The Batanes Dream: How To Make Your Batanes Dream Come True
There could be no better place to spend your new summer than to explore the beauty of nature, culture and people of Batanes. One of the best place to spend time for yourself, your partner and family.
Batanes Island, Philippines is unlike any other place in the country. Visitors to Batanes are greeted by the visual image of a wild smattering of islands in the north where cliffs meet the sea on pebbled shorelines; and goats and cows are sent out to pasture among green hills.
Batanes, Philippines has been described as looking more like the Scottish Highlands than the Philippines. There are no swanky hotels, no chic restaurants and sometimes, there isn’t even electricity. But these are not shortcomings. Instead, these factors only add to the rustic charm of Batanes island, Philippines.
Aside from the beauty of the natural surroundings, those lucky enough to experience the wonders of Batanes, Philippines end up raving about the freshness of the cuisine. Nothing fancy, for sure, and yet incredibly good. Evening entertainment consists of identifying the constellations in the heavens over a cold bottle or two of beer.
HOW TO GET TO BATANES?
There’s only one way to get to Batanes for now and that is by plane. There are only two flights available per week. Seair’s schedule for Batanes flights ensures that it fits the schedule of travelers perfectly. The Tuesday and Saturday flights give visitors the opportunity to enjoy Batanes for four-days and three nights without missing more than a day’s work. Flights run anywhere from 6,000 pesos up to 14,000 Philippine pesos depending on the season and the date when you booked your flights. I suggest that you take advantage of the Philippine Travel and Tour Expo as SEAIR sells discounted flights to Batanes during the entire duration of the travel fair.
Any other things that I should take note of?
While SEAIR continues to provide fast and reliable flights to Batanes, certain conditions prevents them from carrying as much cargo as they wish to. In the effort to ensure enjoyable journey to Batanes, here are a few reminders as part of their policy.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) rules and SEAIR contract of carriage state that:
1.1 Section 5-A: For domestic flights, the maximum weight per checked baggage is ten (10) kilograms and the maximum size is fifty nine (59) inches (length x width x height) unless otherwise provided in SEAIR’s regulations.
1.2 Section 6: In cases of overweight baggage, a passenger shall pay a charge for the carriage of baggage in excess of the free baggage allowance at the rate provided in SEAIR’s tariffs and regulations. Baggage in excess of the free baggage allowance will only be carried on the same flight at the discretion of SEAIR subject to space and weight limitation and payment of required charge(s).
1.3 Section 9-A: Each passenger may carry on, without charge, only one (1) piece of carry-on baggage plus an additional hand bag or laptop provided that it does not exceed the dimensions of 54cm x 38cm x 23cm and does not weigh more than seven (7) kilograms. If you intend to carry more than 10kg of baggage in your flight to Batanes, we cannot assure that you can take them with you in your flight. Any excess baggage may be carried on the next available flight. SEAIR will transport excess baggage solely based on check-in sequence.
Alternative Ways To Get To Batanes
The cost of airfare to Batanes is much more expensive compared to other places in the Philippines. The main reason – it is hard to get here. Only certain types of aircrafts are rated to land in Basco airport. These aircrafts must be able to land in an incline runway and also stop within a very short distance. Batanes airport is a one way airport that can only accomodate small planes. Airbus or Boeing jet planes cannot land here. Most aircrafts that can land in Batanes seat about 30-50 people. In simple terms – since fewer passengers can fit in a plane, the passengers have to pay more; in contrast to flying to Hong Kong – an Airbus can easily fit 200+ passengers!
An alternative and cheaper way to get to Basco, Batanes would be to charter a private plane from Tuguegarao province. There are several plane companies that offer flights to Basco from Tuguegarao such as CHEMTRAD and Sky Pasada. Another alternative way to reach Batanes is through a vessel named M/V Ivatan Princess.
Where Do I Stay In Basco, Batanes?
And so the hunt is on for our accommodations. There are several lodging houses in Basco town that I have inquired about but only a few have websites. Most of them only have contact numbers. So it’s very hard for me to picture the rooms and the place itself. The twin sharing room rates can go as low as Php500 per night on a fan room and Php950 per night on an air-conditioned room. There are some lodging houses that caught my fancy and at this point these were my choices:
- Fundacion Pacita – offers high end accommodation in Batanes. Located at Brgy. Chanarian-Tukon, Basco, Batanes. All Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge rooms have air-conditioning, hot & cold water, mini-bar, private toilet and bath and view decks. Room rate includes a set breakfast, round trip airport transfers, and a three hour Cultural Heritage Tour. The admins however require a minimum of 2-night stay. Daily rates start from P6300 for the Terrace Suite Garden to as high as P13,500 for the Luxury Terrace Suite.
- Batanes Seaside Lodge and Restaurant – easily accessible as it is located along the highway going to other towns. It also is a few steps from the cleanest beach where a cost-free early morning or late night swim can be enjoyed. Amenities include cable TV, air-conditioned rooms, hot and cold shower, free WIFI access and has its own restaurant. They have their own transportation for guests’ airport transfers. It also offers guided tours to all the beautiful spots in the island. Packaged tours and accommodations can also be availed from this hotel. Room rates starts at P1300 for single occupancy to as high as P2300 for a family room. This was the hotel where we decided to stay at since they have most of the required factors we have for our accommodations.
- DDD Habitat, Inc. – place to stay in Basco, Batanes located along Llopes St. Barangay Kayvaluganan. Offers fully air-conditioned rooms, cable TV, free WIFI access and packaged tours. Room rate starts at P1200 good for 4 persons.
- Batanes Resort – does not have its own website, I used SEAIR’s list of accommodations for reference. This local government-owned and newly-renovated Batanes resort has 10 stonehouses with two rooms, each able to accommodate three people. Located on the mountain slopes, every room gives a spectacular view of the sea. Modern comfort includes air-conditioning, hot and cold showers, and a standby generator. This Batanes hotel is only 10 minutes away from Basco. Expect to see basic Ivatan fare on the menu, consisting of turmeric rice, dibang, arayu and venes. Rates start from P1,000+ per person, per night for double occupancy. No phones here, but your mobile phone should work. Batanes Resort is located at Kaychanarianan, Basco, Batanes. To book, contact their booking office at Tel.: 078/ 533 3444, 533 3456 and in Manila at Tel.: 927 2393.
- Pension Ivatan – offers innovative packages starting off with the Irresistable Batanes packages, where visitors can get discount on room rates applicable to group and individual bookings. Rates are net inclusive of all applicable taxes and charges. Make your reservations early since this promotional package is also subject to room availability.
- Ivatan Lodge – this lodge does not have its own website as well, I used a blog to give you an idea of what this lodge has to offer. Located at National Road, Kaychanarian, Basco, Batanes. According to the blog, Ivatan Lodge is a government-run place. It caters to the budget-conscious travellers. It has everything backpackers usually look for in a place – cheap, clean, and safe. There are a number of fan rooms and 2 airconditioned rooms on the 2nd floor. Safety is not a problem as there are staffs on duty during the day and a security guard at night. Room rates start at P300 for single occupancy and P1000/night for their air-conditioned rooms good for 3 persons.
What are the things to do in Batanes?
The art of jumpology. The “ART OF JUMPOLOGY” according to many photographers is an art where a person capture the speed of the human body as it make it leaps from the ground upwards. Do this when you are in Batanes or else…your travel is not complete.
Pedal attractions in Basco. While most of Europe is having this gaga thing on the use of bikes instead of car during their tours this can also be done in Basco, Batanes. Remember the Dawn Zulueta commercial on PH care, it is very nice to do this activity in Basco. Although there is no bicycle lane it is still safe than biking in Manila.
Do cartwheels in Marlboro Country. You can see cows and horses everywhere. The view is great, but be careful if you do the cartwheels. You just might accidentally land on their fecals.
Hop the islands aboard a faluwa. Only 3 of the 10 islands comprising the Batanes are large enough to sustain communities, while the rest can be experienced by boat. Sabtang Island is a highlight among the islands; it was named one of the country’s 12 best destinations by the Department of Tourism for its white beaches and deep canyons. Itbayat Island and Mavudis are other points of interest.
Ascend Mount Iraya. The highest point in the province at 1,517 meters, this dormant volcano is great for trekking and mountaineering. While there are no clear paths along the rain forest surrounding the volcano, the summit can be conquered in 3 hours with the aid of a guide.
Satisfy the pilgrim in you by visiting San Jose Church. This church stands out from all the rest in the province by not being designed in the espadana style; rather, its crenellated bell tower resembles a fortress. Other churches worth visiting are the San Carlos Borromeo Church and the Basco Cathedral.
Dine sumptuously on lobster. Another delicacy is coconut crab, which is larger and more elongated than ordinary crabs.
What Are The Things That I Should Bring Along For The Trip?
As far as money is concerned, there are a few money changers in the area as was told by most of the Coron vacationers. Probably because foreigners frequent the place than Filipinos. Only one bank has ATM so I’d rather withdraw here in Manila, kesa duon pa maabala. The other must-bring things for the Coron trip are as follows:
credit cards (if any) aside from enough moolah’s
OFF lotion – to protect yourself from mosquito bites
aqua shoes – for stoney lakes and sea urchins
snorkeling gears or goggles at least
water-proof or underwater camera of course!