Last year, I decided to slow travel and live anywhere in the country for a minimum of 1 month. I started in Cebu in Visayas, then to Bukidnon in Mindanao, then up to Baguio in North Luzon, all the way to Mountain Province and Kalinga, and finally, Batanes.

Batanes was my last destination for the year and I spent 1 month and 3 weeks there. Even though I’ve done it a couple of times, I still worried about a couple of things before going to Batanes, “Is the internet connection reliable?”, “Will I be able to cook my own food?”, “If I stay in a homestay for a month, will I be able to afford it?”.

But as an easygoing traveler, I arrived in Batanes on October 8 without any tours and accommodations booked, and barely any knowledge about the province. When I arrived, my first problem was the internet. Unfortunately, a typhoon passed a day before I arrived and took down a cell tower. My data wasn’t working when I needed to navigate through Google Maps to get around town. I walked from the airport aimlessly, cluelessly in Batanes. While I find this type of experience fun, I know it’s not going to work for everyone. So I wrote this comprehensive travel guide in Batanes for travelers like me who like to do it on their own.

Disclaimer: The Batanes Tourism discourages DIY travel around the province. Before the pandemic, they even prohibited it. Even now, the word “DIY” is like a taboo among the guides and tour operators in Batanes.

When I came to Batanes in October 2023, the tourism staff encouraged me to at least avail one tour, either North Batan, South Batan, Sabtang, or an Itbayat tour, before hopping on a rented motorbike to explore Batanes by myself. Starting December 2023 however, they clarified that it is not only encouraged but now required to avail at least one tour for tourists before exploring on your own.


Where to Stay in Batanes

In Basco, accommodation prices range from Php 500 to 1500 a night, per person. I would consider anywhere in Basco as a good location because everything is just within walking distance. But if you want to be at the center of everything, then I recommend the Midtown Inn & Restaurant. The cheapest rate I found is at Wakay Homestay, which only costs Php 500 per person a night, with A/C.

In Sabtang, I stayed at Da Figura Cafe (Figura Bed and Dine) and I definitely recommend it. A fan room only costs Php 400 per person, a night. The owner of the place is an architect and you can tell just by the ambiance of the whole place, it looks so cozy and beautiful from the restaurant to the accommodation.

A room in Figura Bed and dine
My room at Figura Bed and Dine

In Itbayat, we stayed at a friend’s house so I can’t recommend any homestay, but I wrote a list of the DOT-Accredited Accommodations in Batanes below. The list is from the Batanes Tourism Office.

Most of the accommodations in this list are in Batan Island. But sad to say, it is not specified whether the accommodation is in Batan, Sabtang, or Itbayat. I just know the accommodations in Itbayat are under the Homestay category.

HotelContact No.Email
Fundacion Pacita Batanes0939 901
Bernardo’s Lantia Hotel0917 512
Mabuhay Accommodation
Amboy Hometel0920 910 Vom
Baletin Hometel0907 389 7122None
Batanes Seaside Lodge & Restaurant0919 696
Boulder-Bay Residences0951 961
Beach Front Bed and Dine0938 217
Casa Domingo0906 515
Casa Feliciano0998 510 sa
Davocol’s Inn0928 505
Den Den Guesthouse0908 879 6509None
Dive Batanes Lodge0918 900
D Jeds Hometel0906 102
Hillside Villa0960 419
Ichehan Lodge0906 757 10
Katuvang B and B0917 535
KenAdrian’s Hometel0929 648 otheblog
Marfel Lodge (Main)0919 581 4549None
Midtown Inn0921 367
Octagon Bed and Dine0921 344
Penmaya Hometel0919 994 8653None
Pension Ivatan0917 177
Residencia du Basco0969 417
Shanedels’s Inn & Café0928 194
Timetravel Lodge0929 166 9838None
Ukuy’s Place0908 705
Villa De Babat0915 192 8276None
Villa Hontomin Hotel and Restaurant0998 567
Ysabelle Homestay0928 234
RnE Hometel0928 765
Figura’s Bed and Dine0919 364
Florabell’s Iraya Guest House0908 389 8262None
Pananayan Pension House0929 667 6775None
Abengaña’s Guest House0920 514
Alcantara’s Guest House0969 170 9988None
An Velayo Homestay0919 994
Crisan Lodge0999 990
Doque’s Homestay0966 460 0458None
Evan’s Homestay0921 881
Frater’s Room0999 789
Fuentes Heritage Tourist Inn0908 388
Hillside Lodge0960 353 7922None
Horlina’s Homestay0921 762
Marfel Lodge (Annex)0919 581
Necy’s Homestay0977 353 6998None
Novita House0928 239
Puriran Hometel0928 760
Rapitan di Vasay Lodging & Food0947 210 5960None
Troy Lodge0920 447
Wakay Homestay0961 249
Farmer’s Guesthouse1
Martinez Homestay0910 281 5843None
Neyala Homestay0949 317 7206None
Levinda Lodge0949 738 9795None


Fundacion Pacita's Cafe Tukon

Restaurants to Try in Batanes

I stayed in Batanes for 1 month and 3 weeks and ate out during lunch and dinner almost all of the time. I made it a goal to eat at all the restaurants my local friends recommended to me. Here are some of the food spots in Batanes I have tried that I recommend:

Where to eat in Basco

Paco Salad at Beehan
The Paco Salad at Beehan

If you want to try authentic Ivatan food at a fair price, then this is the place. It’s also the cheapest place to eat in Batanes, even cheaper than carinderias.

Korner Hauz Cafe
Garlic Pepper Beef at Korner Hauz Cafe
The Garlic Pepper Beef at Korner Hauz Cafe

A cozy outdoor cafe, Korner Hauz’s menu is inspired by American diners. I ordered chicken parmigiana, fries, and garlic pepper beef and loved the garlic pepper beef so much. I’m convinced it was better than Pepper Lunch.

Kookowa Chicken Inasal

I had a chance to try the grilled tuna in this place one time when I was going home from church and I remember my Globe’s LTE worked here (that only happens rarely!). They have unlimited free soup and the grilled tuna also tasted great.

Noods Ramen House

This was the nearest restaurant to where I lived. So when I had the worst hangover I’ve ever had that I got up at past lunchtime, I rushed to eat here. It was just the best ramen I’ve ever had so every time I had a drink with my friends the night before, you’ll find me here in the morning, even when I don’t have a hangover. The broth is so rich, I proudly say I have tried every ramen this place has to offer.

When my friends in Batanes and I talk about this place, we all agree it’s the best and even cheaper but better than most of the expensive Japanese restaurants in Manila. When I ate at Fundacion Pacita, I also overheard a group of friends (in their late 20s) saying Noods Ramen House has top-quality ramen that they ate there every day.

Cafe Pampayukay

I went to this cafe almost every day for the Starlink wifi so I could work, so I’d say their strong suit is the free wifi. Kidding aside, “pampayukay” means “pampagising” in Ivatan and the cafe owner is a coffee enthusiast. I’ve heard many compliments from tourists about the coffee in this cafe. But for non-coffee drinkers, beef pares is also a must-try! I don’t usually eat pares but it’s one of the things I miss from my stay in Batanes.

Jino’s East Pizzeria

A house turned into a pizza place, when I entered inside and saw the menu, it also reminded me of an American diner. We ordered pizza and chicken fingers and it was good. There are only two known pizza restaurants in Batanes, and for me, this one is better than the other.

Harbour Cafe

One of the most popular restaurants in town, Harbour Cafe offers outdoor dining with a sea view, where you can watch the sunset. The menu has a wide range of cuisine, but I loved the pesto pasta the most in this restaurant.

Near Basco

Cafe Tukon at Fundacion Pacita
Inside the Cafe Tukon Restaurant
The inside of Cafe Tukon

Fundacion Pacita is the most expensive hotel in Batanes, it’s the type of hotel where only the richest tourists stay. So you can already tell, their menu is pretty expensive. But from the ambiance to the views and food, Cafe Tukon aced it. I ate here twice and splurged each time. I loved the cheesecake and beef salpicao. The pasta with a local twist also tasted great.

La Ninay’s Food Stall
At La Ninay's Food Stall
My friend Karen and I at La Ninay’s Food Stall

When I took a look at the menu and saw corned beef, my first impression was an expensive carinderia. This outdoor restaurant has a cozy homely vibe but the food is gourmet level, and the corned beef was surprisingly “homemade”. An acquaintance told me the cook here worked at Fundacion Pacita before. I cannot even remember what I ordered but I just remember it being so good. 

Where to eat in Sabtang

Da Figura Cafe
The dish Vunung at Da Figura Cafe
The dish Vunung at Da Figura Cafe

I have tried a lot of dishes at this restaurant (because I celebrated my birthday here), and they all tasted great. They (Da Figura Cafe Owner) would and I would recommend trying the “Vunung” at this restaurant. It’s a local dish that’s rooted in the “Bayanihan” culture in Batanes. Vunung is also available in Basco but they say Sabtang Vunung is a different variation.

Where to eat in Itbayat

In Itbayat, we requested for Fish Sinigang to be served at a local homely eatery that I do not know the name of, or if it even has a name. It was arranged by our tour guide, Kuya Obet. The food costs Php 400 per person. It was expensive but it was so good.

Itbayat is kind of interesting, their population is so low that they do not regularly slaughter livestock. When they do, they inform everyone through text and it would sell out immediately. That’s why the food is more expensive and limited. They also have a super low crime rate that their resident judge whom we met in the eatery, almost has nothing to do. Of course, she doesn’t want any crime to happen, but she just craves something to do. She just reads regularly to expand her knowledge in her field.


How to get there

By plane

Philippine Airlines is the only airline that offers passenger transportation to Batanes. Round-trip airfare usually costs around Php 20,000, but when there’s a promo it can be as low as Php 6,000 to Php 7,000. I managed to score a round trip ticket to Batanes that only cost Php 6,700 on my recent trip last 2023. I booked the ticket in June, flew to Batanes in October, and went back to Manila in November.

How to get around

Batanes Tourism Map
The Map of Batanes from the airport

Around Basco

The town of Basco is so small that when you look at the map, the airport runway looks longer than the whole town. You can get around by walking or riding a bike. Locals get around by walking or riding a motorbike. Tricycles are usually on call and the minimum fare is Php 50.

If you want to go to the Rolling Hills and/or Lighthouse, you can rent a motorbike. It only costs Php 150 per hour.

By bike

I once did the Batanes loop by bike, passing through Mahatao and Ivana, then through the interior road on the way back, because a friend lent me his bike for more than a week. I do not recommend doing this, but if you ever plan on just biking around the town of Basco, here are the bike rental costs:

City Bike: Php 20/ hour

Mountain Bike: Php 50/ hour


By jeep

There’s a jeepney that leaves from Basco at 5 am and reaches Ivana in 1 to 2 hours. A friend only told me about the jeep schedule but I never had the chance to ride one as it leaves too early. You can ask around the locals, about where it departs in Basco.

By motorbike

You can rent a motorbike in Basco to visit the other towns of Batan Island.

Here are the motorbike rental costs:

Php 150/ hour

Php 1,000/ day

Basco to Sabtang

The boat that leaves from Ivana to Sabtang
The boat that leaves from the port of Ivana to Sabtang

The jeep from Basco leaves at 5 am just in time to reach the boat that leaves from the Ivana port to Sabtang by 7 am.

Around Sabtang

No establishments offer motorbike rental in Sabtang, but you can rent a motorbike from Basco for 1 to 2 days and bring it along with you on the boat to Sabtang.

Hiring a tricycle for a whole day tour in Sabtang costs Php 1800, but they discourage doing so without a tour guide. A tricycle capacity is only up to 3 pax.

I went to Sabtang twice, once with friends during my birthday, and the second time alone. I tagged along with my friend to get to the Ivana port and back and stayed at Da Figura Cafe for one night. As I was already close with Ate Charo, the owner, they let me rent their motorbike, and I only paid Php 300 for riding it half the day.

Basco to Itbayat

By plane

A one-way ticket to and from Itbayat costs around Php 2,800 to Php 3,000. It leaves from Basco at 8 am and from Itbayat at 9 am. The plane ride only takes 10 to 20 minutes.

By boat

The boat to Itbayat leaves from Basco at 5 am and costs around Php 800. The ride takes 2 to 4 hours.

When I went to Itbayat with my friend Norene, we took the boat to Itbayat and rode the plane back to Basco.

Around Itbayat

Going DIY in Itbayat is extremely discouraged because most of the tourist spots are cliffs.  Almost all of the motorbikes in Itbayat also have gear shifters because they have extremely steep roads. I doubt there are any motorbikes for rent in Itbayat.

An Itbayat tour costs depending on how many you are but a 1-person tour can cost as high as Php 8,000. My arranged tour with a friend cost us Php 2,400 each plus a Php 110 tourist registration. This excludes accommodation and food.

Batanes Tourist Spots

There are places I would willingly skip in Batanes’ recommended tourist spots and one of them would be the Honesty Coffee Shop. The Ivatans are known to be warm, kind, and honest people. The formerly called “Honesty Store”, now “Honesty Coffee Shop” is proof of that. Unlike other small stores in the Philippines, it is one without a cashier and you can just get what you want and pay for it in a jar. Years ago, it was only locals who bought from the Honesty Store. Today, however, because of this unique practice, it is now curated for tourists more than locals so I would not consider it an authentic Ivatan cultural experience. This recommended list of things to do in Batanes leans toward that (without skipping the best sights!).

Things to do in North Batan

Experience sunrise at Marlboro Hills

A view of the Marlboro Hills

With a breathtaking view of the sea, Mt. Iraya, Tayid Lighthouse, and the hedgerows of Mahatao, the Marlboro Hills belong to the top tourist destinations in Batanes. Just watch out for the cow dung lying around because it’s also a grazing hill.

Visit the Diura Fishing Village

A view of the limestone cliffs and rock formations at the Diura Fishing Villages

A small fishing village where you can see stunning limestone cliffs and witness the fishing culture in Batanes.

Mt. Iraya from the Spring of Youth in Batanes

You can also go to the nearby Spring of Youth, and take a dip in the spring pool with the view of Mt. Iraya.

Drive around the Batan Island

Batan loop, as I call it, can be achieved when you drive around the whole of Batan Island. I did this once on a motorbike and the second time on a bike. When I rode the motorbike, one of the things I found beautiful was the drive to Tukon from Mahatao– seeing the hedgerows of Mahatao from above, while riding my motorbike. 

Here are some spots that are worth the stopover when doing the Batan loop:

  1. Alapad Rock Formation (You’ll find the famous “Blow Ur Horn” photo spot here!)
  1. Mutchong Viewpoint (the I Love Uyugan signage is found here.)
  2. Chatapuyan or the iconic rock formation you’ll pass by from South to North Batan.

Climb Mt. Matarem in Ivana

View of Mt. Matarem in Batanes
My friend Karen and I at the summit of Mt. Matarem

Hiking this mountain was one of the best off-the-beaten-path adventures I did in Batanes. From the summit of Mt. Matarem, you can see the hedgerows of Mahatao all the way to Mt. Iraya.

Climb Itbud Ijang

The view from the Itbud Ijang in Batanes

Among many historical spots in Batanes, Ijangs sparked my curiosity the most. An Ijang is a hilltop fortress that the ancient Ivatans used as a settlement to defend themselves from tribal wars and pirates. The view from the top of the Ijang looks nice even though it was extremely hot when I hiked it.

Things to do in South Batan

Experience sunset at Rolling Hills and/or Basco Lighthouse

The most hyped thing to do in Batanes, even for locals, is to catch the sunset at Rolling Hills. I did this multiple times during my stay in Batanes. Once alone and the rest with friends. The views of the grazing hills do not disappoint every time.

You can also catch the sunset at Basco Lighthouse, although it’s not as incredible as watching it from the Rolling Hills.

Do a life reflection at Valugan Boulder Bay

Watching and hearing the waves crashing through the rocks is just super therapeutic, you may catch yourself just passing time at Valugan Boulder Bay for hours.

Sights to see in Sabtang

Chavayan Village

A view of an authentic Ivatan house in Chavayan, Sabtang

The most popular authentic Ivatan Village in Batanes located in the southernmost part of Sabtang, here you can spot the traditional Ivatan houses made of rocks, corals, limestones, and cogon roofs.

Chamantad Viewpoint

View of the Chamantad Viewpoint in Sabtang

I consider Sabtang as the most beautiful island among the three inhabited islands of Batanes because of the view here. The grazing hills facing the ocean just look so incredible.

Morong Beach

The postcard-worthy rock arch featuring Batanes is found here. 

Morong Viewpoint

Now if you haven’t had enough of the greenery and the sea, make your way to the Morong Viewpoint to witness this view.

Sights to see in Itbayat

Rapang Cliff

The highlight of an Itbayat tour is the trek to this cliff, which we unfortunately missed due to bad weather. I could only praise it through the photos I have seen.

Umawen Arc

Umawen Secret Arc in Itbayar

Going to this secret arc by the sea includes a very short hike down a rugged path, but the view is well worth it, especially during sunset.

Torongan Cliff

Torongan Cliff in Itbayat

Wild and historic, Torongan Cliff will make you realize how parallel the culture of Batanes’ ancient inhabitants was to Vikings. On the way to the cliff, you’ll see the ancient burial site of boat-shaped markers facing the sea.

Chinapoliran Port

If you’re on the right time, you can catch the local fishermen in their usual afternoon routine, practicing the “Bayanihan” culture to push the boats up the road from the end of the port and also eat some raw fish.


Cost of Living

The cost of living in Batanes is soaring high, it’s probably the highest in the whole country. I thought it was already expensive to live in Mountain Province because the rice costs Php 60/kg, but living in Batanes is on a different level. My local friend says you need to earn at least Php 30,000 a month to live properly in Batanes and by living properly, I mean not skipping any meals.

Batanes Tour Expenses

Tour operators offer 3-day tours around Batan and Sabtang that can cost as low as Php 18,000, airfare and accommodation included. They can offer promos as low as this when Philippine Airlines has a seat sale. My friends Norene and Mark got their tour from Byaheng Lokal, for Php 25,000 each. Their tour was in October.

If you plan to do it on your own though, here are some sample basic expenses;

5D4N in Batan

Batanes Tourist Fee300.00
Mahatao Environmental Fee50.00
Air Fare7,000.00
24h Motorbike Rental + Fuel1,300.00
Food & Lodge7,600.00
12 meals at 300/meal3,600.00
4 nights stay at 1200/night4,000.00

2D1N in Sabtang

Sabtang Environmental Fee220.00
Terminal Fee40.00
Roundtrip Boat Fare300.00
24h Motorbike Rental + Fuel1,200.00
Food & Lodge1,600.00
4 meals at 300/meal1,200.00
1-night stay at 400/night400.00

2D1N in Itbayat

Registration Fee110.00
Tour for 2-person at 48002,400.00
Boat Fare Basco to Itbayat806.00
Air Fare Itbayat to Basco2,950.00
Food & Lodge2,100.00
4 meals at 400/meal1,600.00
1-night stay at 500/night500.00

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