Batanes’ landscape is special. To describe this group of islands as beautiful is to commit a grave understatement. Even jaded travellers are awed by its strangeness. I’m not sure if you can find another place in the Philippines where the earth, sea and sky come together in the same spectacular manner.
Biking Batanes is also a very special experience. Admittedly, its islands do not have the most technically challenging trails in the country, or not yet anyway. If you want to display your attitude and prowess, this is probably not the best place to do it.
But if you are in search of the ever elusive flow, you’ve come to the right place as Batanes has got loads of flow, and then some. You can find your own flow in many of its sweeping rolling hills. But its real attraction for bikers is the sheer raw beauty of the landscape, which is incomparable.
Batan Island North Tour
Tour operators divide Batan island into two travel packages: the North Batan Tour and the South Batan Tour. Since the island itself isn’t very large, you can actually finish these tours in a day if you want to.
But, because you will want to spend hours just lazing in many of the sites, the hours get stretched. Before you know it, the sun is already setting and you still haven’t grown tired of the view.
On our first day in Batan, Kara and I decided to go up the Basco lighthouse. This imposing structure is just a few minutes ride from Basco and can clearly be seen from the town center. It stands proud on a hill and is just begging to be bagged like a trophy.
The Vayang Rolling Hills
It wasn’t an easy climb for Kara as she had yet to rent a proper mountain bike then. All we could get was a single speed commuter bike. Ivatans use these bikes to get around the whole island. They are quite convenient in the flats, but are a challenge up in the hills.
Kara frequently had to stop and push her bike up the steep roads. But these lulls in the biking also afforded us time to really appreciate the view and take as many photos as we liked.
When we finally got to the Vayang Rolling Hills, I had to muster all of manly fortitude to keep myself from opening my arms and breaking out in song like Julie Andrews. There was sweet music in the the crests and slopes of those hills.
We could have stayed at the rolling hills and I wouldn’t have minded. But there was still so much more to see. After the rolling hills there was a boulder beach, and what the locals called the Japanese tunnels.
We never really got to the tunnels, but the boulder beach was quiet and peaceful. It was also romantic in its own very raw kind of way, especially when the sun began to set.
It was already starting to go dark when we decided to head back to our homestay. We wanted to take sunset shots of the Basco lighthouse, but the sun was long gone by the time we got there.
I returned by myself to North Batan a couple of days later. Kara was out exploring Itbayat island, so I had to go solo this time. I was determined to complete the North loop by bike. I followed the same road we took going down to the boulder beach.
Somehow I got the idea that the road would loop back to town. Instead, it seemed to be going higher and higher and straight into Mt. Iraya. It would have been great to find out if the road led all the way to Batanes’ highest peak, but I was not prepared for such a task.
So I decided to just go back to the rolling hills and explore as many of its trails as I could. It wasn’t a bad decision either as you could see from some of the pictures.
Another destination in the North Batan Tour is Tukon Hills. The chapel atop the hill is very picturesque. Fundacion Pacita is another must-see destination, but it was closed to outside visitors when we went there. The Pagasa weather station meanwhile reminded me of a giant golf ball.
How to pack your bike for the plane ride
A lot f people have been asking me about how to get ready for a mountain biking trip in Batanes. So check out this blog post on How to pack Your Bike for the Plane :)
Check out these other blog posts on Biking in Batanes