On my 26th birthday, I fulfilled one of my travel goals: I finally got to visit Batanes!

My Batanes trip was such a big deal for me because I’ve always had the impression that it’s quite difficult to get to this place. First off, tickets to Batanes can be quite expensive, and seat sales are pretty hard to come by. Second, the weather in this place can be quite unpredictable, so there’s always a chance that your flight to or from the island would be cancelled.

Despite all that though, I still wanted to visit this place and I’m glad that my friends were willing to make it happen! ❤️  I don’t normally celebrate birthdays but this time, I did… and I celebrated it in one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines + with my favorite people!

Day 1: November 17

Our flight to Basco, Batanes was at 6 AM and we were leaving from Clark Airport (around 2-3 hours from Manila), so we got on the road as early as 12 AM! #TeamNoSleep

When we were about to land, it was announced on the plane that we would have to go back to Clark. I think it was because of the weather? All I remember was that the clouds were pretty thick and I couldn’t see anything. Kuya Justine, the tour guide who fetched us from the airport, did say that it rained at the time our flight was supposed to land, so maybe that was it. He also told us that it was a pretty common occurrence. The guy seated in front of us during the plane ride even said that this was his third attempt to get to Batanes; this also happened during his first two attempts and unfortunately, those trips didn’t push through.

Anyway, we went back to Clark and we were given boarding passes for the next available flight. This time, we were able to land without any fuss 👍🏼

For our first day, we had lunch at Villa de Babat, where we got to sample local Ivatan food (which I loved) 😍  Then, we were off to Mt. Carmel Church and the PAGASA Radar Station!

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Batanes is a typhoon-prone province, so it makes sense that they have their own radar station here. This one was designed to withstand extreme weather conditions but it was still destroyed during a recent typhoon. It does feel like typhoons in the Philippines are getting stronger and stronger each year.
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In front of the Mt. Carmel Church. The majority of the people in Batanes are Catholic, so we went to lots of churches during our stay.

My favorite part of the first day’s tour has got to be the Japanese Tunnel tour, where we went into an old tunnel which served as the Japanese soldiers’ hideout against the Americans during the Second World War. Of course we didn’t go deep into the tunnel’s other parts for safety reasons, but I had lots of fun exploring what’s inside! It’s pretty dark though, so tourists are discouraged from entering the tunnel without a guide.

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Kuya Justine is pretty good at taking photos 😂

After exploring the Japanese Tunnel, we went to Valugan Boulder Beach, which has an interesting history. We were told that the rocks on this beach resulted from the eruption of Mt. Iraya, a nearby volcano. These rough rocks were slowly polished, day by day, by the waves and tides from the ocean.

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Valugan Boulder Beach. This will always be one of my favorite photos ever.

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Finally, Kuya Justine brought us to the famous lighthouse at Naidi Hills 😍  I was looking forward to this because I was thinking that, if we were lucky, we would be able to catch the sunset 😍

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J and I taking in the view of Basco from the top of the lighthouse

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And that wraps up our first day!

Day 2: November 18

We were supposed to sail to Sabtang Island on this day, but Kuya Justine told us that the Coast Guard didn’t allow it since the winds were pretty strong that day. He arranged for us to go to South Batan instead. Although it was a bummer that we didn’t get to visit Sabtang Island, I was pleased that they were genuinely concerned about tourists’ safety.

For our first stop in our South Batan tour, Kuya Justine took us to Chawa Viewdeck in Mahatao, where we were treated to a nice view of the hills and the ocean! He told us that it serves as a rest stop for people travelling through the island’s zig-zag roads. Fishermen also use the viewdeck’s stairs for easier access to their fishing boats. For now though, the stairs aren’t very safe to use because some parts were damaged by the typhoon.

The view is amazing though!

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It looks even better in person, I swear.

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After that, we went to Tayid Lighthouse, another famous lighthouse in Batanes facing the Pacific Ocean. It’s less accessible than the lighthouse in Basco, in that you have to walk quite a bit to reach it. Once you’re there though, you’ll be rewarded with captivating views of the ocean… and the farm animals grazing out in the open 😂 😍

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See those hedges? They serve two purposes: first, they act as boundaries to mark each farmer’s land; and second, they protect the crops from strong winds, especially during typhoon season.

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South Batan is also home to Marlboro Hills, my favorite place out of all the ones we’ve visited! 😍  It’s a communal pastureland where cattle and water buffalo graze freely. It was my first time to see a vast stretch of rolling hills and meadows, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when we got there. It was just captivating. I’m looking at my photos now to relive that moment but I feel like they don’t bring justice to the beauty of the place.

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There used to be lots of horses in this area, but Kuya Justine said that they’ve been decreasing in number because people are now using motorcycles instead of horses to get around.

We also visited the famous Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana. The shop’s concept is pretty simple: just take anything you want from the shelves, list down all the items that you took and their corresponding prices, and drop your payment in the drop box. When you’re done eating or drinking, just clean up and leave. It’s called the Honesty Coffee Shop because there’s no shopkeeper or anybody to watch the tourists. It’s amazing how shops like this thrive in Batanes, and it’s even more fascinating that people are actually honest and are paying the right amounts! I’m not sure whether this would work in other places though!

During the latter part of our day, we went to the House of Dakay, one of the oldest stone houses in Batanes. We even got to meet the family who owns the house. They still live there, so I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to explore the interior of the house and try on their traditional Ivatan clothing!

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The House of Dakay is one of the oldest stone houses in Batanes, and it was built in the traditional Ivatan style. Everything, from the foundations to the walls, has been preserved. The cogon roof, however, is replaced every two to three decades.

Day 3: November 19

I woke up at 6 AM to my friends singing Happy Birthday to me ❤️  It was such a lovely start to my morning, but then we received word from Kuya Justine that the Sabtang Island Tour was cancelled because of the typhoon. It was raining really hard outside and the winds were crazy, so we had no choice but to stay home for the day.

Normally, rainy days wouldn’t be so bad if you had decent internet and/or gadgets to play with. But as luck would have it, we had neither. The phone signal was so poor that we didn’t even have access to decent 2G, and we didn’t bring gaming consoles or anything of the sort because we went on this vacation knowing that we wanted to spend time with each other and not with our gadgets. I’m so glad that I was with my friends though, because we had lots of stories to share and conjured up lots of random activities on the spot, so we didn’t really feel bored. For instance, they came up with the idea of borrowing a guitar so we could have jamming sessions 😂

They also [somehow] managed to organize a little surprise for me, complete with cake and birthday noodles, while I was napping! 😂

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Always grateful for this squad ❤️

Day 4 and 5: November 20-21

We were supposed to leave for Clark on the 20th, but our flight was cancelled due to the weather. Soooo, we were stranded in Batanes for 2 days!

Of course we were bummed, but it wasn’t so bad because we took the opportunity to stroll around the town and try out other local restaurants. It’s nice to have food delivered to the homestay, but we wanted to go outside and visit the restaurants ourselves!

(I just realized I don’t have photos of their food though XD)

But besides that, we really didn’t do much. It’s a pretty small town so it’s easy to see everything just by walking around. I think we spent the rest of our day in our homestay, chatting and drinking the hours away 😅 It was relaxing though, and a welcome change of pace for me. I’m so used to filling my days with so many activities that I barely have time to breathe. I really felt like I was able to de-stress during the two days that we got stranded.

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Yep, that’s beer at the lower left part of the photo! 😅 Our homestay was right across a sari-sari store, so it was pretty easy for us to get beer whenever we wanted 😅

Fortunately, the weather cleared up within those two days so we finally got to board our flight to Clark on the 22nd of November. It was a bright and sunny day, and our flight went without a hitch ❤️


Despite getting stranded and not having any contact with the outside world for a few days, I had a great time in Batanes! It’s such a beautiful place and the sights I saw exceeded my expectations. I would definitely visit again someday to see Sabtang Island and the other sites we missed. I hope we get better weather by then!

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Until next time, Batanes!

22 thoughts on “Batanes 2019

  1. Megan says:

    Wow, its so beautiful. I especially love that beach. I think its my favorite picture too! And that church looked so awesome.

    You have such awesome friends, and looks like you had an awesome time. Also, a belated happy birthday!

    1. Claudine says:

      Thank you Megan! 🙂

      Isn’t the beach beautiful? It looks even better in person! <3 At first, the idea of a boulder beach was weird to me but it all made sense when I finally saw it with my own eyes 😀

  2. Looks so lush & green. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the hubbub of daily life! Makes you appreciate the little & important things. :]

    1. Claudine says:

      This is so true! <3 The relaxing vibe and lovely views are the reasons why we chose Batanes in the first place <3

  3. Sakura says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Claudine says:

      My reply is super late, hahaha I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  4. Pauline says:

    As I’m reading this, I can’t believe that this beautiful island exists in the Philippines. You always inspire me to travel to Asia and back home to explore more of the Philippines, because I only really went to Manila before which truthfully, I didn’t really enjoy 😂 But seeing places like this – so green, spacious and beautiful is incredible! Definitley a wonderful place to spend your birthday (happy belated birthday btw!!)

    Thanks for sharing this with us Claudine! Oh and also, merry christmas!

    1. Claudine says:

      Haha I’m glad you enjoyed this entry, Pauline! 🙂

      I also couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Batanes for the first time. It was just so different from the urban jungle that is Metro Manila, lol and I love the chill vibe in this place too! <3 Haha never ever stay too long in Metro Manila! I hope you get to visit Batanes the next time you're in the Philippines 😉

  5. Susanne says:

    That looked like a lovely trip, and it looks like a beautiful area. I love the idea of using hedges to protect crops. I wonder if they do that here too, we get some nasty storms, although not as nasty as your typhoons. By the way, I hope you’re ok after the two typhoons these days.

    1. Claudine says:

      It’s definitely a lovely place, and worth taking the extra time and effort to visit! 😉

      The idea of using hedges for crop protection also surprised me, but it does sound like a good solution! 😀

  6. Nancy says:

    Happy 26th birthday! Love that you treated yourself with a trip to Batanes! The views look great and it’s so cool that you got to check out a landmark that has a bit of history. Aww, you two are so cute!! The views from the mountains are amazing. Love that there are props around. Glad you had an amazing time with everyone! 🙂 Happy New Year~

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    1. Claudine says:

      Thank you Nancy! <3 I'm glad you liked the photos that I took of Batanes! <3

  7. Viectoria says:

    Happy bday 🙂

    Your travel make me so happy 😀 that’s amazing place!!

    1. Claudine says:

      Thank you Viectoria! <3

  8. Amy says:

    Glad to hear you had a great birthday! Batanes looks so beautiful, it’s so cool that your friends went with you to celebrate. Those views are amazing.

    The Honesty Coffee Shop is such a cool idea, but I can’t imagine it working over here. People are just too dishonest unfortunately. I’d love something like that though, especially if I could just pay without having to wait.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Claudine says:

      I had the same thoughts about the Honesty Coffee Shop, haha! I was so amazed that something like that could work in Batanes, but I felt like bringing that concept over into other businesses in the city would backfire 🙁 XD

  9. Deanna says:

    It looks like you had an amazing time! And also a great group of friends. I’m glad you were able to make the most of your time there, even if it didn’t go quite how you planned.

    I hope one day I get to visit the Philippines. My boyfriend’s dad is from there and hopes to retire in the Philippines one day.

  10. Brandy says:

    It looks like you had a great trip! I loved your photos. You and your friends look so happy.

  11. Ashley says:

    Woah, it is beautiful there! I bet it is 10x better in person but I can sense it from the pictures as well. Crazy weather though! That has got to be rough with the transportation companies/people as well. This really makes me want to travel but at least I can see it through your posts! hehe I have a co-worker who is visiting the Philippines right now so I look forward to hear about her time when she gets back.
    It seems you have some awesome friends, going with you on this dream trip and celebrating your birthday. 🙂 I’m glad you finally got to go. ♥

  12. Amy Aed says:

    This looks like such a fun experience! Definitely looks like memories to treasure. And a happy belated birthday!

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

    Amy x Wandering Everywhere

  13. Kirsten says:

    Happy very belated birthday to you! Your pictures are so pretty. I love love love islands and lighthouses. I find islands as so romantic and fun places to explore, plus I love taking ferries to get there. The lighthouse is these pictures is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

  14. Dasynka says:

    Happy belated birthday to you Claudine! I’m so happy you had your dream came true! I’d love to do some beautiful experience too on my 26th birthday is a few days, but due to the covid19 we are all locked home.. but we hope everything will be better with the spring and we all will be able to do everything again!
    xx Dasynka
    http://dasynka.com

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