Batanes is a province of the Philippines which is composed of islands at the northern most part of the country. It is actually closer to Taiwan than mainland Luzon.
Since I was in college, I have dreamed about going to Batanes, as I have seen some photos online that were simply beautiful. Although I live in the city, it is more of the necessity of being close to my job and my son’s school, but if I have the resources to live wherever I want, I’d want to live in the province, as I have grown up in the province as well. Being so close to the sea and the mountains in Sual, Pangasinan, made me appreciate nature even more. And having lived in the city since I went to college, I have this hunger to be close to nature when I have the opportunity.
So going to Batanes was more than a decade in the making. It is an advantage that airfare costs have dropped in the past decade, and that there is a regular flight to Batanes via Philippine Airlines.
Since I travel a lot for work, I was fortunate to have accumulated Mabuhay Miles points that were enough to get a free round trip ticket to Batanes. My then-boyfriend (now husband) had to buy his own ticket, but it was still a bargain at that time. The Batanes trip was a promise he made before we got engaged. It was also his birthday gift to me, and I celebrated my birthday in Basco 🙂
So, on with our Batanes trip!
Before the actual trip, of course we planned our itinerary and looked for accommodations online. We used Tripadvisor in our research, as well as blog posts of those who have gone to Batanes and were generous enough to share the details of their trip, including the expenses.
We chose to stay at Rapitan di Vasay, a bed and breakfast at the heart of Basco, the province’s capital. Rapitan di Vasay, which means “a place to stay in Vasay”. It is an old house that was converted to a B&B. It is a quaint, homey place, and it felt like we went home to our ancestral home 🙂 They only cook breakfast, which we had to confirm a day before since they only cook for the guests. At that time the breakfast was PhP250.00 per head. Seems expensive, but so worth it! The serving is generous, the ingredients were fresh. My husband liked the fresh pako salad (fern salad). If you have a late breakfast, the meal is good enough for brunch 🙂
Food in Batanes is quite expensive since they have to ship everything from the mainland. And with the rough weather in Batanes especially during typhoon season, they do not have much fruit trees or haciendas or farms. It was a good thing that we were in the center of Basco, close to the St. Dominic College where they have a canteen that is open all week. Food is cheap and enough to fill our tummies. They even bake cakes, so on my birthday, we ordered a slice and 2 plates of pancit 🙂
For our tours, our tricycle driver, Kuya Severino, who was also the brother of one of the katiwala at Rapitan di Vasay (tricycle #32!) knew exactly where to take us. We didn’t take a guided tour with a travel agency, since it was awfully expensive, and it’s Batanes! Who needs an air-conditioned van when you have fresh air from the mountains and the sea? Each tour with Kuya Severino was PhP1,000 to PhP1,200. There is the North Batan tour, and the South Batan tour. Each tour would be around 4-5 hours, so we had them on separate days. For the Sabang Island tour, we chanced upon a person who arranges the boat ride and tricycle tour when we had lunch in one of the newer hotels in Basco. I have forgotten the name of the hotel, but its building was colored light green and was close to the talipapa that sold fresh fish. The Sabang Island boat ride was around PhP 150.00 per head, and the tricycle tour was PhP 800. The arranged lunch at Sabang Island was an additional PhP 300 per head. It was necessary to pay for the arranged lunch since there are no carindeira in Sabang that served food to tourists.
We will certainly go back to Batanes in the coming years, and we will book a longer stay so we can also explore the Itbayan Island, where we need to stay in the island overnight since the one-way boat trip is already 4 hours long.
I am blogging about our tours separately so I can post more photos.
Can’t wait to go back! Explore Batanes, it’s awesome!