As one of my ultimate dream destinations, I expected Batanes to be "heaven on earth" because of the rave reviews of those who've been there before. The truth is, it exceeded all my expectations in every sense of the word. Still can't get enough of the province, we spent our third day in Batanes visiting the different tourist spots and attractions in the southern part of Batan Island, the second largest island in the province of Batanes. This whole day tour filled with amazing sights and activities includes a visit to the towns of Mahatao, Uyugan and Ivana. Taralets! Let's explore Batanes!
- Travel Tip: A Guide on Planning a Trip to Batanes
- Where to Stay in Basco, Batanes: Marfel's Lodge
- Batan Island North Tour
- Batan Island South Tour
- Where to Eat in BATANES: Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant
- Where to EAT in BATANES: Bunker's Cafe at Naidi Hills, Basco Batanes
- Where to EAT in BATANES: Paypanapanayan Canteen in Sabtang Island
- Where to EAT in BATANES: Marconines Canteen in Racuh A Payaman
- Where to EAT in BATANES: Vatang Grill and Restaurant in Ivana
- What to Buy in Batanes - Souvenirs and Pasalubong
Top Things to Do, Places to Visit, Tourist Spots and Attractions in South Batan, Batanes
You can find many amazing places and do many things in Batanes. I've listed here the top tourist spots and attractions, things to do and places to visit on our visit to the towns of Mahatao, Uyugan and Ivana.
1. Mahatao Idjang and Boat Shelter PortThis shelter port is built within the vicinity of Matahao Idjang which is intended to give shelter to boats plying the Basco-Itbayat and to Ivana-Sabtang routes during inclement weather conditions.
2. Mahatao Church (San Carlos Borromeo Church)Built in 1787 under the patronage of San Carlos Borromeo, this centuries-old church is declared as a national cultural treasure by the National Museum in 2001. It is one of the 26 Spanish Colonial Era churches identified by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to be under its conservation program.
The marker at the church's entrance reads:
"Itinayo sa ilalim ng patronahe ni San Carlos Borromeo, 1787. Nasira ng bagyo, 1872. Muling itinayo ni P. Cresencio Polo, O.P., 1873. Itinaas ng mga katipunero ang bandila ng katipunan sa kampanaryo, 19 Setyembre 1898. Pinalitan ng bubong na yero, ika-20 singlo. Tinanggal ang koro, noong mga taong 1990. Ipinahayag ng Pambansang Museo bilang Yamang Pangkalinangan, 31 Hulyo 2001.
3. Maywang A Libro Du Vatan (Batanes Blank Book Archive)Located beside the church, the Batanes Blank Book Archive is a room full of around a thousand books with empty pages. Visitors are encouraged to choose any book they want sign, leave a message, a prayer or maybe create artwork on its pages. It's a good way to say a little prayer or intentions or just to express what you feel.
I was born on April 21, 1980, so I pulled out book number 21 (my favorite number) and wrote my message.
4. Spanish LighthouseFrom the church's compound you could also see an old Spanish lighthouse used by the fishermen as reference point during that time.
5. Old BeaterioAlso within the vicinity of the church is an old beaterio or the priest's house.
6. Mahatao TownWe then drove up to Mt. Sumhao where the wind turbines are located. Before reaching the site, we were greeted with a picturesque view of the town of Mahatao surrounded with lush greens.
7. Mahatao Wind TurbinesLocated at Mt. Sumhao, these wind turbines are considered as the first commercially operated hybrid system in the Philippines. Unfortunately, as of our visit, they are not anymore operational.
The three units of 60-kilowatt wind turbines could have been a very good complement to the diesel generator system that Batan Island is using.
Since they are not operational, the wind turbines were intentionally brought down to the ground to save it from further deterioration. Hopefully someday, they will be able to utilize them.
8. Tayid (Mahatao) LighthouseBuilt recently in the year 2000, Tayid lighthouse in the town of Mahatao affords a stunning view of the pacific ocean as well as the other parts of Batan island with its rugged mountain cliffs.
9. Diura Fishing VillageLocated around 3 kilometers away from Mahatao town, Diura is a small village facing the Pacific Ocean. Here, you'll see local fishermen performing the Kapayvanuvanua ritual to signify the start of the fishing season which usually happens from March to May. It would be great if you visit this place during the start of the fishing season so you will be able to catch them perform the ritual.
The village is home to a group of fishermen called "Mataw" who practices the traditional fishing of "Arayu" or dorado fish. Dorado fishes being dried at the locals' houses are just some of the common sights at the fishing village.
The local government had also built a traditional house at the village which visitors could rent if they wish to stay here overnight.
10. Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country)This is probably one of the most photographed places in Batanes. Also known as "Marlboro Country", because of the grasslands reminds some people of the Marlboro commercial where the animals roam freely in a wide area. Racuh a Payaman is a communal pastureland with a panoramic view of endless rolling hills, the ocean, towering mountains and lush green pastureland.
I've seen this countless times in photos, but it's far more beautiful when you're already here. It's a perfect place to have some quiet time to enjoy the view and the cool strong winds.
Since it is a communal pastureland with non-domesticated animals, visitors are advised to stay at the trail for safety reasons. But don't worry, there are areas that you could go to take those precious moments.
A restaurant is also located within the vicinity of Racuh a Payaman where we had our lunch.
11. Imnajbu Village, UyuganAfter having our lunch at Racuh a Payaman, we drove southwards to the town of Uyugan. Our first destination is the village of Imnajbu, located in the southeast corner of Batan Island.
12. San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in ImnajbuImnajbu is considered as the Birthplace of Christianity in Batanes. It was in the village of Imnajbu where the first holy mass on Ivatan soil was celebrated and the first baptism was administered. There is a chapel in Imnajbu commemorating the said event. Its patron saint is San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint.
13. LORAN StationThese are the ruins of the old Long-Range Aid to Navigation (LORAN) built in Imnajbu village. Constructed by the Americans as a navigation facility, it was abandoned some time in the 1960s. Today it is being rehabilitated to be a national museum in Batanes.
14. Alapad HillDefinitely one of the magnificent views in Batan Island. This is famous as the location of the Richard Gomez-Dawn Zulueta movie "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit". A perfect site if you want to do the famous "i-Dawn Zulueta mo ako" moment. Hahaha!
I love this place as it gave me the chance to sit at the edge of the hill while enjoying the stunning view of the rock formation on my right, the mountains on the other side and the ocean in front of me. I literally sat here for about 15 minutes or more just staring at the rock formations being crashed by the huge waves.
15. Old House in Uyugan TownWe drove further southwards to Sitio Song-song. Along the way, we saw this old house. According to our guide, some parts of the movie "Batanes" were shot here. Very lovely stone house!
16. Song-Song RuinsThis is an old settlement where you could see clusters of roofless stone houses abandoned after it was hit by a tsunami in the 1950s. It is said that the families affected by the strong tidal wave were given resettlement in Mindanao under the Magsaysay government. It made the village a "ghost village" in the next 3 decades after the catastrophic event that happened.
Today, it is a thriving community again.
17. Honesty Coffee ShopWe then made our way to the town of Ivana where the famed Honesty Coffee Shop can be found. Located near the Port, it became famous worldwide for showcasing Ivatan's honesty.
There is no one manning the store. Instead, the owners rely on the honesty of the guests. Everyone is free to get what they need and in a log book, you just have to write down what you took with its corresponding amount. You then put your payment on the box provided.
Reminders when visiting the Honesty Coffee Shop:
- Self-service only
- Get what you need
- Pay for whatever you need
- If you have no change, knock at the next door
- If no one answers, sorry you give more than the price
- Always remember, "honesty is the best policy"
There's also a guestbook in the coffee shop where you could leave a message for the owners to see.
Truly, the Honesty Coffee Shop is one of its kind not just in Batanes but in the entire Philippines.
18. Ivana Church (San Jose de Obrero Church)Just across the coffee shop is Ivana Church or San Jose de Obrero Church. It is more than 200 years old with a foundation that dates back to 1795. It looks like a fortress with its square bell tower built on its left side. You can climb the bell tower to have a very nice view of the sea, the port of Ivana and the island of Sabtang.
The interior is smaller compared to the other churches in Batanes but it has intricate and beautiful tile patterns and noticeably thick walls.
19. House of DakayAlso known as Vajay ni Dakay, it is one of the most photographed Ivatan stone houses in Batanes. Originally owned by Luisa Estrella, the house was given to her favorite nephew Jose Dakay Estrella. Currently, it is owned by Floresida Estrella, more popularly known as Lola Ida.
According to our guide, Lola Ida was not born in Batanes, she was born in the Visayas where she spent most of her childhood years with her family in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Unfortunately, Lola Ida was not in her house when we visited. According to her relative, she just left for Manila for a medical check-up.
I have to go back to this house to meet Lola Ida and hopefully have a photo with her.
20. Old Spanish BridgeLocated right in the middle of the town of Ivana, it is an old Spanish bridge which is still being used up to this day.
21. White BeachThis white beach along the road side is so stunning with high stone cliffs surround the area. It has a stretch of semi-fine white sand and clear calmer water.
22. Chawa View DeckBefore ending our tour, we Chawa View Deck. As it faces west, the best time to visit this place is during sunset as it provides a very nice view of the setting sun. There's also a stairs that leads down to the adjacent cliff where one can fish, take more photos or simply just to enjoy the view.
Truly, Batanes is a paradise worth visiting. One should definitely have to visit Batanes once in their lifetime.
This is part of my 5-day trip to Batanes that happened on May 6-10, 2013. Batanes is the 79th province on my list.
- Planning a trip to Batanes? Read this practical Travel Guide on: "How to Plan a Trip to Batanes on a Budget"
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