Whether you’re in Batanes for 2 days or 2 weeks, joining a tour group or going DIY, these are the stunningly gorgeous spots that will make you fall in love with the Philippines’ northernmost province — so much so that you’ll start keeping an eye out for seat sales the moment you get back home!
Basco Lighthouse and Naidi Hills
The iconic Basco lighthouse is one of the highlights of the North Batan tour and is the perfect place to watch the sunset. It can also be reached by a leisurely 30-minute walk from the town center.
The Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge was the home of acclaimed artist Pacita Abad and is now an exclusive (and expensive) boutique hotel. Its proceeds fund projects for Ivatan artists, educational grants, and eco-tourism programs.
Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
A charming little chapel built in the tradition of old Ivatan stone houses, the breathtaking views from its beautifully built doors and windows will make you believe there is a God.
In these sprawling emerald hills — a pasture for goats, cows and carabaos (Philippine water buffalo) — you could point your lens towards a random spot, take a random shot, at a random angle and focus, and your photo would still come out perfect.
When Mt. Iraya erupted all those years ago, it rained molten rocks on Batan island’s east coast, eventually leaving behind the boulders that now adorn this beach. The stones, waves, and surrounding cliffs are particularly gorgeous during sunrise.
Visit this secluded strip of sand on a misty morning and you’ll never want to leave.
Boat Shelter Port
A touch of Venice! Functionally, this port is where marine vessels seek refuge during inclement weather, but the profusion of outrigger-less boats floating on a watery avenue will no doubt remind visitors of a certain Italian city.
Alapad Hill and Rock Formation
Aside from the chance to see goats risking their lives to graze on steep hills, this spot also offers views of grass-cloaked mountains, glorious cliffs, and waves furiously crashing against stoic rocks.
Chawa Viewing Deck
From this vantage point — often the first stop on the South Batan tour — one can behold otherworldly cliffs, sun-kissed hills, deep blue seas, frothy waves, and the majestic Mount Iraya.
Racuh a Payaman
Its colloquial name, Marlboro Country, is pretty apt: Racuh a Payaman has just the sort of vast, rugged, grassy terrain through which the Marlboro Man can be expected to gallop. Although horses have been known to graze here in the past, nowadays the primary residents are carabaos — and tourists marveling at the stunning views.
Tayid (Mahatao) Lighthouse
The original lighthouses in Mahatao were two stone structures situated several meters apart: once their two points of light converged, sailors knew they were at the right spot for entering the town port. This newer, prettier lighthouse is perched on top of the Mahatao mountains and commands views of sprawling hills and sparkling seas.
The last of three lighthouses in Batanes, this edifice is the most prominent feature of the Sabtang coastline and is as picture-perfect as its two counterparts in Batan island.
Traditional Ivatan stone houses, separated from the sea by a row of coconut trees and a beach dotted by fishing boats, transport the wanderer back to simpler times.
Brightly colored windows add a touch of whimsy to sturdy stone dwellings built by Ivatans in the shadow of legends.
Morong Beach and Mahayaw Arch
It’s hard to resist taking a dip in the cool, clean waters of this fine, white sand beach — or taking a selfie with the Mahayaw Arch as the perfect natural frame.
If the wind here doesn’t blow you away, the view undoubtedly will: behind you, towering rocks, under which goats and carabaos contentedly graze; before you, craggy slopes and grassy hills recalling landscapes from Lord of the Rings; and below you, a steady procession of unruly white waves stemming from seas of crystal blue.
Maywang A Libro Du Vatan
Leave a piece of yourself in Batanes. This archive of blank books, located within the grounds of the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao, lets you leave a message, a prayer, or…anything, really, within the pages of any book you choose. I randomly pulled out book 156. Or was it 165?? I guess I’ll find out when I return.
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
Wow! Thanks for this!!!! I plan to go in 2016. I will keep all these 16 things in mind.
Wait…it’s November! Are you in the Philippines na ba?
I’m leaving in one week- yay!!!
Yay! Have a great time here. 🙂
I know I will! Thanks!
definitely will not want to leave… very beautiful!!
It is! 🙂
I have never heard a bad thing about Batanes… I can’t wait to visit one day!
I hope you will! 🙂
I was born and raised in batanes and I didn’t know about the blank books until i saw your blog. I will visit it when i go back home.
Oh, cool! I think there was a Japanese foundation that gave them the funds to set it up; it may have been put together relatively recently.
And can I just say how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place! Do you miss it? Is your family still there? Of course there are pros and cons — one of our guides mentioned how young people have to leave Batanes to find work, and I suppose the regular airfare there is pretty prohibitive — but it must be great to call Batanes home.
Thank you for your kind words. I’d prefer blessed rather than lucky. I left Batanes after high school and return every two or three years to have a vacation. My family is still there and I have left my job here. I am going home this December hoping to drop my anchor there for good.
I agree with your choice of terms. 🙂 Best of luck to you!
Uh oh. And I just said best of “luck” without thinking. 😀
Hahaha! I don’t mind.
Wow.. beautiful!! Thank you for sharing Xx
Thank you for dropping by! 🙂 I am reading your post on Bali right now…very serendipitous, as a friend and I are planning to go there in a few months. Your son is adorable! Happy travels and best wishes to you and your family. 🙂
Great to hear you’re coming. Some says it’s over developed now but still heaps of cool things to discover. So many things I have to write about Bali but I’ve been postponing it far too long. I’ve been postponing everything pretty much for far too long hehe. Thank you so much for your kind words.. Happy travel to you. If I can’t make the posts more about bali soon enough, I’ll send you the list of ‘where the locals usually go’ stuff 🙂
Yay!!!! I would love that!! Thank you so much! 🙂
Very insightful post. Nice photos. Do you think its prettier on Luzon or Batanes?
Actually, Luzon is a really, really big island — Batanes is around 1/1000 the size of Luzon and is in fact considered part of the Luzon island group — and it has a wide variety of landscapes so it’s really difficult to compare. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is in Luzon.
It would really depend on what sort of stuff you like! Batanes is charming and is good for a 4- to 7-day stay. In contrast, you could spend a whole month in Luzon and still not see everything, so you’ll have to decide what specific places you want to visit and pick a good base for exploring. Many places in Luzon can be reached by plane or [long] bus ride from Manila.
(I hope that’s a helpful answer!)
Thanks Smalltown. Actually I’ve been to Luzon. I don’t like big cities. But I always wanted to see those huge rice field terraces in Banaue. Then you made Batanes sound pretty laid back. I hate making decisions.
Batanes is beautiful beyond words.
It truly is! 🙂