Batanes in the Philippines has a little bit of everything for different types of travelers: the mountains, the sea, the rolling hills, and the food. But above all, Batanes offers a unique type of refuge — peace and quiet, and the taste of a back-to-basics lifestyle.
Published date: | Updated:06 April 2022,14:22
Batanes, called the Home of the Winds, is considered the smallest province in the Philippines with only 230 kilometers of total land area. Part of Batanes’ charm comes from its somewhat seclusion from its busier and more crowded neighboring provinces.
As the northernmost province in the country, its distance, size, and small population help preserve the unspoiled beauty of the place and the peaceful lifestyle of its people. A trip to Batanes is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city living.
Batanes’ refreshingly chill and peaceful vibe gives local and foreign travelers a different taste of island life. One that is simpler, laidback, quiet, but definitely revitalizing.
For a country that is known for its tropical islands, Batanes’ rock formations, quaint lighthouses, and wild horses that roam freely in vast pastureland make it a truly unique destination for many people.
If you’re planning a trip to this part of the Philippines, we offer you this ultimate guide on everything you need to know for the perfect getaway.
Best Time to Go to Batanes
The best time to visit Batanes is during the dry or summer season. In the Philippines, the months of March, April, May, and June are considered the hottest months with minimal rainfall. These are also the best months to visit Batanes.
Fewer chances of rainfall mean fewer chances of delayed or canceled flights and you’ll be able to enjoy your trip better since Batanes tourist attractions are mostly outdoors.
Dry and Summer Season | March to June
For a hassle-free trip, it’s best to plan your Batanes adventure around the months of the dry and summer season in the Philippines. March to June has a minimal amount of rainfall.
But if you want to enjoy a “cooler” Batanes in terms of temperature, you can visit during the first quarter of the year. However, the weather can quickly change from sunny to cold and rainy.
Climate and Weather
Batanes has a tropical climate like the rest of the Philippines. The average yearly temperature is 26.0 °C. April is the driest month, while August is the rainiest month so best to avoid traveling to Batanes during that time. November to February are the coldest and often have rainy days as well.
How to Get to Batanes
The best way to go to Batanes is by air and thanks to more flights coming from different parts of the Philippines, the province has enjoyed an astonishing increase in tourist arrivals since 2015. Depending on where you’re flying from, domestic flights to Basco can take between 70 and 110 minutes.
Try booking a Tuesday or Wednesday flight instead of a weekend one if you’re on a budget and looking for less expensive plane tickets. Normally, flights during these days are less expensive.
While promo fares to Batanes are very few, if you do chance upon some, it’s best to book ahead and enjoy the big savings. Here are some of the flight options from different parts of the Philippines:
Getting Around Batanes
Batanes may be small but it’s still not small enough to just walk around to see the tourist spots. Here are a number of transport options you can choose from to explore Batanes
You can hail or rent a public tricycle (auto-rickshaw) for drop-off or pick-ups or get their services for whole day tours. Tricycles are readily available most of the day, traveling from one Batanes resort or tourist spot to another. These can only accommodate a small group of 3-4 people.
Private Vans and Cars
If you are traveling in a big group, we recommend hiring a private van or car. This is the most convenient option since you don’t have to worry about navigating the islands. The van or car transfers are operated by local tour agencies and are usually included in all-inclusive Batanes tour packages.
If you’re opting for public transportation, there are jeepneys traveling from Basco to Mahatao, Ivana, and Uyugan daily. However, the trips are limited and are only available from 5:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
When it comes to getting around just the town proper, you can rent a bicycle if you have the stamina for it. The rolling hills and the landscape can prove to be challenging. Cycling in Batanes is scenic but rugged.
You can also take a different kind of bike — motorbikes! You can hire one with a driver (called habal-habal) or rent a motorbike that you can drive yourself. But these are only applicable for those who have a driver’s license and can operate one.
If you’re exploring the different islands of Batanes like Sabtang Island and Itbayat Island, you can ride their traditional Ivatan passenger boats called faluwa. Each island has its own port and the boats have scheduled limited trips per day.
Things to Do in Batanes
Smallest in population and smallest in land area, the Batanes will transport you to a different world full of simple pleasures and raw nature. Situated in the northernmost region of the Philippines, the Batanes is comprised of 10 luscious islands with a total of 84.56 square miles waiting to be explored.
Because of it’s vulnerable location in the middle of the Luzon Straight 162-kilometers north of Luzon and just 190-kilometers south of Taiwan, it’s not surprising to learn that Batanes has experienced plenty of invasions, occupations, and interventions by the Spaniards, Japanese, and Americans. Luckily, these intrusions left the Batanes in tact. Today, nearly half of the land in the Batanes is made up of luscious green mountains and sprawling hills.
Sabtang Island Tour
You and your group will jump in a local boat called a Faluwa on your way to Sabtan Island. From the water you’ll be capturing jaw-dropping views of the islands where you can see the topography of rolling hills against steep cliffs.
You’ll pull up in the “port” of Sabtang which is just a cement hut a few meters up from the shore with some locals sitting and waiting for…something. You’ll hop on a big Jeepney and cruise around the island to see sights such as Chavayan Village with preserved stone houses, the Sabtang Light House and a couple gorgeous beaches
Source: Kim David / shutterstock
Source: Kim David / shutterstock
Eat Local Fare
Flying Fish and Coconut Crab are the two most prized proteins native to Batanes.
Dibang is the Filipino name for the migratory flying fish that spring out of the water and use their evolved fins to catch some air. You can go straight to the source, fishing boats, to buy your own dibang and have a local grill them for you along with some organic veggies grown and harvested on the island.
Tatus is the giant coconut crab that looks more like a lobster and whose meat is extremely juicy! You’ve never had anything like it. You will find restaurants that serve this crab in curry sauces but it is just as delicious grilled and pulled out of the shell.
Batan Island North Tour
This island is so magnificent that you might get a little emotional. For as far as your eye can see, there are fluorescent green rolling hills overlooking the pristine blue waters with scattered cows and Mt. Iraya in the distance. You’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure that what you’re seeing is real.
In between incredible natural scenery, you’ll visit the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel left by troops during WWII, Tukon Church made with beautiful stone walls, and the Basco Lighthouse with 360 degree views of the island!
Source: Ardie davocol / Jonas Roque
Trek Mt. Iraya
Mt. Iraya is the 1009-meter tall volcano that quietly sits in the town of Basco. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts love Mt. Iraya as it’s not a very challenging mountain to climb, rather it’s a modest crawl through dense forests with crisp air. When you get to the top of the mountain you’ll find yourself inside the clouds which hug the rolling hills and turn the landscape into a dream-like world.
On your way up, you’ll encounter roaming cows, hundred-year old trees, and the natural spring that many locals use for drinking water.
Nakubuang Beach is no stranger to international praise, including making CNN’s list of best beaches to visit and the ‘It’ destination on my paradise-seeker’s travel blogs. Why all the fuss? You just don’t find pristine beaches like Nakabuang anymore.
Standing on the soft white sand with waves crashing onto your feet, you can look out from the shore and see Mt. Iraya in the distance and peninsulas on the horizon. This beach’s trademark however is Chawa Cave; a curious rock formation that creates tall, mossy archways and shallow caves in the cliffs.
Unlike other popular tourist beaches that scramble to set up cheap food stands and hawk sugary drinks, Nakabuang Beach has stayed steady with the pace of Sabtang. You can find traditional cottages that serve up authentic Ivatan food seaside.
Source: KYTan / www.outoftownblog.com
Source: www.thecrazytourist.com / RCB Photography
Tayid Lighthouse in Basco
The Tayid Lighthouse looks like something off of a Dutch postcard. The tall, 6-story structure capped with rusty red roof next to a small cottage with a matching red roof sits on top of a brilliant green meadow with nothing but cobalt waters in the distance.
To reach Tayid Lighthouse, you’ll embark on a pleasant 1.2-kilometer hike from the center of Basco. You’ll be rewarded with a climb to the top of the lighthouse where you can look out onto the China Sea and the entire island of Batan.
It’s a stunning sight to see. The shores of Chadpidan Beach in Basco are comprised of boulders that have been expelled from nearby Mt. Iraya centuries ago. Since then, these boulders have slowly been polished down to smaller rocks by the waves of the South China Sea and are scattered below the overhanging cliffs.
The cliffs look as though a giant has gone along and taken bites all along the edge. There are abrupt dents and sudden drop-offs that create a truly unique landscape.
You’ll need some decent hiking shoes to make it up through the rocky, and sometimes muddy, paths but the views are certainly worth it.
Homoron Blue Lagoon
Don’t miss this whimsical natural lagoon in Batanes. Quite the unexpected oasis, this turquoise lagoon is surrounded by green hills and huge volcanic boulders that is simply breathtaking.
You’ll trek with a guide through a hidden path across steep slopes down to the lagoon where you can take a dip and take some photos as well.
It’s important to go with a guide, as the waters can turn rough without warning. It’s best to get the green light from a local when you want to swim.
Honesty Coffee Shop
Honesty Coffee Shop might never survive in the city, but out here where life is slow, people are good, and nature provides- this coffee shop concept is doing just fine.
Locals and visitors are welcome to come into the shop and pick up whatever goods they need without any salespeople or cashiers watching over. The customer is in charge of paying the exact amount, recording it in a book, and depositing their cash on the spot.
This is one of the most charming elements of Batanes: that there is virtually zero crime in Batanes and stealing just isn’t a common occurrence.
Source: easonal wanderer
Buy Some Souvenirs
Many times when you buy souvenirs, you are buying factory-produced trinkets with “made in XYZ” stamped on the back. Not in Batanes.
Every single souvenir you come across in this region has been handmade by a local with local materials to represent local culture.
“Pasalubong” is the word for souvenirs in the Philippines, so the Pasalubong Center
in Batanes town is where you’ll find plenty of what you’re looking for. There are treats like homemade sweets and or Batanes-grown turmeric powder.
You might come across some local Batanes kids selling fresh bundles of Tubho tea, women weaving Batanes Baskets, handmade reef magnets, traditional hats, and more.
Facts About Batanes
It is the smallest province in the Philippines
The northernmost province of the Philippines has a total land area of 230 km. It is located between 121° 45′ to 122° 15′ east longitudes, and at 20°15′ north latitudes.
Batanes is made up of 10 volcanic islands
But only three are inhabited. These are Batan (where the provincial capital of Vasay (Basco) is located), Sabtang, and Itbayat. Ivuhos island, lying about a kilometer and a half cast of Sabtang, has a handful of families tending cattle. While the other uninhabited islands are Yami, North, Mavudis, Siayan, Di-nem and Dequey.
There’s almost zero crime rate in the province
That is why Batanes is known to be one of the most peaceful provinces in the Philippines. Because of how honest and kind Ivatans are, they even have an “Honesty Coffee Shop” where people buy goods even without the staff to attend to it. Our Batanes facts list will not be complete without this.
Ivatans still perform the age-old fishing tradition
One of the most interesting facts about Batanes that every traveler should know is about the Kapayvanuvanua. They perform the ritual before fishing for arayu (dolphin fish), a food staple in Batanes, by offering animal sacrifices to spirits of the sea to bless them with safe and bountiful fishing season. Fishing for this prized fish is only done during summer, between April to May.
House of Dakay is one of the only five structures that survived 1918 earthquake in Batanes
Built in 1887, the 133-year old House of Dakay is considered to be the oldest traditional Ivatan stone house in Batanes. The traditional Ivatan stone houses made of stone and lime with cogon roofs could withstand the strongest typhoon.
Basco lighthouse location used to be the site of the American period telegraph facilities basco lighthouse in batanes
Among the interesting facts about Basco Lighthouse is this. It was the site of the American period telegraph facilities that connected Batanes with the central government until it was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II. Some buildings survived and some have been converted to Bunker’s Café.
Set on a forested hilltop overlooking the Luzon Strait, this quirky hotel in the former home of a local artist is 5 km from both Basco Airport and the Basco Lighthouse, and 6 km from Valugan Boulder Beach.
Residencia du Basco
Ivatan-inspired architecture located in Basco, Batanes – enjoy the picturesque islands of Batanes with comfort and delight
Amboy Hometel’s rooms are also sanctuaries to behold after a tiring yet surely amazing day of touring the islands of Batanes.
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