Two2Travel: Basco Batanes

Batanes: The perfect trip

Just like everyone else, we had our eyes on Batanes ever since we started traveling. We daydreamed about its rolling hills (and plastered them on our walls for good measure) but never actually thought we could set foot on them—not this soon, and not this time of the year.

When 2013 came, we never thought we’d finally tick this off our bucket list (we were actually hoping somebody will send us there for an assignment of some sort, so that we’d never have to worry about anything including the expenses and the weather).

But as it happened, the opportunity to travel to Batanes came in the form of discounted fares in September (50% off the year-round ticket price), so we grabbed them immediately. We booked our flight just two weeks before departure, so it never really sunk in until we were finally at the airport, and then a smug-looking attendant wearing very thick makeup told us something we never wanted to hear: our flight was cancelled.

That was the day Odette made landfall in Batanes. By the time we managed to get back home nearly eight hours after, Signal No. 4 has been declared and we had to wait 10 more days before we can fly again. (At this time, we were already feeling a bit low because we just came from El Nido, where weather had been crappy the entire time we were there. Although come to think about it—getting stranded in Batanes during a typhoon would be a different kind of adventure!).

After that 10-day lull, the plane finally screeched to a halt at the Basco tarmac. And the rest would be all about unbridled sunny days and dates with endless hills and stony shores. Everything went as smoothly as if no Odette has ever marred it in the first place.

We’ve said this once and we’re saying it again: there can never be a perfect way to give justice to its beauty. But we have to try somehow, right?

Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Somewhere in the stratosphere, nearer and nearer the land of the howling winds.
Arriving at the wake of Odette meant we saw a side of Batanes even its locals haven’t seen in a long time—in almost three decades, in fact. Odette was the strongest typhoon the province has had to deal with in 26 years. We did see telling signs of it—trees were bent, uprooted, or else leafless.

Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Arriving after Odette meant this view from the house we rented.
But really, it would take more than signal no. 4 to take away the magic of Batanes’ vistas. Maybe that’s just us talking, but there was way too much beauty around to even look for what wasn’t there anymore. We never felt like we were missing anything, and everything was in fact overwhelming.

Tukon, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Glorious first afternoon at the hills of Tukon, just 10 minutes from Basco. This is where the PAGASA radar station is located—the northernmost outpost in the Philippines.
Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
We couldn’t understand why the locals had to apologize for this view, owing to how much damage Odette has caused.
Basco, the capital, is the most crowded you could get in Batanes. This means people on bikes and motorbikes, and the occasional vehicle.

Biking around Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
TWO2TRAVEL | Batan Island, Batanes
Around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Basco house, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Yellow rice, uvod balls, and fern salad—traditional Ivatan dishes at Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Yellow rice, uvod balls, and fern salad—traditional Ivatan dishes at Basco, Batanes
Swordfish sold along the streets of Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Swordfish sold along the streets of Basco, Batanes
Batanes has numerous lighthouses. The nearest one in Batan Island—if you are based in Basco—is the Naidi Lighthouse, located at Naidi Hills. This is five minutes by tricycle from downtown, and is easily walkable on the way back.

Naidi Hills, Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Golden hour at Naidi Hills, which overlooks the port of Basco and a part of town
Naidi Hills, Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
The Naidi Lighthouse, one of the most photographed and easily accessible lighthouses in Batanes
Basco from Naidi Hills, Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Early evening at Naidi Hills
Naidi Hills, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Naidi Lighthouse, Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Stars, lighthouses. Nowhere else in the Philippines.
Milky Way from Naidi Hills, Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
And a view of the Milky Way on a clear night, of course.
Biking is probably the only good way of experiencing Batanes’ landscape. There’s never a road flat enough for so long, and what downhill you’ll breeze through now, you will copiously sweat for on the way back.

TWO2TRAVEL | Batan Island, Batanes
Around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
The way to Valugan Beach—two kilometers from downtown—is mostly uphill and downhill. It’s a great warm-up ride in the morning since Valugan is best visited during sunrise, but if you plan on doing this, it may be better to do a test ride the day before.
TWO2TRAVEL | Batan Island, Batanes
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
People acknowledge everyone they meet along the way, whether they’re walking or riding a bike—one of the more pleasant things about its people that you’re never going to experience if you’re in an air-conditioned tour van.
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Cliffside roads between Mahatao and Basco—definitely one of the most scenic roads we’ve ever seen, and we managed to bike along it too without dying. Hallelujah.
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Outside of Basco, villages become sparser and roads longer. Mahatao, San Vicente, Ivana, and Uyugan are a long way away from the province’s capital, and they’re just as worth seeing.

Ivana port, Ivana, Batanes
The port of Ivana and Sabtang Island across the Balintang Channel
Bikes Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
In Batan Island, there are at least three places to see rolling hills: Tukon, Vayang, and this—Rakuh-a-Payaman, or Marlboro Country, in Mahatao.

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Marlboro Country with a view of Diura Fishing Village & Mahatao Lighthouse, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
We went to Marlboro Country twice. The first time was when we were biking, but it was already too dark when we reached it so we went back to take photos the day after. Mahatao Lighthouse, Diura Fishing Village, and Mt. Iraya are visible from Marlboro Country.
Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Getting to Marlboro Country hasn’t been easy but it turned out to be one of the best parts of our trip. We had no idea how far we were supposed to go, what time we were supposed to be back, and what risks we were taking by going there unaccompanied. All we knew was that we had one road to follow and a whole day to get lost. In the end it was all worth it. It was twice more fulfilling since we didn’t plan on doing it in the first place. After all the flight cancellations that happened, we would have been really stupid to plan anything. Not in Batanes, not anywhere else.

two2travel-Batan Island
Sunrise at Diura Fishing Village
two2travel-Batan Island
Sunrise at Valugan Beach
Perfect trips aren’t planned on paper. They just happen. And when they do, they often catch you off-guard, like when you turn an alley for no reason and the perfect moment just comes right to you. Batanes has been all about perfect moments like this.

TWO2TRAVEL | Batan Island, Batanes

Two2Travel

Owen Ballesteros & Nikka Corsino are trigger-happy travelers from the Philippines. They both swear by the sharpness of Nikon and almost always carry a packet of instant coffee when traveling. Photography is their bread and butter, their passion, and sometimes the only thing that prevents them from killing each other. If you have offers of work, collaborations, or an endless supply of instant coffee, please drop them a message here.

  • darwin

    been following your Batanes articles..nakaka-excite na tlaga. Tukon Hills ang ganda!

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Mas maganda pa yan next year hopefully wala na masyadong bagyo para di na gaanong kalbo yung landscape :)

  • mavakes

    That shot of a night sky – that’s how I remember it.
    Dios mamajes for taking these beautiful photos – exactly how I want my province to be seen.

    This is home. I would have to go back to it one day.

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Thank you, thank you for appreciating! It means a lot coming from the people of Batanes. Hope you’ll be home soon <3 ~nikka

  • Ryan Cardona

    nice… thanks for considering our Batanes province!

    :) really batanes by bike photography…

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Thanks Ryan! Balik kami dyan ulit! :)

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  • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

    Thanks Zeth! Batanes will be really worth it! ;)

  • Tiburcio San Miguel

    Hi! Where did you stay during your trip? Any recommendation on accommodations? Pictures are very nice. The hills and the milky way says it all.

    • http://www.two2travel.com Two2Travel

      You may contact Ate Fe Fitero at 0908 893 1475. She manages three lodges in Batanes and she’s very accommodating. P350-P500 per pax per night :) Have fun in Batanes!

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Hello! Sorry for getting back so late. We stayed at Marfel’s Lodge in Basco. You may contact Ate Fe Fitero at 0908 893 1475. Enjoy your trip to Batanes!

  • Ren Tuguinay Muñoz

    one day, ill get on the flight too…
    inspiring work Nikka and Owen… tfs.

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Thanks Sir Ren! Abang-abang na ng seat sale from PAL Express. Nakuha namin yung last Batanes ticket namin for P2,000 per person roundtrip, super cheap considering lalagpas P15k ang regular airfare. :) Sobrang worth it ng Batanes :D

  • Kryzia Tiong

    planning to go for a trip there :D :D :D any recommendations for shoots? we’re planning to go there for 3 days though :D :D :D

    • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

      Hi Kryzia :D three whole days ba, or do the three days include your flight days na?

      • Kryzia Tiong

        not including flight days :D

        • http://www.two2travel.com/ Two2Travel

          Email us nalang :) two2travelblog@gmail

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