Information about Batanes
Batanes comprises a group of islands in the northernmost region of the Philippines. The whole province spans a total land area of just 230 kilometers, making it the smallest province in the country as well. Aside from its size, the province also has the smallest population in the nation.
Due to its location, the province often experiences strong winds that eventually gained it the nickname of "Home of the Winds." As a result of its smaller population, Batanes' environment has remained largely untouched by pollution and continues to boast vast pasturelands. In addition, the region also features quaint lighthouses and a variety of farm animals such as horses and cows that graze freely in the fields.
In addition to their pristine environment, the locals enjoy a slower pace of life. This more laidback way of living is what often draws tourists to the province, especially those looking for a break from the hustle of city life.
The locals speak Ivatan; however, many have also learned Filipino and English over the years. The majority of the locals follow the Roman Catholic faith and have built numerous stone churches across the islands.
Best time to visit
When planning to visit Batanes, it is best to schedule your vacation from March to June, which is considered summer in the Philippines. Since visiting the province often requires taking a flight, these months also offer fewer chances of canceled flights as the drier weather also comes with smaller chances of strong rainfall. The majority of the tourist spots here are located outdoors as well, so the summer season will allow you to maximize your time in the province.
Cheapest time to visit Batanes
Traveling to Batanes from July to November is the best option when you're looking for lower rates on airfare on hotels as these are usually considered an off-peak season. However, make sure to check the weather prior to your vacation as these months are known as the wet season in the Philippines due to the higher chances of strong rainfall.
Weather in Batanes
Similar to the rest of the Philippines, Batanes has a tropical climate. The dry season starts in March and ends in June. Meanwhile, July marks the beginning of the wet season when there are higher chances of typhoons entering the country. Wet season ends around November.
Peak season in Batanes
Expect more tourists to flock to the province during the summer months from March to June. For visitors hoping to visit Batanes during the cold season, peak season often runs from December to February.
Main festival/events in Batanes
One of the most anticipated events in Batanes is the Kulay Festival, which takes place every second week of April. In their local tongue, the festival means "anything dried" and is held to celebrate and promote their long-standing tradition of creating dried products such as fish. The festival typically goes on for five days, highlighting their array of dried products.
When to avoid visiting Batanes
It is best to avoid planning trips to Batanes during the typhoon season in the Philippines, which lasts from July to November.
How to get to Batanes
The best way to reach Batanes is by taking a flight from domestic airports in the Philippines. The main gateway to the province is the Basco Airport located in the provincial capital of Basco.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Pampanga, are two of the most important departure points on the island of Luzon. The major departure point in Visayas is the Mactan-Cebu International airport while the Davao International Airport serves as the main departure point in Mindanao.
Safety in Batanes
Batanes has one of the lowest crime rates in the Philippines, making it a great place to visit even for solo travelers. In addition, the locals are known for their friendly and hospitable attitudes towards tourists.
Getting around Batanes
When visiting tourist spots on any island in Batanes, the cheapest way to get around is by riding tricycles and jeepneys. If you prefer private transportation, you can rent motorbikes and bicycles or hire a private van. However, if you plan on visiting the different islands, it is best to take the local passenger boats called faluwa.
Food and Drinks
While Batanes does not have a distinct local cuisine, the province is best known for its seafood dishes. Some of the must-try dishes are dried mahi-mahi, dibang, and payi.
The dried mahi-mahi has been a staple meal in Batanes for decades as a large part of the local economy depends on fishing. Dibang is another fish delicacy that is popular in the region. While you can enjoy it dried as well, you can eat it kilawin-style (similar to ceviche) for a different experience. Finally, payi is the local term for lobsters. To enjoy the fresh lobsters here, you can have them steamed and eaten with a variety of sauces.
Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Batanes
Batanes comprises 10 islands but only 3 of them are inhabited. The first is Batan, where the provincial capital Basco is located, followed by Sabtang and Itbayat. Since the majority of the tourist spots are situated in Batan, it is recommended to stay here to avoid having to take a boat ride to and from your accommodation.
Despite having fewer tourist spots than Batan, Sabtan is the ideal getaway spot for travelers who prefer more secluded areas. Sabtan is best known for its seaside cliffs and the old stone houses built with cogon roofs. Meanwhile, Itbayat is the largest of the three and boasts rolling hills and grasslands.