Tag Archives: Batanes

Batanes: Day 3


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.

Sabtang Lighthouse
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.

The Tour
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.


Lime Beach
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.

“Sleeping Beauty”


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?

Tiñan Viewpoint


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.

Chavayan Village
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).


Nakabuang Beach
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.

Ahaw Arc
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:

See, we had the place to ourselves that we could dine right underneath Sabtang’s famous arc.  And just look at that beautiful setting and the food!

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.

It was a sumptuous lunch and the only thing I didn’t like was the water because it had an aftertaste.

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.

Fisherman’s Village
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.

Sabtang Accommodations
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.



Batanes: Flora from Day 2


I included so many photos in my post about my second day in Batanes that in order to minimize the number, I decided to make a separate post about the interesting flowers I saw from that day. Still, there were 40 photos in that post – the most I have so far in one blog.

According to Google Images, the above yellow flower is called Gaillardia, or Blanket Flower, a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family. I found it outside the Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana, Batanes.

Here’s a collage of more flowers from that day:


The red rose was taken at the house beside the house of Dakay. The lavender one was seen in Alapad while the Purslane (I’m familiar with this because I made a post about Common Purslane HERE) was taken in Mahatao’s Lighthouse. The yellow flower with 5 petals and the red violet flowers beside the red flower were from Marlboro Country. The light pink flowers were from Chawa View Deck, while the red flower was from Monica’s Cottage.

Batanes: Day 2

at Batan Island

Inclusions of our Day 2 tour are the following: Chawa Viewdeck, Mahatao Shelter Port, Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Ivana Spanish bridge, Hohmoren White beach, House of Dakay, Saint Joseph Parish, Ruins of Songsong, Alapad Rock Formation and Marlboro Country.

Some photos of me from Day 2:

Marine Sanctuary
We passed by a marine sanctuary on our way to our destinations.

Marine SanctuaryPhotoGrid_1389496494221
The drive was very scenic, and thankfully, the weather was perfect for touring the island.

As we drove along, I was thinking, “Who wouldn’t fall in love with this province with views like this?”
Chawa Viewdeck
It has a grotto of the Virgin Mary and steps leading to the beach below, where the view of the crashing waves against the rugged cliffs was quite a sight to behold.


Chawa View Deck
The beach was not a sandy one, but rocky, and it’s beautiful.


Mahatao Shelter Port

The port was still being constructed during our visit. This is a project that aims to provide fish sufficiency and job generation in the region.

Saint Charles Borromeo Church
The original church was built in 1787. It has historical importance too since the Katipuneros raised the Philippine flag here on September 19, 1898.


I just noticed that this Church’s outline is similar to Sto. Domingo’s (photo HERE, in the collage), though the latter is painted yellow.

The drive to Mahatao Lighthouse was also very scenic.  We could see the village below and the rolling hills, mountain (sorry, I forgot its name), azure sky, and dark blue waters made me wish I have a house here.  Te he.


Mahatao Lighthouse

For me, this is the most beautiful of Batanes’ 3 lighthouses, though the wiring spoils the view.

From here, the views didn’t disappoint.

Lighthouse viewPhotoGrid_1389492954037

Afterwards, we had lunch at Monica’s Cottage where we got to try on native Ivatan garb (details to be discussed in a future post).

Here’s a teaser post of me looking out the window wearing vakul, an abaca fiber-made headgear worn by Ivatans as protection from the sun or rain.

Right after our meal, we met this fisherman who spent half the day catching squid, and he was nice enough to pose for photos.


Afterwards, we took some time exploring the village.


And of course, its beach, which was right across Monica’s Cottage.

One side of the beach was mossy (or should I say seaweed-y).  That is, the sea floor was full of some sort of sea grass.  The other side was rocky, and it’s a good thing I brought with me my pair of Sanuk to protect my feet.

In this beach, the water’s clear on the beachfront but farther up, the waves created about 2-foot high frothy waters.

Marlboro Country 

Marlboro 2

Called Rakuh-a-Payaman by the Ivatans, Marlboro Country is definitely one of the most beautiful places that I have been too. The verdant rolling hills, the blue sea, the crashing waves… all these contributed to creating stunning seascapes and landscapes.

Marlboro 3

Mahatao Lighthouse was also visible from here.

More photos of Marlboro Hills’ stunning landscapes and seascapes.

And photos of me pretending I was “falling off” the cliff.

Batan Island 
Another beautiful spot with views of lush hills and the deep blue sea.

I thought the guy in the collage was tending the carabaos (water buffalo), but Kuya Jun explained that he’s there for the signal because this is the only area in Batan with strong cellphone signal.

On the same hill, the Old Loran Station, an abandoned US navigational facility, provided a good focal point on the landscape below.

Alapad Rock Formation 
About 10 meters from the hill is the Alapad Rock Formation.

It kind of reminds me of Arizona and its canyons, albeit a small one.

Old House in Uyugan

We just drove by the village and I took a quick snap of this old stone house.  We did not linger since Kuya Jun said there are more stone houses in Sabtang, our destination the following day.

Song Song Ruins
This village was devastated by a tsunami in 1953.

Snacks at Honesty Coffee Shop
It’s called Honesty Coffee Shop because no one mans it. You just get what you want, look at the price list and then pay for it (details to be posted in a future post).

Saint Joseph Parish
The church is named after St. Joseph the Worker. The design is again reminiscent of Sto. Domingo’s in Basco and St. Charles Borromeo’s in Mahatao.

Ivana Spanish bridge
They said this is the oldest bridge in the country.

House of Dakay
Purported to be the oldest house in Batanes.  Most of the magazines and blogs I saw feature the lady of the house, but since she’s now so old, Kuya Jun said that she mostly lies down and sleeps. We didn’t have the heart to bother her to ask for a photo so we just took a photo of her house.


And of this cute dog and the rose bush that grew on a neighboring house.


We also made a quick stopover in Ivana’s welcome site.


The sun was about to set and I would have loved to stay because I could tell that it was a good spot for sunset-watching, but we still had places to visit, and still quite far from Basco so we left after taking some photos.  

Hohmoren White Beach
The sand here was a course, though the waves are gentler compared to Valugan Beach’s so it’s safe to swim here.

And thus was how we spent our second day in Batanes.

Some random photos from this day:



And another of Mahatao Lighthouse.

Just beautiful.

Batanes: Day 1

Basco Lighthouse

Basco Lighthouse

This is a late post since I did this trip nearly a year ago (though I did make a teaser post  HERE), but as the cliché goes, it’s better late than never, so here goes.

Batanes is one of my dream destinations.  I’ve been longing to visit it since I was in college (that was a decade ago, gasp!) and last year, I was finally able to make this dream a reality.


Getting Here

Only one airline was flying the Manila to Batanes-capital Basco (and vice versa) route when we made this trip, thus, the fare was sky-high. Sky Jet’s roundtrip airfare cost us about Php 16,000 (about USD 400) per person. Too expensive for a domestic travel, but worth the Batanes experience.

Flight-wise, though, it did not feel Php 16,000-worthy. The plane was too small (the smallest among the many I’ve ridden) that the flight was jarring because we felt the plane’s every move. And our flight was delayed for an hour, though it’s because of the weather. On the positive side, they served some snacks (yummy peanuts and too-sweet brownies) and the flight attendants were friendly.

Now, aside from Sky Jet, SeaAir offers trips from Manila to Basco and vice versa.

Arrival and Transfers

Batanes’ Basco airport is small, but charmingly built. It has no baggage carousel so we had to wait for our luggage to be offloaded from the plane and brought to the terminal before we could claim it ourselves.

Since our room rate included airport transfers, Kuya Ireneo picked us up from the airport to  bring us to Rapitan di Vasay. Travel time was about 10 minutes.

Where we stayed
We stayed at Rapitan di Vasay, which I will discuss in detail in a separate post.

Since the tour that we arranged would not start until 1 PM, we decided to spend our morning just
walking around town. Rapitan di Vasay is centrally located and places of interest are just walking distance from it.

Basco Pier
Our first stop. Not that interesting since it looked abandoned. And the dreary weather wasn’t helping me appreciate the place.


At the Town Plaza
Basco’s town was laid out like most towns in the Philippines.  That is, the park, school, seat of government, church, etc. are close to each other.

We also passed by their local tourism office to ask for a brochure or map, but they didn’t have them.  Too bad.

Some interesting flora that I saw during our walk:


And this adorable goat family.


They definitely were not the least bit camera-shy since they stopped grazing and solemnly looked at us while we snapped photos.

Batan Island Tour
This is part of the 3-day tour that we arranged with Noel (+63 999 363 6845). Cost is Php 6,200 per person.  Expensive, but we recommend that you take this instead of organizing the tour yourselves.  Batanes’ points of interest are far from each other and some roads are difficult to navigate so a tour guide and/or driver are/is necessary.

Our assigned tour guide is Jun (+63 908 936 8193).  He’s very knowledgeable and is good at taking photos (what a bonus!), especially jump shots (this is the only time when most of my shots were jump shots).  I recommend that you ask for him since he also owns a tricycle thus, he can easily take you to places (he brought us to the restaurants where we had our meals) that are not included in the tour.

Batan Island Tour is a tour of the northern part of Batanes. It includes Mt. Carmel Chapel, PAGASA station, Fundacion Pacita, Japanese Tunnel, Valugan Boulder Bay, Basco Cathedral, Vayang Rolling Hills, and Basco Lighthouse.

On the way to Mt. Carmel Chapel, we passed by Basco’s welcome signage with a shrine of the Virgin Mary. It also serves as a viewdeck of Basco’s waters and pier.


Mt. Carmel Chapel

Unfortunately, the chapel was closed during our visit so we contented ourselves with just taking photos of its exterior.


PAGASA stands for Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration. It is responsible for providing the Filipino people with flood, typhoon, and weather forecasts and advisories, and meteorological, astronomical, and climatological information. Batanes is usually within a typhoon’s range, so it makes sense that one of PAGASA’s weather stations is there.


It also offers a beautiful view of the rolling hills and the sea.


Fundacion Pacita

This is a popular seaside lodge in Batanes that used to be the home of a renowned Filipino artist (her works adorn the place).


We came back here on our 4th day for lunch, so I will just detail our dining experience (and the lodge’s interior) in a future post.

Basco Idiang


This used to be  a settlement of the Ivatans, the locals of Batanes.

We also came across a carabao (water buffalo) resting beneath an interesting tree with purple flowers.

We also chanced on other interesting flora here and Kuya Jun was nice enough to show us how the leaf of the tree with the lavender flowers could be made into a windmill.  A leaf from a variety of taro could also be made into a dipper, or an umbrella (not pictured though, since I was familiar with it because when I was child, I saw some kids in Aklan putting the leaf over their heads during the rainy season).

I don’t know what the plant with the white flower is called, but the flowers can be eaten (they taste sour) as demonstrated by Kuya Jun.  I’m familiar with the plant, though, and know that it also has pink and red varieties.

Japanese Tunnel
This was constructed during World War II.  Where they used to get their water then was still available, although as per Kuya Jun, they no longer drink its water, but use it to bathe their  cows or carabaos.


All those bending and body twisting to fit into the tunnel was tiring, but the view we got when we reached the exit was all worth it.

Valugan Boulder Beach


Just beautiful!  And unique, because instead of sand, there were boulders that came from Mt. Iraya. Too bad it’s not swim-able because of the very strong waves.


Vayang Rolling Hills

Verdant hills that look postcard-perfect. Being here made me feel as if I were not in the Philippines, a country famed for its beaches, but in a countryside somewhere in New Zealand or Europe.


Rolling Hills is also a perfect sunset spot, the details of which I will post on Day 4 of my Batanes trip.

Naidi Hills
This is where Basco Lighthouse is located. We were supposed to have dinner at Bunker Cafe (the white structure beneath the lighthouse on the upper right in the succeeding collage), but it was closed since they had no running water.


Naidi Hills also offers a sweeping view of the town of Basco (bottom right photo of the above collage).

Basco Lighthouse


This was constructed in 2003 in the site that was originally the site of American period telegraph facilities that connected Batanes with the central government.  The facilities were destroyed by the Japanese Imperial Army bombings at the start of World War 2.

I will end this post with a solo photo of Basco’s Lighthouse.

Lighthouses are so charmingly romantic, don’t you think?

Batanes: Jmacmae’s Bar and Restaurant

This is the restaurant closest to Rapitan di Vasay, which was where we stayed in Batanes, so most of our meals were from here.

Our first meal here was on our first day. For lunch, we ordered the following:

1 Upland Rice Php 60
1 Fish Fillet Php 150
1 Fern Salad Php120
1 C2 Apple Php 30
1 Iced Tea Php 15
Total: Php 375

This was not the first time that I had eaten brown rice, but I was just surprised that Batanes’ upland rice was kind of glutinous. It’s yummy though, and smelled of pandan (fragrant screw pine).

The Fish Fillet was okay, though I find it a little bland that I had to smother each piece with its accompanying sweet chili sauce. It was crunchy though as it was served hot.

The Fern Salad is a must! It might look unappetizing because of the chopped carrots and tomatoes piled on top, but trust me, it’s really good.

All in all, it was a good lunch.

Dinner time came. We were supposed to dine at Bunker Café, but it was closed because they did not have running water. Since Jmacmae was closest to where we were staying, we decided to again eat here. This particular meal was included in our tour package so we really had no say on what to order and had no idea on its cost.

When the food was served, I was delighted to see the turmeric rice, which is a type of rice dish flavored with turmeric, a spice with a distinctive yellow hue that gives the dish a mustard yellow color. This spice is made from turmeric root, which is closely related to ginger. I read about this when I was researching about dining options in Batanes, and it was nice to finally experience one of my Batanes must-tries.

The chop suey was also good and reminded me of my dad’s cooking, which was really a big compliment since my dad’s chop suey was excellent (Oh how I miss him and his cooking). I also loved the chicken skin of our fried chicken because it was tasty and crunchy, but the meat lacked marination and was not tasty enough. The sweet and sour fish was okay, but not really outstanding. The dessert (banana turon with jackfruit) though was something else – sweet, delicious, and the perfect item to cap our dinner off.

My last meal from this restaurant was my dinner before we left Batanes. Aside from turmeric rice, Batanes Adobo was also included in my “must-eats” and our very accommodating tour guide Kuya Jun offered to order it from Jmacmae and have it delivered to Rapitan di Vasay so I could taste it before I left.

You might be wondering why I was craving for Batanes Adobo. You see, like maybe most Filipinos, I love Adobo, which some consider our unofficial national dish. It is a cuisine marinated and simmered in soy sauce and vinegar. My interest was piqued though when during my travel planning, I read that Batanes Adobo does not use these typical ingredients. What more, it’s dry and merely utilizes salt.

When my Batanes Adobo was delivered, I eagerly dug into it and was not really surprised when I saw that it was dry and looked like deep-fried pork cuts instead of the usual adobo.

Taste-wise, it also tasted like fried pork, except that it was tastier, perhaps due to it being well-marinated in brine.  Here’s a close-up shot.


Lastly, I’ll end this post with a reminder to those who are planning a trip to Batanes. Please do lower your restaurant expectations ambience-wise because with the exception of Fundacion Pacita, the restaurants in Batanes are not the typical city restaurants. Here’s how Jmacmae Bar and Restaurant looks like:


Jmacmae’s Bar and Restaurant is located in National Road corner Castillejos Street, Kaychanarianan, Basco, Batanes. Contact them through +63999-372-0390.