Batanes, Philippines – Taking the boat from Basco to Sabtang Island was definitely one of the things we were not looking forward to in our three days in Batanes. Not a fan of deep waters, my mind was filled with dread just thinking about the faluwa ride across the often treacherous waters of the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Just two days before, there was a typhoon passing through Batanes. But with the sun shining and the glistening waters look calm enough, maybe luck was on our side again today.
We were picked up before 6 AM at Marfel’s. Still sleepy, I tried to take in the jaw-dropping sights along the way to Ivana. Our guide was telling us that we will be exploring these spots tomorrow for the South Batan Tour.
Ivana Port, Basco, Batanes
Upon reaching Ivana Port, we hurriedly went up the stairs of San Jose de Ivana and took a look around. Located in front of the port, this church looks like one of the newer churches judging from its facade. So we were surprised to learn that its foundation is already more than 200 years old. The tower-like campanile was built separately and offers a nice view from the top. The floor tiles were amazing, a good submission for #ihavethisthingwithtiles.
Alas, our brief respite from the morning sun finished with our guide’s call that told us that we were ready to board the faluwa, a traditional boat in Batanes without an outrigger that is able to withstand the waves.
Donning our life vests, we tried to pick the “best” spot and braced ourselves for a bumpy ride after saying a short prayer. We need not have worried for the waters were indeed calm. In fact, the smooth waves lulled me to a light nap. The only noise heard throughout the 30-minute ride was the loud humming of the engine.
Docking in San Vicente Port, Sabtang Island, Batanes
I was jolted awake by the sound of our guide pointing out the big cross on top of Sabtang Island.
Upon docking in San Vicente port, I asked her about the seemingly new lighthouse in the distance. It is located on a private property hence cannot be visited that time and that fact weirded me out. I always thought lighthouses are government property. *shrugs*
I wanted to ride the local tricycles with cogon roof, but alas, I was outvoted. So off we go in our airconditioned van to our first stops – Morong Beach and Nakabuang Arch. The naturally formed arch is one of Sabtang’s popular spots, and also called as Mahayaw Arch. The surrounding beach, Morong Beach, is made of fine sand that is perfect for walking barefoot.
On the way to the Tourism Office, we passed by San Vicente Ferrer Church and Conscience Cafe, Sabtang’s answer to Honesty Cafe.
A look back in time at Savidug
After registration, we continued our journey to Sabtang’s villages. On the way, our guide pointing out the island’s idjang. An ancient fortress used during the colonial times.
Compared to the more modern Batan, walking along the narrow streets of Sabtang felt being transported back in time. Rows and rows of traditional houses made of limestone, boulders, and corals plus cogon roofs lined the streets of Savidug, a glimpse into Ivatan culture and traditions. These houses can withstand storms and earthquakes and are built to last.
Another highlight in Savidug is the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel painted in white and blue, and the Beaterio that is popular as a movie filming location and photography spot.
The hidden village of Chavayan
The drive to Chavayan was very photogenic. Lush mountainside on the right, and the cliffs and seemingly endless open waters on the left.
“You are very lucky”, I remarked to our guide as I stared off into the horizon. “Your province is very beautiful”, I added.
“Yes, we are. But still, there are lots who prefer to move to the cities.”, she said. Answering my earlier question before we left Savidug, on why we didn’t see people around the village.
The “Blow your horn” signage was once again present on the road leading to the quaint village of Chavayan. Apparently, it is the only road going in and out of the small village.
Welcomed by a small marker, our guide told us to look up. “What do you see?”, she asked while pointing out a mountaintop. We chuckled as we all answered that it looks like the mountain has a monster face.
Inside a small hut, the Sabtang Weavers Association displays their wares – assortment of products made from cogon and abaca, and other small tourist souvenirs. Driven by curiosity, I watched an elder lady as she weaves a vakul, an Ivatan headdress used by women to shield the locals from the harsh elements, as my friends inspect the fridge magnets on display.
After buying a few souvenirs, we walked the narrow streets of Chavayan. One thing you’ll notice is how this tiny fishing village, seemingly lost in time, is nestled between the mountains and the sea. The Ivatan houses here are also more preserved than the ones in Savidug, with some of them reaching hundred years old already.
We capped off our visit of barangay Chavayan with the only remaining church in Batanes with cogon roof – Sta. Rosa de Lima chapel.
The raw and rugged Chamantad-Tinyan
On the way to Chamantad-Tinyan, we were once again amazed by the jaw-dropping sight outside our window. Lush mountains, fine white sand, clear waters, and the white waves. It was as if Batanes was showing off, except this is just how it is ever since.
Chamantad-Tinyan, our last stop before lunch, actually consists of Tinyan viewpoint and Chamantad Cove. It was a bit off a walk until you see the cove but as soon as you get off your transportation, you’ll surely say that the word beautiful is an understatement to describe the place. The view made me speechless for a few minutes. Braving the heat and the strong wind was definitely worth it to walk on the rolling hills to reach the cove. The grassy slopes serve as a pasture for goats, so you’ll definitely encounter goat poops along the way. Jackpot! 😉
Too bad we didn’t have much time, for I really wanted to go down the beach of Chamantad Cove. The raw and rugged beauty of this place enthralled me, making it my favorite spot in Sabtang.
I was really sad to go but swore that I’ll come back here and stay at least one night on the island.
We had our lunch at a small hut facing the Savidug breakwater. The lunch was arranged by our tour guide ahead of time so we didn’t have to wait a long time for the food. Nothing better than feasting on good food with a picturesque view!
There and back again
Alas, it was time to get back to San Vicente port and take the faluwa again back to Ivana Port in Basco. Even though Sabtang day tour only lasted for half-day, it was definitely one of the most memorable day tours I’ve had. So much so, that I was wishing to come back soon enough!
Batanes | Philippines These giant jackstone-like structures can be found in Ivana Port going to Sabtang. They caught my attention on the way back to Basco island because they looked like jackstones. 😄 They are used near the breakwater to dissipate the waves and lessen their force before it reaches the shore or breakwater. #PSwanderlust #Batanes #tetrapod
Sabtang Island Day Tour Itinerary
Day 2 Sabtang Island
0600 H Call time
0620 H Ivana Port | visit San Jose de Ivana Church while waiting for the boat
0645 H ETD for Sabtang
0715 H ETA Sabtang San Vicente Port
0720 H start of Sabtang Tour
Nakabuang Arch, Morong Beach
Tourist Information Center (registration)
St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
1100 H Lunch
1300 H ETD for Ivana Port
1330 H ETA Ivana Port
Marfel Lodge (refresh/free time)
1800 H Tawsen Souvenir Shop
1900 H Dinner (D’Island)
Batanes | Philippines Facing the port of Ivana is the more than 200 year old church of San Jose de Ivana. Its yellow color is what makes it one of the vibrant churches in the northernmost islands of the Philippines. Ivana Port is one of those busiest ports in the province and this is the jump-off point for those going to the nearby island of Sabtang. Just a few steps away from this is the famous Honesty Coffee Shop. It's a self-service store that works on a trust system. Hopefully many more like this will be found in the archipelago. Ate Gie, our guide, told us stories of how she would take the faluwa everyday just to go to college. And that they would buy coffee and snacks at Honesty, while waiting for the boat. Even the Mayor of Sabtang takes the faluwa. We rode with him on the way back to Basco. 😊 #Batanes #PSwanderlust
Quick Guide to Sabtang Island, Batanes, Philippines
Where to stay in Sabtang: You can stay in Sabtang’s Lighthouse via Nanay Adela’s Homestay (Php500 per night with breakfast contact number: 09214967233) or from other homestays in Savidug or Chavayan.
You can stay in Sabtang’s Lighthouse via Nanay Adela’s Homestay (Php500 per night with breakfast contact number: 09214967233) or from other homestays in Savidug or Chavayan.
Prices as of October 2017
Sabtang Tour Fee: Php 1,000 – Php 1,500
Faluwa ride: Php 100 one way
Environmental fee: Php 200
Basco to Ivana jeep: Php 27 (ETD 6 AM and 12 noon)
Basco to Ivana tricycle: Php 400 (2 – 3 pax RT)
Set Meal Food: Php 300
Vakul rental: Php 20
Internet and ATM:
Bring cash for there are no ATMs in Sabtang. Mobile network and internet are weak and intermittent at best.
Check here for more Batanes tips, expenses, and the rest of our 3-day itinerary in Batanes!
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Have you been to Sabtang island, Batanes? What do you think?
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