Batanes has been on my mind for years! But my plan was always shelved in place of other trips. With limited flights and select accommodations available plus tours and meals that impute the cost of sourcing gas and ingredients from Manila – A trip to our Northern most point costs as much as going abroad. Yet it is a destination not to be missed! Many proudly say it’s rolling hills and cliff side views towards the Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea are reminiscent of New Zealand or Scotland. I can imagine — it really is!
I feel like our pictures don’t give justice to the landscapes we saw. Each place was like a scene from a movie. Our enthusiastic guide, Art would even relate some to scenes of Middle Earth from “Lord of the Rings”. We enjoyed his energy and truly appreciated his eagerness to capture beautiful family and “post -nup ” pictures. I would highly recommend him to friends who plan to visit soon. He was great and unconventional in ways he would urge us to experience Batanes differently. He loves his stage so much that he was even happy to share a virtual tour of Batanes through our pictures. Tourism is slowly but surely progressing there. http://chanpantours.com/
February is the most pleasant month for traveling to Batanes. The weather is cold but sunny. Staying at the Fundacion Pacita is a treat in itself. Only an Artist could have this vision of romance perched on a hill amidst the vast expanse of rolling pasture lands. We took time just to enjoy the property itself as well.
Another place to venture there is Itbayat Island. If the journey to Sabtang Island was through a wavy (8-10feet swells) 30min boat ride where the Ocean and Sea meet, this one takes 2-3hours. But brave souls will surely be rewarded with amazing views of caves, coasts and cliffs where even one can dive into small lagoons. Think Chateau D ‘If and the island of Monte Cristo (from the Movie – Count of Monte Cristo). http://www.traveling-up.com/travel-guide-itbayat-batanes/
Dubbed as Nature’s Playground, the archipelago province has been declared a Protected Landscape and Seascape because of its rare flora and fauna, undulating terrain, diverse marine life, limestone cliffs and panoramic sceneries.
Bike enthusiasts would love biking here. The entire stretch of the Batan’s circumferential road is approximately 40 kilometers, passing along the western and southern coastal road of the island – covering the towns of Basco, Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan. From Mahatao, you can reach the rolling hills of Racuh-A-Payaman or Marlboro and onwards to Basco.
Liveng / Hedgerows – This quaint quilt – like patterns, divide farm lots, protect crops from wind and animals, control soil erosion, host migrant birds and other species, and provide wood and reeds for domestic use. They constitute, together with land fallowing and organic farming, sustainable agriculture in Batanes. The reeds are also used as ceiling materials for vernacular Ivatan houses.
Fundacion Pacita is one of the best boutique hotels in the Philippines. A Batanes experience is not complete without enjoying the “Wuthering Heights” ambiance of Fundacion Pacita — it is located on top of a cliff with a 270-degree view of the sea, mountains and the sky.
We shared a garden with the Abad Family’s Private Residence.
Our room was composed of 2 adjacent bedrooms with a private porch facing Mt. Iraya.
Their in house restaurant – Cafe De Tukon served the best meals in town. I also brought some food that the staff were happy to prepare for the kids.
We savoured our meals here while enjoying the views.
The first stop was Chawa View Deck located along the steep mountainside heading out of Basco and on the way to Mahatao. At the top is a grotto of the Virgin Mary and a few benches where you can sit and just admire the view. This spot is ideal for watching the sunset since it faces the South China Sea. From the view deck, you can climb down more than 100 steps leading to a small rocky coast below.
Tayid Lighthouse – erected in 2000, this colonial looking beacon offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, as well as other parts of Batan Island and its rugged mountain cliffs facing the West Philippine Sea.
This is indeed Picturesque Batanes!
Art was so fervent to take Post Nup photos of us so my hubby was kind enough to oblige. While the kids napped, we took a few by Alapad Hills – better known as the Dawn Zulueta Hills. This is where Dawn and Richard shot their last scene frolicking away in “Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit”.
An unmanned refreshment store which has become famous worldwide for showcasing Ivatan’s honesty. This was established by a teacher who thought of providing snacks in her village though she couldn’t manage it as she taught in Sabtang.
San Carlos Borromeo Church. Built in 1873 by Fr. Cresencio Polo using limestone walling in baroque style and cogon roofing.
Next stop was Naidi Hills where the Basco Lighthouse was located.
We sampled some Traditional Ivatan Dishes in Paulvanas.
Not as ancient as China’s Great Wall, but up on the hills of Tukon in Basco is what the Ivasays of Batan Island call The Great Wall of Batanes.
Posing by one of 3 decommissioned wind turbines that could have generated at least 25% of Basco’s electricity.
Sunsets by the Pacific Ocean.
Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
Many of Pacita Abad’s paintings are on display as well as those of prominent Artist friends.
The Living Area is so cozy. Perfect for nightcaps.
Nice exclusive dining area for families who would like to have their meals in private.
Views by Fundacion at 530AM. Early Breakfast to catch our Boat Ride to Sabtang Island.
Sabtang Light House
If Batan has an Honesty Cafe, Sabtang also has a Conscience Cafe. This was set up by the Parish Priest of St. Vicente Ferrer.
St. Vicente Ferrer Church was built in 1870.
Those long stretches of white sand and shallow reefs were so tempting to swim in.
Savidug Stone Houses
The little one was so brave to stay with us on top of the jeep. Here we were on a narrow road – right by the steep cliff overlooking the rocky shoreline. A small pothole could have tilted Joaquin and Anton over.
Chavayan, nominated on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is a tiny village in the island of Sabtang, Batanes. It is known for its stone houses, some of which are more than 100 years old and are kept in their original state. The walls of the stone houses are made from powdered limestone and coral while the roofs are made from thatched cogon, a tall type of grass.
We walked down the grass-covered slopes of Tinyan leading to the viewpoint that offers a nice view of Chavayan Cove.
Our guide Art, would often associate this place to the scene of Middle Earth in “Lord of the Rings”. It really does have a resemblance.
Some of the slopes were steep to climb but we did it.
But the views were worth our efforts.
We conquered another hill to discover Chamantad Cove. The beach has been declared a Marine Sanctuary.
Of all the beaches fringing the coast of Sabtang Island, Morong Beach is probably the most well-known. Thanks to the large rocky arch that has become an icon not just of the island but Batanes as a whole. The natural formation is called Nakabuang Arch.
The sand here is much fairer than other beaches in the province. The waves are also less ferocious – friendly enough for a swim. Bookmarked by grass-carpeted small hills, it is actually a pretty short stretch, you can walk from one end to the other in a matter of minutes.
Our boat back to Batan Island. We were dreading the wobbly ride back. Waves would swell up to 8-10feet as we crossed the Pacific and West Philippine Sea. This was already calm to them, considering they cross even at Signal No 2.
Mt. Carmel Church which is popularly known as Tukon Chapel. The design of the lovely Tukon chapel was based on the traditional Ivatan stone houses. Construction was spearheaded by the influential Abad family and nearby communities so they don’t need to travel far away to go to a church. The roof of the chapel is made of concrete red bricks and on its ceiling, one will be amazed of the prepossessing painting of different municipal saints which are painted by well-skilled Ivatan artists.
Amidst the hills of Tukon is Dipnaysuhuan Japanese Tunnel. This five door tunnel, complete with a series of chambers, a bunker that serves as a lookout spot, and a water reservoir, was constructed during the Japanese occupation as a defensive position. Men, Women and Children were forced to work on these tunnels.
Mt. Iraya Towering over Basco at approximately 1000 meters above sea level, this dormant volcano is the first attraction you will see upon landing. We were lucky to take a picture of this with its peak exposed. Its a challenging climb for mountaineers because of its abundant endemic flora and fauna. It is also the source of spring water which supplies households in Basco.
Chanpan / Valugan Boulder Beach. The rock bay is popularly known for its long stretch of boulders that came from the eruption of Mt. Iraya in 400 AD. The rocks were smoothened by the waves over time.
Just when we thought, we’ve had enough of rolling hills, Vayang was another site to behold!
Thank you Art for a memorable weekend in Batanes! We really enjoyed your company!
I wanted to check out this gallery. Yaru Gallery features the works of Yaru nu Artes Ivatan (Bayanihan of Ivatan Artists). It is a collective composed of visual artists, musicians and literary artists of Ivatan descent who would like to promote the history and vibrant hues of Batanes. The gallery started in 2011 with support from the Jorge, Aurora and Pacita Abad Memorial Foundation, Inc. (JAPAMFI).
Enjoyed our simple picnic of left over goodies with beer by the garden.