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72 Hours in Batanes

by Angel C. Aquino

Batanes, a group of islands with rolling hills, steep cliffs, and rugged terrain, lies about 162 kilometers north of Luzon.

If you were lost at sea, it’s the kind of place you would imagine stumbling upon—a hidden oasis filled with natural wonders and beautiful people. Fortunately, Batanes is no longer as elusive as it used to be. Several airlines fly daily to Basco, the provincial capital. All you need are a few days and an adventurous spirit to get to know the Ivatans, learn about their culture, and explore their hometown.

DAY 1

Breakfast

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You’ll probably be famished after an early flight, so head to SDC Canteen for a quick and simple meal. Located in the town proper, which is just a five-minute ride from Basco airport, this carinderia-style eatery has a selection of local dishes at a very affordable price. Try the native dibang (flying fish)—whether it’s grilled, steamed, or soaked in vinegar, this local delicacy is both healthy and satisfying.

SDC Canteen
National Road
Open from Mondays to Saturdays, 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Morning Activity

Check in at your hotel and drop off your bags. We recommend Bernardo’s, which is close to the airport, the town proper, and Chanarian Beach. With only eight rooms and a lovely garden, this cozy hotel is an ideal home away from home. Once you’ve settled in, walk around the sprawling town plaza, pose for pictures by the Batanes Provincial Capitol, and visit the centuries-old Basco Cathedral.

Bernardo’s Hotel
Payin Street, Brgy. Chanarian
Bernardo's Tour Services: (0917) 125 7619 / (0999) 883 9493
Room Reservation: (0917) 512 5346 / (0908) 816 4811
bernardoshotel@gmail.com

Lunch

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Situated on top of a hill overlooking the sea, Fundacion Pacita’s Café du Tukon serves fresh produce from local farmers and fisher folk. Try the Fish en Papillote with Pesto and Thyme, the Garlic and Rosemary Beef, and the Tukon Burger. Top off the meal with Pumpkin French Toast for dessert. Since Fundacion Pacita was once the home studio of celebrated artist Pacita Abad, you’ll also find her artwork adorning the walls.

INSTAGRAM: cafedutukon

Fundacion Pacita
Brgy. Chanarian, Tukon
(0939) 901 6353 / (0917) 855 9364
inquiries@fundacionpacita.ph; fundacionpacita50@gmail.com

Afternoon Activity

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Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat are the three inhabited islands of Batanes. Start your tour in the northern part of Batan where you will see several unique sites. Feast your eyes on Valugan Boulder Beach, composed of countless rocks spewed from the volcanic Mt. Iraya. Take a peek at the Japanese Tunnel, built during World War II. See the Basco Lighthouse on Naidi Hills and marvel at the view from the PAGASA Weather Station. Finally, watch the sunset at Vayang Rolling Hills.

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Dinner

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Enjoy authentic Ivatan cuisine at Vunong Dinette. Feast on pako salad, uved (meatballs made of finely-grated corn, ground beef or pork, and minced fish), and tasty turmeric rice wrapped in banana leaves.

Vunong Dinette
Taytay Road, Brgy. Kayhuvokan
(0999) 991 9447 (reservations required)

DAY 2

Morning Activity

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Grab a quick breakfast at your hotel then head to Ivana Port as early as 6 AM for your journey to Sabtang Island. Though it lasts less than an hour, the boat ride is an adventure in itself as you navigate choppy waters and huge waves. In Sabtang, visit the villages of Savidug and Chavayan to see the traditional stone houses and get a glimpse of the Ivatan way of life.

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Lunch

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Have a hearty meal of fresh lobsters, fish, and vegetables at Paypanapanayan Canteen, just a few meters away from Morong Beach. After lunch, take a leisurely stroll to see the Mahayaw Arch and Nakabuang Cave.

Paypanapanayan Canteen
Sabtang
(0998) 986 2042

Afternoon Activity

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After your trip to Sabtang, head back to Ivana Port and have a few refreshments at the Honesty Coffee Shop. You won’t find any security guards or store attendants here. As the name suggests, the store operates on an honesty system. Just pick your item, drop off the payment at the counter, and you’re good to go. You can also visit the nearby Ivana Church, which was first established in 1787.

Dinner

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Have a taste of Italy at Casa Napoli, which serves the best Italian food in town. Try the Supreme Pizza, the Mattaw Pasta (dried dorado fish in olive oil), and a bucket of fried chicken and mojos. Best served with a bottle of wine or ice-cold beer.

Casa Napoli at Bernardo’s Hotel
Payin Street, Brgy. Chanarian
Bernardo's Tour Services: 0917 125 7619 / 0999 883 9493
Room Reservation: 0917 512 5346 / 0908 816 4811
bernardoshotel@gmail.com

DAY 3

Breakfast

INSTAGRAM: bluepinay

Have a cup of freshly brewed coffee or try the local tubho tea at Phil’s Brew. The garden café is the perfect place for good food and good conversation. Try a slice (or two) of the homemade tres leches or chocolate cake. We won’t judge, we promise.

Phil’s Brew
Amboy corner Argonza Streets
Kaychanarianan
(0908) 815 4750

Morning Activity

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Begin your tour of the southern part of Batan Island at the Chawa Viewdeck, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of craggy cliffs and a glittering sea. Then, explore the picturesque town of Mahatao and the Diura Fishing Village. Finally, see the majestic rolling hills of Racuh a Payaman, also known as Marlboro Country. If you decide to break into song (cue: “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”), we won’t blame you!

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Lunch

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Dine al fresco at Marconine’s, a small canteen serving Ivatan cuisine at Marlboro Country. Be sure to have a bowl of hot turmeric soup to counter the cold winds.

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Marconine’s
Uyugan
(0920) 217 9903 / (0918) 2878944 (reservations required)

Afternoon Activity

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There is no shortage of breathtaking views as you continue your tour of South Batan. See the Alapad Pass and Rock Formation at Imnajbu Point. Pass by the Song Song Ruins, the haunting remains of a town swept away by a tsunami in the fifties. The House of Dakay, the oldest surviving stone house in Batanes, is also worth visiting.

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Dinner

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Cap off your Batanes getaway at Octagon Restaurant, an octagon-shaped eatery facing the West Philippine Sea, Basco port, and Naidi lighthouse. Drink in your surroundings and indulge in your favorite Ivatan dishes because it may be awhile before you find yourself back on this island.

Octagon Restaurant
National Road, Sitio Disong, Brgy. Kaychanarianan
(0939) 645 1744 / (0936) 954 8482

Find Batanes travel inspiration when you check out our Travel Guide.

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About Angel C.
Angel C. Aquino is a freelance writer, editor, and fiction author based in Manila. She believes she can make her tiny corner of the world just a little bit brighter by writing stories filled with positivity, hope, and love. Check out her tips on writing, traveling, and healthy living at angelcaquino.com.

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