Batanes is a windswept province gathering 14 islands 310 km. north of Luzon. Batang, Sabtang, Ibuhos and Ibayat are the main islands inhabited by not more than 20,000 people. These natives are called Ivatans, which refers to “a place where boats are cast ashore”. Basco is the capital and the center of trade.
Batanes is geographically volcanic, which is evidently shown in its rugged and rocky land formations. The wide and rough ocean between Philippines and Taiwan isolated the islands from the mainland of the country, providing its people with skills, unique and tough characters for survival. Because of the frequent visit of destructive typhoons, houses are built of stone and tiles designed primarily for blocking strong winds. Natives rely basically on farming, while fishing is a supplementary activity.
Mt. Iraya, a dormant volcano standing 1,517 meters above sea level and Mt. Mutarem, with a height of 495 meters are two major peaks considered as hiker’s paradise for mountaineering visitors. There are interesting routes that feature variety of terrains from flat to rough signifying levels of difficulty. Despite the peaceful environment Batanes is famous for, it is still advisable to take at least one local guide when heading for a hike. Sabtang has six minor peaks, all of which stand from 200 – 350 meters, running down the backbone of the island and best recommended for easy hikes.
The Batan shoreline has sheer limestone cliffs, great boulder beaches, white sand beaches and incredibly fresh environment enough to unwind one’s exhausted spirit. Aside from the above mentioned luxury, your entire visit will also have remarkable opportunities for photography, water sports, and serene encounter with nature.
To get there, Asian Spirit has regular flights from Manila to Basco. The best time to visit is from March to May. Weather can be nice from February and as late as June but always bear in mind that on these islands, weather can change unpredictably.