Other Chill Things to Do, Places Not to Miss and What Local Food to Eat in Batanes Tours

This is my last post on my recent Batanes trip, the Part 3 of 3 for Day 2 of our 3D2N itinerary =) I've already told you about where I stayed in Basco, the boatride to Sabtang, things to bring and interesting things like Brgy. Chavayan in my previous posts. In this post, I'd like to tell you more about the other chill things to do in Batanes (won't require you to do much to enjoy the scenery), some other things you may want to include in your itinerary (coz we just passed them) and what's considered as Ivatan food, as well as the 2 places where we ate them! These are the sights of my life with my newly fitted Transitions XTRActive photochromic lenses ;) This is a series dedicated to the start of a continuous journey of seeing things in the best lighting possible for my eyes (no squinting, no eye fatigue and 100% UV blocked among other benefits) with a customized kind of eyewear designed for people on-the-go like me, in lieu of ordinary eyeglasses. It's been tested in 200 conditions around the globe. In a way, some stuff in this list are the places I'd revisit and where I'd allot more time to if ever I have more days to spend in Batanes or DIY my Batanes itinerary. I'd like to consider some things here as a "fresh look" when you think of planning a Batanes trip because I've only learned about these things when I went there. Go to my previous Batanes posts for more Batanes usual must-sees not included below.

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Homestay, Biking, Landscapes, Seascapes and Lots of Grazing Land
First on my list is to spend more time in Sabtang. I would love to explore this island at my own slow pace and do a homestay with the locals (Brgy. Chavayan is a charming place to do this). One thing I would probably do even if I'm DIYing in Batanes is find somebody there who can arrange the reservations beforehand like with the food, accommodations and vehicle, esp. during peak season (the poor signal there doesn't help either with the on-the-day stuff). I'm not into bikes but I've seen a lot of thirsty people online going around Sabtang this way. One of the things I enjoyed doing was animal watching. They look so relaxed and help provide that unique chill Batanes vibe.

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Food and Picnics
Being surrounded by the ocean and probably one of the last ones to be reached by modern technology, the residents had to be creative in terms of food based on available resources. The coconut crabs or tatus are considered endangered so the interesting description that Kuya Roger gave us sufficed. To eat them with a local at home who are allowed to consume them in the more remote areas of Batanes would be a great tale worthy for travellers who have actually devoted more time to knowing more about the Ivatans.

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I couldn't find the name of the place we went to for that last lunch in Sabtang but generous portions of payi or lobster (also endangered but abundant in Batanes), supas or yellow turmeric rice, bukayo (super sweet dessert) and lonyes or lunis (pork preserved in salt and garlic cooked in its own lard) were served.

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If you are game for more then you can look for seaweed soup, uvud balls (mushy banana corm/root/tuber with ground meat, used as a meat extender), dibang (flying fish), snails (escargot), squid, uve chips, miniovaheng (sugarcane wine), kinilaw na baka, idek (sea chub), sea urchin, adobo with palek (Batanes wine), paco salad, summer squash, venes or vunes (dried gabi stalks) and many more. We also ate at Pension Ivatan in Basco for dinner (with reservations and preorder), which serves more local food like these in platters.

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I guess the best thing to do is to reserve and have a local arrange all of these for you in advance and take you there in time. Eating with a view is not such a difficult request - beachfront, pastures, lighthouses, homestay, pulutan, you name it! Or maybe show them this picture hehe. Your local guide might probably know someone already. Perhaps a fishing expedition too (check out mataw fishing) using a local fishing boat like tataya? Or a farm trip! For me personally, I couldn't eat that much local food because of my appetite during that time and I don't eat fish so much haha.

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Sunsets, Lighthouses and Stars
I wish the sunsets and sunrises in Batanes were just a few steps away. The landscapes and locations just took my breath away. I couldn't imagine their use when I saw lighthouses during my trips - they were always okay photo opps. But in Batanes, my gosh, there was more than one and located at such strategic points (well, I guess all lighthouses are) that I might just be tempted to wait until nightfall to see it light the way for seafarers (if I wasn't alone). My favorite has got to be the Mahatao Lighthouse ;) And the stars, oh the stars (and the loss of signal), makes you think twice about living in the city. From day up to night, I wouldn't mind wearing my glasses to see or even imagine that far away. Probably fall asleep in the grass too haha.

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I was about to pass up on the opportunity to go up the Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills. The initial bothersome trip I took with short breaths was replaced by a few minutes of serenity when I got to the top. Like many things in life, it seems that people just wanted a picture of the tourist attraction and not to be fully in it (if only the alarms still work hehe). From up there, I noticed the beautiful structure with the blue door nearby that offers a great sunset view. I heard it used to be a restaurant. And, what a nice thing if they could open it again. I also saw the more towny part of Basco.

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The Viewpoints Worth Visiting, The  Fortresses called Idjangs or Ijang and The Far-flung Areas in Batanes
Based on my own experience, Batanes is a place I wouldn't mind exploring little by little and in due time (like if I have more time to spare, more endurance for physically challenging sites, with more companions, with a more sociable me talking with locals, while I'm still young and able, with J coz I want us to experience it together, etc.). There will always be popular ones where people flock to like the one we went to after Chavayan Village in Sabtang (around 10 minutes away) - the Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint. For those who want to push themselves further, there are uphill and downhill parts that could take you around 45 minutes back and forth with the picture taking. I, on the other hand, decided to find some shade and relax. Although my eyes were super protected, I felt like I would melt under all that sunlight. This other "Honesty Store" served as my refuge and had the essentials for dehydration like fresh buko. They offer free tastings of the local arius berry made into wine (read here) and some hot tubho tea (the Ivatan's secret to "long life" they said and their equivalent of coffee that they drink every day). Shaping up for my next trip to do the Chamantad-Tinyan trek haha.

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When we went around, Kuya Roger told us about the idjangs or stone fortresses in Batanes (check out the Savidug Idjang). There were 2 levels of settlements found with artifacts (carbon dated to 3500 years) like spindles, hunting and farming tools and jars. Then there were stories about Igbayat Island with burial sites, cliffs and other natural wonders. Then for the beaches, there's Homoron Blue Lagoon and White Beach. If you've searched about Batanes online, you may have come across Sumnanga Village (or Little Hong Kong), Vuhus Island (or Cow Island) and Ranayapan Beach in Nakanmuan, Sabtang.

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Find Time to Read Books and Notice Other Things
Unfortunately, an iconic figure in Batanes passed away when we arrived in the island. They said Dr. Florendo Hornedo was an expert when it comes to everything Ivatan and devoted his life to this cause. Perhaps, it's worth going to the library to read up on his books on culture and the other islands before your visit (and my next). Notice the halfway houses, the chapels and the corals they used to build structures, the stone houses, the PAGASA radar station, the volcanoes and many more. The best thing about renting a van for the trip are the random stops to take in the fresh air and breathtaking scenery ;)

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I hope you liked this post and helped you to decide which activities you'd like to do for your first or next Batanes visit! If you have more time then go on an adventure beyond Batan (Basco) and Sabtang Islands, perhaps?

My Suggested Off-the-Beaten Path Things to Do, Places Not to Miss and What Local Food to Eat in Batanes Tours

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