This tiny province up north is without a doubt one of the ultimate Philippine destinations.
With its spectacular views of land, sea and sky, everywhere you lay your eyes, this place is just postcard perfect!
I have been lucky enough to have been able to visit this dreamy place and explore 2 of its 3 main islands – the islands of Batan and Sabtang and on this post, of the hundreds of reasons to love Batanes, I’ll narrow them down to my top 9 favorites! (And I wrote that line like it was easy doing it. Haha!)
Here are 9 reasons why Batanes should be on top of your dream destinations.
THE BEST OF BATANES: TOP 9 GREAT SPACES LIST
Before I start counting down though, let me give special mention to the Sentinel of Basco – Mt. Iraya.
I do this, because you would have a lot of Iraya serving as backdrop when you take photographs of the places on the list – it was like omnipresent!
The moment you step out of the plane, aside from the cold wind, Iraya would be the first thing that would struck you about Batanes as its commanding form just looms at the very end of the runway.
Iraya is actually an active volcano. Its last eruption may have been in 1454 but some seismic activity were still observed from this giant in 1998.
Almost everywhere you are in the island of Batan, you would see the Great Iraya, often kissed by clouds, seldom revealing its peak…
Now, let us get to the most scenic spots in this smallest province of the Philippines. Mind you, it was very hard to decide which will make the list as each place seems to be as gorgeous and incomparable as the one before hence to come up with my 9 and moreover, to rank them, I came up with a largely biased criteria of:
Epicness (30%) – the undeniable beauty and postcard-worthiness of the place
& Happiness (70%) – more than blowing your mind or taking your breath away, beholding or being in the place actually made you smile, yes, it simply made you happy!
Number 9: Nakabuang Arch and Morong Beach
(Epicness – 25 / Happiness – 55 | Rating: 80%)
The islands of Batanes are bounded by rocky cliffs and crashing seas, hence going swimming is almost an impossible feat, but you can still treat the beach junkie in you at Morong Beach.
It features the Nakabuang Arch and is usually the last stop of the Sabtang Tour which often ends midday (just in time for lunch!).
While waiting for your coconut crab to be cooked and lunch to be served at the Pananayam Canteen a few meters away, you can take a walk on the beach, dip in the waters, or just like me, find shade under the iconic arch to escape the glare of the sun.. (uhuh, the beach and I don’t usually mix unless we involve sunrises and sunsets)
Number 8: The Alapad Pass
(Epicness – 28 / Happiness – 60 | Rating: 88%)
Have you heard of the movie “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit”? Yep, that famous I-Dawn-Zulueta-Mo-Ako scene was filmed here.
The winds maybe fierce in Batanes but so can be the sun, so you can imagine when we reached Imnajbu Point/The Alapad Pass at midday how it was beating down upon us. But like every good turista, we decided to take the road on foot and not let the elements stop us from taking and being on those gorgeous shots. A road was cut thru these hills, leaving the rugged formation – the Alapad Rock.
Number 7: Naidi Hills and Basco Lighthouse
(Epicness – 26 / Happiness – 65 | Rating: 91%)
Every tourist’s first stop upon coming to Batanes would be this lighthouse over at Naidi Hills as this romantic setting is just a few minutes on foot from the province’s capital.
I consider this tower the other sentinel of Basco with it allowing an encompassing view of the whole town, the lush hills, the mountains and the open seas.
A few meters to the side, below the lighthouse are a few bunker ruins, remnants of World War II and one of these has been converted into the Bunker Cafe. Note that dinner here is “for reservation only” hence on your first trip to the hills, don’t forget to place in your reservation! The food was amazing, trust me! The chef actually elevated gulay (which of any form or variant I never eat) and turn it into something that was actually yummy for me!
Number 6: Valugan Boulder Beach
(Epicness – 28 / Happiness – 67 | Rating: 95%)
Catch your first sunrise in Batanes at Valugan Boulder Beach.
A long time ago, Iraya erupted and rained huge rocks over the east side of Batan, hence instead of sand, you would see this long stretch of huge boulders.
Centuries and merciless tides had smoothen these huge stones in Valugan.
We had the place to ourselves that early morn and we stayed for hours even after the sun has risen. With this haven facing the Pacific Ocean, you could imagine how crazy the winds are and how the tides are menacing but for some reason making tambay at Valugan was actually soothing.
Number 5: Marlboro Hills
(Epicness – 30++ / Happiness – 65 | Rating: 95%+)
One of the places I was really looking forward to visiting and doing a “photo shoot” in Batanes is Rakuh-a-Payaman, more popularly known as “Marlboro Hills”.
It lies on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and affords one a lovely view of the pastoral hills, the great Iraya, the rocky cliffs… yeah, spell 360-degree!
But the place also screams “LAND OF THE WINDS!!”. The winds here are fiercest, it was sunny yet I was shivering, my hair whipping all over my face, at times I was in danger of doing a jack-and-jill-tumbling-down-the-hill because of its strength. Yeah, it’s hard trying to do a photo shoot here, I tell you the struggle was real! Hahaha, but bias aside, Marlboro Hills may just be the most EPIC place in Batanes.
Number 4: Mahatao Lighthouse
(Epicness – 29 / Happiness – 69 | Rating: 98%)
This is the last stop of our South Batan Tour – the Tayid Lighthouse in Mahatao. (It is actually visible from Marlboro Hills if you check the previous photo )
The amorseco swayed softly in the wind, backdropped by the rugged contours of Mt. Matarem and the clouds that were starting to roll in – yes, Mahatao was drama & fairytale.
With Iraya and the never ending blue sea and sky in the background, this certain frame of the lighthouse may be the most postcard perfect and most iconic of Batanes.
Number 3: Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint
(Epicness – 30 / Happiness – 70 | Rating: 100% )
It was like one moment we were on an uphill path, a gravel and dirt road, rounding this little bend and the next thing I know I am beholding this wonderful seascape+landscape, this 360-degree of breathtaking view!
We were on our way from Savidug to the next village of Chavayan and this viewpoint came as such a surprise. Open-mouthed and giddy with delight, I may have ran around, jumping up and down, clapping my hands having beheld something so grand. You would understand once you reach the place, haha!
Batanes would never cease to blow you away, that sometimes you often need a moment to take all of the awesomeness in. Yep, this place in Sabtang was the best Batanes surprise for me.
Number 2: Chavayan Village
(Epicness – 30+ / Happiness – 70 | Rating: 100%+)
Meet Old Batanes.
Imagine waking up in the morning to greet the sunrise at this hidden land.
Tucked at the foot of a mountain range and flanked on the other side by a stretch of white sand beach and the ocean, with a view of the rocky cliffs not so far beyond, you can’t help but be charmed by this little village of Chavayan.
It was like myth, mystery, like we were on a land far, far away! Here, rows and rows of stone houses still stand, a testimony to time.
Number 1: Vayang Rolling Hills
(Epicness – 30+ / Happiness – 70+ | Rating: 100%++)
Maybe because I was wearing a favorite dress that day or that the sun came out and was actually shining prettily, but not even the howling winds whipping my hair all over my face could detract from the grandness and the charm that is Vayang.
When they called Batanes the Scotland of the Orient, I’m sure they had Vayang in mind. Everywhere you look, it’s just unbelievably scenic – from its verdant hills, to the gentle slopes, with dandelions on your path and an unimpended view of the skies and the crashing seas.. Yeah, it would be lovely to be strolling these hills any day, every day, the whole day.. No word can suffice, Vayang is simply the one who called out to the child in me – it got me curious, awe-struck, happy, free.
So there you have it! My favorite places in Batanes, and mind you, the photos may have not been able to do these places justice.
Amongst those 9 Batanes scenic spaces, which one do you think will be your favorite? Seriously, do start making your plans for that gorgeous Batanes trip! I tell you, it will be one of your most epic!