Day 3 was a trip to Sabtang Island, the smallest island of Batanes. Inclusions of our tour were the following: Brgy. Savidug, Lime Beach, Tiñan Viewpoint, Brgy. Chavayan, Sabtang Weaver’s Association, Ahaw Arc, and Nakabuang Beach. Note that this was originally a day tour, but my friend and I opted to spend the night in Sabtang to make the most of our visit in this island (we did this by going to Fisherman’s Village).
Here are my photos from this day:
After an early breakfast at Rapitan di Vasay, we headed to Ivana port to catch the boat that would take us to Sabtang. The port is right in front of Ivana’s Church and since the boat was yet to depart, we spent our idle time at the church.
I already mentioned in a previous post that Ivana’s Church is named after St. Joseph the Worker. We only passed by this on Day 2 of our Batanes tour and up close, I found out from its signage that this was originally a chapel built in 1787.
Behind the current church are the ruins of the original church.
Boat Ride to Sabtang
This was definitely one of my scariest boat rides. The choppy waters strongly rocked our small boat. We were told though that our experience was as smooth as any Sabtang boat ride could go since the weather’s good. Yikes! And I thought it couldn’t get any worse.
A trivia: In Batanes, they call their boats faluwa.
We were greeted by this beautiful view upon arrival at the island.
This is the third lighthouse that I saw in Batanes. We did not go here though, and just contented ourselves with taking its photo from afar.
Note that during this part of our tour, we changed drivers and eventually, tour guides because Kuya Jun had to catch the 2 PM faluwa back to Ivatan. We were introduced to Michael who mostly acted as our driver instead of a guide (he only spoke when asked).
Our tour here started out in a scary way. You see, we were welcomed by this little green guy on our way to Savidug (lower left photo of the collage):
Sorry I had to include it in my collage of interesting flora from this trip. I was trying to save space. He he. Anyway, Kuya Jun and Michael said this particular snake is harmless, but it was still scary to have him sneak on us and suddenly take that ready-to-strike pose la rattlesnake when my friend got near it.
By the way, I don’t know what the yellow flower is called. I just found it interesting. The red and black fruits are berries (according to this post, it’s Batanes Pine/Arius or Podocarpus costalis, which only grows in Batanes). The pulpy fruit tasted sweet, but I forgot its name. It is the fruit of one tall tree (the branches’ photo is on the upper left of the collage) and we were lucky we got to taste this since according to Kuya Jun, it’s rare to chance upon this fruit.
The Stone Houses in Savidug
Savidug is famous for its traditional stone houses. Unlike in Basco where the houses are far from each other, the stone houses here are the opposite, and in rows.
It was interesting to see their thatched roofs. Some were also still being built, or renovated.
This is where Ivatans make the lime that they use to bind their stone houses. Interestingly, this used to be a fortress.
I find it off that there are human bone fragments scattered around the place.
This is right in front of the Lime Beach. Note the top mountain range with what looked like an outline of nose and lips. It does look like a woman lying down, doesn’t it?
Definitely a must-see when in Batanes. This viewpoint provides a stunning view of the coasts of Sabtang.
Some interesting flora from Tiñan viewpoint:
The palm-like plant is locally called voyavoy. It is actually a dwarf palm belonging to the genus Phoenix. Kuya Jun said its leaves are used to make men’s vests and women’s headgear. I forgot what the red fruits are called, but they tasted a little like duhat.
Another village popular for its traditional stone houses and more importantly, weaving.
Unfortunately, there was no ongoing weaving session when we were there. There was an old lady working on a vakul (headdress), but she charges for photo-ops so we just borrowed her weaving tool and the vakul that she’s working on.
When in Chavayan, make sure to go to the edge of the village where the view of its shoreline is picture-perfect (I have a better photo of this from my Beautiful Batanes teaser post).
The highlight of our tour. Fine sand, clear waters from the shore with darker shades of blue farther up, frothy waves, rugged cliffs and cottony clouds as backdrop… This is one beautiful beach!
There was no one here when we arrived (it was a weekday), though our guide told us that during the weekend, the place was teeming with tourists (this was collaborated by a group of 6 friends we met during dinner at Casa Napoli the night before, who complained about not getting the perfect jump shot at the arc or by the beach because there were other visitors). We were thus pleasantly surprised to have the beach by ourselves.
Definitely Sabtang Island’s most photographed attraction.
Unlike that group of friends who couldn’t get a solo shot of Ahaw Arc, I had all the time in the world to have my picture taken here as evident on earlier’s collage of photos.
This is included in the tour package that we got. Here’s Kuya Jun and ate preparing our lunch:
We had squid, the Ivatan dish vunes (a vegetable dish made of gabi stalks), tatus (coconut crab), fish soup, and my favorite, halayang ube (ube and gabi are root crops) for dessert. Nom nom.
A travel tip to those who want to visit Nakabuang Beach but do not want to book a tour package: Do bring packed meals because there are no stores here where you can buy any food or even a bottle of water. The same group of friends we met shared how they, who were on a DIY-tour of Batanes, had no food come lunch time. It’s a good thing their co-travelers who were on a package were nice enough to share their food/leftovers.
Exploring Nakabuang Beach
After lunch, we took our sweet time exploring this secluded beach, swimming, and just enjoying the view.
We had a lot of time in our hands since our guide left us to bring Kuya Jun back to the port so he could go back to Ivatan. We just agreed that Michael would just come back for us at 4 PM.
This is not included in our tour so we had to pay an additional Php 700.
The drive going to Fisherman’s Village was very scenic, though a little scary because of the winding, narrow road.
At the village, we saw the same stone houses that we saw in the villages of Savidug and Chavayan. Some scenes: fish that’s being dried, fishermen heading home after a day’s toiling, and a local painting a boat.
My friend opted to stay in the village while I walked about a kilometer to get closer to the edge of the beach. Here, the views were more beautiful, and I did not regret the tiring walk to get here.
Because we were told that unless pre-arranged, no one would make our dinner, we bought some chips and canned goods at a store in Fisherman’s Village then headed back to the port to check-in at Sabtang Tourism Office.
Accommodations here is cheap. It’s at Php 300 per person. Don’t expect much, though. It is just a place to sleep in.
Note that there’s no shower and to take a bath here, you have to use a pail and dipper. There’s no hot water too. Moreover, power interruptions/blackouts are common in Sabtang Island. Make sure to bring a flashlight and spare batteries or power banks for your gadgets.
Our humble dinner
As mentioned, we had canned tuna and sardines for dinner. Michael provided the rice.
The photos from this collage are dark because there was a blackout. Over this simple meal, my friend and I reminisced about how simple life is in the province (both of us grew up in the province and only went to the city to study and work). Simple, but definitely stress-free.
And thus was how we spent our day 3 in breathtakingly beautiful Batanes.