I stayed in Batanes for four days and three nights and our tour guide from Bisumi Tours said that it was the ideal length of stay in the province to be able to get around the islands of Batan and Sabtang. If you are extra adventurous and want to sojourn in Itbayat, a week-long stay would suffice to have ample time in case you get stranded due to inclement weather.
First on my list was the island of Batan, it is where the capital of Basco is found. Batan is divided into two regions, North and South. On my first day, I rented a bike for PHP60/hour to explore North Batan on my own. I took off and sought for the famed landmarks in the region.
Santo Domingo Cathedral (Basco Cathedral)
A few steps away from the town plaza, this Roman Catholic Church was built in 1783, originally with cogon and wood. Construction of the stone church began in 1795. It has undergone several renovations and reconstructions due to fire and earthquake. It is back now in its original form after the construction was completed in 2011.
Basco Lighthouse on Naidi Hills
Standing at 66 feet, it is one of the three lighthouses in Batanes. From its deck you can view the town of Basco behind, Mt. Iraya on the right, Basco Ship Port on the left and the vast blue South China Sea in front.
Bunker on Naidi Hills
Old telegraph facility during the American era that was converted into a café. It still has its appeal and proves to be picture-worthy even in its worn out state.
Vayang Rollings Hills
This hill has slopes covered in a sea of green grass. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw it was the “Windows wallpaper.”
Walking distance from Basco, it last erupted in 1454. Its peak is rarely seen uncovered with clouds.
Valugan & Chadpidan Boulder Beaches
Resting at the foot of Mt. Iraya, are these two conspicuous beaches with massive boulders that lined its coasts. The beaches were formed when Mt. Iraya erupted some 600 years ago. Chadpidan at the west is facing South China Sea while Valugan at the east is facing the Pacific Ocean. Swimming is not advisable on either of the two due to the huge and fierce waves that were smashing its shores.
Welcome Basco Marker
Tukon Church - Mount Carmel Chapel
Built resembling a traditional Ivatan stone house, this stunning chapel also known as Mt. Carmel Chapel sits atop the hills of Tukon in North Batan. It was the Abad’s, who was one of the most prominent families in Batanes, who led on its construction. The interior of this quaint chapel was well-designed, from the ceiling with its grand paintings of saints, to the woodwork, the altar and the stained glass windows with a nice view of the ocean on both sides. Who would not be captivated with its charm? Whew, was I completely exhausted getting here. Hiking on its own towards the top of the mountain carrying your own weight was already hard enough. Imagine ascending on a steep road carrying a mountain bike with you to its peak. My only consolation was the paved roads. But hey! It was worth the climb.
Tukon Radar - PAGASA Weather Station
A few steps higher from Tukon Church, I was able to reach PAGASA Weather Station. I was not able to get a picture of the station itself but I was able to see an exquisite panorama from up there. Every angle was picture perfect.
Near the cliff, with a great view of the Pacific Ocean was Fundacion Pacita. It is the only hotel in Batanes and a night stay can cost you a minimum of PHP 10,000 (roughly $ 222 USD). It was once the art studio of internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad. Too bad I was not able to get inside because I was racing with time. Non-guests can still dine in their restaurant, be sure to make your reservations.
Dipnaysuhwan Japanese Tunnel
It was built unwillingly by the Ivatans for the Japanese soldiers as refuge and look out posts during their occupation in the Philippines. It has 5 doorways and interconnecting paths that lead to Tukon and Taytay.
Do you have a favorite landmark yet?
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