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Batanes

Batanes

Rolling hills, white beaches, and cool weather make Batanes quite unlike any other local province.
By Kristy Texon

Overview

Batanes may be the smallest province in the Philippines, but the islands have a lot to offer visitors. The picturesque sights in Batanes have made the province a prime tourist destination despite its relative inaccessibility. The rolling hills have been compared to those of New Zealand, while the cool climate is similar to Taiwan's. Aside from having a beautiful countryside, Batanes also claims the distinction of being one of the most peaceful provinces in the country (its crime rate is among the lowest). Locals enjoy four seasons in the province, but the weather can change quickly.

History

Life in Batanes dates back to the Neolithic Period. Here are some highlights:

  • Descendants of Austronesians, the first inhabitants, came to Batanes during the Neolithic Period.
  • Capt. William Dampier named the islands after English royalty in 1687, but did not stay in Batanes for long.
  • Spaniards extended their rule over Batanes in 1783. Under the Spanish rule, Ivatans learned to use limestone technology in their structures. Batanes was made part of Cagayan.
  • Batanes was declared an independent province by the Americans in 1909. The American occupation signaled the establishment of public schools in the province.
  • Japanese forces occupied Batanes during the Second World War. Batanes got its independence back when the Americans again ruled the country.

Travelers' Attractions

Visitors of the island can enjoy a range of laid-back and exciting activities:

  • Travelers can explore the province's beaches, most of which feature rock formations and white sand.
  • Since Batanes is a hilly province, hiking is a good way to see the different islands of the province.
  • Several caves are great for spelunking in Batanes. Travelers can visit the Turungan Cave, which is said to be where the first inhabitants lived.
  • Lighthouses in Batanes make for great backdrops in photos. The Basco Lighthouse is among the oldest working lighthouses in Batanes.
  • Centuries-old churches still stand in the province. The stone churches have survived countless storms.
  • Batanes is also known for the traditional dwellings of the locals. The stone houses with meter-thick walls are strong enough to weather storms.
  • Batanes has been a cradle of ancient peoples. Burial sites in the province feature artifacts from previous inhabitants.

Getting There and Away

  • SEAIR (Southeast Asian Air) flies to Batanes daily, and flights from Manila to Basco are an hour and forty-five minutes long.
  • An alternative means of travel is via MV Ivatan Princess. The ferry sails to and from Basco, Batanes and Currimao, Ilocos Norte every Wednesday and Sunday.
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