Disclaimer: The following tips are solely based on personal encounter in the 4 days that we sojourned Batanes Islands. This post primarily intends to briefly inform prospective visitors to the islands on what can ensue during their stay so they can come prepared and avoid any potential inconvenience. If there’s anything you find offensive or you don’t agree with, do let me know so I can rectify if necessary. Additional inputs are most welcome; please leave a comment at the bottom of the post. Lastly, I guarantee that everything you find here is written out of goodwill and sheer wonder.
Batanes Tip No. 1: Wear lint-free shoes or bring tweezers.
The fabric of your favorite shoes will act like loops of a Velcro fastener where dried seed heads scattered across the grass can hook onto. And you’ll definitely be walking on a lot of grass. And by lot, I mean LOTS of grassland! The seed heads themselves are not pricky and itchy; they’re actually soft. But it’s just really tedious to remove them one by one.
Batanes Tip No. 2: Unless you have wished for some serious tan…
Don’t go out there without any PPE (sunblock, long sleeved shirt, arm warmers, etc.). As for me, I didn’t wear any because I simply wanted to feel Batanes all over me haha! And so my sun-kissed forearm now pales in comparison to my natural complexion as seen on my legs. This is a week after we returned from our trip. And yes, I was wearing a watch, and it’s only now that I got to appreciate that I do have a fair complexion like everybody says.
Batanes Tip No. 3: Don’t get a van. Hire one of these instead.
90% of the time, you’ll be traveling along the coastline. And if you just let yourself be confined inside the comforts of an air-conditioned van, you’ll be missing out a lot of the breathtaking views while on the road. Strictly speaking, the cab in the photo is found in Sabtang Island and we toured the whole island with it on Day 2, providing us the luxury of front seats just like in a theme park ride. I don’t think I ever saw an air-con van in Sabtang though. In Batan Island, there are vans provided by some local inns offering tour services. But we still went for (and would highly recommend) the thrill of a tricycle ride braving the twists and turns of the hill-crossing roads of Batan. Go for “air-continuous!” It’s one surest way to enjoy Batanes to the fullest. (Special mention to Kuya Jimmy of cab# 32 for his well-rounded tour service and extra patience while waiting for us to satisfy our photo ops.)
Batanes Tip No. 4: Believe what your tour guide says.
Always believe in your tour guide when he recommends some changes in your itinerary based on the current weather conditions. He knows the place better than any of you in your group (unless one of you is also a local). And he is smarter than any weather app you have in your smartphone. Surely, you don’t want to end up stranded for another day in Itbayat Island because the regular (but limited) boat trips between islands are canceled due to inclement weather. And then you’ll be forced to rebook your return flight because you cannot make it back to Basco until the next day. Kudos to Kuya Lito, who is currently fascinated by the GoPro, for optimizing and completing our itinerary despite the afternoon shower in Day 2 (he canceled the tour) and the early morning drizzle in Day 3 (he pushed for the tour but he came prepared, raincoat and all). He was also the one who coordinated everything (island transfer, endorsement to Kuya Jimmy, food reservations, etc.) for our Sabtang Island tour in Day 2.
Batanes Tip No. 5: If you’ve got long hair, put on something to secure it in place.
Wind causing camera shake in photos? Only in Batanes. It can actually whop your monopod off your grip if you don’t hold onto it firmly. Caps with visors won’t do. Knitted bonnets and beanies are probably the better options. Here are sample windy photos of us from different locations.
Bonus Tip: If there’s only two of you or you’re traveling solo, go for semi-DIY instead of joining a tour package with a group.