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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an 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.
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.
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.
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 have 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!”
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.
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 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.
Chavayan 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 piece or you may rent it for Php20 and have a candid shot with it. Ivatans use vakul as protection from natural elements such as sun and wind.
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 old stone houses too. They look deserted and so quiet that I felt I was alone walking into the unknown.
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.
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 crashing gently on the cliff.
Sabtang Island is one of the three lighthouses of Batanes. I was glad that we visited the second lighthouse on 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.
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 a resting place under the scorching heat of the sun.
You may opt to do the zipline if you still have time. The rate is Php500/head. The contact number is +639989983121.
9. Pananayan Canteen & Catering Service
Just beside the Morong Beach is the Pananayan Canteen where a sumptuous lunch is served to visitors after touring the island. The 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.
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 of 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 Lighthouse
- 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
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 on the island so bring enough cash with you.
4) The cost of souvenir goodies is almost the same at North Batan.
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
Getting Back to Ivana Port
Imelda knows exactly 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.
Good-bye Sabtang Island
That ends up our tour in Sabtang Island. Anywhere we go to 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.
South Batan tour, here we come!
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