5 Things We Miss About Travelling To Batanes, Philippines
Batanes, the smallest and northernmost province of the Philippines, is the only province in the country declared in its entirety as a protected landscape and seascape area. It is composed of ten islands, of which only three are inhabited: Batan, Itbayat and Sabtang. The rest of the islands such as Dinem, Siayan, Ditarem, Misanga, Mavudis, Adekey and Vuhus remain elusive, save for Vuhus, which recently became a favourite snorkelling and diving destination. The capital town of Basco is the gateway to Batanes with very few flights plying this route.
Famous for its sprawling hills, beautiful untouched beaches, art, and most of all, the peace and quiet it brings, Batanes is a perfect destination to go to when you want to disconnect from the bustling city life. Here, we list down some of the things that we miss about this idyllic destination in the Philippines:
1/5 The Beaches, the Underwater and the Crazy Faluwa Ride
Batanes has countless beautiful beaches with stretches and stretches of fine white sand. It also has some of the Philippines' best but least popular dive spots. The catch? One must endure the roller-coaster-like ride on a faluwa (local open-decked boat). On a regular day, waves can go as high as the boat's deck--a scary scene for those vulnerable to motion sickness. The good thing is, the Ivatans are experts in manoeuvring this kind of boat as if gliding onto the mighty Pacific.
Popular beaches here are the Nakabuang Beach in Sabtang, the Homoron Beach in Batan and the unadulterated Vuhus Island. There are dive shops on the island too which can take you to some of the clearest, richest underwater scenery in Batanes.
2/5 Lobsters, Coconut Crabs and Arayu
The food in Batanes is very simple and straightforward, but what tourists often look for here are the freshest lobsters and the flavourful arayu (sundried dorado). The latter undergoes an age-old fishing tradition that is an inherent part of Ivatan culture. The Ivatans living in Diura Fishing Village would usually start catching this fish between the months of April to May. The season starts with a ritual to ask for calmness and abundance of the sea from the deities called the kapayvanuvanua. Throughout the fishing season, all of the community's catch is salted and then sun-dried. These will then be consumed at the end of the season.
Eating coconut crabs or tatus used to be popular in Batanes, however, since they are on the brink of extinction, catching and eating them is now prohibited. Very important: We discourage eating coconut crabs. Let's do our share in saving them.
3/5 The Rolling Hills, the Lighthouses and the Views
There's a vast number of scenic spots to explore in Batanes and perhaps the most popular is the Marlboro Country or Racuh A Payaman, a sprawling verdant rolling hill in the town of Uyugan. Tourists can also check out the Chawa View Deck on a steep mountainside in Basco; the Mahatao Boat Shelter Port, which serves as a safe refuge for boatmen during bad weather; the scenic Tayid Lighthouse also in Mahatao, the Basco Lighthouse that stands on the site of the telegraph facilities during the American period; and in Sabtang, the iconic Malakdang Lighthouse (which lies beside a humble inn where you can spend the night) and the panoramic Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint where local movies were shot in the previous years.
Read also: Where To Travel In The Philippines: 7 Places To Discover Filipino Heritage
4/5 The Stone Houses and the Warm Hospitality of the Ivatans
Batanes is famous for its traditional architecture that uses metre-thick limestone and coral walls to conquer the strong winds in this side of the country. This unique architecture also symbolises the Ivatan's strength and resilience after having to face some of the strongest typhoons and earthquakes in history. These well-preserved stone houses can be found in the villages of Nakanmuan, Sumnanga and Savidug in Sabtang, Uyugan in Batan and some in the island of Itbayat.
5/5 The Art and the Artisans
Basco is the hometown of the legendary Filipino-American painter, Pacita Abad, who has earned accolades globally and internationally. And while it has been 16 years since she passed away, her legacy lives on. Some of her works can still be seen in Fundacion Pacita, a boutique hotel in Basco. There's also a slew of new generation artists budding in Batanes so on your next visit (whenever that may be), do check out their works to show support.
Read also: Defying Convention: A Pacita Abad Retrospective
In light of the pandemic, please check which destinations are open prior to your trip. You may check the Philippines Travel Advisory by clicking here. Make sure to check the minimum health and safety requirements for tourists of the destinations you are interested in before you go. Have a safe trip everyone!