During our North Batan tour on our first day, Batanes has right there and then tugged my heartstrings. South Batan, on the other hand, made me skip a heartbeat. Its marvelous wonders had me feel a rush of emotions—excitement, awe, and a touch of disbelief. The reality is sinking in, and it’s even more breathtaking than the photos I have seen; than I have ever imagined. Every destination was like a page in a book with each revealing a piece of Batanes’s rich and well-preserved tapestry.
South Batan Tour: A Storyteller of Beauty and Legacy
South Batan Tour is composed of areas of interests in three municipalities namely Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan. Though one might think that some scenes are very much similar with the ones in North Batan Tour, the Southern part of Batan Island offers a lot more – literally and figuratively. It unfolds the Ivatan history and culture dating back from Pre-Hispanic to present and how its people have been preserving it. Apart from the stories that this region holds, South Batan is also a place to experience breathtaking scenes from the top of the hills to the shores where the tides can kiss your skin.
Pre-South Batan Tour
Our hosts in our accommodation, Baletin Hometel knew very well that South Batan Tour usually starts early so they served our breakfast at 6:00 in the morning. After an hour, our tour guides from Naidi hills Tour Services came around in their Ivatan tourist tricycles that we’ll use for the tour. Since the weather in Batanes is unpredictable, our guides made sure that we have umbrellas before we left.
South Batan Tour: Places to Visit
Chawa View Deck
Chawa View Deck is constructed sometime around 2003 by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It was designed as a resting place for the riders who travel from south to north Batan and vice versa. It also gives Ivatans an access to the fishing spot below. As for the tourists, it’s one of the spot to watch the sunset. It has some 150 steps from the deck down to near the ocean.
You’d also see from the view deck the Chawa Enchanted Cave. The elders believed that there are hidden treasures in the cave guarded by javuya, or enchanted, supernatural creatures.
Mahatao Shelter Port (Mahatahatao Fortress)
Mahatao is an Ivatan term that means floating. The Ivatans named it after the fortress beside it that they call as Mahatahatao and to honor the tribe’s strength and bravery as well. It is also among the many old settlements or Idjang and is a home to the strongest tribe back in the days. They believed that even the Spaniards could not defeat them.
The shelter port houses tataya or small local fishing boats and faluwa or passenger boats traveling to the island of Itbayat. This local government-funded initiative has been keeping the boat safe from the rough waves and weather.
San Carlos Borromeo Church
San Carlos Borromeo Church, locally known as the Mahatao Church, is seated at the town proper of Mahatao. Though built in 1787, the church stands still to date in its original structure. It was then awarded as a National Cultural Heritage by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in July 31, 2001. Among the significant historical event that occurred in Mahatao church is when the Katipuneros waved their flag here on September 19, 1898.
Annually, the townsfolk of Mahatao would gather in the church for bayanihan locally known as Yaru. It’s their tradition that has been keeping the church well-maintained.
Maywang A Libru Du Batanes (Blank Book Archive)
Just beside the San Carlos Borromeo Church is the Maywang A Libru Du Batanes or the Blank Book Archive. In 2005, a tourist who came to Batanes named Jay F. Ticar, a Fine Arts graduate from the University of the Philippines thought of the project and chose the San Carlos Borromeo Church Convent as the spot for it. Then, he brought about 500 blank books to the island. Everyone is free to write whatever they feel like writing in these blank books.
The Ivatans believed that the children have stable mental health due to their opportunity to journal in these blank books.
Tayid Lighthouse is the only hexagonal lighthouse in the province and is built in 2003 next to Basco lighthouse. Unlike the other lighthouses in the province, Tayid lighthouse is not functional anymore. This attraction overviews the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills of South Batan.
Tayid an Ivatan term for the act of pulling. It is neither a name of barangay nor the hill where the lighthouse is currently erected. Back in the days when there are no accessible roads to Mahatao from Diura fishing village located below the hill, people would then climb from the village to the farms nearby the roads and this also involves pulling.
Just in case you’d ask, nope, tourists are not allowed to go inside and up the lighthouse.
Racuh-A-Payamanan (Marlboro Country or Hills)
Racuh A Payamanan is an Ivatan term for Pastureland. It is popularly known as Marlboro Country or Hills since 1978 taking an inspiration from a cigarette advertisement in an international magazine. The rolling hills offers a view of the Pacific, Tayid Lighthouse, Mt. Iraya and the Diura Fishing village below.
It is currently under the care of a communal management group called the Mahatao Communal Pastureland Association. Each member of the association that they call as machipapayaman can put up to six range animals at the ranch.
Alapad Rock Formation and Hill
The Alapad Rock Formation and Hill are situated approximately 8 Kilometers from the Uyugan Centro. It features a scenic hill and tall rock formation shaped by nature. It is also where the famous “BLOW UR HORN” sign can be found. These natural feat juts out from the land by the waters creating a stunning sight as you drive through the curve.
National Museum of Batanes
One of the newest point of interest in South Batan is the National Museum of Batanes. If you wish to understand Batanes and its people, it is the best place to be. It introduces you to the islands, municipalities, history, culture, traditions and natural resources of Batanes. The museum also features taxidermized species that can only be found in the province and items of historical and cultural significance that help preserve and celebrate Ivatan’s identity.
Prelature Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal
Despite the distance, Ivatans would come all the way even from the north to the municipality of Uyugan as they strongly believe that the Prelature Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal is indeed miraculous. The church often gets flocked especially by the locals during Novena and Misa de Gallo.
Honesty Coffee Shop and Store
If you ever find yourself needing a warm cup of coffee early in the morning as you wait for the faluwa to Sabtang island, Honesty Coffee Shop is just around the corner. This coffee shop has been serving that purpose for 28 years — ever since its owner, Mrs. Elana Gabilo started it on September 25, 1995. Honesty Coffee Shop has passed the test of time serving people who happen to drop by. It has become a tourist spot on its own due to its admirable nature and concept. Presently, they have extended it to a souvenir shop.
House of Dakay
The House of Estrella that, popularly known as the House of Dakay (as it is owned by Jose Dakay Estrella) was built in 1877 for Luisa Estrella through the bayanihan system called as qapañidungan. The house is now considered as a cultural and historical treasure embodying Ivana’s enduring culture and tradition. It is still in its original structure despite the natural occurrences that devastated and leveled down other structures to the ground ages ago. The cogon roofing that adds a local touch to the house is replaced every 25 to 30 years.
Tuhel Spanish Bridge
Just a few meters away from the House of Dakay is the Tuhel Spanish Bridge. It is said to be built during the Spanish era so the Ivatans on the other side of the river or stream won’t have any excuses to attend the mass on Sundays.
Maydangeb White Beach
This white beach that stretches at about 150 to 200 meters between the municipality of Mahatao and Ivana is a popular destination for Ivatans for family outings, picnics and gatherings. It’s not that ideal for swimming as the waters are too shallow to a sudden drop as it is but a reef break. One the other hand, if you are into snorkeling and freediving, this is among the best places to do so. It is also where the motorcycle wreck at about 20 meters can be found.
Hohmoron Blue Lagoon
Just a few meters away from the White Beach is the Hohmoron Blue Lagoon. They used to call it as the Spaniard’s Lagoon as during the Spanish occupation, they are the only ones who can swim in the area. Presently, its clear blue waters can be best enjoyed by everyone and even the locals. It is the best spot to take a dip less the usual big waves around the province.
Other Places to Visit in South Batan
Since the South Batan Tour has too much in store for us for a day, we opted to visit the other points of interest during our free day. We took an Ivatan tourist tricycle to the other spots not included in the tour and these are the Diura Beach and Fishing Village and Spring of Youth.
Diura Beach and Fishing Village
Up from the rolling hills of Southern Batan island, you’d find a stretch this white beach dotted with boulders below with a tall conical formation at the waters. This is Diura Beach. Nestled serenely at the base of a gently sloping hill by this beach is a peaceful fishing village.
This fishing village in South Batan first known as Yura is inhabited by tribes who are mostly fishermen and boat craftsman. They are among the four well-known tribes in the province even before the Spaniards came.
If you wish to witness the Ivatans’ fishing rituals, this is the best place to be. Around the last week of February and first week of March, they perform this fishing ritual called Kapayvanuvanua to welcome the Kapataw (Dorado) season.
Ranum ni Kumalakal (Spring of Youth)
Due to the number of spots to visit in the South Batan tour, swimming is almost impossible. If you wish to go on a swim and you have some time to spare, say after a day trip in Sabtang island, you may then proceed to Spring of Youth. Situated along the coast of Diura Fishing village, this natural cold spring with man-made pool promises a relaxing dip on a sunny day.
You may visit the spring in all days of the week until 4:00 PM. However, visiting it on a Sunday means arriving into a busy, crowded place since it’s a spot where locals would visit to celebrate their family and rest day. Expect some ten-to-fifteen-minute downhill trek going to the Spring of Youth. Make sure that you’ll also bring a modest or conservative swimming attire as they are strict about it.
Batanes Tour Rates 2023
We booked all our tours in Batanes at Naidi Hills Tour Services. Take note that they do not have a standard rate for a tour (i.e. North Batan, South Batan, etc). It is always dependent on the number pf guests. Below are their standard Batanes Tour Rates for 4 days and 3 nights:
1 person – ₱11,500
2 persons – ₱6,800 per person
3 persons – ₱7,500 per person
4 persons – ₱5,999 per person
5 persons – ₱5,500 per person
These rates include the following:
- North Batan Tour
- South Batan Tour
- Sabtang Island Tour
- Accredited Tour Guide
- Lunch during tours
- Airport Transfers
- All Land Transfers
- RT Boat Transfers
- Port Fees
- Registration Fees
- Entrance Fees
- Environmental Fee
- Municipal Fees
- All other Government Fees
What to Remember Before your South Batan Tour
- The LGU Tourism Office strictly prohibits DIY tours in the island province ever since they reopened during the pandemic. Tourism officers or staff usually welcome the visitors by the airport’s arrival gate and would know if they have booked from DOT accredited tour operators or not. If it’s the latter, they would then assist the tourist in booking.
- If you decide to bring and fly your drones, please coordinate with your tour guides first. Prior to all your tours, make sure that you’ll secure a DENR permit first amounting to Php 1,000.00 (as of September 2023). Take note that you may also not be able to fly the drone in North Batan unless you are a licensed drone pilot.
- If time permits, you may opt to bring extra clothes and swimming attire as you may swim at the Blue Lagoon and White Beach. Take note though that there are no changing rooms nor bathrooms nearby these spots.
- Wear comfortable footwear. You’ll be walking a lot in this tour.
- Use sun protection. Wear sunscreen or bring hat or umbrella with you especially if it’s a sunny day. Umbrellas may be of use as well just in case the weather unexpectedly changes.
- Bring drinking water in reusable bottle.
- Bring cash. Most establishments only accept cash basis transactions.
- Wear modest clothes or bring a scarf (for women) if you’re wearing sleeveless clothes or blouse. Ivatans are very conservative especially as regards their churches.
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