Batanes is in the travel bucket list of almost everyone I know, and for good reason. Everything that you read (and heard from Coco Martin in that Star Cinema movie) about how beautiful it is are all true. It is the one place that does not only live up to expectations, it actually eclipses them. But just like anything else that is worth experiencing, Batanes is not easily accessible to everyone.
Only two commercial airlines have flights to Batanes – Skyjet flies every SMWF, while Philippine Airlines has one flight daily. The airfare is more expensive than your usual domestic travel rate and flights often get cancelled because of the temperamental weather this part of the country. As of 2015, PAL tickets can go as high as P17,500/head round trip. Skyjet is more affordable at a little over P7,000 round trip and a friend even got a ticket from one of their promos for only P500!!! That P500 made me want to kick someone in the shins out of jealousy so you may want to stalk these airlines for upcoming sale announcements.
If you are taking a leave off work, make room for the possibility that you may not be back on time so do not schedule any of those important meetings on your planned return date. Also, you may want to travel light because checked-in baggage have a chance to get off-loaded to another flight depending on weather conditions. PAL makes this convenient by sending over your bags to your preferred address but make sure that the contents of your checked-in bags are non-perishable and you can do without them for a few days.
Batanes demands every tourist’s utmost attention hence LTE/3G connection for any network is almost non-existent. You may try to go online and upload those Instagram-worthy photos in a restaurant or hotel but internet connection is generally unstable and snail-paced at best.
For tours, I see the charm of getting the motorcycle-type things but personally, I would suggest renting a van. It can get sunny out, so it is always good to have the option of just staying inside an air conditioned vehicle. Tour rates range from P2,000 to P4,000 per area for 8-person capacity vans plus driver/guide. These are usually offered at hotels. For your must-checkout destinations, check out the rates and packages offered by this tour service.
While we could not hope to capture all the beauty that this island has to offer, check out our photo diary to get a glimpse of why we are absolutely enthralled with Batanes.
All images © 2015 Dale Bacar.