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Tips on Mountain Biking Batanes

Biking Batanes

This landscape just oozes magic and adventure

Dream destinaton—there’s no better way to describe it. Batanes is likely the best biking destination in the Philippines. Bar none.

I thought I’d seen it all. But then I rode my bike up the crest of a steep grass-carpeted hill overlooking the sea. Then I pointed my bike down the hill’s steepest face and let gravity take over, fly me down the slope of a solid wave of green earth. If you like flow, Batanes is overflowing with flow.

There is also this minor thing of a rush of sweet sweet feeling in the blood. Surfers call it “stoked.” Bikers may call it whatever they want to call it as long as they know the feeling. There’s the most fantastic landscape, and there you are riding it.

Biking Batanes

Poppin a wheelie to salute the Basco lighthouse

Why go to Batanes?
My ex-girlfriend had been raving about Batanes after her trip there last January. Kara said it was off the charts. Kara has been through practically all of the most interesting places in the Philippines—from Sagada to Boracay to El Nido to Tawi-Tawi. So, for her to rave about a place means that it must be something exceptionally special.

Para s’yang Cordillera at Coron,” was how she described it. And looking at the photos she brought back from the trip, some of which showed her on a bike amid fantastic scenery, made me salivate with anticipation for our trip there together in April.

When our plane began its descent to the Basco airport, I kept looking out the window and to see just what sort of place I was getting myself into. Batanes’ landscape did not disappoint—it was like nothing I had seen before.

Biking Batanes

The rolling hills north of Basco Batanes

What is Batanes?
Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines. It has a total population of only around 16,000 which means practically everyone there knows everybody else. This makes for a very tightly-knit community, where people care for and help each other.

You can actually feel the community spirit at work here, as our homestead host even went out of her way to find us a place when her own home and lodging house got fully booked because of the Lenten holiday.

Biking Batanes

The road goes up and down and the landscape never ceases to amaze

Biking Batanes

These houses were designed to withstand the strongest winds nature could muster

Biking Batanes

This is just one of the many beaches and spectacular rock formations you can view along the way

Biking Batanes

Get on a boat and hop from Batan Island to Sabtang Island which offers more fantastic riding and scenery

The residents of Batanes, who call themselves Ivatans, are one of the most welcoming and honest people in the Philippines.  It is the most peaceful and friendly place I’ve ever been to. You may have heard of the Honesty Coffee Shop where no one watches over the customers and patrons are expected to pay for their purchases by depositing the payment in a box.

The whole province of Batanes has also been designated as a Protected Area. This means the environment is very carefully taken care of. This means green hills, forested mountains, crystal clear waters, and cliffs that look like they were ripped right out of a postcard.

I kid you not, this place is special.

I wanted to write just one article about Batanes. But then I realized that I would not be doing the destination a favor if I’d write so briefly about a place that justly deserves many platitudes. So I’ll be writing three more blog posts about this magical group of islands

Biking Batanes

The rock arch in Sabtang Island is an awe to behold

Biking Batanes

The Mahatao lighthouse is worth the pain of the climb

Anyway, here are some tips on how to get you and your bike to Batanes without umm… breaking the bank.

  • Bring your own bike—It’s a bit expensive, but you will scream in frustration when you see just how beautiful the landscape is and you are not on your own beloved bike. Most of the bikes that are for rent aren’t that good. Believe me, riding this place is worth the expense of bringing your own bike there! Here are tips on how you can pack your bike for a plane ride.
    Skyjet, which has daily trips to Batanes allows passengers 10 kilos of check-in baggage allowance. If your bike is that light, then congratulations! You don’t need to pay extra. But if it’s more than that, Skyjet charges 150 Php for each extra kilo.
    But it’s still all worth it when you consider that guided tours in Batanes cost 1500 Php per person per tour. If you book the North and South Batan tours, and the Sabtang tour, that comes up to 4500 Php already. A 30 pound bike comes to around 14 kilos which means you don’t even need to pay for the cost of one tour.
  • Plan ahead—You can bring down the flight cost if you book ahead, and take advantage of promo fares from Skyjet and PAL Express. We got our tickets for half the price because we booked several months in advance. Fares change depending on the season, and since February to June is considered peak season, expect to pay more if you book during those months.
  • Bring your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband even if he/she doesn’t bike—They will appreciate the sheer romantic beauty of Batanes, and they will love you even more for it. Also, their extra baggage allowance will help you bring down the cost of transporting your bike there. Our combined baggage allowance totaled 20 kilos, which was enough for my heavy bike. You also need someone to take your pics from afar hehe
  • Stay in a homestay—You don’t really need a fancy hotel to enjoy Batanes. You can bunk in a homestay that charges 350 Php per head per night and still feel like a winner. We did, and it was all good.
  • Learn to cook—You can further cut down on the expense if you just buy your own canned goods, veggies, meat and rice, and cook it yourself. Some guesthouses and homestays allow you free access to their kitchens. Eating out in Batanes can be a bit expensive, so reserve the money for the special dinners with your significant other, and for beer of course.
  • Dont skip Sabtang!—While biking in Batan Island may seem to be worth a lifetime of great memories, Sabtang island is another incredible destination altogether. Watch for my post on it. You’ll kick yourself in the head if you go to Batanes, but never see or bike in Sabtang.
  • Stay for 5 days at least—You’ll need 2 days to enjoy Batan island and another 2 days to bike Sabtang. Those 3 days/2 nights tour packages are bitin.
  • Come before the rains come—Or else be prepared to stay an extra day or two. The best time to come to Batanes is from January to June. March to May is excellent.

Total Cost. Okay, so how much does it all cost? Daily lodging in a homestay would cost 350 Php per night, while hotels would be even costlier. Meals would cost maybe 100-150 Php each, times 3 equals 300-450 Php per day. But you can actually bring it down further if you just buy de lata and cook it yourself. Red Horse is 70-80 Php per liter. Boat fare to Sabtang is 70 Php one way. Accommodations there range from 150 to 300 Php per day.  I’m sure you can do the math and calculate the cost depending on how many days you’ll be spending there.

We stayed at Cita’s Homestay, which you can contact at 0939-9193616. Accommodations here a very basic, but you have a choice of getting an aircon room. You can also try Marfel’s Lodge at 0908-8931475.

Flights however, may be costly. Best check PAL Express and Skyjet for promo fares if you want to save some money. Please stop asking me how much flights cost because the airfare changes depending on the season, sometimes week to week.

Biking Batanes

It’s a good idea to bring a backpack where you can stash your food, camera and hydration bladder.

Biking Batanes

Batanes rocks! Pardon if I cross-dressed here a bit as the vakul is for women hehe. This is the Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana, Batanes. Photo by traveling-up.com

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15 Comments

  • Robert Elizes Jr.

    May 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Tama ka Art.

    Matagal ko nang gustong makapag-bike dian.

    paki pm min travel expense

  • outsideslacker

    May 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

    hi mamert, i’ll be writing about it on my next blogpost. samahan nyo naman ako sa next trip sa pumarada trail para magkwentuhan tayo :)

  • bro thank for sharing…OFW ako dito sa bahrain gusto ko rin puntahan yan Batanes …sana isang araw ako makapunta at maka pag bike…

    pls PM magkano ang budget per head. including airfair.

    ingat & godspeed
    junm

    • outsideslacker

      May 6, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      hi jun, i’ll be writing a more detailed guide on how to plan a mountain biking vacation to batanes :) that will be my next post since ang dami na ring nagtatanong about it. please keep visiting the blog.

  • Hello Sir! tanong ko lang kung magkano at saan kaya pwede mag rent ng bike?

    Planning to go to Batanes and tour the place with bike. hehe mukang mapapagastos kasi ako pag dinala ko yung bike ko >_<

    Thanks!

    • outsideslacker

      May 29, 2014 at 9:53 am

      hi melvs, you can rent commuter bikes from any homestay or hotel. you can also try F.V. Amboy Gen. Merchandise in Nuñez St. they cost 20 php per hour. mountain bikes, or what passes for them, cost 25 php per day. a good mountain bike, like the one my wife was able to rent cost 500 php per day. it was rented from nards–a tour guide who was contacted by ate fe of marfel’s lodge. 0908-8931475

  • hi, do you think a non-biker can do all the biking that you did or I would need to be super physically fit to tour Batanes with a bike? We don’t want to spend too much for the tour packages so we’re considering renting a bike, but I think my biking skills are only good for the playground.:S

    • you will need to be reasonably fit for the bike trip. dapat kaya mo makapag bike ng 25k kahit maraming rest stops :) it won’t hurt to practice a bit, kahit sa UP or BGC

  • outsideslacker,

    do you need to disassemble your bike and box it? or can you check it in as is and ready to ride when you land? thanks.

    • outsideslacker

      March 6, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      some airlines require that you disassemble your bike and box it. ours did, so better check first.

  • hi would like ask if kaya ba ng folding bike like Atomic ang Batanes? Nka book kami ng hubby ko sa Feb 2017 for 1 week stay and Im planning na dalin mountain bike nya then yung folding bike ko. Thanks.

    • outsideslacker

      July 7, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      hi christy, sorry for the late reply. yup, kayang kaya ng folding bike ang batanes :)

  • outsideslacker,

    Good day. May campsites ba sa Batanes? I’m planning sana mag (light) exploratory ride, pwede po kaya? Salamat.

    Paul

    • hi paul, walang campsites sa batanes pero you can pretty much just stop anywhere and hang a hammock if you like. i don’t know if they allow camping dun sa iconic sites like marlboro hills or rolling hills kasi baka magkalat campers. good luck sa bikepacking trip mo :)