Islands

Sabtang Island Visitors Guide

Written by Patrick

This brief guide to Sabtang Island will help you plan your trip. It contains information on what to do, eat, and drink as well as the must-see spots and the best hotels.

ABOUT SEE & DO EAT & DRINK STAY BUDGET ADVICE

Travel Insurance

ABOUT

Along with Batan and Itbayat, Sabtang is one of the largest and inhabited islands in Batanes.  The two smaller islands nearby called Ivuhos and Dequey are also part of Sabtang municipality. Like other islands in Batanes, Sabtang has old stone houses, iconic lighthouses, lush rolling hills, and beaches.

Location

Sabtang Island Location Map

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:  We recommend that booking for Sabtang Island 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!

We recommend traveling to Sabtang Island 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.

Fast Facts

Destination Name:
Sabtang Island
Local Time:
PST (UTC+8)
Best Time of Year to Visit:
December – May
Population:
Approximately 1,696
Language(s):
English, Tagalog, Ivatan, Ilocano
Currency:
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Exchange Rate:
Approximately 1 USD = 50 PHP click for exact exchange rate
Location:
Geographic Coordinates:
20°20′06″N 121°52′19″E
Area:
40.70 km2 (15.71 sq mi)
Neighboring Cities:
None
Neighboring Islands:
Batan Island | Dequey Island | Vohas Island
Climate:
Tropical
Clothing:
Lightweight casuals
Religion:
Catholicism (majority)
Best Known For:
Picturesque landscape and well-preserved villages
Major Industries:
Farming and fishing
Electricity:
Standard voltage is 220V
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
International Phone Code:
+63-078-XXX-XXXX
Airport & Airport Code:
Basco Airport (BSO) – located on Batan Island | Jorge Abad Airport (RPLT) – located on Batan Island
Seaport(s):
Port of Sabtang
Bus Terminal(s):
None

Getting Here

There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. We recommend using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while on Sabtang Island:  Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.

AIRPORT

Airport

Basco Airport

BUS TERMINAL

Bus Terminal

None

SEAPORT

Seaport

Port of Sabtang

PH Bus

Getting Around

The following are the modes of transportation available on Sabtang Island …

Bicycles

Bicycles

Motorcycles

Motorcycles

Tricycles

Tricycles

Rome to Rio

SEE & DO

The following are the places to see and activities to enjoy while on Sabtang Island.

1 | Sabtang Lighthouse

Sabtang Lighthouse is one of the iconic landmarks on the island.  Apart from guiding seafarers navigating the Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea, the lighthouse has become a tourist attraction that offers 360-degree view of the surroundings including the sea and the rolling hills.

2 | San Vicente Ferrer Church

Located near Sabtang Port, San Vicente Ferrer Church, also called Sabtang Church, is a Roman Catholic Church constructed in 1844.  It was made of lime, stone, and has cogon roofing which was later replaced with galvanized iron sheets. Modeled after Basco Church, Sabtang Church has four massive and broad pilasters, thick walls, and concrete floor.

The church, along with its convent was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2008.

3 | Chavayan Village

One of the smallest villages on the island, Chavayan Village is one of the most popular attractions on Sabtang with its pre-Hispanic history and settlement.  The village boasts of its stone houses made mostly from lime, a mix of dead corals and lumber.  Chavayan Village also houses the Sabtang Weavers Association, a group of locals who earn their living through various handicrafts made of abaca fiber, palm trees, and other grasses.  The most prominent handicraft is the vakul, a traditional Ivatan headgear used to protect the wearer from the rain, sun, and wind.

4 | Savidug Village

Savidug is a peaceful village located beside a rocky shore and along the hills of Sabtang.  Like the Chavayan Village, Savidug Village is known for its traditional stone houses inhabited by Ivatans, the local people of Sabtang.  With its stone walls as thick as 80 centimeters to one meter, these houses were built to withstand strong typhoons common in the province.  Its roofing is made of layers of cogon grass which is said to last for up to three decades.

5 | Chamantad-Tinyan Cove and Viewpoint

The highest viewing spot on Sabtang, Chamantad-Tiñan Viewpoint offers the vast view of the ocean.  It also features lush rolling hills and a seashore a short walk away.  Along the path leading to the peak are native huts offering local drinks such as sugarcane wine and tubho, an Ivatan wild tea.

6 | Morong Beach and Mayahao Arch

The beaches in Batanes may not be popular for swimming due to strong waves almost all year round but Morong Beach is an exception.  The water here is more peaceful and waves not as strong making the sea ideal for swimming.  Though only a short stretch, the beach has powdery white sand and is covered with grass-covered hills.

One feature of Morong Beach is Mahayao Arch, a natural rock formation that resembles a rock.  It is large enough for a human to walk through and pose for photos.

7 | Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel

Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel is the only church in Batanes with cogon roof.  This small church was constructed from 1951 to 1959 and has a pastel-colored façade.

NOTE: The Vakul-Kanayi Festival occurs annually on Sabtang Island every last week of April.

Klook

EAT & DRINK

The following are the restaurants to try while on Sabtang Island.

1 | Wakaii Catering Services

For authentic Ivatan cuisine on the island, try Wakaii Catering Services.  This small eatery made of bamboo and has cogon roofing offers a lovely view of the sea in addition to tasty foods served.

2 | da Figura Cafe

da Figura Cafe is a small cafe located on the ground floor of a lovely stone house near San Vicente Port.  Upstairs is an accommodation where tourists can stay during their vacation on the island.  The cafe offers simple yet tasty dishes at affordable prices.

3 | Paypanapanayan Canteen

One of the most popular dining spots on the island, Paypanapanayan Canteen and Catering Services is located near Morong Beach and Mayahao Arch.  Its lush surroundings and simple interiors make the restaurant a relaxing place to enjoy various Filipino, particularly Ivatan, dishes.

KNOWN FOR: Uved balls, made of grated banana corm and mixed with ground pork or beef and minced fish.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following are our top choices for each range on Sabtang Island.

1 | Pananayan Pension House (Budget)

We recommend using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay on Sabtang Island 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: Pananayan Pension House is the best property to experience this destination.

BUDGET

Suggested Budget

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.

ACCOMMODATION
FOOD
TRANSPORTATION
ATTRACTIONS
AVERAGE DAILY COST
Budget
Accommodation: $12
Food: $8
Transportation: $5
Attractions: $25
Average Daily Cost: $50
Mid-Range
Accommodation: $35
Food: $15
Transportation: $10
Attractions: $30
Average Daily Cost: $90
Luxury
Accommodation: $145
Food: $35
Transportation: $20
Attractions: $40
Average Daily Cost: $240

Travel Costs

Accommodation

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.

We use and recommend booking online to save money using Booking.comHostelWorldAgoda and Expedia

Food

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!

Transportation

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. 

We recommend booking online to save money using: SkyscannermomondoKayakkiwi.com.

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 on Sabtang Island in 2023:

  • Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
  • Budget Hotel:  700 PHP ($14 USD) night
  • Mid-Range Hotel:  1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
  • Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
  • Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
  • Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
  • 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
  • Tricycle Ride:  20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
  • Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
  • Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight
  • Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip

DOWNLOAD: Budget Planner Template

 

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ADVICE

The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Sabtang Island.  Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!

Tips & Hacks

The 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.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Travel Tips & Hacks Guide for the Philippines

Money Matters

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.

READ MORE: Money in the Philippines: Everything You Need to Know

Health & Safety

Crime

While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Sabtang Island, 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.

READ MORE: How to Avoid Scams & Thieves in the Philippines

Safety

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:

TIP: The best way to avoid problems and stay safe is to travel with a local resident.

Health

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

READ MORE: Stay Healthy in the Philippines: How to Avoid Getting Sick

Staying Connected

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.

The following are our Top 10 most useful travel apps on our smartphones when traveling in the Philippines:

  1. Grab (taxis/ride shares)
  2. Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
  3. WhatsApp (phone calls)
  4. Skyscanner (flights)
  5. Rome2Rio (transportation)
  6. Agoda (accomodations)
  7. Booking.com (accomodations)
  8. AirBnB (accomodations)
  9. Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
  10. 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.

READ MORE: The Ultimate List of Travel Apps for the Philippines

Itinerary

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.

VIEW: Sabtang Island 7-Day Travel Itinerary

Packing Checklist

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.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: Our Ultimate Packing Guide & Checklist

Things to Remember

We recommend taking note of the following while traveling on Sabtang Island or in the Philippines in general.

Smoking

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.

Alcohol

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

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.

Nudity

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.

READ MORE: Practical Information about the Philippines

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

CamelPack

I always carry a Camelbak Hydration Pack with me when traveling. Not only does it allow me to pack all my daily gear and snacks, but it also has a 3-liter water bladder which holds enough water to get me through the entire day.

Bluetooth Speaker

Compact yet mighty, a bluetooth speaker setup is a breeze, and the sound quality it delivers for its size is nothing short of impressive. Beyond its audio prowess, it boasts exceptional durability, making it an ideal companion for outdoor adventures.

UV Shirt

UV Shirt is an essential when travelling in a tropical country. Providing reliable protection during long hours in the water, not only comfortable but also ensures a secure shield against the elements.

Snorkel Gear

For my island-hopping escapades, a snorkel gear set has become indispensable. Designed to enhance the joy of snorkeling and free diving, each piece ensures comfort and functionality. Together, they create an immersive and enjoyable underwater experience.

Adventure Camera

As a long-time enthusiast of GoPro cameras, I can attest to their user-friendly nature, excellent image stabilization, and impressive footage quality. Waterproof and rugged, the GoPro is my reliable companion for capturing adventures in any environment.

Aqua Shoes

When it comes to beach footwear, aqua shoes offer exceptional support, breathability, and overall comfort. Well-crafted and sturdy, it provides effective protection against rocky terrain, quick drying for added convenience, and easy maintenance. A must-have for any outdoor enthusiast.

CLICK FOR MORE TRAVEL GEAR

Don’t Forget …

Download Our FREE Travel Guides

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About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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