Out of more than eighty provinces in the Philippines, there is one left without any case of corona virus. It’s none other than the blessed island of Batanes, the northernmost province in the country. Considered as the smallest province, both in population and land area. Nobody can go there by land as the only means of reaching it is by air. I, myself didn’t surprised when I read the data that Batanes still remains covid free (as of writing) since the first day of the pandemic. Why? I think so, because they implemented strict travel policy from the start of the outbreak, and hundred more reasons that other provinces might lack of. I can say so because I’ve been there three years ago and I admire of their people way of living, not to mention the beauty of the island itself.
Still fresh on my memory the first time I travel with my fiancé in Batanes as I considered it as one on my bucket list and it’s a dream come true trip for me. It was summer then, three days before my birthday. And I was so grateful that one of my wish granted, of course the credit was on my oppa by making it happened.
Basco (capital of Batanes) airport is not like other airport as it has only a short runway and only small airplanes could fly and land there. Upon arrival after more than an hour flight from Manila, we were welcomed by the villa owner where we will check-in. She’s very nice and so accommodating, not to mentioned that she’s the vice-governor’s wife. The road leading to our accommodation looks like a path going to paradise, the view was breathtaking. Fresh air, green mountains, blue sea and a lot more to see which I only encountered in postcard and movies. Everything is fresh to see. I thought, five days weren’t enough to discover the beauty beneath the island.
Our first destination was the Marlboro Hills in Mahatao, a cinematic pastureland which is picture perfect landscape that I have only seen on movies. Cows and carabaos can be seen grazing freely on the green wide field. Strong wind on the top of the hills might ruined your poise but not if you will enjoy and play with it. As we reached the hilltop, I felt like a child wanted to roll over the greens, no adjectives can explain that feeling of mine. From the top, the view of the Tayid lighthouse and the Diura beach below can be seen. All I wanted to do that time was to just sit and spend the rest of the day watching the sunset, but the rain stopped my plan. Well, that’s more than enough to end the day.
If you are a coffee lover and craved for your favorite Starbucks coffee or frappe, Batanes definitely not for you. There’s no fancy and expensive coffee shop nor big restaurants and fast foodchain here. But they have the famous Honesty Coffee Shop where you can grab a cup of coffee and snacks, as well as some souvenir items and you can pay it with your conscience. Yes, nobody will accept your payment, you’ll just drop your money in the box, so you need to prepare the exact amount or leave your change as a tip. Honesty is the best policy. Also if you’re into shopping, again this island is not for you, as there’s no shopping malls and movie houses.
Another place I enjoyed in Batanes was the village of Ivatan stone houses. The structure of the houses remains untouched where locals still live there traditionally. Houses were made of limestone, coral walls and wood with attached roof made of cogon (local grass). One good reason why their houses were made of such materials is to protect them against the harsh environment such as typhoon. Locals there are very hospitable as they let you to take pictures with their houses, of course wearing the traditional Ivatan garments.
We also visited the famous Morong beach with the most photographed spot, the large rock formation of Nakabuang Arch. The waves in Morong beach are gentler unlike other beaches in Batanes, and it’s white sand is comparable to that of Boracay. We also went to Basco lighthouse where you can view the West Philippine Sea. We explore the Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint which is a curvy landscape carpeted with grass. We also roamed the town of Ivana by renting bike for a very affordable price. Most locals there only use bicycle as means of their transportation, so less pollution.
There’s still more places we visited in Batanes as I couldn’t express in words how wonderful they are. The peaceful environment, breathtaking nature, nice and warm people, fresh foods and a lot more to offer. I considered this place as my favorite travel experienced so far. And I think I will never forget Batanes to the extent that I could stay there for long(how I wish). And I made a promise to myself that one day, I will definitely comeback there. So if you want to escape the busy metro and have a worth vacation that’s not easy to forget, Batanes is the one for you.