If city life has become a bit much and you are in need of fresh air, or if your find your traveling dreams have faded from color to black and white, a weekend trip to Batanes is highly recommended. The untouched natural beauty of this remote group of islands, located 900 miles or an 1.5 hour flight from Manila, is invigorating, and the sincere hospitality and local traditions of the local people, known as the Ivatans, will inspire you.
Hire a local guide and jump on the back of a motorcycle and spend your days gasping in awe as each turn on the cliff-hugging mountain roads leaves you grabbing for your camera and saying “Wow!” Surrounded by dramatic views of green rolling hills, rugged mountains and rocky cliffs dropping into the blue sea, you literally look left and see green and look right and see blue.
The drive around the island will take you through archaeological sites, old churches, beaches, quaint villages, lighthouses, and boat shaped burial grounds, and when you feel like a snack, stop for some fresh coconut juice at the Honesty Café. This unique self service operates on the goodwill of people- no one watches over it and customers are left to write down and pay for what they take.The road itself will be filled with more wandering caribao and goats than people. With the constant wind at your back, the journey itself fills you with nature, and without knowing it, you will let out a giant exhale.
And just when you think you have seen enough diversity of nature to keep your imagination happy forever, jump on a local boat for a 35 min ride to the neighboring island of Sabtang. As you explore this cultural center of the Ivatan people, seeing the stone boulder houses with thatched roofs, fisherman rowing their boats to sea and farmers wearing traditional woven headdresses in the fields will make you smile as you realize there are corners of the world where maintaining tradition has won the battle over change.
The remoteness of Batanes has also made the Ivatans an incredibly industrious people with a community driven spirit – they believe in an unquestioned respect for nature and helping their neighbor.
Seeing all of this in 2 days might sound overwhelming, but the magic of the island is that you won’t leave feeling overwhelmed or tired. You will have stepped into another world for a little while, a world where time has stopped and where you have no choice but to truly live in the moment.
Sea Air has daily flights from Manila (P15,000) and there are a range of accommodations from basic ( Brandon’s (P1000) per night ) to extra comfortable (Fundacion Pacita at P 6000 Batanes Mountaineers can arrange anything you need, from just a hotel to planning a guide, transport and full itinerary depending on the length of your stay.