Somewhere north of the Philippines is the country’s little paradise. It is the smallest province yet those who have visited the place claimed to have escaped to a different world because of its picturesque and jaw-dropping views. It has picture-perfect scenery that will leave you breathless. And we mean that literally. Basco will take your breath away. In fact, it is every photographer’s dream and on top of every Filipino’s bucket list. Why, you ask? Basco, Batanes can rival the beauty of New Zealand.
There are 10 volcanic islands in Batanes and only three are inhabited – Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. Basco is the capital of Batan. It’s a small place and you can tour the entire capital within a day or two either by a car or bicycle. You are encouraged to walk around though so you can get to know the interesting paradise of the north – the friendly and accommodating Ivatan people, the delicious delicacies, the rich history and culture.
You will be overwhelmed with the beauty of Basco. She will break your heart when it’s time to leave. Here are nine unforgettable places you definitely should see:
1. Valugan Boulder Beach
No, this isn’t your usual beach. There are no white or pink sands here. You’ll find only rocks in Valugan. When Mt. Iraya erupted sometime in 400 AD, it scattered countless boulders that created this astonishing beach. The waves here are wild so the beach isn’t ideal for swimming; you might get thrown straight onto the rocks. But the place is perfect for relaxation. You’ll never get tired watching the long stretches of boulders of the Valugan Beach. This is definitely a must-see in Basco.
Valugan Boulder Beach
Address: Contra Costa Rd, Basco, Batanes
2. Vayang Rolling Hills
Here you’ll find hundreds of cows, different shades of greens, and endless waves of rolling hills. On a clear day, you can actually see Batanes’ major islands from here: Sabtang, Itbayat, and Batan. If you look further you can see the Nakamaya Burial Site at the foot of Mt. Iraya.
3. PAGASA Weather Station
Visit the Tukon Radar Station and get a magnificent 360-degree view of Mt. Iraya, Batan Island, Basco proper, the beaches, and the rolling hills. This was once a lighthouse and used as a weather station at the same time by the United States.
4. Basco Lighthouse at Naidi Hills
Here at Naidi Hills you will have a breathtaking view of the sunset. The ruins of the bunker houses are found here as well. The Basco Lighthouse, a 66 feet (20 meter) lighthouse that was built in 2003, is another awe-inspiring sight in Basco. Situated on top of the hill, the lighthouse is a photographer’s favorite. Just near the Basco Lighthouse is the World War II ruins; structures that were once part of the war. The facilities once connected Batanes to the government.
Address: North Batan, Basco, Batanes
5. Japanese tunnel
This attraction is also known as the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel, that was built during the World War II. In a documentary, it was said that Ivatans, the locals of Batanes, were ordered by the Japanese to build the 5-door tunnel. Although they were not tortured, they decided to dig hard for the fear of being killed. The tunnel is creepy and mysterious. You can explore the tunnel’s chambers or climb to the hilltop to get another awesome view of the island.
6. Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
The hotel was named after Pacita Abad, a prolific painter born in Batanes in 1946. This was her former studio that was later modernized by her brother Butch Abad. Fundacion Pacita created 5,000 artworks including a 55-meter (180 foot) bridge in Singapore right before she died of cancer. She is the pride of Basco. If you want to have the best accommodation in Batanes, Fundacion Pacita is your place. The hotel is full of Pacita’s art that is characterized by vibrant colors. In fact, it was inspired by the painter’s colorful vision of the world. A little pricey but they use part of the proceeds to support Ivatan artists and projects in Batanes.
Website: Fundacion Pacita
7. Mt. Carmel Chapel
Just a short walk from Fundacion Pacita stands the Tukon Church or Mt. Carmel Chapel. Butch Abad had it built for his late parents that wished to have a place of worship near their home. The church was inspired by Ivatan traditional houses. Inside the chapel are six large paintings of patron saints that covered the ceiling. It was for each municipality of Batanes – and there are six. The images were hand-painted by the scholars of the Pacita Abad Center for the Arts. The chapel’s walls were made up of boulders and some materials used in the chapel were contributions by the owner’s family and friends.
8. Chadpidan Boulder Beach
This is the twin sister of Valugan Beach found on the west side of Basco. In their native language, Chadpidan means west and Valugan means east. Chadpidan beach is also filled with boulders from the eruption of Mt. Iraya. It faces the West Philippine Sea and it’s another sight to behold. And did we say the sunset here is perfect?
Chadpidan Boulder Beach
Address: Songsong Iraya Road, Basco, Batanes
9. Sto. Domingo Cathedral
Built in the 18th-century, the Cathedral of Sto. Domingo De Guzman or Basco Cathedral was the first Catholic Church in Basco. The interior of the church looks rather new as it has undergone numerous renovations. The recent reconstruction were after the 2000 earthquake. You can end your tour by visiting The Cathedral.
The most sought-after destination
If you’re in the Philippines, getting to Basco, Batanes can be pricey so book your flights in advance. The plane tickets alone can cost about 240 USD on average yet the province remains to be on top of every tourist’s dream destination list. Who wouldn’t want to visit a place as beautiful as Batanes? The province is also dubbed as Home of the Winds because of its cool weather but no, they’re not always hit by typhoons as what most people think. Visit this little paradise between the months of December and May where it’s mostly dry. That way you’d be able to explore Batanes on foot. It will be challenging to hike the hilly terrain but you will be rewarded with postcard-perfect scenery.
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