Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines, and it’s closer to Taiwan than Luzon, the country’s largest island. It is part of Filipino travelers’ bucket lists, as it should be because of its superb scenery that can match those of New Zealand.
From its rolling hills to the renowned honesty store, this archipelagic province has many surprises on its ten islands. Standing atop a hill, tourists will have a commanding view of the waters surrounding the province: the straits of Bashi and Balintong that connect the West Philippine Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The breeze is like a lullaby; that's why in Batanes, peace is easy to come by.
10 Hospitable Locals
The residents of Batanes are called Ivatan, known in the Philippines as peace-loving, resilient, and honest. Most of them worked on farms and the seas fishing, and when tourism slowly boomed, they eagerly welcomed travelers who wanted to be in the presence of rolling hills, windy mountains, and salty breeze. Aside from residents sporting smiles, some women wear wig-like head protection called vakul, and locals will allow tourists to borrow it for some snaps. The Ivatans are the charm of Batanes.
9 Honesty Is A Lifestyle
Aside from its stunning nature spots, Batanes is known for its honesty store, a self-service establishment where there’s no guard or any other employees. As such, customers of this coffee shop must honestly pay, get the right number of products, and when change is due, they should write it down in a notebook, and they must return to collect it the next day. It’s a testament to the honesty of the Ivatans and an enriching experience for tourists. The shop has been around since the 1990s and is now one of the must-see attractions in Batanes.
8 Crime Rate Is Low
Since Ivatans value honesty and have a strong sense of community, it’s rare to hear about crimes in the province, and those apprehended are only guilty of violating ordinances, like biking without an early warning device. The crime rate has been low since the late 1980s up until today, making it a tourist-friendly destination and a place where peace is not just a word but a lifestyle. Its archipelagic nature and small towns make law enforcement in the province easy. Thanks to the welcoming community in Batanes, tourists will have a sense of belongingness.
7 Unique Beaches
Of the 10 Batanes islands, three are inhabited. As such, the seven others are pristine, and some are only used by locals for grazing. Some of them are hard to reach when the weather is unpredictable, making their beaches sought-after. However, those who will stay on the three largest islands of Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang will find the perfect shores. On Batan island, tourists will appreciate the unique boulder beach of Valugan. Meanwhile, Sabtang has Morong Beach, famous for the Ahau Arch. Lastly, there’s the less-traveled Kaxobcan beach on the island of Itbayat. Wherever tourists plan to beachcomb, they’ll have enlivening sun-kissed memories.
6 Charming Islands
Aside from the largest islands, some uninhabited isles of Batanes are home to attractions tourists will enjoy. The humble island of Ivuhos is proud of its coral beach, and history buffs can also check out its archaeological sites. Mavulis (Y'ami) Island, meanwhile, is manned by the military since it’s the Philippines’ northernmost point. Tourists are welcome on the island, where they can explore military installments aside from its natural beauty. Those who dare to conquer these islands will have endless stories to take home.
5 Thrilling Boat Rides
When tourists are visiting multiple islands – which is a must – they will have a satisfying experience of riding boats called falua. Even if the weather is calm, conquering the waves of Batanes is a thrilling experience. For a long trip, tourists can head to Y’ami from Itbayat, which will take around five hours. Those who want to test their angling skills can join local fishers from the village of Diura. Be it a simple ride or an adventurous fishing journey, boat passengers in Batanes will have vitamin sea day in and day out.
4 The Rolling Hills Are Majestic
The hills are alive in Batanes, and there are many of them in this island province. Vayang Rolling Hills in the capital Basco is the most famous, an attraction straight out of a postcard. Meanwhile, in the town of Mahatao, the presence of Marlboro Hills will make tourists speechless because it’s breathtaking. For a top-of-the-world moment, Mount Iraya is waiting for excited hikers. The province has many viewpoints where travelers can take in the sights and sounds of the seas and the hills.
3 Resilient Houses
Batanes is known in the Philippines as a province that’s always in the path of typhoons, so not only are its residents resilient but also their houses. Traditional Ivatan homes are not seen anywhere else in the country – maybe in the world. These are made of stone, lime, wood, and thatches, all working together to withstand the wind and typhoons. Some of these heritage houses are well-preserved, especially the Sinadumparan type, thereby attracting curious tourists. Not only honesty but resiliency is also another claim to fame of Batanes.
2 Rich History And Culture
Aside from heritage houses, there are other historical and cultural spots in Batanes that will satisfy tourists who want to explore new things. The province has archaeological sites, a ghost village, weather stations, churches, idjangs, or the settlement of early Ivatans, and the historic Radiwan Point. Tourists should also not miss striking a pose near lighthouses, standing supreme amid a backdrop of seas. Art lovers, meanwhile, will enjoy checking out Fundacion Pacita, a lodge that features the masterpieces of renowned painter Pacita Abad. In Batanes, enriching the soul is easy.
1 The Food Is Sumptuous
As with other islands, food production in Batanes is limited, but that doesn’t mean an adventure for the tummy is impossible. For starters, the province is big on seafood, particularly flying fish and mahi-mahi. Ivatans also love the dried skin of carabao, pig, or cow; stalks of banana and taro; yam; sweet potato; and lunyi, which is pork cooked in its fat. Tourists should imagine this: after their breakfast or lunch, they’ll have breathtaking views of the rolling hills as their dessert. What a sweet life.