5-day Batanes Itinerary - South Batan

by - Monday, October 22, 2018

It still feels surreal to be able to unearth the beauty of Batanes right before my eyes for the first time. For our first day on the island, we will be going around the south part of Batan to kick off our 4-day tour with Bisumi Tours and Services. Just so you know, this island is the most populated island in the province, but only the second largest island of Batanes next to Itbayat.

The reason why we chose to head to South Batan on the first part of our tour (instead of the typical North Batan - Sabtang Island - South Batan itinerary) is that we wanted to explore the north side of the island in time for the Basco Fiesta celebrated every August 8.

(L- R) Tayid Lighthouse and view in Racuh a Payaman (aka Marlboro Country)
The good thing about booking an exclusive tour with Bisumi Tours and Services is that they've given us the liberty to choose the call time that suits us best. We chose to be picked up at 8 AM so we can be ahead of the others tourists in the locations where we're headed. Along the way, Ate Jane (our tour guide) started telling us about the province's overview. It's a good thing that we've already had a hearty breakfast early on which is why we're ready to be overloaded with information, even if it's still the top of the morning.


Chawa View Deck in South Batan, Basco, Batanes
Chawa View Deck, our first destination of the day, already got me giddy because of the captivating view of the horizon and its interesting history. Not seen in these photos are the 100 steps where one can reach the tiny coast below the view deck. The staircase in this steep mountainside used to serve local fishermen. 

They used to allow tourists to walk down the staircase and have a moment on the rocky coast, but not anymore. Our tour guide told us that depending on the season, the waves can reach up to half the 100-step staircase which can be dangerous for the visitors of the view deck.

Chawa View Deck, facing the West Philippine Sea


Mahatao Boat Shelter Port, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
For our next destination, we had a bird's eye view glimpse of the port where boats are sheltered during windy and stormy seasons. Since we only have half a day to accomplish today's itinerary, we didn't get a chance to go down and explore this secluded harbor.

Batanes is also known for their Idjang aka mountain fortresses. Aside from serving as shelter to Ivatans from strong winds and rains, it also used to be a refuge for the locals during enemy attacks several years ago.


(L) Tayid Lighthouse, (R, up) Racuh a Payaman as seen from Tayid Lighthouse, (R, down) Diura Fishing Village as seen from Tayid Lighthouse
Tayid Lighthouse is the first of the three lighthouses of Batanes that we got to visit. Situated on a hill on Batan Island, this functioning lighthouse cannot be entered by tourists and locals. However, everyone can get the chance to appreciate the view of the Pacific Ocean around its vicinity. 

Since this is crested in a hill, going to the lighthouse can be quite an inconvenience because of the steep road leading to the destination. We also experienced the cranky Batanes weather first-hand during our short stay in Tayid Lighthouse. Mind you, it was sunny when it drizzled.  Our tour guide had to call our driver just so he can run to us from the van to lend us some umbrella. There were no shades around the place where we can let the rain pass by.

(L-R) Animals shepherded in the private land by the hill near the lighthouse, Private house situated in front of Tayid Lighthouse
The land where Tayid Lighthouse is erected was originally owned by a private Ivatan family. So when a lighthouse was needed to be built in their land, the family agreed to it with a condition that they can build a house in front. Aside from the house, the land beside it is also where they shepherd their animals on a regular basis. The fence leading to the house is out of bounds to the visitors of the lighthouse.


Thirty minutes from Vayang Rolling Hills in North Batan, Homoron Blue Lagoon offers an adventure to tourists who like a dip in the water in a humid Batanes weather. Our schedule is quite tight that we only had a chance to have a view of the sparkling blue water of the lagoon.

I've heard that wanderers have to enter through a cave before they can swim in this natural pool. I hope I can also get the chance to have a laidback afternoon by the huge rocks in the lagoon sometime in the future. 💙


Since the water at the Homoron Blue Lagoon can go rough without advice, other tourists can opt to take a dip in the gentle waves of the White Beach nearby the lagoon. We only got to drop by and check out the view because of our sightseeing tour schedule.


Tuhel Spanish Bridge, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
Built using the lime technology, this bridge was built during the Spanish colonial period. The way the bridge was built in the same procedure they used in building their houses during the old times since cement isn't known back then. The Tuhel Spanish bridge is still actively used by the locals as of today.


House of Dakay, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
You haven't been to Batanes if you haven't visited House of Dakay aka the oldest surviving stone house in the island. This house survived the 8.3 magnitude earthquake that jolted the municipality of Ivana in 1918. The family residing in this house welcome tourists up to this date and accepts donations for house maintenance. Yes, a family still resides in this home while allowing visitors to take a step inside their home and show how it withstand a devastating earthquake 100 years ago. 


San Jose El Obrero Church, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
Apart from its majestic facade, the San Jose El Obrero Church also grabbed my attention because its main door has a picturesque view of the Ivana port. This church was hailed as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines back in 2008.

Another thing that can't be unnoticed in this church are the prevalent Arius berries planted in front of the church. Ate Jane, our tour guide, introduced it to me and also made me try one, straight from the plant. She also leads us to the ruins of the church's rear portion which was closed when the population in Ivana decreased in the 1840s due to the return of the Isabtang to Sabtang Island.


Honesty Coffee Shop, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
I can still remember back when I was young when I heard about the honesty cafe in the news. To this day, I knew Ivatans as one of the most honest people on the planet. Being able to finally visit the Honesty Coffee Shop is definitely an experience of its own because I was able to understand why this was built by a humble, local couple.

Inside the Honesty Coffee Shop
The owners actually built this quaint coffee shop for the fishermen who seek refuge over a cup of instant coffee and biscuits after a long day in the sea. After a while, the couple who runs the coffee shop got busy and developed a process where fishermen can still get their daily coffee and biscuit mix while they work on other matter, and their self-service scheme was born.

Self-service payment at Honesty Coffee Shop
Years on, the word got out and everyone was raving to visit this simple coffee shop. I included! I liked how the owners are religious and trusting to their visitors! 💛

Honesty Coffee Shop's Souvenir shop
The coffee shop has also expanded from a lone coffee shop to also having their own souvenir shop. This souvenir shop is located just at the back of the coffee shop where people can visit after quenching their thirst and hunger after going on a long trip to South Batan. Customers also pay via self-service should they wish to grab touristy items as pasalubong.


(L) Road beside the Motchong viewpoint, (R, up) a local petting her goat, Motchong viewpoint from the hill
The moment we stepped out of the van, I got easily captivated by the view that this place has to offer. Truth to be told, it's one of the best sceneries I've ever seen.  Glad that we got to witness this view with a sunny weather despite the rainy August forecast in Batanes.  💙

We had to be careful in looking for a spot where we can sit because since this is a pastureland, animal waste is seen almost everywhere. Lol

Motchong Viewpoint, South Batan, Basco, Batanes


On our way to the second church in our itinerary, our tour guide asked our driver to stopped by this house to tell us that this is where they shot some of the scenes from the movie Batanes: Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan led by Iza Calzada and Ken Chu of F4

The house of the protagonist in the movie Batanes: Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan
We stopped by Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Itbut to say our little prayer. Most of the time, I was just thanking God for giving me the gift of traveling with people who matter to me. 

Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, South Batan, Basco, Batanes


San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
Being the third chapel/church of the day, we opted not to go inside San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel and just appreciated its limestone church facade and the picturesque bushes outside. It felt like the autumn season because of the blooming flowers in warm tones.

It is said that this chapel plays a big role in the Christianity of the Ivatans because this is where the first holy mass and first baptism in Batanes has allegedly presided.


Batanes National Museum, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
The old LORAN station (Long Range Naval Station) is set to become Batanes National Museum in a few years time. According to its Facebook page, some of the primary functions of the new facility are to document and study the geology of Batanes and its geological history and survey the marine and terrestrial flora and fauna of Batanes, including migratory species, and document and preserve the botanical, zoological and geological specimens and establish the Batanes NM reference collections.

However, due to the rigorous process of having multiple artifacts checked and documented by the national museum, Ate Jane said that it will likely take a few more years because this facility will be up and running.


The Alapad Hills and Rock Formation officially makes it to my favorite spots in South Batan because of its slashed-like rock formation and the "road meets the sea" view when traversing between the hills. In this hill is also where the famous "i-Dawn Zulueta mo ako" moment first happened. 

(L-R) Alapad Hills and Rock Formation, Batanes Blow Ur Horn signage 
The Blow Ur Horn signages are also etched in rocks in almost all sharp and blind corners in cliffs and boulders in the island to prevent car collisions. This was first implemented during the American colonialization and was adapted as of present time. 


(Marlboro Country)

Marconines Catering at Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country)
We looked forward to today's lunch because having ten stops on a morning is no joke. While everything is beyond imaginable, I thought that having snacks with us in the van would help us keep our energy up through our busy schedule.

Marconines Catering at Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country)
We've arrived at Marconines Catering to grab a bite just before 12 noon. We had a variety of viands from pork, fish, soup, to veggies courtesy of Bisumi Tours and Services. Our meal is already included in the package which is why we need not worry about ordering the best food on their menu. I also learned that Marconines Catering does not accept walk-in customers which is why it's a good decision to trust everything to Bisumi with regards to our trip's itinerary.

Fish, Pork, Veggies, and Soup served at Marconines Catering 
Marconines Catering's spot is strategically-located nearby the Racuh A Payaman aka the Marlboro Country. After eating our lunch, we simply had to walk a few meters to get a good view of the Tayid Lighthouse, Mt. Iraya, and the Diura beach.

*cue The Sound of Music soundtrack 😅

(L-R) Tayid Lighthouse as seen from Racuh A Payaman, Viewpoint at Marlboro Country with a breathtaking view of Mt. Iraya 
The tourists often call it Marlboro Country because the hills in the Marlboro commercial way back is reminiscent to Racuh A Payaman's.  

I challenged myself to look for a better viewpoint during our visit which is why I encouraged both our tour guide and Jonas to come with me. Just when we got down on the hills, we literally saw a bunch of dark clouds coming towards our direction. We saw the heavy rain crawled its way making us sprint all the way up the hills again. To our luck, the dark clouds didn't reach us but we were left catching our breaths really hard. Good times! 😂

On the way back to Marconines Catering


San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao is one of the most significant churches in South Batan because it has been declared as a cultural icon by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Museum. It's beauty and the excellent preservation of the parishioners are the biggest factors the renowned church made it to the list.

San Carlos Borromeo Church, South Batan, Basco, Batanes
Tourists can also find the blank book archive inside the church where one can log their thoughts in a book. It was quite hot inside which explains my oily face but it is a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget. I hope to find the same book where I've written when I go back to Batanes years later. 

The archive has a Php 50 entrance fee but Ate Jane took care of it when we reached the church. Talk about a hassle-free visit! 😊

The friendly dog guarding the blank book archive in the church


Bisumi Tours and Services was also on top of our dinner arrangements for this trip. They introduced us to Pension Ivatan this time around. This hotel and restaurant are a few kilometers away from the airport and Basco proper. 

Pension Ivatan, Basco, Batanes
Our platter is a mix of grilled pork, beef tapa, kinilaw na isda, kaliente (beef skin), and fern salad. The sinigang broth was the perfect combination to complete tonight's dinner. On top of this, we also got to try wakay flan (kamote flan) which is mindblowing for a sweet tooth like me. 😍


A group of grandmothers performing at the Senior's Citizens Night in the Basco Town Plaza
We capped off the evening by watching the different group of senior citizens perform in the plaza. I somehow felt nostalgic because the performances I saw reminded me of my late grandmothers. This evening was simple yet it made me see a glimpse of how naturally talented Ivatans are. 😌

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