Sabtang Island, Batanes: Exploring its Captivating Beauty

From the boundless hills, green valleys, jugged cliffs, lighthouse, century-old stones houses, Sabtang Island serves up half-day tour of breathtaking scenery, heart-warming road adventure and surreal feeling of getting back to the glorious olden times.

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the stunning green and verdant terrain of Chamantad-Tinan View Point

Sabtang Island is the smallest among the three inhabited islands in Batanes (the others-Batan and Itbayat). It is the southernmost island municipality of the island province. It can be accessed via a motorized boat known as faluwa.

Joyce, Shiela and Me - captivated to the awesome beauty of the island

Joyce, Shiela and Me – captivated to the awesome beauty of the island

The Boat Ride

Faluwa is a traditional boat that has no lateral support floats known as outrigger (katig). It is uniquely created to dance with the notorious waves and not to go against it. The captain uses his feet to steer the wheel. He is standing the entire trip while having a keen watch of the sea condition.

the dancing but resilient Faluwa boat

the dancing but resilient Faluwa boat

There are two schedules in Radiwan Port in Ivana in getting to Sabtang Island, one is 6:00 am and the other is 12:00 noon. We made it early as 5:50 am to catch the first trip.

It was still early morning, as I expected, the twenty-minute boat ride was calm. This is the most anticipated part of our Batanes getaway and I was so excited for another worthy experience as we explore the captivating beauty of Sabtang Island.

the Vakul head gear

the Vakul head gear

Tours:

In getting around Sabtang Island, you may opt to hire a van if you are in a big group or the tricycle that will accommodate two to three persons.

the captain of the boat used his right foot in steering the wheel

the captain of the boat used his right foot in steering the wheel

We chose the Tricycle tour since we are only three. We started touring Batanes yesterday in North Batan. Our second day will cover Sabtang Island in the morning and South Batan in the afternoon.

this is the last old stone house that marks the end of the narrow street in getting to the beach in Chavayan Village

this is the last old stone house that marks the end of the narrow street in getting to the beach in Chavayan Village

When we arrived at Sabtang Port Imelda our guide who will be driving the unique tricycle greeted us. We paid for the boat (Php200/head) and environmental fee of Php200/head in the Tourism Office.

The Unique Tricycle Ride:

Just like in North Batan, we boarded again the unique tricycle where its roof was made of cogon grass. It was more overwhelming to ride here for two reasons: first, to have a better view of the scenery we will pass through and second, to breathe the sweet smelling fresh scent of the island. Sounds cool right? I so love it.

the unique tricycle of Batanes

the unique tricycle of Batanes

These are the places we visited in our Sabtang Island tour:

1. The “I Love Sabtang” Marker

This is where we had our first picture taking upon reaching Sabtang Island. This is located near the Sabtang Port.

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2. Sleeping Beauty Hills 

This is not included in the usual itinerary. However, our tour guide voluntarily made a stop for us to see a hill resembling a profile of a sleeping woman where it had a forehead, nose and lips. The initial thrill started here. We were so happy taking pictures of this unique hill and the rays of the sun streaming to the Pacific Ocean. 

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3. Chamantad Tiñan View Point

The undulating terrain was wide, all green and verdant and wherever I go, I was in awe seeing a stunning combination of land wonder and seascape. The rolling hills has fine grasses naturally mowed by nature. At the top of the windswept hill that overlooked the Pacific Ocean, I uttered these words to myself, “This is life! This is the breathtaking Batanes!”

Me, getting lost to the breathtaking view of Sabtang Island

Me, getting lost to the breathtaking view of Sabtang Island

Strolling around will lead down to a cove where another picturesque sight could be feasted by the eyes. We wondered and basked happily on the beautiful scenery. There were cows grazing at the bottom of the hill.

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There are souvenir shops at the entrance where you can buy souvenir items like t-shirts, key chains and ref magnets. There are refreshments like buko and the tubho tea.

This is the most striking natural wonder of Sabtang Island. Indeed, our God created this stretch of land so magnificently!

4. Chavayan Village

I felt I was back in the distant past as I immersed myself in the serenity of Chavayan Village, a small village in the Southern end of the Island. One can see the well-preserved centuries-old stone houses, the traditional dwellings only Batanes has. It has been uniformly designed to face the challenges of nature.

Joyce is having fun walking  in Chavayan Village

Joyce is having fun walking in Chavayan Village

Chavan Village is home to Sabtang Weavers Association where women weave a vakul a traditional headgear made of dried palm leaves. It costs Php400 is you want to buy a peace or you may rent it for Php20 and have a candid shot with it. Ivatans used vakul as a protection from natural elements such as sun and wind.

I'm wearing the Vakul as I walked around in the Chavayan Village

I’m wearing the Vakul as I walked around in the Chavayan Village

Everywhere we go there is a perfect spot for picture taking. The time seems so unhurried and the people-the Ivatans were so friendly. As we walked on an empty narrow street, we passed by more stone houses, a small church (Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel), school and a basketball court. At the end of the concrete road, there is one small house overlooking a beach and beautiful rock formations.

5. Savidug Village

Savidug Village is another traditional village in Barangay Malakdang. The narrow streets have the old stone houses too. They look deserted and so quiet that I felt I was alone walking into the unknown.

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We ended our tour in a small plaza where we had a picture taking in a stone house. Adjacent to it was St. Thomas Aquinas chapel and in front is a stage for local activities.

6. Sabtang Lighthouse

Upon approaching Sabtang Island, the Sabtang Lighthouse is the first attraction that will first greet you. It stands imposingly as if a guard tower on a cliff overlooking the sea.

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It is now privately owned so we cannot get inside to have a better view of the island. Anyway, we enjoyed the moment looking admiringly at the structure, which is made of rubble masonry. Amidst the ferocious typhoons that hit the island, the lighthouse remains standing still. Below the hills are waves crushing gently on the cliff.

Sabtang Island is one of the three lighthouses of Batanes. I was glad that we visited the second lighthouse in our list.

7. Morong Beach

Beside the Nakabuang Arch is a long stretch of creamy white sand known as Morong Beach. It has fine sand that is good for walking. If we only have time to swim in the calm water, we might frolic on it. But since we cannot, we just savored the moment watching the waves and strolling around.

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8. Nakabuang Arch or Mahayaw Arch (with ziplining)

Geologic forces by the wind and the sea naturally carved this arch together. This is a well-photographed stop in Sabtang and serves as resting place under the scorching heat of the sun.

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Zipline

You may opt to do the zipline if you still have time. Rate is Php500/head. Contact number is +639989983121.

9. Pananayan Canteen & Catering Service

Just beside the Morong Beach is the Pananayan Canteen where a sumptuous lunch is serve to visitors after touring the island. Food is pricey but it is tasty. It costs Php350/head. It consists of cabbage with egg, turmeric rice, plain rice, fried pork, beef soup and a small dessert. They served with pineapple juice.

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our sumptuous lunch after touring Sabtang Island

Our tour guide told us that she could avail of the free lunch in the canteen if she can bring her guests there. Well it was just fine for us to eat a bit expensive food in favor of Imelda since we were satisfied guests.

 Our itinerary for Sabtang Island tour (half day only and through the Tricycle tour)

  • 5:00 am – Breakfast in homestay
  • 5:50 am – Fetched by Beth our tour guide for North and South Batan tours – going to Radiwan, Ivana Port
  • 6:20 am – Arrived at Ivana Port, paid terminal fee (Php15)
  • 6:56 am – Boat ride to Sabtang Island
  • 7:19 am – Arrived at Sabtang Port – paid boat fare and environmental fee at Tourism Office
  • 8:00 am – start of tour
  • Places we visited: I Love Sabtang Marker, The Sleeping Beauty Hills, Chamantad-Tinan Viewing Point, Chavan Village, Sabtang Weavers Association, Savidug Village, Sto. Thomas de Aquinas Chapel, Morong Beach, Nakanawan Arch, Sabtang Lighthoue
  • 12:15 pm – Lunch at Pananayan Canteen near Morong Beach
  • 1:15 pm – Boat ride back to Ivana port
  • 1:45 – Arrived at Ivana Port

Tips:

1) Be on time at Ivana Port so you can catch the first trip in getting to Sabtang Island.

2) If you want to enjoy fully your tour in Sabtang Island better stay for the night so you can visit other tourist spots not included in the half-day tour.

3) There are no ATMs in the island so bring enough cash with you.

4) Cost of souvenir goodies are almost the same at North Batan.

Expenses:

Sabtang Island tour through tricycle – Php1,000 – (divide into 3-Php350/head)
Breakfast – Php70
Terminal fee at Ivana Port – Php15
Boat (two-way) – Php200
Environmental fee – Php200
Hire of Vakul – Php20
Lunch – Php350
Tip to tour Guide – Php100

Total: Php1,305

Getting Back to Ivana Port

Imelda knows how to get in time. By 1:00 pm, we were again aboard the faluwa. During the water ride, the waves had gone a bit wild. I should thank my previous encounters with this kind of sea condition that I did not panic during the entire bumpy ride. The locals were sleeping comfortably in their seats. So why panic? Joyce and I got busy swapping funny stories. The waves lulled Shiela to sleep.

The bumpy water ride took us about 30 minutes.

This is Imelda, our tour guide in our Sabtang Island tour

This is Imelda, our tour guide in our Sabtang Island tour

Good-bye Sabtang Island

That ends up our tour in Sabtang Island. Anywhere we go in Batanes is scenic. We bade good-bye to the island with a heavy tummy and happy memories. However, it is not only its natural and unspoiled beauty that captured my heart, but also the friendly and welcoming people. The elders are a bit shy but they smile radiantly as if they were so proud of their place and culture. It was tormenting to leave the island but we have to move on to the next adventure with nature.

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South Batan tour, here we come!

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North Batan Tour in Batanes: Stunning Places to Explore

We were in high spirit as we started exploring the North Batan, the prelude in our Batanes tour. Prior this trip, I just could not contain my excitement that I had several sleepless nights imagining our close encounter with the rolling hills, the well-manicured grasses, the vast expansive view of the sea and the lighthouses. I prayed that our three-day stay in the island province will promise a very memorable escapade considering our month of visit is January, a month where rain frequents Batanes.

IMG_20190127_141328 Continue reading

Exploring Lantau Island, Hong Kong: What to See and What to Do

When you are on a trip with high-spirited travel buddies, you feel like time runs so fast. So what you will do is to soak up the remaining vacation vibes and savor every morsel of time. For our last day in Hong Kong, me and my office mates (Team Finance) will visit a traditional village in Ngong Ping area in Lantau Island.  We will immerse ourselves in a relaxing tour where the natural environment, custom and culture of the island are still richly preserved. We will start our exciting trip in riding the crystal cable car. And so here we go!

the imposing Tian Tian Buddha

the imposing Tian Tian Buddha

Continue reading

Second Day in Hong Kong 2018: Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery, Won Tai Sin Temple

This is the continuation of our relentless foot navigation in Hong Kong. I just can’t sustain the eagerness and happiness in me exploring the beautiful sights in the city. So coming from The Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Hotel, Ten Thousand Buddhas and Choi Hung Estate, we will now proceed to the last three tourist spots. And the excitement for my second visit in Hong Kong is still soaring high.

Second Day in Hong Kong 2018: The Peak and Disneyland

This is our second day in Hong Kong and the top two tourist attractions that highlighted our trip are the The Peak and Hong Kong Disneyland. I was so elated to get back. But as much as I want to frolic on rides and attractions in Disneyland again, I will only bring my office mates here for I will explore other notable places in the city which I did not visit yet. I will spend another worthy escapade with my two friends, Dayleen and Amie who are both working in the city.

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see our happy faces? we are now ready for the exciting ride at The Tram

Since I was the one who organized this trip, I was hoping that my Finance team will get the same satisfaction and happiness I gained during my recent trip here.

We woke up as early as 4:30 am to take a shower so we can beat the 6:30 am call time. Dressed in comfortable clothes and with happy faces, we were fetched by Amie at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. Dayleen was waiting for us at Central Station. It’s good to see these cheerful ladies whom I shared happy memories in my first visit in Hong Kong. But before the anticipated getaway, we will be eating our breakfast at Cafe de Coral in Admiralty Station.

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as we were taking a leisure walk in getting to The Peak

Café de Coral 

Established in 1968, Café de Coral is the largest Chinese fast-food store in Hong Kong. It has a selection of food varieties from Western cuisines to Chinese dishes. When we got there, the queue to the counter was already long. But we did not wait for years because they have a pretty quick service. And I was impressed. Hong Kong is really used to fast-paced life. We ate fast and were glad that our bodies were fueled up for a much needed energy we will be needing for the day’s getaway.

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our yummy breakfast at Cafe de Coral

The Public Transport

As I promised to my office mates, we will be riding all known public transport in Hong Kong (except the usual taxis). We already tried the A21 bus from the airport and the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) which is the major public transport network serving Hong Kong. Now, we will be riding the Tram.

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taking photo first before we hop in the tram or Ding Ding in local

And because this is the first day that we will be exploring Hong Kong, we were like a pre-preschoolers so excited for a field trip.

Our happy touring in Hong Kong officially started.

The Hong Kong Tramways (Ding ding in local)

Though this is my second visit here, surprisingly, my heart was still filled with anticipation and excitement when we boarded the colorful double-decker bus, the Hong Kong Tram or simply “Ding Ding” in localThis is one of the oldest public transportation in Hong Kong and the cheapest at HK$2.30 only.

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I was so excited to ride in The Tram again, this time with my new travel buddies

For me, one of the best ways that I really feel Hong Kong and its culture is riding the Tram. Its been running along the Northern Coast of Hong Kong Island since 1904. Meaning, it witnessed how the old city transformed to what it is now.

We tapped our Octopus Cards and savored the 3-minute ride. Though it was fast for we hopped out to the next station, (the Cotton Tree Drive station), I felt my Hong Kong trip was already complete. Now, we will be heading to The Peak.

The Peak 

We took a leisure walk passing tall buildings and nice walkways in getting to Victoria Peak or simply The Peak. This is a “must visit” destination and one of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong. There are two exciting things to do at The Peak. First is to take the thrill ride at the Peak Tram in getting there. Second, feast your eyes with the panoramic view of a magnificent skyline and the waterfront that will surely take your breath away.

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the windy moment at Sky Terrace 428

The Peak is the highest point in Hongkong towering in an elevation of 552 meters (1,811 feet). Visitors will surely enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong.

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* The ride at the Peak Tram *

I did not book our tickets through Klook since its earliest schedule for the day is 11:00 am. It was too late for our next getaway. We paid for a package rate of HK$99 which includes Peak Tram Sky Pass (Return), Peak Tram (Return) and Sky Terrace 428. It was past 7:00 am and there were only few visitors were queuing at the counter.

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Dayleen and Amie were at the back, waiting to board at the Peak Tram

For me, the best and most unique ride in getting to The Peak is through the Peak Tram. As we embarked on a steep incline, it looks like the buildings were leaning. I realized, riding again in one of the oldest and most famous funicular railways still gave me a thrill. Our trip ended in upper terminus inside the Peak Tower. It is a large shopping complex located in Victoria Gap where it offers dining, shopping and entertainment events.

* The Sky Terrace *

The major attraction of the Peak Tower is the Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong which is located at the top level of the building. Its captivating wok-shaped roof is designed by British Architect Terry Farrell. It has a 360 open-air viewing deck where visitors can enjoy the panoramic vista of a stunning skyline, the surroundings islands and the harbor.

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Aside from shopping and fine-dining, other attraction to visit at the Peak Tower are MadameTussauds Hong Kong and Madness 3D Adventure. We did not get inside here as we opted to take a refreshing walk at Fool Pavilion where we enjoyed watching beautiful landscape.

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Operating Hours:

  • The Peak Tram Lower Terminus
    7:00 am to 12:00 midnight / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays
  • Peak Tram Historical Gallery
    7:00 am to 12:00 midnight / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays/(852) 2522 0922
  • The Peak Tower
    10:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Friday
    8:00 am to 11:00 pm / Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays / (852) 2849 0668
  • Sky Terrace 428
    10:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Friday
    8:00 am to 11:00 pm / Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays / (852) 2849 0668
  • Madame Tussauds Hong Kong
    10:00 am to 10:00 pm / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays/(852) 2849 6966
  • Madness 3D Adventure
    10:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays

The Peak:  33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Disneyland

I was so happy to set foot again in Disneyland which is dubbed as the Happiest Place on Earth”. It is owned and managed by Hong Kong International Theme Parks, the largest theme Park in Hong Kong followed by Ocean Park. It has seven theme parks namely: Main Street, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, U.S.A., Mystic Point, Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch.

can’t help but smile reminiscing my solo adventure in this theme park. Though I was alone that time, I enjoyed frolicking on rides and attractions. But there were moments I felt sad because I was wishing my family was with me. Anyway, I promised myself I will not get inside Disneyland again without them.

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Dayleen, Amie and I set out to our separate getaway for the day. And we started it at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Location: Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Next destination:  Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Ten Thousand Buddhas, Choi Hung Estate, Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery and Wong Tai Sin Temple

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