The smallest province in the country in terms of population and land area, Batanes is actually big when it comes to unspoilt beauty. With its location which is in the northernmost part of the country, the province is not easily accessible from just anywhere in the Philippines thus it is able to prevent over tourism and over commercialization. That alone makes Batanes a perfect place for anyone seeking for a peaceful refuge amidst the beauty of nature.
This small province with an area of only around 220 square kilometers comprises several islands with Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang as the three largest and only inhabited islands. With picturesque pastureland, postcard-worthy lighthouses and stone houses, rolling hills, beaches, and a laid back vibe, Batanes is definitely an item that needs to be ticked off your travel bucket list.
This brief guide to Batanes will let you know how to get there, what to do, eat, and drink, where to stay, and must-see spots.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: This guide recommends that booking for Batanes summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Batanes in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Batanes: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.
The following are the modes of transportation available in Batanes …
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Batanes.
1 | Hike to Mount Iraya
One of the active volcanoes in the country, Mount Iraya is the highest point in Batanes. This significant landmark stands at 1,571 meters and is quite steep with a narrow trail which can get muddy and slippery. Hiking to the summit requires half to a full day and is recommended for experienced hikers.
2 | See the picturesque rolling hills
One of the things that makes Batanes unique from other tourist destinations in the country is the presence of the picturesque rolling hills. The Vayang Rolling Hills, with its different shades of green where livestock graze, provides an unobstructed view of the beautiful Mount Iraya. You can also catch a glimpse of the controversial West Philippine Sea while you’re there.
Rakuh a Payaman, popularly called Marlboro Country and the most photographed tourist spot in Batanes, is also a hill covered in greenery where animals such as cows, carabaos, and horses graze freely. It’s also a great vantage point of where the land, sea, and sky meet.
Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint is as breathtaking as Vayang and Rakuh a Payaman but what sets it apart from the two is that it offers a view of the serene beach covered with powdery white sand.
3 | Enjoy the beaches
Lush greenery isn’t the only thing to look forward to in Batanes. Of course it has beaches and two of the most popular are Morong Beach and Valugan Boulder Beach. Morong Beach has powdery white sand and gentler waves which makes it ideal for swimming and beach bumming. It is also made popular by its rock formation called Nakabuang Arch, one of the icons of Sabtang Island.
Valugan Boulder Beach, which faces the Pacific Ocean, is filled with boulders and stones said to have come from Mount Iraya when it erupted centuries ago. Due to rough terrain and violent waves, swimming is prohibited for everyone’s safety.
4 | Check out the lighthouses
The island may be small but it has three lighthouses that are still working up to this day. The most popular one is Basco Lighthouse which stands on Naidi Hills where ruins of an old American telegraph tower can be seen up to this day. The tower which is 20-meter tall offers 360-degree view of Basco and the West Philippine Sea.
The other two lighthouses are Sabtang Island standing on a cliff near the port in Sabtang Island, and Tayid Lighthouse in Mahatao, Batan Island. The latter faces the Pacific Ocean.
5 | Visit the stone houses
Batanes lies in the path of most typhoons hitting the country so having stone houses is one way to prepare for disasters. Stone houses in Batanes are made of cobbles and mortar with thick limestone walls and thatched cogon roofs. One of the most popular stone houses is the House of Dakay which was built in 1887 and is considered as the oldest stone house in the province. Other houses to see well-preserved old stone houses include Chavayan, Savidug Village, and Sinakan Village.
6 | Spend quiet time in the churches
Whether you are looking for places of worship or lovely photos for your social media updates, you’ll surely find a lot in Batanes. One of the most photographed churches is the Mt. Carmel Church, popularly called Tukon Chapel. While it isn’t really old as it was only opened in 2008, it has become an icon of the province as it has a traditional stone house design. It has an orange roof and painted interiors. It stands on top of a hill and provides a view of the Pacific Ocean.
While the Tukon Chapel was built recently, the other two churches are much older. San Jose de Ivana Church has a foundation which was built in 1775 and was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission. San Carlos de Borromeo in Mahatao was completed in 1789 and is excellently preserved and is recognized a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. Both churches are beautiful and welcome hundreds of devotees.
7 | Explore Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
Used by the Japanese forces during World War II, Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel is a network of tunnels in Tukon Hills. The tunnel has four main rooms, a water reservoir, guard post, bunker, and five exits leading to Taytak and Tukon. The tunnel is open for tourists to explore but with the company of an authorized tour guide.
8 | Enjoy the views from Chawa View Deck
Located on one of the highest spots in Batanes, the view deck provides scenic views of the rolling hills, rock formations, the seascape, and the West Philippines Sea. There’s also a grotto of the Virgin Mary at the top and a winding staircase with more than 100 steps leading down the rocky shore below.
NOTE: The Kulay Festival occurs annually in the 2nd week of April.
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Batanes.
1 | Beehan’s Meals & Snack
Beehan’s Meals & Snack is a simple yet cozy restaurant serving local dishes like beef nilaga (beef soup), pork humba, sinigang, sisig, and kinilaw which is not always available as it gets sold out immediately. The food is reasonably priced hence a good option for those who are on a limited budget.
2 | Cafe du Tukon
Standing on a hilltop, Cafe du Tukon offers a stunning view of the green rolling hills and the sea. Apart from the view and the relaxing ambience, the restaurant serves quality foods made of organic ingredients grown and raised by the local farmers. The price may be higher for local standards but considering the quality and the benefits for local farmers, it’s worth it in the end. Don’t miss their paella, pasta, and chocolate mousse.
3 | Casa Napoli
The top restaurant in Batanes based on reviews, Casa Napoli serves Italian favorites made of fresh and homegrown ingredients. The space is small and can accommodate around 12 people at a time so expect to wait to be accommodated when dining during peak hours. Try their fried chicken, Luñiz pasta (local pork dish), and of course pizza which is what the restaurant is known for.
4 | Hiro’s Cafe
Hiro’s Cafe specializes in Ivatan foods but also serves other Filipino favorites. The restaurant has a simple carinderia-style setup yet considered one of the best in the province. Try their tapa, escargot (native snails harvested from the forest), Luñiz (Batanes adobo), organic pork tocino, and dried flying fish.
5 | Honesty Coffee Shop
One of the unique attractions in Batanes, Honesty Coffee Shop is a self-service store and coffee shop that sells souvenir items, coffee, cookies, chips, and other snack items. The shop has no server or cashier. You have to serve yourself, list your items, and drop the amount you owe in the box provided. The store’s survival for many years simply means that people who are coming to the store are honest enough to prevent losses and bankruptcy.
6 | Jino’s East Pizzaria
Jino’s is a cozy restaurant beside the Basco lighthouse that serves pizza, pasta, and chicken tenders. While their garden setting makes the restaurant a favorite place to unwind in Batanes, they also deliver to hotels.
7 | Octagon Bed and Dine
Open to both guests and non-guests of the hotel, Octagon is a go-to place for local dishes such as bulalo, kare kare, and sinigang. They have the cheapest lobster in the area too! All other dishes are reasonably-priced with servings good for two to three persons. Despite the limited seating capacity, many people still choose Octagon to enjoy both good food and breathtaking views of the West Philippine Sea, Basco Port, and the lighthouse.
8 | Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant
The restaurant is a reliable place to get your fill of Filipino and Asian cuisines. Located beside the airport, the place is a favorite among tourists especially those who are travelling with companions since the serving of most dishes is good for two to three people. Try their Ivatan platter, coconut crab, and lobster.
9 | Phil’s Brew
Phil’s Brew is a homey little spot in Basco that serves the best coffee in the area as well as pastries and other Ivatan delicacies. Must-try includes tres leches, chocolate cake, and dukayo (local root crop and sweetened coconut).
10 | Vunong Dinette
With a cozy ambience and lovely outdoor setting, Vunong Dinette is a good spot for authentic Ivatan cuisine. The restaurant serves the foods wrapped in a breadfruit leaf called vunong. The wrapped food contains a complete meal which often includes a serving of rice, lunis, fish, uvud balls, and beef tapa. The restaurant doesn’t prepare meals for a large number of tourists so make sure to make a reservation in order to be accommodated.
KNOWN FOR: Mahi-mahi (dried fish)
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WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range in Batanes.
1 | DDD Habitat Lodging House (Budget)
2 | Villa de Babat (Mid-Range)
3 | Amboy Hometel (Luxury | Resort)
This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay in Batanes or for a specific destination:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: DDD Habitat Lodging House is the best property to experience this destination.
Use the chart below to get an idea of how much to budget daily. Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs in Batanes in 2021:
The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Batanes. Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!
Tips & Hacks
he following are our Top 10 Tips when visiting this destination in the Philippines:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Batanes, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below. Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Batanes or in the Philippines in general.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
Don’t Forget …
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