People who often go and those who already been to Batanes generally recommend biking as a way to travel around the province. For a person who never really learned how to ride a bicycle (seriously), this is not a good tip for me. During our own discovery of the province, for Basco particularly, walking along the streets is tolerable and still the best mode to consider. If a companion persists for you to rent a bicycle, prepare to brood your bikes on the steep uphill roads that you need to pass.
Sunrise to Sunset: Attractions to Visit in Basco, Batanes
The map (last photo on this post) details a complete tour of Basco attractions for you not to overlook any destination on your list. You can start to wander around the town early in the morning for sunrise viewing at Valugan Boulder Beach and end it with a tremendous sunset in Naidi Hills or in Vayang Rolling Hills at your personal choice and own pace. All tourist spots in Batanes are too striking to miss out one.
From your homestay/lodging, you can have an early jog to Valugan Boulder Beach by tracing the Contra Costa Road from Basco Airport. The beach, unlike the famous white sand beaches, is renowned for its long stretch of boulders of which due to Mount Iraya’s eruption in 400 AD. The spot is the best location for apparent viewing of the sun’s first beams as it obverses the Pacific Ocean.
You can continue your morning walk from Valugan Boulder Beach to the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel. The tunnel is located on a hill in Tukon with a number of chambers served as a refuge for soldiers during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. You can enter the tunnel and traverse the chambers with one leading on top of the hill that will grant you another panoramic side of Batanes.
After experiencing the creepy tunnel, get ready to endure a longer walk to Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge. Fundacion Pacita was the studio of the internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad. It was modernized by his brother former DepEd Secretary Butch Abad and converted it to a lodge amid the luxuriant beauty of Batanes. You will be greeted by another panoramic view: Mount Iraya, Basco proper as well as the Basco Lighthouse and on the other side is the Mahatao area. Indeed the best place to just bum all day.
Not that far from Fundacion is the PAGASA Weather Station (also known as Tukon Radar Station) which was under restoration during our visit. A short walk will lead you to the amiable Mount Carmel Chapel which shouldn’t be missed on your visit to Batanes. The chapel that was inspired by the Ivatan traditional houses is really captivating with its stone walls with the blue skies on the background. Six large paintings of saints can be seen on the ceiling of the chapel.
You can boost your energy and go back to your lodging after visiting the attractions on the southern loop of Basco. You can continue your tour around 2 in the afternoon by dropping by Casa Real, a structure that was built between the 15th and 18th century and is now the seat of the Provincial Government of Batanes. A few blocks away is Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, the first Catholic church to stand in the province.
From here, you can continue to the most photographed (I think) spot in Basco, the Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills. Naidi Hills is an old settlement where it emanated its name; “Na” means past and “Idi” as settlement or community. The lighthouse, which is 66-feet in height and situated on top of a hill, offers an awe-inspiring sight of Basco. It was built in the year 2002. Also found in Naidi Hills are the ruins of the bunker houses served as the abode of the American period wireless telegraph facilities that were bombed during the Japanese imperialism.
Naidi Hills is a nice place to ponder while waiting for the sunset. But if you tend to view the twilight on another side, a dawdling walk to Vayang Rolling Hills is recommended. Vayang Rolling Hills offer a great landscape of perpetual waves of rolling hills having lush green sleek grass perfect for sprawling all afternoon. Additionally, at this point, you can actually see the three major islands of Batanes: Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat, on a clear day. A farther attraction located at the foot of Mount Iraya is the Nakamaya Burial Site where boat-shaped grave markers that testify the values of the pre-historic Ivatans can be found.
Strolling in Basco on foot will not only save you some money for not spending on bicycle rents or vehicle hires, it will also enable you to enjoy the attractions on an unhurried manner for you to recognize the real beauty of Batanes.