Batanes is undeniably a dream escape to many travel enthusiasts. A dream come true for me, exploring the island is falling in love with it – love at first sight! And every sight indeed! Tagged by others as a paradise in the northern part of the Philippines, Batan is the main and second to the largest among Batanes islands.
Tour around Batan Island is usually divided into two, the North and South Batan tour, each can be finished for around 4 to 5 hours. Very much excited for our North Batan tour, we started at Mt. Carmel Chapel.
Mt. Carmel Chapel
Otherwise known as Tukon Chapel, Mt. Carmel Chapel was built in early 2000. Tukon is an Ivatan term for mountain. Like the traditional Ivatan houses, the small chapel is made of stone where mass is held every second week of the month.
Small as it is, the chapel is actually a favorite venue for intimate weddings. Also inspired by the Spaniards, the ceiling resembles a boat and is painted by images of saints made by young Ivatan artists.
From the chapel, you can get a really breathtaking view of both the West Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean. Mt Iraya, a dormant volcano, can also be sighted.
Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
Located at the hills of Tukon, we next passed by a Japanese Tunnel. Made up of five doors, the tunnel was built during the Japanese occupation serving as shelters for soldiers. It is very dark inside and you have to bring a flashlight to be able to go through the tunnel and exit at the other end.
Valugan Boulder Beach
After the tunnel, we visited Valugan Boulder Beach. As its name implies, absolutely big rocks lined up the shore. Walking through the giant stones may be a challenge to get near the waters but it is certainly one of the fantastic and unique pieces of experience you’ll take home from Batanes. Curious how these stones were formed? The stones were actually spewed from the eruption of Mt. Iraya long time ago.
Vayang Rolling Hills
Following our exciting and fun walk at the boulders of Valugan Beach is a windy, heart captivating stroll at the rolling hills of Vayang Ranch. This is another spot in Batanes offering a great view – the combination of green and seemingly endless hills and the calm West Philippine Sea. I really enjoyed walking in the undefined paths of the hills and I felt like shooting a scene in a movie.
Basco Lighthouse and Naidi Hills
Still overwhelmed by the stunning rolling hills’ view, we were once again greeted by another enchanting sight as we next climbed Naidi Hills where Basco Lighthouse is located. Naidi, which came from the two Ivatan words, “Na” meaning past and “Idi” meaning settlement, Naidi actually served as an old Ivatan settlement.
Composed of six levels, we climbed the lighthouse through its narrow staircase. Located at the fifth floor is a viewing deck where we got a panoramic view of Basco town.
During the American period, telegraph facilities were built at the hill which was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II. Today, you can see the ruins and one of the buildings that survived which was transformed into a famous eating place in Batanes, the Bunker’s Café.
One of the best times to climb Naidi Hill is during sunset for a more serene and dramatic atmosphere.
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Cathedral
During our free time, we visited Our Lady of Immaculate Cathedral which is located at Basco town. Built in 1783 out of cogon and wood by Dominican missionaries, it is the first Catholic Church in the province.