Batanes Overview

Basco airport
Goodbye Batanes! Isn’t the airport prettty?

After checking in we had lots of time before our flight. We visited the souvenir store located just outside the airport. They open at 6:00 am.
souvenir store at Basco airport

souvenir store at Basco airport-1

souvenir store at Basco airport-3

We had dinner at Pension Ivatan the night before and we promised to come back for breakfast. It was very convenient too since it was located just across the airport. As in walk out of the gate of the airport and cross the street and you’re at Pension Ivatan.
Pension Ivatan

Pension Ivatan- map of Batanes
map of Batanes

The owner said we had to try their special sizzling pancit (egg noodles). My friends said it was pretty good but nothing spectacular. The sizzling plate was a good gimmick though.
sizzling pancit
sizzling pancit

While everybody ate yummy carbs I ate my sad egg with sauteed shimeji mushrooms which I brought all the way from Manila and was cooked by Pension Ivatan.
my breakfast - egg w: shimeji mushrooms
fried egg with shimeji mushrooms

The owner let us try a local Ivatan dessert called glorious gabi which was boiled taro topped with a sweet sauce. I hate taro so I didn’t bother trying it.
glorious gabi
glorious gabi

A last look at beautiful Batanes from the plane.
Batanes from the plane

Just look at the long and winding coastline.
Batanes from the plane-1

Pretty clouds
clouds

Isn’t this beautiful? The sky and clouds looked just like the waters of Batanes.
clouds-1

In contrast check out Manila’s super dense landscape.
Manila from the plane

Can anyone tell me what this building is? From above it resembles the Banawe Rice Terraces.
Manila from the plane-1

I already miss the wide open hills of Batanes.
Manila from the plane-2

For anyone planning a trip to Batanes, here are some tips and links to help you out.

How to get there?
The only airline that flies to Batanes is SEAIR. Because they have the monopoly on this route be prepared for flight delays or cancellations. There are only two flights a day and very few seats on the small plane. The fare is very expensive too at P15,327.00 (as of July 2011) for a round trip flight.

When to go?
March to May is the summer months. It’s usually hot and dry but when we went last April it was windy and quite pleasant for a couple of days. June to October is the rainy season but I heard everything is more beautiful then. November to February brings super windy and cool weather.

Where to stay?
There are several small inns to stay at.  For P1,000 ($24) a night per person I recommend staying at Batanes Resort, a government owned “resort”. It was very basic and clean enough. It also had my basic requirements like air conditioning, hot water in the shower even candles for the occasional power outage. The best thing was the view of the sea and the very spacious property and public spaces.

If you want the best view, best rooms and best food the only option is to stay at Fundacion Pacita. But be prepared to pay from P4,860 to P11,700 ($100-273) for a room. You really get what you pay for.

For a cheaper option you can also rent a room at a traditional house called home stays.  When my friend Raymond goes to Batanes he stays at Babat’s residence you can book it through Helen Aberilla +63921-718-2290. A room costs only P250 per night with no air conditioning, just a fan. If no one else rents the other 2 bedrooms then you’ll have the whole 2 story house to yourself. The caveat is there is only one working bathroom in the house. 

How to see the best of Batanes?
In my opinion the best way to see Batanes is to hire a tour guide and a van. Our tour guide Chris was recommended to us by a friend. I think 4 days and 3 nights was enough to see the most important parts of Batanes.

You can contact Ivatanya c/o Chris at:
Cellphone: +63999-553-2804
Email: bcta_chris@yahoo.com / ccivatanya@yahoo.com

Ivatanya’s 4 days & 3 night package w/o lodging:
Included are tours of Batan and Sabtand islands, full board meals, transportation, tour guide, tour fees, boat & airport transfers.
3 pax – P7,200 per head ($167)
4-5 pax – P6,200 per head ($145)
6 and up – P5,200 per head ($121)

Another option is hiring a jeepney to take you around. My friend Raymond suggested the guy he uses whenever he goes to Batanes. He can drive you around Batan (main island) at the rate of P2,000 per 8 hours. Make to book Alvin’s services in advance. There are only a few jeepneys for hire  in Batan island and believe it or not there is color coding there.

Alvin Lizardo +63909-990-7782 (jeepney for hire)

For single travelers I saw some tourists being ferried around the back of a motorcycle.

How much did our trip cost?
We spent an average of P14,000 per person for 4 days and 3 nights including airfare, lodging and tours. We saved on airfare due to the promotion of SEAIR at a recent travel fair. There were 5 adults and 3 kids in our group so our cost for the tour package was lower.

Where to eat?
The food in Batanes is fresh and simple. Definitely not gourmet. The best meal we had was at Fundacion Pacita and the Ivatan platter at Pension Ivatan is not to be missed. If you don’t call ahead and order the food most meals will take at least 30-45 minutes to be served. Roadside carinderias (small eateries) will provide fast and cheap meals. You must try the coconut crab and lonyes/lunies/lunis (Ivatan fried pork).

What to wear?
Your best bet are shorts or lightweight pants, cotton shirts and a light windbreaker. I suggest wearing a sturdy pair of waterproof sandals that will take you from trekking on slippery hills to riding on a falowa (banca). I don’t advice wearing flip flops. They’re too unstable for the uneven hills.

What to bring?

  • Lots of cash! They don’t accept credit cards in Batanes.
  • Bring your best digital camera and extra memory cards. You will definitely take hundreds of pictures. A video camera is also a good option.
  • Sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen are definitely a must. I got sunburn on my neck and upper back from sitting for a thirty minutes at the Chawa view deck.
  • Insect repellant to ward off the giant bug assortment in Batanes.

Tips on going to Sabtang Island:

  • Sit at the front or back of the falowa (banca) to avoid the noxious fumes from the diesel engine.
  • Take Bonamine an hour before the boat ride to avoid seasickness.
  • Wear a windbreaker to protect yourself against the waves.
  • Pack your gear in a dry bag or big plastic bag to keep your expensive camera and bags dry.
  • Make sure there is a return trip. Sometimes they have to cancel a trip back to Batan island due to bad weather. You may have to stay overnight in Sabtang island. It would be wise to pack a change of clothing too.
Links to all my Batanes posts

Vayang Rolling Hills, Naidi Hills, Basco Lighthouse

Day 2 – Sabtang Island
Chamantad, Chavayan, Nakabuang Beach

Now that’s you’ve seen my pictures and entries about Batanes and I’ve shared all the tips I remembered what are you waiting for? Start planning your own trip to see the Philippines’ own bet against Scotland and New Zealand.
Batanes collage

Comments

comments

  • Vickigatmaitan

    Hi There! I’ve reading your blog since earlier today, and I’ve noticed that you’re on a special diet. I do not intend to interfere with it, however, I suggest that you visit a nutritionist, a registered one. I am just concerned since all these foods that you’ve been eating are completely inappropriate for a proper diet. Have a good one! 

  • http://www.shootfirsteatlater.com/ Shoot First, Eat Later

    Hi Vicki, thank you very much for your concern. My diet is supervised and really restricted to lean protein, veggies and fruits. You can see more of what I really eat when I’m not on vacation at Diet with my iPhone

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MH4P72JFRI4XXXWWZII46IRPVY MG

    i really appreciate the travel tips. batanes is one of my dream destinations so i need as much information as i can get before going there. nice post :)

  • http://www.shootfirsteatlater.com/ Shoot First, Eat Later

    Thanks! I had fun doing this post. Brought back lots of memories of Batanes.

  • Jim – cuz

    amazing photo with sky and clouds! :D 

  • Karina Servanez

    I just recently stumbled upon on your blog, and I have to say that I’m really enjoying exploring it. :) Also, loved the Batanes posts. We were actually there last May and it was a joy seeing it again through your pictures and comments. 

  • http://www.shootfirsteatlater.com/ Shoot First, Eat Later

    Thanks Karina! Wasn’t Batanes fabulous?

  • http://www.facebook.com/roferino Rosalina Ferrer Inocencio

    Batanes is my husband’s dream local destination. Your blog inspired us to save as much as we can since it seems like we can’t just go there on a whim, unlike in other beautiful spots where there are seat sales on regular flights. The pictures say a lot about the beauty of Batanes. I really wish we could go this year. Thanks for the tips.