Philippines is well known for its pristine beaches and rich marine life. Its 7,107 islands boast a plethora of natural wonders. If you’ve been wanting to experience a laid-back holidays with a taste of a little adventure, Batanes should be atop your list!
Home of the Winds
Batanes Islands is the northernmost group of islands in the Philippines. It is composed of ten small islands but only three are inhabited – Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat Islands. The archipelago was formed from a series of volcanic activities of Mt. Iraya dating as far back as 325BC.
Batanes is known as Home of the Winds for its windy weather as it lies in the typhoon path and frequented by storms. The temperature in the islands sometimes go below the normal 15 degree Celsius similar to Taiwan which is just 218 kilometers away from its northernmost islet.
The first settlers of Batanes are the Ivatans who are also known as the True Insulares. They inhabited the islands even before the Spaniards discovered the Philippines and made stone houses of corals and limestones to withstand the hostile climates.
An Ivatan woman wearing a Vakul. Image by anne_jimenez – Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Batanes offers breathtaking, jaw-dropping, post-card quality views and its lighthouses are considered the most beautiful in the Philippines. It serves as an icon that attracts tourists for its views that surely warms a heart.
The Basco Lighthouse welcomes visitors even from above as the main gateway is located in Batan Island. It is the most accessible and therefore the most visited lighthouse in Batanes. It gives a mesmerizing experience with its lush hill and ocean view backdrop.
Its sunset that paints the sky and the West Philippine Sea with pink and orange hues is a beauty no words can describe. The top deck offers a 360-degree view of perfect sceneries.
The Sabtang Lighthouse sits on the edge of a hill near the island’s San Vicente Port. Its rubble masonry is an attraction on its own. The view from the top deck is a panorama of clear blue waters of the open sea and majestic greeneries.
A ride on faluwa, a small boat with a capacity of up to 70 persons, is required to get there. During monsoon season (June – December), cruising from Batan Island to Sabtang Island can be rough due to tall waves.
Sabtang Lighthouse with the beautiful clear blue sky as backdrop at night.
Tayid Lighthouse is situated in Mahatao, Batanes. It offers a relaxing view of the Pacific Ocean and an overlooking scenes of rolling hills. Chawa View Deck, Boat Shelter Port, San Carlos Borromeo Church and Rakuh-A-Payaman known as Marlboro Country are some of its nearby attractions.
Tayid Lighthouse with the rolling hills of Marlboro County
Marlboro Hills or Racuh a Payaman as known to the locals is also located in Mahatao, Batan Island. Its picturesque green rolling hills is where cattle, water buffalos, and horses roam freely. It offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the ocean that seems to meet the dormant Mount Iraya. Its rugged coastline and lush greeneries are spellbinding. The scenic views will sweep you off your feet. If there’s one place you shouldn’t miss going to in Batanes, this is definitely it!
Vayang Rolling Hills exude a peaceful vibe with its green grasses and trees. Cattles, goats and other animals graze freely here. The beautiful landscape is accompanied by a seemingly endless rolling hills and infinite blue waters.
The Chamantad-Tinyan viewpoint is the rolling hills of Sabtang Island where you can enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean.
The Ivatans have done a great job preserving their culture. You can visit the stone houses in Chavayan Village in Sabtang Island to have a taste of living like the locals.
The Ivatans are gentle and kind and known to be honest. The “honesty store” concept where people can buy goods and leave their payment in a small box or canister is famous here. They will surely welcome visitors with open arms and warm hugs.
Don’t forget to try the Vakul – a headwear weaved by the locals and is used by women to protect themselves from extreme heat and rain.
How to get there?
Flying to Batanes can be very expensive so keep an eye for the airlines’ seat sale.
Cebu Pacific flies daily and leaves Manila at 02:30 in the afternoon. Philippine Airlines flies from Clark to Basco twice daily with the earliest flight leaving at 06:30 in the morning. Skyjet also flies from Manila to Basco daily and also leaves as early as 06:00 in the morning.
When to visit?
The best time to visit Batanes is during February to May, when there is less chance of rainfall. February is its coldest month and tourist visit peaks from March to May, when Batanes is at its brightest.
Image credits: Jamaica Mendoza