Two2Travel: Basco, Batanes

Biking for 12 hours in Batanes

“Bakit ulit natin ginagawa ito?! Leche!!!” I exclaimed to Owen as I pushed my bike farther up against loose gravel.

We have been at it for nearly an hour, and before this, have been biking our muscles sore for 11 hours.

Our goal was to bike all around Batan Island starting from Basco, moving south to Mahatao, taking an inland detour to Diura Fishing Village, and then going back to Mahatao town proper to push farther south to the towns of Ivana, Uyugan, Itbud, and finally make the ascent back north to Marlboro Country and emerge at Mahatao town proper again.

“Biking

But by this time, we were already so tired, we were in the middle of nowhere, it was nearing dark, and only the wind or cows or goats could hear whatever pleas we had. We had two choices: continue the hike to get back to Mahatao by nightfall (there were no lampposts and only dense forests along the way) or whimper like kids in the middle of the mountains.

We knew Batanes would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so we did not want to simply whizz past it. Like anyone who’s been wishing to set foot on it for the longest time, we knew all about the sweeping views of hills, of cliffs giving way to wild waters. And we felt that, being on the receiving end of all this wonder, the least we could do was to earn it by giving what we had in excess: our time, and perhaps our sweat as well.

This was why we decided to pedal our way around its valleys and hills and villages, no matter how slow and hard the going would be (and true enough, it was). At certain moments, it meant either slowing down and waiting, or pedaling faster and chasing what we wanted to see—the sun to rise above the seas and descend on the mountains, the clouds to part, the stars to show up. We were blessed with a sunny day—so sunny the sting from our sunburnt body lingers until today. We have been blessed with good roads too, only that they were endless and our energy was not.

Biking to Valugan Boulder Beach, Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Biking to Valugan Boulder Beach—2 kilometers from downtown Basco. Please note that we did this leg on another day.

Roads leading to Valugan Boulder Beach, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Tree-lined road leading to Valugan Boulder Beach

On the way from Valugan Boulder Beach, Bgy. San Joaquin, Basco, Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
On the way from Valugan Boulder Beach in Basco, we ran out of water and these elementary kids were too kind to refill our bottle when we asked.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Stopping after the first few kilometers out of Basco

Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
THE FIRST FEW (CAREFREE) MINUTES RIGHT OUTSIDE BASCO. Please note that the 12-hour-bike ride included numerous stops for taking photos and meals.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
For somebody who doesn’t bike regularly back home, I found navigating the blind curves separating Basco and Mahatao nerve-wracking, but the views made it all worthwhile!

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Roads are carved from the mountainside. They offer a scenic view of the ocean separating Batan and Sabtang Islands.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

The mountains of Batanes were endless and forbidding. Its oceans looked wild and merciless, and yet also looked protective. One road bend crafted from the side slopes would reveal an expansive valley dotted with grazing cows and goats and horses, the next would be all craggy cliffs with the ocean crashing and creeping up below. Standing in the middle of them all, always looking up or else looking far beyond, we felt it impossible to scale its vastness and measure its beauty, let alone give it justice through words and photos. There is simply no end to the splendor of Batanes, and there is absolutely no perfect way to describe it either.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comB_2130

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Biking Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Feeling so small in the middle of it all

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
We passed by countless beaches, some pebble-fringed and others sandy.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
ON THE WAY TO DIURA FISHING VILLAGE INLAND. The best part of all this was the continuous downhill ride from Marlboro Country to Mahatao town proper—about four kilometers in all!

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
The final stretch leading to Diura Fishing Village is a steep downhill. This is why we didn’t do this again on our subsequent trips—the climb on the way back was just exhausting. NEVER AGAIN.

That’s when it hit home: there is not a place in the country that has made us feel so small, and yet so alive, than Batanes. It overwhelmed our senses at the beauty that looked back at us whichever direction we turned. The sun stung, but the wind provided comfort. The briefest of showers relieved, the downhills made all the uphills so worth it.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
IVANA CHURCH, TAKEN FROM THE IVANA PORT RIGHT ACROSS. A couple of meters from this point is the Honesty Cafe, where we stopped briefly to have coffee. By the time we reached this place, we were already so tired and were thinking of going back while we still could, because we knew we still had a long way ahead if we pushed farther. Well, we did.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
The very last point where we could have turned back (of course we did not know it yet). After this, it was all uphill ( for about an hour) until Marlboro Country.

Itbud, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
To the left is the road leading to Rakuh-a-Payaman; to the right is the downhill road leading to the town of Imnajbu

Biking around Batan

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
AND SO THE HIKE BEGINS. The climb to Marlboro Country began with a steady uphill road that soon gave way to dirt roads and blind curves. Since we were by ourselves, we didn’t really know how long it would take and whether we were going the right way. Sh*t

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
If this came on the first leg of our bike route, we would have been okay with it. But no. It came on the last freaking hour, when our legs were numb from pedaling for the last 11 hours. How we were able to do all that, only God knows.

And so we pushed our way back up, and Mother Nature paid in kind very, very generously. That was all the reward we needed.

Marlboro Country with a view of Diura Fishing Village & Mahatao Lighthouse, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
FINALLY, RAKUH-A-PAYAMAN OR MARLBORO COUNTRY. From this point, one could see the Mahatao Lighthouse (left), Diura Fishing Village (below), and Mt. Iraya (right part, not in photo).

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
Mt. Iraya rising from the rolling hills of Batan Island.

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Oh yes we did it.

*If you ever get around to biking on your Batanes trip, do send us a picture at two2travelblog(at)gmail(dot)com so we’ll feature you on our Facebook page!

Some of the clips from this timelapse were shot during this grueling bike ride:

Read our guide to biking around 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.

  • Tabitha Fernan

    This place is so breathtaking! I’ve been dreaming of going here as well! When is the best time in terms of the weather (and plane fare)?? :)

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

      Tabitha, watch out for PAL Express sales every Monday. :) Just this Monday nag-sale sila to Basco for early next year, 2k per person roundtrip, all in. Marami pa susunod hopefully. :)

  • http://thetravellingfeet.com/ Doi | TheTravellingFeet.com

    i’m having goosebumps while reading this. what a great adventure! am not sure if i can last 11 hrs biking though. waaaaaaaaaaa. am soo excited to visit Batanes na!

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

      Doi, gagawin talaga natin yan. Hahaha! Let’s trike na lang to Marlboro Country then bike downhill on the way back—that was the best part! Mga 4 kms yun na diretso pababa. :D

      • Librero Tres

        Ayus, me tryk pala! Mahal po ba yung tryk?

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

          Yep meron. Depende yung price sa destination. Basco to Mahatao town proper is 120 pesos. Basco to Ivana naman is P220. Dalawa kami nun, hindi ko alam if they charge higher kung mas maraming laman.

    • Shugah Pauline G.

      awwwee. Batanes is so lovely, Doi! grabe, Idol na nako sila Two2Travel… I guess I miss half of my life for not booking that recent seat sale. Ugghh >:S

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

        Hi Shugah! Thanks for reading :D Let’s go, baka mag-sale ulit sila the coming weeks! :D

        • Shugah Pauline G.

          Oo! haha nag aabang na tlga ako now!!! O.o Btw, your illustrations super ganda! <3 sarap mg camping sa marlboro. pwede kaya? :P

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

            Thanks Shugah! Masarap talaga tumambay sa Marlboro, but I don’t think it’s also advisable to camp there since it’s still primarily grazing land for cattle. Besides, katakot yung mga baka, they don’t look like they like having people around! Haha :P

  • Librero Tres

    Thanks for sharing… I am definitely and officially excited now with my coming visit to Batanes some months in the future. You’re description of the hardships you have endured, and the rewards afterwards, is just too inspiring… I would want to try that too.

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

      Glad to know! Hope you enjoy your trip there! :D

  • darwin

    Oh My Lord!!!

    Your experience just gave me so much excitement! I cant wait! :)

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

      Hahaha lezgow!!! :D

  • Pingback: Guide to biking around Batan Island, Batanes | Two2Travel()

  • Valerie | WeekendHaven.com

    Beautiful Batanes! Wishing I can experience it’s glory one day.

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

      Hope you can visit soon, Valerie! :D

  • http://www.senyorita.net/ Micamyx|Senyorita

    Love the photos! Sayang di ako marunong mag-bike T_T Hoping to visit Batanes real soon! :D

    Miss ko na kayong dalawa :D

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

      Mica, kelan ka uwi? Let’s go next year! Miss ka na rin namin! :D

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

    LOL abang-abang sa sa PAL Ex. Haha!

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

    Thanks Ferdz. Si Owen yung nag-illustrate. :)

  • REGIE

    sobrang galing!!!!

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

      haha thanks Regie! :D

  • milet_miranda

    Now biking around Batanes is included in my bucket list! Stunning photos as always Nikka and Owen :)

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

      Thank you, Milet! Hope you get to visit Batanes soon. :)

      • http://www.projectgora.com/ Milet Miranda

        Finally, nakapag bike na din ako! North Batan nga lang, hindi ko na kaya yung south Batan haha! :)

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

          Congrats Milet! How was the weather? Try south next time, the roads are waaaay longer! :)

  • Guest

    Hi, again, Two2Travel! Grabe, I wanna dare myself to bike entire
    Batan just like the way you guys did! Pero curious ako, meron bang
    cellphone signal island-wide? I also wonder what’s the main mode of
    local transportation ng mga tao? Are there regular jeepneys plying town
    to town, or perhaps, small buses, all mostly bikes and animal-pulled
    carts? Kasi, if I will bike alone, baka puro car collision ang mangayri
    sakin, lalo na baka my bike has no horn to be blown! Hahaha! I love your
    blog! Refreshingly informative!

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

      Hey! So sorry to have replied this late!

      Yes there is mobile signal in most places in Batan. There are also trikes and the occasional jeepney, and there are also friendly truck drivers who can let you hitch a ride ;) It’s relatively safe to bike around even on your own because there’s hardly any traffic; just be careful navigating the road between Basco and Mahatao because that one’s full of blind curves. Definitely don’t do it at night :D

  • Ruby

    Hi Nikka and Owen. Thumbs Up tlaga s inyong dlawa. Galing! Aun. excited n din kmi mag Batanes, in fact mag jog at practice n kmi mag bike every weekened. Kelan best month to go there pla. so we know when to book. :). Thank you. hope to see you soon.

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

      Ate Ruby! December to March (yata, or February) winter season nila, malamang wala namang bagyo nun. Till May naman ang summer kaya maganda rin :) Bookmark mo yung PAL Express, every Monday morning may sale sila. ;)

  • http://www.walkflypinoy.com paul | walkflypinoy

    This is so wow. Reminds me of the photos I see of far-flung islands Japan, Korea, or in the Pacific. Well, duh. Batanes is a far-flung island in the Pacific. So beautiful these photos.

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

      Thanks Paul! We have yet to see Itbayat though. THAT’s far-flung. LOL. 4 hours in Batanes waters—I don’t know if we can do that. :P

  • Pingback: Batanes: The perfect trip | Two2Travel()

  • http://curiouspawn.wordpress.com/ Steph

    Wow amazing! Ang galing niyo! I’m going to Batanes this June and I am very excited! However I don’t think I can do what you did, biking around for 12 hours! Galing talaga! And the photos are wonderful I wish I could dive right into the pictures :)

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

      Hey Steph! You’re too kind! The 12-hour ride was really a stretch; we didn’t know what we were doing most of the time! Might be better to do it on a mountain bike to save your sanity ;) Safe travels to you!

      • http://curiouspawn.wordpress.com/ Steph

        Hello I just came back from Batanes and I did bike around! Haha! but only around Basco and the farthest I got to is the Naidi lighthouse lol. Not too far after all hehe. Batanes is a heaven on Earth and I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to visit Batanes. And I will definitely come back! :D

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

          On our first visit we thought Naidi was too far, hehe. Did you get to visit Sabtang as well?

          • http://curiouspawn.wordpress.com/ Steph

            Yes I did! Ang ganda ng landscape habang nasa road T.T nakakaiyak ang lawak ng pasturelands, the beauty is so overwhelming. I wasn’t able to bike around kasi meron kaming jeepney but it must be wonderful kung ganon ang view. We availed a package tour with Travelyoung and si Ryan ang tour guide namin. Too bad hindi kami nakapag-overnight sa Sabtang :( but maybe when I get back, I’ll get to! And Itbayat is also on my list! Ryan said marami daw mapupuntahan sa Itbayat, mga caves and rock formations.

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

            Itbayat is different from the other two islands, very rugged and feeling mo talaga nakaalis ka na ng Pilipinas. LOL. And the boat ride was WILD.

  • Jean Managa

    nice article! Buti na lang nakita ko ‘to. We will be going to Batanes this May ask ko lang po mas ok po ba ang DIY or avail ng package tour, since 3 lang kami for this trip. Ang ganda ng photos nyo pati ung time lapse ng Batanes :) thank you.

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

      Hi Jean. If you DIY everything you have to be prepared to sweat it out most of the time. If you’re all go-getters and love spontaneity, you’re going to love it. Joining tour groups, on the other hand, will definitely cost you more, but it’s going to be more convenient. We did the planning on our own and paid an average of P1000 per person per day in Batanes, inclusive of accommodations, food, and transportation. You may ask Ryan of http://www.discoverbatanes.com if you’re interested in joining tour groups. Enjoy Batanes!

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

    Hi Gerald, we’re not sure, and we haven’t seen anyone going camping in any of the areas in Batan yet. Maybe if it’s just you, it’s okay to pitch a tent somewhere? But it could get cold and windy at night ha! It may not always be prudent. :)

  • http://www.angelicacruzph.com/ Angelica

    Going there this December. Your photos are BEAUTIFUL, btw. :) Great story too, how painfully tiring biking can be, yet so rewarding.
    Thanks for the photos and story! :)

  • Pingback: Sabtang Island, Batanes()

  • Pingback: Biking in Basco | Here but not really()

  • Pingback: Biking in Basco | Nothing fancy()

%d bloggers like this: