For first timers, touring the Batan Island, specifically the north, on the very first day was our way of getting acquainted with the province. And since our flight from Manila was early and we were told that the tour usually starts at 2:00 in the afternoon until sunset (about 3-4 hours long), this was a good decision.
To give you an overview, Batanes is consist of 10 islands. Only 3 of which are inhabited – Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat. Batan Island is where Basco airport is located. It is also where tourists generally stay for their whole trip in the province. With a lot of scenic attractions that you can visit in Batan, tours are usually split into two – South Batan Tour and North Batan Tour – and are taken on different days.
In this blog post, I will be focusing mainly on North Batan Tour, which covers the following places:
- Welcome to Basco Arch
- Tukon Church
- PAGASA Radar Station
- Fundacion Pacita
- Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
- Valugan Boulder Beach
- Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
- Basco Lighthouse at Naidi Hills
- Vayang Rolling Hills
We opted for a tricycle (with cogon grass roof) service to get us around. Since we are from Manila, it is not everyday that we get to experience or enjoy the cool breeze on our faces. So, I suggest you forget about the airconditioned vans and get a tricycle (or motorcycle, or bicycle if you know how to). Also, if you are looking for a driver / tour guide, I recommend Kevin. He was very polite and he seemed knowledgeable. You may contact him at 0998-8579284.
WELCOME TO BASCO ARCH
Ralph and I are not really fans of welcome arches. We normally do not include them on our itinerary when we travel. This was an exception.
Welcome To Basco Arch was actually worth visiting as it has a viewing deck with spectacular views of the ocean.
MT. CARMEL CHURCH
Inspired by the Ivatan stone houses, Mt. Carmel Church (or popularly known as Tukon Church) is regarded as one of the most iconic structures in Batanes. It sits atop of a hill overlooking Mt. Iraya and the town of Basco.
Although it was under renovation at that time, the church was still intact and still looked good for photos.
PAGASA RADAR STATION
A few minutes away from Mt. Carmel Church is the PAGASA Weather Station, which was destroyed by the last super typhoon.
There was no sign of rehabilitation plans of the place.
It used to be the home studio of Pacita Abad, an international Filipino artist, before it turned into one of the best hotels/homestays in Batanes.
With its beautifully kept gardens and its unobstructed views of the ocean and the rolling hills, it also became a must visit to many.
Fundacion Pacita was actually my only choice for our hotel, prior to our trip. Since I considered this trip to be the first of our honeymoon series, I did not want to limit our budget. To add to that, it is home to one of the best home-to-table restaurant in Batanes, Café du Tukon!
Sadly, it was fully booked at the time of our visit. Maybe, next time (I really do hope there’s a next time!✌🏼)
DIPNAYSUPUAN JAPANESE TUNNEL
This Japanese Tunnel served as a shelter for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Although it was pitch-black and a little cramped inside, it wasn’t scary at all (yeah, this is me talking, me who gets easily frightened). It was just a short walk from one exit to another.
According to our tour guide, there were other exits. We just needed to go deeper and further. But, of course, he did not recommend it! And we did not even think about it! Hehe.
VALUGAN BOULDER BEACH
The place was a sight to behold! And the sound of the waves crashing on the gigantic boulders spread out along the shoreline was music to my ears.
It was very picturesque from every angle!
OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE CONCEPCION CATHEDRAL
Popularly known as Basco Cathedral, it was the first and the oldest Catholic Church in Batanes.
It was beautiful and well maintained, both in and out.
BASCO LIGHTHOUSE AT NAIDI HILLS
Among the 3 lighthouses that I planned to visit, this was the easiest one to go to. It was just a few minutes away from the town proper, whether on foot or on wheels.
But, just like the other 2 (Tayid Lighthouse and Sabtang Lighthouse), Basco Lighthouse offers a panoramic view of the ocean. It is also a perfect spot for sunset viewing.
I was not able to take photos of the ocean view though because there were a lot of people at that time. So… This was all we got.
VAYANG ROLLING HILLS
This was definitely the highlight of our North Batan Tour! The majestic views of the rolling hills that literally rise and fall while walking the narrow path going to the top was just too beautiful. But, a little scary, I must say! The wind was so strong that if I lost focus on my steps, I would be literally rolling down the hills! 😂
It was a good decision we chose Vayang Rolling Hills for the sunset. There were not a lot of tourists at that time. (They probably chose the Basco Lighthouse at Naidi Hills as their last stop).
And if there were too many tourists, I would not be able to hang Joby (gorillapod) like this because we got to move fast to get the best unobstructed views of the hills and the ocean.
Sadly, it started drizzling as soon as we reached the top so we did not get to stay long for the sunset. But the time we spent there was absolutely worth it!
After the tour, since it was still early, our tour guide drove us around town before dropping us at the hotel.
We capped off the night with some Italian food at Casa Napoli, tagged by tripadvisor as the #1 restaurant in Basco! And guess what? It is located right outside our doorstep!
North Batan Tour may be short but it definitely gave us an unexplainable excitement about what to expect in the following days. 🙂
TRAVEL DATE: December 5, 2018