Philippines’ Beaches: What’s Not to Love?

The Philippines, being an archipelago, is dotted with innumerable pristine, sparkling beaches. Some white, others black, a few brown, and surprisingly pink too! We have beaches that are as fine as talcum powder to gritty, sandy ones, while others are pebble lined. Majority of these tropical paradise boasts off crystal clear water that comes in azure to turquoise colors. Regardless of the color and texture of beaches’ sand and water, Philippines’ seashores will make one’s “beach escapade” memorable and fun!

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Besides the obvious aesthetics of our beaches, here are other reasons why bumming around the beaches of the Philippines is a must doPhilippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches are home to various water sports and activities. From surfing, to snorkeling to SCUBA diving, kitesurfing, kayaking, island-hopping and many more. Plus, the marine life is teeming with wonders.  One will never run out of things to do. These activities can keep you fit and make your vacation more fun-filled.

Philippines’ beaches showcase some of the most jaw-dropping sunrise and sunset views. Everything turns into a picturesque, surreal nature art once the sun starts to rise. It is even more dramatic during sundown. Sunset by the beach is one thing I look forward the most.

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Philippines’ beaches are generally cheap. While some of our beaches are becoming more and more commercialized, I want to believe that majority of our beaches are still inexpensive, and some even for free. One could spend some time along the beach without worrying about spending much – paying for entrance fees or buying pricey food because again, the cost isn’t really high.

Philippines’ beaches are home to good and hospitable Filipinos. I want to think that Filipino hospitality is evident in almost all parts of the country – whether at the mountain villages, to seaside towns, and various rural areas. Most Filipinos are willing to lend a helping hand in whatever ways they could. Some families would invite you their homes, some would even cook the freshest sea catch of the day for their visitors to have a sumptuous meal.

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They say “life is a beach”. Whether you have a beach bod, dad bod or whatever kind of body figure you have, the beach is one welcoming place for you to experience life, to live life.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Breathtaking Batanes: IVANA (Philippines)

Batanes is indeed one place that is filled with amazing sights and activities. Every town has its own distinct attractions. Ivana, the smallest among the 6 municipalities of Batanes, has a fair share of these wonders, most of which are impressive stories of Ivatan valour that is truly unrivalled.

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Five notable landmarks in this fishing town are the following:

The House of Dakay – believed to be the oldest stone house in the province (also the most photographed house in the island province). It is now considered a UNESCO-inscribed treasure. This stone-made abode is an epitome of time-tested strength. The thick walls are made of thick stone and lime. The roofs are made from cogon grass about 1/3 of a meter thick.

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San Jose Obrero or San Jose de Ivana Church – the only church in Batanes with a separate campanile built in 1784. As with other churches in the Philippines, this church was built to endure time. The fortress like walls and firmly built bell tower are a delight to the sense of sight. With its yellow color, it is one of the most vibrant structures in the island.  It is even strategically located near a port and the sea.

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The Honesty Coffee Shop – one of the most iconic landmarks in the entire Batanes. This one of a kind store exemplifies the Ivatan’s honesty and integrity. The store has no standby seller with which the owners rely on the nobility of the person buying when it is time to paying for the goods taken from the store.

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Not as noticed by most people is the old Spanish bridge of Ivana, considered to be the oldest bridge in the entire province that is still used to date.  Lastly, the Radiwan Port – known as the jump off point to the nearby island-town of Sabtang. It is considered as one of the busiest ports of the province, which shares the same area where the Honesty Cafe and the Ivana Church are located.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Breathtaking Batanes: UYUGAN (Philippines)

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

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Uyugan – the town that comprises the southeastern part of Batan island in the province of Batanes. It is said to be the municipality with the most ample intact stonehouses from among the 4 towns in Batan Island.

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This very laidback town is as picturesque as the other Batanes towns. Both its landscape and seascape are truly delightful to the sense of sight. (FYI: “Uyugan” means place of flowing water).

What To See in Uyugan:

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Uyugan Church, one of the smaller churches in Batanes that is dedicated to San Antonino de Florencia. They say, the church used to be pink in hue. But during the time if my visit, the color is now light yellow.

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Another notable church is to the San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel located in Imnajbu . Imnajbu is regarded as the birthplace of Christianity in Batanes. The first mass in the province is believed to have taken place in Imnajbu in 1682, when Fr. Mateo Gonzales reached the Batan shore.

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Alapad Pass, Alapad Hills and Alapad Rock Formation: The Alapad Pass is part of the national road that cuts through a big rock in Itbud. Facing the Pacific Ocean and the Balintang Channel, the site gives a magnificent seascape view.

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The Alapad Hills is famous to avid Filipino movie-goers as this is a significant landmark in a movie called “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit”.

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From the viewpoint in Alapad, one can see the ruins of the old USCG LORAN Station (US Coast Guard – Long Range Navigation). According to some people, the once center of Americans during the American era, is set to be opened as a museum.

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The Ruins of Sitio Songsong. This is an abandoned area that depicts a remnant of the past when a tsunami hit Batanes in the 1950s. Although many of the residents are now starting to come back.  Another movie, “Batanes” was actually shot in this area where a stonehouse was used.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

For accommodation in Batanes and other Batanes related write-ups, check out the following sites:

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/breathtaking-batanes-basco-philippines/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/breathtaking-batanes-sabtang-island-philippines/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/breathtaking-batanes-mahatao-philippines/

Breathtaking Batanes: MAHATAO (Philippines)

Mahatao – a town in Batanes that is rich in cultural heritage sites and practices. It’s the smallest town in Batan in terms of land area but has the second largest population next to Basco. It is is divided into four barangays: Hanib, Kaumbakan, Panatayan, and Uvoy. It’s nearness to the capital makes it a favorite destination among travelers going to Batanes. This is uaually a part of the South Batan Island Tour.

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WHAT to SEE:

The Chawa View Deck a.k.a. Mahatao View Deck. This is usually the first stop for the Southern Batan Tour. From the view deck, one gets a spectacular view of Batan Island facing the South China Sea. This is also a perfect spot to enjoy Batanes sunset facing the South China Sea where one may go more than a hundred steps down the adjacent cliff to fish, take more pictures, or simply test endurance. While going down is as easy as walking through parks, climbing back up is quite a workout.

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Homoron or Spaniard’s Blue Lagoon. It is called as such because during the Spanish Colonial times, only the Spaniards were allowed to swim in the area. Nowadays, it is open to all guests for swimming and picnics. The waterscape features a flat coral bed and crystal clear waters that is so inviting to go for a swim.

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Di-Atay Beach is a striking cove with multihued rocks and white (coralline) sand ideal for picnics and beach-bumming. It is just located along the highway of Mahatao, so it wouldn’t be too hard to miss it. The area is bounded by some giant rock formations and greeneries that include coconut trees.

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The Mahatao Boat Shelter (or just Port Shelter). This is becoming an iconic landmark in Batanes. This is where inter-island boats, and vessels dock during stormy weather. Since fishing is one of the main industries in Batanes, (and since Batanes is frequented by strong typhoons), it paved way for the construction of this boat port as a means of supporting the industry and the provision of local employment.

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San Carlos Borromeo or Mahatao Church. A churched built way back in 1787, was named in honor of its patron, St. Charles Borromeo.  It is being run by the Dominican Order just like the other churches of Batanes. It has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. It had either been destroyed by natural calamities or it has been gradually improved through time by changes through use of better materials.

Just outside the church is the original Spanish Lighthouse. Often unnoticed, this piece of the past is made up of two vertical structures about 30 meters apart and has a rectangular opening on the upper portion of the structures.

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A unique library beside the church called Blank Book Archive, or in the local dialect ‘Maywang A Libru Du Vatan’, houses books with blank pages. Visitors randomly choose a book and can fill in the pages with their messages or even their own stories. (I actually did, and I find it really interesting).

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Tayid Lighthouse a.k.a. Mahatao Lighthouse. This modern structure was built only in 2000 and completed in 2004. This used to be a functional lighthouse but is now regarded as a tourist attraction. It is rightly located on a hill at the east side of the Batan Island, from which cows graze on the hills. Once there, a stunning view of immense jagged mountains cliffs, hedgerows and a panorama of the Pacific Ocean can be seen.

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Liveng/Hedgerows – This quaint quilt-like/ labyrinth-like patterns across farms divide farm lots, protects crops from wind and animals, control soil erosion, host migrant bird, and provide wood and reeds for domestic use. They constitute the sustainable agricultural systems of Batanes. The reeds are also used as ceiling materials for the traditional houses with cogon roofs. These hedgerows add up to the already picture-perfect landscape of Batanes.

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Racuh-a-idi Spring of Youth. This is a man-made poolside with a view of the Pacific Ocean and Mount Iraya. It is perfect for picnics and is a source of spring water. A dip in the pool or by the beach near it, will surely make you feel relax. One may also offer prayers in the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes beside the spring.

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Diura Fishing Village and Mananoy Bay. This is a sitio  in the eastern part  of Mahatao where an association of fishermen called “Mataw” practice traditional fishing for “arayu” (dorado). They have a ritual called “kapayvanuvanua” signifying the start of the fishing season which falls in March. The village offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean and Mount Iraya.

And for my favorite spot?

Racuh-A-Payaman or more commonly known as The Marlboro Country of Batanes. This is a communal pasture land which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Batan Island where the number of cattle outnumber that of the residents. This is just paradisiacal!

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For accommodation in Batanes, check out the following related sites:

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/breathtaking-batanes-basco-philippines/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/breathtaking-batanes-sabtang-island-philippines/

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be a wanderlust. Take it easy ebriwan.

Breathtaking Batanes: SABTANG ISLAND (Philippines)

Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful. – Prince

A visit to Batanes is almost incomplete without an overnight stay (or just even a quick tour) of the island town of Sabtang.

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Sabtang, the smallest  and the southernmost island municipality of the Batanes island group which is composed primarily of Sabtang Island, as well as two nearby smaller and uninhabited islands: Dequey and Ivuhos. The municipality is known for its lighthouse and the old stone houses of the Ivatan villages of Chavayan and Savidug. Like Batan Island to the north, Sabtang also has a few Mission-style churches and white sand beaches.

WHAT to SEE in SABTANG:

Savidug – A barrio that is around 3 kilometers away from the town center and is abound with traditional stone houses.  It is said that there are 3 types of Ivatan houses lining the streets of Batanes: the maytuab, stone house with four-sloped thatched cogon roof; the sinadumparan, stone house with two-sloped cogon roof; and the jinjin, wood and cogon. In this village, sinadumparan houses are those that are seen. The stone walls of these houses are all identical, but the doors and windows present a way for individual ingenuity. They add color to the otherwise dull structures. You can also find St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and the Old Beaterio (a priest’s house) in this quaint village.

The old beaterio in Savidug.
The old beaterio in Savidug.

Chavayan – Another seaside village famous for its rows of old stone houses, old streets, and old sites. Just like Savidug, this village’s narrow street is lined with sinadumparan stone houses. It has a tiny chapel – the Chavayan Chapel – which is a special chapel because it is the only remaining church in Batanes roofed with cogon grass. What makes it more exceptional is the fact that it is only about 10 meters away from the beach. In this town will one gets to visit the Sabtang Weavers Association. Dont forget to try out their traditional head and back woven gear called “vakul”.

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Malakdang Lighthouse or Sabtang Lighthouse – On the edge of a cliff just beside the San Vicente port, is the first man-made structure to welcome you as you move towards Sabtang .It boasts a rubble masonry finish all the way to the colonnade deck, which gives it a prevailing crude appeal. The lighthouse is best viewed from the port where rolling waves take the forefront. Just lovely!

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Morong Beach –  It is also known as Nakabuang Beach. It is a short stretch beach with low, grass-carpeted hills and rocky feautures. Its most outstanding feature is an arch, called Ahaw or Mahayaw Arch, that is perhaps one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Sabtang or Batanes as a whole. There is a restaurant in the surrounding area, making it a usual lunch stop.

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Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint – To me , this is Sabtang’s version of Marlboro Country (Racuh a Payaman). From the road going to Chavayan Village, one can already see and be in awe with this very picturesque hill. A foot trail takes visitors across rolling hills to a very charming viewing area. The rocky cliffs expanding from the slopes of the hills, create natural frames for the extraordinary landscape and seascape of Chamantad Cove beneath.

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A day tour of Sabtang will give you a sense of what Batanes really is. Just what I have always imagined!

WHERE to STAY in SABTANG:

Harold Gabotero’s Vernacular House 0999-9958262
LGU Lodging 0918-488-2424
Lola Maring’s Homestay 0999-995-8262
SNSF Home Economics Building 0921-715-4919

HOW TO REACH BATANES:

The fastest and safest (but could be an expensive) way to get to Batanes for now is by plane. Airline companies serving the island province with 3 flights per week from Manila are SkyJetAir, and PAL Express; while local airlines from Tuguegarao, Cagayan have a minimum number of passengers required for a flight and if there aren’t enough, the flight will be delayed / re-scheduled for 24-72 hours.

HOW TO GET TO SABTANG from BATAN ISLAND:

From Ivana Port , Sabtang is accessible via a 30-minute (or more depending on how rough the waves are) ride aboard the faluwa, the bigger traditional Ivatan boat.

You can check out the write-up on Basco, Batanes here

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/breathtaking-batanes-basco-philippines/

Breathtaking Batanes: BASCO (Philippines)

Duane Carey once said — And, obviously as one who likes to travel around myself a lot, I think the Earth is a beautiful place. And, I’m looking forward to some new perspectives.”

I have always dreamt of going to Batanes (the smallest and the northernmost island province of the Philippines). Since I started backpacking in 2004, it has been in my bucket list. And just last year, that once elusive dream turned into a reality. Batanes is pretty different from any other province I have visited across the Philippines. Every corner is worth seeing and experiencing . And to say that this sojourn was surreal, would be a tad understatement.

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Batanes is the only province in the Philippines declared in its entirety as protected landscape and seascape are. It is a haven for individuals who are into nature’s beauty and great outdoor adventure. Most travel-enthusiasts include Batanes in their bucket list. The province offers breathtaking sceneries to spirited and tranquil community experience.

DSC_0959This is a series of write-up about Batanes. First stop is a feature of the capital town of Batanes – BASCO.

Welcome to Basco!
Welcome to Basco!

WHAT TO SEE IN BASCO:

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral – This is the first Catholic Church built in Batanes during the early 18th century. It was the first church to have galvanized iron roofing in the early 1890’s. The feast of Basco’s patron saint, Santo Domingo de Guzman, is celebrated by the Ivatans every 8th of August.

DSC_1855Valugan Boulder Beach (also known as Chanpan Beach) – This rock lined bay is known for its long stretch of boulders from Mount Iraya’s eruption in 400 AD. The rock formation that looks like dinosaur eggs, presents a panoramic link between the sea horizon and Mount Iraya. If you are in for an early morning sunrise view, then this beach is the place to go.

Valugan Beach
Valugan Beach

Naidi Hills and Lighthouse – Its name is derived from 2 Ivatan words – “na” (meaning past) and “idi” (meaning community). Located in this sitio are the American period wireless telegraph facilities that were bombed by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1941. One may also marvel at a breathtaking view of Basco atop the 66- feet high Naidi lighthouse. The hills are also a perfect spot to view Batanes sunset.

Naidi Hills and its lighthouse.
Naidi Hills and its lighthouse.

Vayang Rolling Hills – These are ostensibly unending waves of rolling hills. It boasts a perfect combination of stunning seascapes and landscapes that can either be enjoyed from afar or experienced on foot. This is the best vantage point to see the 3 major islands of Batanes.

The verdant rolling hills of Vayang.
The verdant rolling hills of Vayang.

Tukon Hills – This is home to various remarkable Batanes landmarks such as the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel, a 5-door chambered tunnels with a water reservoir and a bunker that serves as a look-out point for soldiers during the Japanese occupancy. It is also in Tukon Hills where the beautifully constructed Tukon Chapel and the majestic Fundacion Pacita are.

PicMonkey CollageMount Carmel Chapel or Tukon Chapel.

Mount Iraya – Towering over Basco at approximately 1,009 feet above sea level, this dormant volcano is the first attraction one gets to see upon deplaning at the Basco Airport. Mountain enthusiasts would usually include a climb to this mountain during their Batanes trip. It brags an abundance of endemic flora and fauna, and has been the source of spring water distributed in Basco homes.

Basco airport with Mount Iraya as its majestic backdrop.
Basco airport with Mount Iraya as its majestic backdrop.

WHERE TO STAY IN BASCO:

Name of Establishment Contact Number E-Mail Address
Amboy’s Hometel 0917-971-7633/ 0920-910-3492 amboy_hometel@yahoo.com
Batanes Resort & Ivatan Lodge 0916-599-4023/ 0999-990-7554 batanes_resort2011@yahoo.com.ph
Batanes Seaside Lodge & Restaurant 0921-229-0120/ 0999-994-2313 batanesseasidelodge@yahoo.com
Berlen’s Lodge  0908-893-1475
De Borja’s Lodging House 0919-987-0806
Dive Batanes Lodge 0939-922-4609 divebatanes@yahoo.com
Fundacion Pacita 0939-198-2733 www.fundacionpacita.ph
Ivatan Brandon’s Lodging 0999-992-3844/ 0929-541-7786 brandons_lodging@yahoo.com
Marfel’s Lodge 0918-364-9722/ 0939-901-6359
Novita House 0927-412-1031/ 0928-239-7629 novitahouse@gmail.com
Shanedel’s Inn and Cafe 0919-823-4510/ 0920-447-0737 shanedels@yahoo.com

WHERE TO EAT:

FOOD ESTABLISHMENT CONTACT NUMBER ADDRESS
Casa Napoli Pizza and Pasta 0999-389-2101 La Fuente St., Brgy. Kayhuvokan
Koocharah Express 0918-644-5457 Lizardo St., Brgy. Kayhuvokan
Octagon Bed and Dine 0929-597-9380/ 0939-904-6278 National Road, Brgy. Kaychanarian
Pension Ivatan Restaurant 0917-585-9288/ 0919-211-7378 Reyes St., Brgy. Kayvaluganan

*** Casa Napoli is my personal favorite. Super foodgasmic pizza!

Basco Sunset.
Basco Sunset.

HOW TO REACH BATANES:

The fastest and safest (but could be an expensive) way to get to Batanes for now is by plane. Airline companies serving the island province with 3 flights per week from Manila are SkyJetAir, and PAL Express; while local airlines from Tuguegarao, Cagayan have a minimum number of passengers required for a flight and if there aren’t enough, the flight will be delayed / re-scheduled for 24-72 hours.

***And oh, by the way… if you need some help with your itinerary contact the very gracious Sir Ryan Cardona of Bisumi Tour and Services. He is simply the best! (https://www.facebook.com/batanestravelguide)

Blogging next is the island town of Sabtang!