Batanes is an archipelago province in Cagayan Valley, located in the northernmost part of Luzon. It is also the smallest province in the Philippines and is quite tricky to get to as you cannot reach it by land and the only way to go there is via airplane.
Also known as the “Home of the Winds” due to its often windy weather, Batanes might be hard to get to, but the breathtaking beauty of the place makes the journey worth it. With a picturesque view no matter where you look, Batanes is one of the most stunning destinations that the Philippines offer.
Despite the challenge, mostly revolving around budget, of going to Batanes, it is still one of the top destinations in the Philippines. The stunning landscape and the cool and tranquil weather make it seem that Batanes isn’t even part of the Philippines. The province even has an uncanny resemblance to places such as New Zealand and Scotland with its highland environment.
Why Batanes is One of the Must-Visit Places in the Philippines
Without a doubt, Batanes is a place that should be on everyone’s list of places to visit. Offering breathtaking views, Batanes is the epitome of a paradise. Batanes exudes a tranquil and soothing vibe with its generally tropical yet windy weather.
If you are still on the fence on whether you should visit Batanes, here are the best reasons you should give in to your wanderlust and journey to the Home of the Winds.
1. Amazing Landscapes
One of the main reasons anyone would visit Batanes is the breathtaking views this land offers. Strolling through sweeping rolling hills is akin to that iconic scene in the 1965 musical film “The Sound of Music.”
Honestly, you will feel the urge to belt out a couple of stanzas from the song “The Hills are Alive” or even the more contemporary “Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen. Batanes also has panoramic views of the mountains over the horizon, apart from the picturesque hills.
The lush greenery also complements the hills and mountains that surround Batanes. The best spot to fully appreciate the countryside breeze is in Racuh A Payaman in Batan, also known as Marlboro Country.
2. Stunning Beaches
The beaches of Batanes are also among the highlights of this small countryside destination. The coastline overlooks the vast Pacific Ocean and has a comprehensive collection of rocky coasts, coves, ridges, large rock formations, and white and cream sand beaches.
Batanes holds several beautiful beaches that you can visit. All of which are candidates for the best postcard pictures with how scenic they all are. More impressive is that these famous landmarks are all naturally made, such as the iconic stone arch in Sabtang called the Mahayaw Arch.
This formidable-looking arch is located in Morong Beach and is also a nice place to relax and use as a shade from the sun. Along with the fine white sand that surrounds its coast, Morong Beach is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Batanes and the whole of Luzon.
Another must-visit spot is the Valugan Boulder beach. With its unique rock formations and lack of sands, the Valugan Boulder is among Batanes’ more unique vistas. However, keep in mind that swimming is prohibited in the area as the waves can easily overwhelm anyone caught in its grip.
3. Heritage and Culture
Due to how far the province of Batanes is from the rest of Luzon, along with the difficulty of actually getting there, it is one of the few areas that managed to preserve its heritage, tradition, and culture. Walking around the towns there feels like going back in time or strolling around a vast outdoor museum.
There are also ruins from World War 2 around Batanes, such as American radio centers and Japanese hideouts. All of which are now abandoned and are simply echoes from a more chaotic time. These broken infrastructures are also some of Batanes’s few fascinating man-made structures; visiting these sites is undoubtedly a must for history buffs.
The locals here still practice their traditions, and you can see the iconic Ivatan stone houses of the towns in this province. The unique architecture of these houses is deliberate and practical as the region is known to take the full brunt of typhoons—the most famous of these stone houses is the House of Dakay, which was built in 1887. Speaking of hurricanes, it is best to avoid visiting Batanes during the typhoon season (June to September).
Most of the structures in Batanes, from the stone houses to the vibrantly colored churches, were built back in the 17th century. Also, the Ivatans (locals residing in Batanes) still make their traditional headdress called the vakul. Vakul is made from vuyavuy palm fiber and worn as protection from the sun and rain. You can even ask the locals to teach you how to make the vakul headdress.
Along with the rich culture still on full display by the Ivatan locals, they are also among the friendliest group of people you will meet. The people in Batanes are always smiling and greeting each other, and the towns exude warmth to it that makes everyone feel welcome.
4. Delicious Local Cuisine
While Batanes is not precisely known as a gourmet destination, one cannot deny that the Ivatans also offer some pretty unique and delicious dishes that are pretty much exclusive to these lands. The local dishes in Batanes are some of the most unique you will encounter in the Philippines and is a must-try for any self-respecting foodie.
I highly recommend visitors to try out the Uvud balls, which are lovely sweet desserts made from meatballs dipped in coconut meat strips. The combination of a sweet outer layer and tender, savory filling has a pretty distinct flavor that I loved.
There are also the Chinavules; steamed gabi leaves packed with spices such as onion, garlic, and ginger. For those looking for something more hearty, the luñis is a classic Ivatan pork dish that has similarities to another Filipino favorite, the adobo, but is crispier. Another must-try delicacy is the supas which is turmeric rice.
Batanes certainly has its distinct flavorful dishes that are not only delicious but also pretty healthy. I highly recommend trying out all the local dishes there when you visit Batanes.
5. The Batanes Lighthouses
Another signature tourist attraction of Batanes is the lighthouses scattered around the islands. Three prominent lighthouses can be found on Batan Island and Mahatao Island. These are the Naidi, Basco, and Tayid lighthouses. There are also several smaller lighthouses that can be located around the islands.
These remarkable lighthouses have become a staple of Batanes and are among the favorite tourist stops on the island. Even some accommodations allow you to stay overnight on select lighthouses. However, the queue for the reservations is so long that you need to book your stay around months to a year from your arrival.
You can also check out this excellent 3-Day Tour that will bring you through these fantastic lighthouses and other popular destinations in Batanes.
6. Zero Crime Rate
Not only is Batanes a charming and scenic countryside province, but it is also one of the most peaceful places in the Philippines. Crime is so rare that it is pretty much at 0%. Further proof of this is Batanes’ famous Honesty Store, wherein there are no cashiers or staff, the items all have price tags, and you simply drop your payments at a box inside the store.
Overall, Batanes certainly has something for everybody. The beautiful beaches are the epitome of paradise. The scenic topography will be a treat for photographers. The land is also rich in heritage and unique culture for history buffs. To help you plan your trip, I recommend checking out these Batanes tour packages for Sabtang Island Tour and Batan Day Tour.
So, these are the reasons why Batanes is one of the dream destinations in the Philippines. This small and quaint province offers natural beauty in spades, and its unique charm makes it one of the most distinctive destinations in the country. There is simply nothing quite like Batanes.