Batanes was my dream destination in the Philippines. I remember wanting to visit it since 2007 because of a movie I have never even seen. I got captivated by the scenic views in the trailer that I held on to that dream for almost a decade until 2016 when I was able to experience the ‘Breathtaking Batanes’.
The Ivatans were the kindest group of Filipinos I have ever met. But, more than that, this humble paradise offers the best spots to recharge from all the negative vibes brought by daily living in the metro. It’s a good place to contemplate.
Batanes has a total of three islands: Batan(divided into North and South), Sabtang and Itbayat. I did not get a chance to visit the third island because the weather did not permit us to sail. But, Batan and Sabtang islands were more than enough for me to say that this province exceeded all of my expectations. It’s not easy to reduce the list to 10 but if you’re heading to Batanes to experience its purity, these are the best spots I’d recommend.
Batanes is most popular with their lighthouses. Perhaps the most well-known is Basco Lighthouse located in Naidi Hills. There are other lighthouses such as Tayid in Mahatao and the one in Sabtang but this one is my favorite.
I remember the view from the top of the structure and I couldn’t just help but be amazed as to how beautiful the place was. Seeing the blue ocean and green hills together with the skies as one was a bliss. I never knew Philippines could possess such beauty.
2.Yaru Nu Artes Ivatan
My friends could attest that I am no fan of the arts. I mean, I appreciate it but I don’t have the inner quality of art lovers which make them legit. So, when I saw an art shop in Batanes, I wasn’t expecting that much. Yaru Nu Artes Ivatan is a cooperative and gallery art center near Petron station. It’s hard to miss the shop with its red exterior.
I got amazed by the artworks inside. I scanned each piece carefully which is rare for me because I do not really fancy the arts. I didn’t buy any of the paintings due to its price but they also sell bracelets and other crafts which are affordable.
3.Valugan Boulder Beach
Valugan was one of the places I had to visit thrice because an Ivatan told me that this place has a secret. I won’t give so much clue but it involves rocks, fire and magic. I did not see it on my first visit so I had to return to find out if the secret was really true.
Valugan Boulder Beach is a unique stretch of boulders and smaller stones which came from Mt Iraya. According to a website I sourced on Google, it erupted in 400 AD and scattered andesite rocks in Basco. Valugan means “east” in the native language of Batanes.
4.Vayang Rolling Hills
If you are a sunset lover, you should never miss the sunsets in your whole Batanes stay. Quoting from my favorite book of all time, “You know– one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…” Imagine the view at the Basco Lighthouse: ocean and hills; but this time the sun is exploding with vermilion coloring the sky in hues from orange to black.
It was magnificent. And if the sunset was not yet enough, the stars showed up. Ugh. Just trying to remember every detail makes me want to go back to Batanes.
The first four spots I mentioned are all from Batan Island. On the other hand, Morong beach is in Sabtang Island which would require you to ride a boat then tour the whole island for a day before returning back to Batan Island at around 3 pm. Some tourists stay for a night in Sabtang but I chose not to because I prefer my air-conditioned room in Batan.
Morong beach was fun because it was the first white sand I saw in my stay in Batanes. There was also the Nakabuang Arch where most tourists take a photo for souvenir. Paypanapanayan Canteen is near Morong beach. So, after you eat your lunch or while waiting for it to be served, you can first enjoy the water and the view . (Hint: The walls and sand here illuminate the best lighting in Batanes.
6. Honesty Coffee Shop
I think, aside from the lighthouses, Batanes is also most known for its Honesty Coffee Shop. It is a souvenir and coffee shop without an attendant to collect payment from customers. You get what you want to buy, list it in the logbook and put your payment in the box. They even have a saying here that “This store is too small for dishonest people”.
I was a witness as to how honest this place was when I left a tissue I bought. I came back two days after and to my surprise my tissue was still there, untouched. This was also a good place to hang out with other tourists. I had a chance to talk to some Titas of Naga and they shared a secret place where not all people who visit Batanes are able to experience.
7. Savidug Village
Savidug village is another place in Sabtang which will be part of the tour. The houses here are the native ones you see in post cards or movie of Toni Gonzaga and Coco Martin. It reminded me of Calle Crisologo in Vigan but with different structures.
If you’ll walk further, you’d see the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel which is beside an old house where Yeng Constantino shot her pre-nup music video ‘Ikaw’. Don’t forget to say a little prayer when you visit this place because most tourists would rush to the old house for a pictorial.
8. Tukon Church
When I travel in the Philippines, I always make sure that I visit the churches. It amazes me every time I go inside and see a different aesthetic which represents its location. I could still remember the prayers I uttered in this church and four months after it was answered.
Now, looking back, I have a theory that it got answered right away was because I was alone praying in Tukon Church.
9.Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint
There are other spots in Sabtang which the tour covers but Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint is my favorite among all of them. Every time you think that the views are all just the same, Batanes would surprise you with its bag of tricks. Chamantas Tinyan is an enormous viewpoint with souvenir shops in the entry. It had this Game of Thrones feel that when I wore the traditional Ivatan outfit, my inner Jon Snow was suddenly awakened.
I got most of the shirts I gave away from the souvenir shops in the area. Even if the designs were just the same from the ones in Batan, I felt these shops needed more sales.
10. Rakuh-A-Idi Spring
If there’s a place in Batanes which you should never miss out, it’s the Rakuh-AIdi Spring or ‘Fountain of Youth’. The Titas of Naga shared to us that this place is the best place to take a dip in the entire islands of Batanes. It’s not easy to find and it requires some hiking that’s why not all people could visit this place. But, oh boy! After half an hour of hiking and trying to find this place it was oh so worth it.
The water came from the mountain which was so clear and soothing. Batanes is not a place for swimming because of the rocks in the ocean so after 5 days of biking under the sun, the Fountain of Youth was the best treat ever.
11.San Carlos Borromeo Church
We did not get a chance to see the church inside because it was already late and we almost begged the caretaker to let us inside the Blank Book Archives where you could write your heart’s desires. There’s nothing wrong with doing a follow-up so I wrote down all of my prayers of thanks and wishes from Tukon Church. There’s an assigned number for each book so if you come back, you could check it again and see if your prayers came true.
I had to skip classes just to achieve my Batanes dream but it was totally worth it. I did not fail any class during that term and I got to experience Batanes. I now understand when people say “Ang Batanes hindi ginu- Google.” It’s hard to explain the beauty of Batanes but if you’re like me who wants some peace of mind before making that one big decision or you just need a soul booster, visit Batanes. Experience it yourself. Javid Mum, Batanes!
More photos available at http://www.markanicas.com