If you will ask most of the backpackers and photographers here in the Philippines what is on top of their list of travel destination, for sure most will answer, Batanes! As seasoned traveler and photography enthusiast, Batanes is on top of my bucket list among the places I want to see in the Philippines. It’s a dream destination ever since I met a good friend of mine who’s family is from Batanes. I remember us talking a while back, he described the place like you are not in the Philippines but rather in Scotland. He also mentioned that when you’re there, It feels like the time stops and you will realize how majestic and breathtaking Batanes is. Eversince that conversation, I was intrigued and I knew that I have to see the place to experience it myself.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to see Batanes for the first time with bunch of friends and loved ones. It was a long time planning since going to Batanes is not easy because the weather is unpredictable. So booking the flight during summer is the best time to avoid the hassle of getting your flight cancelled.
Batanes is a province located in the northernmost part of the Philippines, composed of three main islands- Batan, Sabtang & Itbayat. On our first day, we headed to Batanes mainland which is Batan. This is where most accommodations, businesses, and restaurants are. We toured South Batan island the entire day. Some of the famous spots you’ll see are Racuh A Payaman a.k.a Marlboro Country, House of Dakay(Oldest Ivatan stone house), Honesty Coffee Shop, Port Of Ivana, Alapad Hill & Rock Formations, Chaw View Deck, Mahatao Boat Shelter and the two Lighthouse from Basco and Mahatao. My favorite among those spots was the Marlboro Country. Walking in the vast greenery landscapes while the strong wind blowing felt like you’re on top of the world! Cows were everywhere, the panoramic view of the sea with Mt. Iraya in the background made it so spectacular!
The following day, we went to Sabtang island. Going there, you have to ride a faluwa(traditional Ivatan boat without beam support designed to withstand big, strong waves). The faluwa ride was unforgettable! It wasn’t the typical boat ride you usually experience when you do island tours. The boat trip from Batan to Sabtang lasted for about 2hrs because of the huge waves. One will think and question why go through the hassle just to go to Sabtang?
Well, After spending two days in Sabtang Island, I have to say it has its own unique charm compared to Batan. The experience in this quiet and unspoiled island will make you appreciate nature and simple living. It is where you will see better Ivatan heritage because of the stone houses and traditional villages.
Ivatans are known to be friendly, hospitable and honest. No wonder Batanes have 0% crime rate. It was in Sabtang where I was able to eat interesting local food such as uvud, dibang or flying fish,lun-yis (Ivatan adobo), tamiduk(pako), turmeric rice and coconut crab.
Some of the spots you’ll see there are the Sabtang Lighthouse, Savidug and Chavayan Village where most stone houses are, Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint, Nakabuang Arc Rock formation in Morong beach, and fishing village in Sumnanga.
Part of our travel in Batanes was to provide school supplies and bags to Ivatan kids. It was simple gesture that made out trip even more meaningful in the beautiful Batanes.