Batanes in the Philippines
The Batanes Province is made up of the ten islands between the Philippines and Taiwan in the Luzon Strait. Batanes is both the smallest province in the Philippines by population as well as the smallest by actual land area. Half of the land area is hills and mountains giving it a majestic beauty while the surrounding waters are rich with marine life and some of the rarest corals in the world.
The batanes area, with its generally cool climate and rolling emerald hills being grazed by cows, does not feel like you’re in the Philippines. Perhaps it even feels like you’re in Ireland or Scotland seeing as it is one of the only places in the country which pretty much has all four seasons, the weather dropping to as low as 7 C in the winter. The island is actually much closer to Taiwan than Manila with only about two hundred kilometers seperating it from Taiwan while about five hundred kilometers distance it from Manila.
It should be noted that there is a misconeception about Batanes always being hit by typhoons. The reason it is actually mentioned so frequently in connection with the countries typhoons is because it holds the last weather station to the north of the country and thus is a reference point for all typhoons that enter into the Philippines territory.
Batanes Attractions and Things to Do
Explore Batan Island – Rent a motorbike and spend a whole day riding through the rolling green hills. You can see lighthouses and stone homes along with amazing views of the East Philippine Sea. One of the most beautiful places to see is Naidi Hills where you can see the gorgeous coastline, the green rolling hills where legions of cows are grazing and the Basco lighthouse is atop one of these hills. There is a fantastic restaurant called Bunker Cafe which was converted from an old bunker and is probably the best place to watch the sunset. Very reasonably priced. Bring a jacket for it may get cool in the evening.
Sabtang Island Tour – Of the Batanes Islands, the least populated and best preserved, this island has sandy shores and unusual rock formations and stone houses. Very beautiful scenic views. This tour begins with a thirty minute boat ride to the island.
The Marlboro Hills – This is what the tourists call it, but it’s really called Rakuh A Payaman. These are green rolling hills (which Filipino visitors have only seen in the movies) that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The cows and goats keep the rolling grass short and they are everywhere. Very nice spot to relax and take pictures of the grass with the ocean in the background.
Valugan Beach – the beach is full of large smooth rocks that basically look like giant rounded pebbles.
Travel To Batanes
There are flights that leave thoughout the week from Manila. In May 2013, AirPhil Express began servicing the route opening up even more flights.
Getting around, you can rent a jeepney or a tricycle. Private cars and motorcycles are also available for rental. Always a good idea to have an international drivers license if you want to rent a car while travelling.
Between islands you will take a small motorized boat called a faluwa.
Batanes Travel Tips
Bring cash as while select places take credit cards, not many do. Also, change your currency to Pesos while in Manila as you will get far better conversion.