nearby Basco Lighthouse before we get treated to another fine meal at the Bunker.
The second day of the tour was spent in Sabtang. We started earlier for this leaving DDD Habitat at 5:30 am going to the port of Ivana which is about 13 kilometers away from Basco for a 30-45 minute ferry ride going to Sabtang. Sabtang had several areas that contained old rocky houses in Savidug and Chavayan. Their houses were fortified with rocks and had roofs made of cogons owing to Batanes previously being a passageway of typhoons. It was nice seeing villages that had a characteristic of the old that tells so much about their lifestyle before. It felt like being stuck in an episode of the Flintstones with the rock houses.
The scenic parts of Sabtang would be Lime Kiln, which was a large field with a peak of the Ocean and Tinien, which had a view of the mountains and the seas. Tinien was a photographers haven with several cliffs side view of the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other side. We also had fresh buko juice here while just chilling in one of the hut. You can trek the place as you go deeper you get higher and closer to the waters and giving you a better vantage point.
Our last stop in Sabtang was Nakabuang beach in Morong where we also had our lunch. The beach had a combination of pebbles in some areas and fine white sands as you approach the shore line. Another interesting site is the natural arch within the beach where it would be nice to have a picture. Since it was not that hot anymore, we had our chance to chill in the beach before heading back to Batang Island. We had to wait for the waters to go higher after a low tide since it was difficult to move with the shallow level of water.
Day 3 Going Down South
The third day of the tour was spent in location in the southern part of Batang Island. The first part was the physically exhausting part which is the Chawa View Deck where you have to go them from the road going to Mahatao to the structures below where you get a front seat at the waves banging with the rock formations. We also saw several freshly caught Dorado (dolphin-fish) at Diura Fishing Village. The fishing village is nearby the spring of youth wherein you have to descent and climb back several stairs and trails. The spring of youth derived its name from some people being able to be cured from minor sickness in the spring. The spring also proceeds to an infinity pool where people can take a bath with an overlooking view of the ocean and Mount Iraya .
We also had several churches in the itinerary with Mahatao, Ivana and Imnajbu Chapel. The Imnajbu Chapel is the site of the first mass in Batanes. Historical structures such as the oldest bridge (Spanish Bridge) and the oldest House (House of Dakay) and of course, the popular Honesty Coffeeshop is also in this side of town. We also visited Songsong Ruins which was remnants of the town beset by a tsunami in 1950s. The area is now slowly being inhabited again.
Among the last few stops were Alapad and Marlboro Country. Alapad is another scenic attraction with the rock formation on one side, the mountains on the other side and the body of water in between. Rakuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country) is a haven for cows and goats and has a large track of green lands to enjoy. The area overlooks the Mahatao Lighthouse and Mount Iraya. It was at this time that we finally saw the mountain fully visible and not hidden from the cloud. It was a majestic sight and maybe this is another invitation to visit the island with Mount Iraya just waiting to be trekked and the other islands waiting to be explored.
See you Again Batanes
I ticked off one of my bucket list by visiting Batanes but being in this island made me feel wanting for more. I’m adding a new one in my bucket list which is to come back to the island again. See you again Batanes!!!
Pace of Residence in Batanaes:
DDD Habitat Inc., Lopes St., Kayvaluganan, Basco, Batanes – 09065177580 / 09084641319 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour Guide: Joaquin Cantor, email@example.com
Travel Agency: Tour arranged via Missy Diva Travels