North Batan Island, Batanes
Other Batanes posts found here, here and here. All you need to know is that The Philippines is pure magic. Up North there is a wonderland called Batanes. It is slow and beautiful. Unadulterated and untouched beauty you won't find anywhere else. If you go there please be respectful. Keep it clean and quiet. I won't add too many words, pictures can share these feelings but in order to experience the intensity, you must go. *Batanes is the northern most island in The Philippines and is actually closer to Taiwan than Luzon. *We had not planned on doing tours because we wanted a very relaxing vacation just to take in the nature. When we arrived we changed our minds booked the 3 day tour with Bisumi Tours, which I cannot recommend enough. Their prices are the best, transportation is fantastic and tour guides are good. We seriously lucked out and had the best tour group mates. I am learning s tour group can really make or break a trip. They shared snacks with us and helped translate if and when needed.
Mt. Carmel Chapel or Tukon Chapel was built in 2008 and is used monthly. I particularly loved the murals on the ceiling and the stained glass. Holding true to the Ivatan culture, the chapel resembles the old houses using the huge boulders for structure.
Just down the road you will find more breathtaking views and my favorite place, Fundacion Pacita. *Every place is my favorite place in Batanes. :) I wrote more about Fundacion Pacita here.
The Dipnaysuhuan Japanese tunnels far exceeded unset expectations. I didn't think they would be so impressive but they really were. Walking through them and hearing the history was stark and surreal. The Japanese hid in these tunnels for five years and would threaten and sometimes fulfill threats of death if any Ivatan mentioned their presence. They set up camp in this spot of the island because they had a 360 degree view from the top.
You can see the entrance lower on the hillside and the exit was on top of the mountain. The black tunnel and light is from inside the tunnel and the opening is the cement square in the grass.
Mt. Iraya is always putting on a show. She's not even trying, just always being breathtaking. Again, we had no idea how unreal the beauty would be. Valugan Boulder Beach blew our minds. I have never seen a beach with so many boulders and so large! My husband is not a dainty man so I included a photo for perspective. The rock bay was formed from boulders due to Mt. Iraya's eruption in 400 AD. The rock formation smoothed over time by the waves and now is a panoramic link between the sea and Mt. Iraya. I specifically remember seeing a photo of the Vayang Rolling Hills and instantly having a desire to go. I will choose mountains over beach most days. The Rolling Hills did me in. There is nothing quite like them. For the full experience try and spend a chunk of time here if you can. Perhaps pack a blanket and picnic. You won't want to leave.
This was not an uncommon experience in Batanes, being so close to the animals as we both roamed together enjoying heaven on earth. The timing of the tour put us at the lighthouse and Naidi Hills for a sundowner.
We actually happened to be on top of the lighthouse for a small earthquake. It began to sway and my husband caught onto it fast. I just thought it was built to sway in the wind. As we ran down the steps all the employees and the rest of our group had run way. Ha! It ended up being very small and all were ok.
So, there's your first taste of Batanes. Even looking back at these photos has me craving for more. I can't believe I saw that beauty. I was in it! Now, how do I find a way to live there and see it permanently?