Two2Travel Basco Biking

Guide to biking around southern Batan Island, Batanes

Just because it took us 12 hours to bike around southern Batan Island does not mean the whole thing is such a pain in the arse (well, it really was, literally) and that you shouldn’t do it. You can, and for the record, you don’t need ninja biking skills to pull this one off. The roads of Batan Island are generally good, there will always be locals around to help you in case you run into trouble, and the route is easy to navigate even without a guide.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com

A word of caution, however: biking around Batanes is physically taxing. You need to be fit to do this, not really because the route is dangerously complicated, but because it’s quite long and you’re going to make countless stops along the way because there’s just so much to see.

RENTALS

BIKE RENTAL. We rented our bikes on an hourly basis from our host. The whole trip cost almost P500 for both of us—a pretty affordable price, and definitely cheaper than when we hired a tricycle to tour us around the same spots (a trike tour costs P200-P250 per hour, which really wasn’t workable for us since we take so much time taking photos. Besides, we hate rushing). Since there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of bicycles around Batanes, you can simply ask your hotel/inn if they can arrange for a bike rental for you—that is, if you didn’t bring yours along (and we highly recommend mountain bikes to make everything easier). Or maybe ask the locals if you can rent theirs for the day. Haha.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
MOTORCYCLE RENTAL. Motorbikes can also be rented, but are subject to rules & limits, i.e., you should have your driver’s license with you. Note though: fuel is extremely expensive in Batanes (diesel goes for P70 per liter here, so you can just imagine how much gas costs).

ROUTE

You’re going to originate from Basco, the capital, where you’re most probably based. Below is the route we followed. It’s not perfect, but we’re discussing it just in case somebody wants to try.

Biking in Batanes Map - Two2Travel.com MAP OF BATAN ISLAND. Share it, use it on your own trip, just don’t claim it as your own! If you want a bigger version, email us at two2travelblog(at)gmail.com.

OUR ROUTE

BASCO > DOWNTOWN MAHATAO > DIURA FISHING VILLAGE > DOWNTOWN MAHATAO > SAN VICENTE > IVANA > UYUGAN > SONGSONG > ITBUD > MARLBORO COUNTRY > DOWNTOWN MAHATAO

1. Basco
The roads here pass along the mountainside where there are lots of blind curves on one side and the roaring waves of the ocean down below on the other side. Be careful when negotiating this route. We don’t advise you to take this at night since there are no lampposts to guide your way. Everything from motorbikes to trikes to trucks pass by this road too. It’s as narrow as Naguilian Road going to Baguio (only with better views).

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comThe first of many stops from downtown Basco. Locals simply call it “Welcome”.
2. Downtown Mahatao
Right after the Mahatao welcome post (not arch. see photo), take a left turn at the fork (you’ll see a sign pointing to Diura Fishing Village here. If you want to go to Diura, take this left).

Bikes Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comReaching downtown Mahatao
3. Diura Fishing Village
This will take 15-30 minutes from downtown Mahatao. Once you get to a three-pronged fork, take the middle, which will take you all the way down to the village. You’ll know you’re there when the sea comes to view.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comBiking along Diura Fishing Village. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, most huts lining the beach were damaged from the typhoon.
4. Back to downtown Mahatao
You can have your lunch in one of the restaurants here (we forgot the name of the canteen we dined at, but it’s near the plaza). There’s also an old church nearby.

5. Ivana
The House of Dakay, the oldest stone house in Ivana (not in Batanes, as many accounts would tell you) is found here. The Ivana church, Honesty Coffee Shop, and Ivana port going to Sabtang are also a couple of steps from one another.

Ivana port, Ivana, BatanesIvana port and Sabtang Island beyond. If you’re going to Sabtang, this (or the San Vicente port) is where you should catch a faluwa. Tricycle fare from Basco at the end of this post.
Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comIvana church
Honesty Coffee Shop, Ivana, Batan Island, BatanesHonesty Coffee Shop
Honesty Coffee Shop, Ivana, Batan Island, BatanesHonesty Coffee Shop
6. Songsong
You’ll pass by Songsong Ruins, an uninhabited village ravaged by a tsunami in the 1950s.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comOur legs were so sore but we wanted this souvenir shot. Haha.
7. Uyugan
Verdant hills, stony shores, the works.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
8. Itbud
This is mostly uphill, as you’re making your way back north (please refer to map).

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comAre we there yet?
9. Rakuh-a-payaman (Marlboro Country)
You’ll reach a a waiting shed and a fork right past it—one going up (left), the other going down. The right goes down to Imnajbu, a seaside town, while the left one marks the ascent to Marlboro Country. This road is partly concrete, mostly dirt road under construction. The ascent took us one hour (hardly any picture-taking happened at this point).

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.comFork leading to Marlboro Country (left) and Imnajbu (right)
After what would feel like forever, you will reach a gate marking your entry to Rakuh-a-payaman (Marlboro Country). Please close it after you’ve entered (no joke).

Marlboro Country, Batanes, Philippines - Two2Travel.com
10. Downtown Mahatao
This is the best part: go out of Marlboro Country using its opposite gate (just pedal onwards; if you look at the map, you should be going north. Don’t go back the way you came in). From here, it’s an AWESOME downhill ride for about four kilometers straight. The last few kilometers are the same ones you passed by on the way to Diura Fishing Village. Just keep going left, and soon you’ll emerge at another fork—one going straight through a bridge, the other (right) going up. Take the bridge, which will take you to the inner alleys of downtown Mahatao’s village. One or two turns and voila! You’re at the town proper. Easypeasy.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE (WITH TRICYCLE + BIKE)

BASCO > DOWNTOWN MAHATAO > DIURA FISHING VILLAGE > MARLBORO COUNTRY > DOWNTOWN MAHATAO

Bike from Basco to Diura, call for a trike in Mahatao to fetch you at Diura and take you up to Marlboro Country (you can strap your bike onto the trike), and spend an hour or two there. You don’t need to make the tricycle wait, because you can just bike the way down to downtown Mahatao. From downtown Mahatao, you can retrace your route to Basco or you can hire a tricycle to take you back (P120, Mahatao to Basco, with bikes strapped on the trike). We recommend this if it’s nearing nightfall. Or if you’re too tired, just like us.

Naidi Lighthouse from afar, Basco, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
And speaking of tricycles, there’s Matoda from Mahatao and Batoda from Basco—associations of trike drivers whom you can text to fetch you wherever you are. If you’re coming from Diura, it’s naturally cheaper to call for a Mahatao trike. Here are their text hotlines: 0930-373-2854 for Matoda and 0929-703-8404 for Batoda. Fuel is very expensive in Batanes so trikes don’t roam the roads; this is their way of streamlining their operations. And it’s very, very convenient.

Here are the trike fares to the spots along the bike route we mentioned. Please note that these are prices for two people. They may charge more if you’re a bigger party because of the uphill roads.

  • Basco > Marlboro Country (30 mins): P200
  • Basco > Diura Fishing Village (20 mins): P180
  • Basco > downtown Mahatao (15 mins): P100 (An extra P20 for two bikes strapped on the trike)
  • Basco > Ivana (30mins): P200-P220

TIPS

  • Wear sunscreen (we did not. And we’re currently paying for it).
  • Suit up (again, as you can see from the photos, we did not).
  • Bring your water bottle for refills along the way. You will pass by a refilling station in Ivana, left side of the road along the village before the port.
  • If you plan on taking lots of photos, allot one whole day for this activity.
  • Take your meals at downtown Mahatao and/or Ivana. At Honesty Coffee Shop, there’s coffee and cup noodles but we recommend you pop in only for a look and maybe some photos. Better to take your meals at Mahatao. After that, there’s hardly any place else to buy heavy food, although there are sari-sari stores as far away as Uyugan.
  • Start as early as the sun is up to get back before nightfall.
  • Bring a friend. Really. I mean, who’s going to take your pictures?!



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.

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  • Vismarc Ronn Dela Cruz

    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

      Hi Vismarc, yes there’s mobile signal in majority of the spots. If I remember right, we only experienced spotty signal along the way, but never on the spots we visited. As said on the post, there are trikes stationed in Mahatao & Basco; in other towns, I’m not sure. Jeepneys—not regular. There’s one everyday for sure, just not sure what time and it’s not really reliable for tourists. Don’t worry, traffic should be the least of your concerns in Batanes.

  • Nerves Katigbak

    Nice! Super Nice. My wife and I will go there and will definitely bike around. Thanks so much for this trip info. :)

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

      Enjoy your trip! :)

  • vdarmobit

    Hi guys! I would like to ask for your suggestion regarding day tours in Batan Island. Is hiring tricycle/motorcycle for two pax recommendable? Or the price is the same with hiring tour vans? Thank you.

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

      Hi! We haven’t tried motorcycles and tour vans in Batan; only bikes and tricycles. You can rent a bike for around 300-350 per day. I think you can also hire trikes for a day (if I remember right, it’s 200 pesos per hour per trike). You can also just call for a trike (or text; the number is on this post) to take you to one place then fetch you after a few hours—if you do this, you pay the standard one-way charter fee for each trip. Going to Valugan Boulder Beach, for example, costs P60 per trip, so that’s P120 if you ask your driver to fetch you. Different areas have different fares.

  • lebabski

    great tips! We’re going there this Jan 31. Your guide will surely help as we plan to rent bikes instead of getting the tours within Batan to save up (and spend instead on the Sabtang island tour). Is it really easy to rent a bike? I read somewhere that it’s on a first-come-first-served basis so there’s a possibility you will run out of bikes. Thanks again!

    • http://www.two2travel.com Two2Travel

      Hi! We rented our bikes from our host (she happened to have two, and nobody else was using it so we had it all to ourselves the entire time). If you already have hotel reservations, maybe you can ask them if they have some units for rent or if they can arrange these for you. :) Good luck and have fun in Batanes!

  • Nikko Tan

    Hi! Your photos look really nice! I was wondering how you achieved this high dynamic range look (wherein both highlight, midtone and shadow details are clear and visible). I assume that the sun was really bright during your trip. I usually have a hard time exposing super bright noontime shots, and your photos look really good!

    Do you have any tips about how to set exposure, or maybe even the lens you’re using (or if you shoot raw)? Thanks a lot! :)

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

      Hi Nikko! Shooting in RAW will help. A camera’s dynamic range also helps I think? We used a Nikon D600 for most of the shots. We also used a CPL filter on a 16-35mm. Helps bring out the skies without hurting the foreground too much. Lots of trial and error too :)

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  • Janet Joy Rubrico

    Thank God I came across your blog! I am planning to bike around Batanes this May, and solo :) The bike-tricycle combo is very very helpful! thank you very much! :) Now I just wish I can make a new friend to join me(and take photos as well) ;)

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