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?
Somewhere in the stratosphere, nearer and nearer the land of the howling winds.
Arriving after Odette meant this view from the house we rented.
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.
We couldn’t understand why the locals had to apologize for this view, owing to how much damage Odette has caused.
Yellow rice, uvod balls, and fern salad—traditional Ivatan dishes at Basco, Batanes
Swordfish sold along the streets of Basco, Batanes
Golden hour at Naidi Hills, which overlooks the port of Basco and a part of town
The Naidi Lighthouse, one of the most photographed and easily accessible lighthouses in Batanes
Early evening at Naidi Hills
Stars, lighthouses. Nowhere else in the Philippines.
And a view of the Milky Way on a clear night, of course.
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.
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.
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.
The port of Ivana and Sabtang Island across the Balintang Channel
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.
Sunrise at Diura Fishing Village
Sunrise at Valugan Beach