My tour of Batanes was a far cry from my previous trips to the different places in my country. It lags so much behind the modernization that it does not have luxurious hotels and huge shopping malls to boast. But while it is devoid of modern amenities, the island province emanates charm that soothes, mesmerizes and captivates. Now, that we are in our last leg of our tour, we will savor every minute to feast on other breathtaking sights and to capture memorable memories.
We had experienced the irresistible charm of North Batan yesterday, the shortest tour that we did it in four hours only. We were advised to visit it first as it was less overwhelming. Read my story here->North Batan Tour in Batanes: Stunning Places to Explore
This morning, we set foot in Sabtang Island, our most anticipated tour. We were back to the distant past as we strolled in two tranquil villages dotted with centuries-old stone houses. Read my story here-Sabtang Island, Batanes: Exploring its Captivating Beauty
South Batan Tour is our second most anticipated tour. This will again lead us to another worthy journey to “Breathtaking Batanes”. This tour covers the three municipalities of Batanes-Ivana, Uyugan, and Mahatao. We will be squeezing 19 tourist spots on a half-day tour.
Here are the awesome places we explored:
1. San Jose de Ivana Church or Ivana Church
San Jose de Ivana Church also known as Ivana Church is located in Ivana fronting the Radiwan Port. The present structure and convent were built in 1795 while the bell tower was constructed from 1814 to 1817. It is near the Honesty Coffee Shop and the Old Spanish Bridge.
2. House of Dakay
One of the five existing old stone houses in Batanes is The House of Estrella, more popularly known as House of Dakay. Luisa Estrella originally owned the house built in 1887. It is made of stone, lime, sand and corals. Like most of the other traditional houses in the province, its roof is thatched cogon and is replace every 25 to 30 years. It has wooden floor and narrow window.
It is amazing how the house survived the deadly 8.3 magnitude earthquake on September 13, 1918, and all the strong winds and heavy rain that came to the island. While the other four have newer structures, House of Dakay is still in its original form, highlighting Ivana’s enduring culture and tradition.
3. “I Love Batanes” Marker Just beside the House of Dakay is the “I Love Batanes” Marker where its backdrop is the province’s iconic old stone house. 4. Honesty Coffee Shop
Honesty Coffee Shop has no storekeeper. You will pay for the items you purchased, log it in the logbook, and drop your money in their cash box. It is as simple as that. However, you cannot get your change anymore as you drop your payment. Either you donate it or pay in the exact amount.
A retired teacher named Elena Castano-Gabilo owns Honesty Coffee Shop. The store started operating on September 25, 1995. Aside from hot coffee, they now sell chips, cookies and also pasalubong goodies like display items, key chains, t-shirts, bags, and hats.
5. Old Spanish Bridge (Tuhel Spanish Bridge)
One of the remarkable remnants during the Spanish colony is the Old Spanish Bridge or the Tuhel Spanish Bridge that is made of lime, stone, and sand. Building the bridge was a brilliant feat of the Spanish technology considering it is still in good condition and used by people and vehicles to this day.
6.San Antonino Parish
San Antonino Parish is a small church located in Uyugan. Next to Sta. Rosa de Lima Church in Sabtang Island, this is the next smallest church we visited in Batanes.
7. Mochong Viewpoint
Another remarkable view to captivate one’s senses is the Mochong Viewpoint in Uyugan. It is a mini rolling hill situated just beside the main road. The entire grass was like that of Chamantad-tinyan in Sabtang Island, it is so clean as if naturally mowed by nature.
At the end of the hill is the boundless sea where waves crash onto the rocks and shore. It is nice to sit awhile and get lost watching the remarkable sight. Because it is less crowded, we had a wonderful time doing the jump shots.
8. Ruins of Songsong
A tsunami that hit the island in the 1950s devastated the barangay. What remains are the roofless old stone houses located near the beach. We were not allowed to enter the ruins because there were already people residing near the area. Sooner or later it is not a ghost barangay anymore.
9. Old Stone House in Uyugan
Since we were not able to visit the Ruins of Songsong, Beth brought us to this cute and clean old stone house in Uyugan for short viewing and picture taking as well.
10. Alapad Rock Formation
This magnificent rock formation that overlooked the Pacific Ocean was naturally carved by the wind and the sea. Indeed, a feast in the eyes. The road where we passed cuts a small hill and beside it is the signage “Blow Your Horn” where we had a pit stop for some decent photos.
11. Alapad Hill
Near the rock formation is where you will be greeted by “Welcome to Madangay”, an entrance to Alapad Hill, a popular area where the movie “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit” was filmed. It starred Richard Gomez and my favorite beauty icon, Dawn Zulueta.
12. Old Loran Station
Located near the rock formation is the Old Loran Station (Long Range Naval Station), a US facility that housed the US coastguard for 20 years. It is now the National Museum which is set to open soon.
13.San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in Barangay Imnajbu, Uyugan
Barangay Imnajbu was the first place of Christianity in Batanes. It was in this barangay where the first holy mass was celebrated and where the first baptism was administered. Its patron saint is San Lorenzo de Manila, the first canonized Filipino saint.
14. Marlboro Hills/Racuh A Payaman
When I first saw the boundless rolling hills I did not mind taking pictures yet of the beautiful sight. I marveled at it. It was like a postcard picture view. So stunning! Everything is verdant and green. There is a good view of the Pacific Ocean, Mt. Iraya, the grazing animals, the slopes, and the awesome Bermuda-like grasses as if naturally mowed by nature.
Marlboro Hills has a distinct character not found in some other places. This hill is one of the most beautiful natural wonders that I had seen in my travel around the country. I wish I will stay more and spend the night there, lying on my back on the grass and watch the lovely sky.
Marlboro Hills reminds me of Marlboro Country, an American tobacco advertisement featuring a handsome cowboy in a scenic wild terrain. This is the most photographed scenic spot in South Batan. Walk, run, and sing Julie Andrew’s song “The Hills are Alive.” Tayid Lighthouse is seen from here.
15. Mahatao Viewdeck
In getting to the Lighthouse, you will first marvel on the verdant hills and hedgerows, locally known as liveng, tall tows of trees and grass that serve as a crop protection against wind and typhoons. It looks like a giant maze from afar. Another wondrous sight that will make you stop and gaze a while.
16. Tayid Lighthouse
Tayid Lighthouse or Mahatao Lighthouse is one of the three lighthouses in Batanes and I was so happy that we were able to visit all. They resembled in appearance only that Tayid Lighthouse has a hexagonal shape from its base up to the tower. It is perched imposingly on a hill facing the prodigious Pacific Ocean.
17. San Carlos Borromeo Church
A new and beautiful church was built after a very strong typhoon in 1873 destroyed the old one. Designed in Baroque style, its former cogon roof was changed to galvanized iron. The church together with the convent was colored white. Its outside structure was captivating no wonder it was designated as a National Cultural Heritage Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) on July 31, 2001. The church’s patron saint is Saint Charles Borromeo.
18. Mahatao Port and Boat Shelter
Mahatao Port and Boat Shelter is a small port built to protect the small-island vessels and boats against the inclement weather. Boats are sheltered against the strong waves.
19. Chewa Viewdeck
This is our last stop in our tour so aside from picture-taking; we sat for a moment on stone benches to admire the view. From the view deck, one can overlook the cliff that meets the sea. This is where the stunning sunset awaits travelers. As of our visit, visitors are not allowed to descend on the rocky coast because a visitor died while swimming on the water.
What we missed:
- Homoron Blue Lagoon and White Beach
- Diura Fishing Village
That ends up our South Batan Tour.
The scenery was truly breathtaking. All the wonders and charms of Batanes – the rolling hills, terrains, seascapes, old stone houses, historical and cultural landmarks, the lighthouses, the friendly and welcoming people, its intimate closeness with nature. All these conspire to give the tourists unforgettable memories and fulfilling experience of Batanes that one should not miss.
- You will pay the environmental fee of Php350 for North Batan and South Batan Tours. Quite expensive but it is just fine since you will not pay for the entrance fees to the places you will visit.
- To fully enjoy your South Batan Tour, make it a whole day tour so you will not hurry to move from one place to the other.
- Land Bank and PNB have ATM machines in Basco.
- Tricycle tour can accommodate 2 to 3 persons only.
- The meal is not included in the tricycle tour.
- December to February are cold months in Batanes make sure to bring a jacket or shawl.
- Smart has a strong connection in some parts of Batanes.
Tour rates: Maximum passengers for the tricycle are only three. Right now their basic standard rate for this tour is:
- North Batan tour – Php1,500
- South Batan tour – Php2,000
- Sabtang Island tour – Php1,000
Our tour guide: Betina Dando – her contact number is +639217625068
Where we stayed:
We are budget travelers and Nanay Cita’s Homestay is our choice. They have a cheap fan room but their location is near the airport. It has no free breakfast but they can cook for a certain fee. Homestays and inns in Batanes range from Php350 to Php5,000.
Nanay Cita’s Homestay (fan room-Php350/aircon-Php500, private bathroom) +639399193616
Wakay Homestay (fan room-Php400/aircon-Php600) +639466174612
Shanedel’s Inn and Cafe (fan room-Php650/night, shared bathroom, breakfast included) +639281941910
Tawsen’s Palace Inn - (aircon-from Php2,500 to Php5,000, private bathroom, free breakfast): 0921-639-8509/0995-728-8193
Casa Domingo (aircon-from Php2,800 to Php4,500, private bathroom, free breakfast) – 0956-264-5045/0929-209-1113
Fundacion Pacita (family room-5 pax, air-conditioned, with breakfast and airport transfers-P21,235.50/night)
Airfare – round ticket coming from Clark to Basco-vice versa – Php7,186
P2P Bus (Trinoma-Clark-Trinoma) – two-way fare – Php560.00
Terminal Fee – Php150.00
Fare/transpo – P7,896
Day 1: North BatanTour
Breakfast at Tapa King – Php151.20
Packed lunch at Tapa King – Php109.00
Tour: Php500 (Php1,500 – divided into 3)
Environmental Fee: Php350.00
Dinner – Php100
Total – P1,210.20
Day 2: Sabtang Island Tour
Tour through tricycle – Php350-(Php1,000 divide into 3)
Breakfast – Php70
Terminal fee at Ivana Port – Php15
Boat (two-way)- Php200
Environmental fee – Php200
Hire of Vakul – Php20
Lunch – Php350
Buko juice – Php35
Tip to tour Guide – Php100/each
Day 2: South Batan Tour
Tour through tricycle – Php667 – (Php2,000 divide into 3)
Snack – Php70
Dinner – Php100
Tip to tour Guide – Php200/each
Day 3: Biking
Breakfast – Php90
Rent of bike for 2 hours – Php50
Pasalubong – Php1,750 (I bought so much for my self and my loved ones! hahaha!)
Lunch at the airport – Php60
Total – Php1,950
Over all Total – Php14,183.20
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