Not sure about you but Batanes has always been my dream destination. Well, I started out just being curious that suddenly build up to an obsession. With all those travel articles and from a couple of colleagues that has visited Batanes, they all have high praises of the place. Plus the fact that such is not mainstream spot and a haven for nature trippers, I do feel the need to check it out.
Must read: Exploring Batanes for Only Php 8,500
From Manila, the fastest way to get to Batanes is by plane. Philippine Airlines has daily direct flights to Basco and takes 1.5 hours to get there. Alternatively, you can take the Manila-Tuguegarao route and do a connecting flight to Basco via Sky Pasada which offers Tuguegarao-Basco routes.
What We Did
Here we explored the beauty of North Batan Island. Our tour guide recommended to start after lunch so we can rest for a while (our Basco flight is at 6am which means we were already at the airport 2 hours before) since it will just be a half-day tour.
Spots to visit:
Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan
I love the beach and I am quite used to white sand beaches but Valugan Boulder Beach is different. With its strong waves and rocky shores, no one is advised to take a dip on this spot. However, endless photo ops can be done onto this locale as this bears with an awe-inspiring backdrop.
Dipnaysuhwan Japanese Tunnel
I wasn’t tall enough to duck in order to get inside the tunnel, nag-feeling nalang akong matangkad! This is to feel to whole ‘tunnel experience’. Dipnaysuhwan Japanese Tunnel was built during the height of WWII and though it was the Ivatans who dug this hole, it was the Japanese soldiers who benefited from it.
Also, as we were walking back to our trike, we were greeted by this stunning scenery. Ganda noh?!
Basco Idjang Viewing
From what I’ve gathered idjang means mountain fortresses which served as an Ivatans’ settlement for a long time, way before Spaniards have colonized the Philippines.
Apologies but I couldn’t just take my eyes away from this kind of backdrop. Never had visited a place close enough with this magnificent surroundings before. Pasensya.
Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
Named after the great National Artist Pacita Abad, this boutique hotel has been renovated in her memory. Given the chance that we have money to burn, we would’ve spent at least a night in this luxury lodge.
As we were permitted to check the place out (just lower your voices while inside the vicinity), we saw that it has an open gallery to which mostly pertains to the journey of Pacita Abad.
What I found cool about this place is that it has 2 huge windows on the viewing area (which looks like a dining room). The view from the first window is the seaside and the other one showcases the beauty of the mountain side. I was like a kid going to one window to another at that time.
PAGASA Tukon Radar Station
Being frequently ‘visited’ by typhoons in the northern most region of the country, it was not surprising that Batanes has its own radar station. Equipped with a Doppler radar, this is being used for relatively more accurate weather forecasts.
Besides the radar, I have met an employee playing darts during his break, he mentioned that he is a weather observer to which I immediately asked if it will rain in the next few days. “Hindi po, maam. Mainit po,” he said. And few days later, Kuya was right, we left Batanes 2 shades darker. Lol.
Mt Carmel Chapel (aka Tukon Church)
I believe that this chapel is where most of the destination weddings are being held. This is just a simple chapel which bears the 6 patron saints of the municipalities of Batanes on its ceiling painted by young Ivatan artists. Its simplicity also reflects romanticism, with the view of Mt Iraya on its right and the ocean side on the left.
Vayang Rolling Hills
This is the highlight of the North Batan Tour. As a nature tripper, I was in awe of how much green can the hills bear. With luscious and very astonishing surroundings, this is one of the best sights I have seen in my entire existence. No exaggeration here. See for yourself.
From the rolling hills, you can also see the majestic sights of Chadpidan Beach, which is the sister beach of Valugan Boulder.
Sto Domingo Cathedral (aka Basco Cathedral)
This church has been built been and originally made of cogon and wood. Through the years, such has experienced fires and strong typhoon and with this, it has to undergo renovations. The recent rehabilitation of Sto Domingo Cathedral has took place last 2011.
Lighthouse in Naidi Hills (aka Basco Lighthouse)
Situated in Brgy San Antonio, the Basco Lighthouse has the perfect view of Baluarte Bay. Our tour guide mentioned that the lighthouse was actually built on a private property but convinced the owners for such to be built in exchange for the local government to construct a ‘house’ for its farm animals. Unfortunately, this lighthouse is no longer functional.
Where We Stayed
We stayed for 4 nights in Marfel’s Lodge (extension) fan room for P1,000 per night for 2 people.
Below are the dishes we ate during our first day in Batanes:
>> Steamed Coconut Crab & Tinolang Manok sa Yellow Ginger – We were told to try Pensions Ivatan first. It is said to be the most famous and budget-friendly restaurant in Batanes. I was expecting a large crowd as we got there by 12 noon but lo and behold, we were the only ones there! Yes! We got to talk to the servers and they even showed us the live coconut crab we were about to consume.
>> Crispy Pata – It wasn’t usual for us to try normal dishes but we just have to try Midtown Inn’s crispy pata. Why you ask? It’s only P200. And this is not your normal tipid meal but enough for 2 people. Apologies, I couldn’t find our picture of this.
• Please note that it can get cold during the night and though we originally reserved for an AC room (P1,500/night). In Marfel, we just settled for a fan room instead. #tipidtip
• Most dishes in Batanes’ restos are usually good for two. If you don’t have a big appetite, you can just settle to one ulam.
• If less than 3 people, it is better to do a trike tour than to join a group tour or rent a van. It will be cheaper that way.
**Our North Batan tour has been done during our Batanes trip last Jul 21-25, 2015. Pics were taken using Nikon D3100.
Travel Expense Summary
|Day 1 Expenses||Total||Divide by 2|
|Marfel’s Lodge Fan Room (1 night)||1,000||500|
|Tour Guide 1-day Exclusive Tour||1,000||500|
|North Batan trike rental||1,000||500|
|Pension Ivatan lunch||1,100||550|
|Midtown Inn dinner||380||190|
Special shout out to the people who helped us make this trip possible. In behalf of my travel crew, maraming salamat po. Sa uulitin. Apir!
Kuya Jhun Gasilao, whom I have contacted months before our trip but a DOT seminar conflicted with our sched, thank you po for finding an alternative to take your place. Di nio po kame pinabayaan. Contact him at 0906-565-3457 and 0999-825-9130.
Ate Donna, our tour guide, contact her at 0939-288-1164.
Ate Fe and her kwelang Marfel Lodge staffs, contact them at 0917-857-4493 and 0908-893-1475.