So after three days of exploring Batan and Sabtang Islands, you find yourself with an extra day in Basco. This small municipality is the province’s capitol and serves as its main gateway. Don’t be deceived by its laidback atmosphere because the place is brimming with interesting stuff to do that will keep you busy for a day.
Here are seven must-do’s when you are in Basco:
Basco Food Trip
Basco is an interesting food hotspot. The province has its own unique delicacies that will delight your palate. All island tours are inclusive of lunch so there is a huge chance that you will get a taste of Batanes’ cuisine. Don’t be surprised if you get to be served a lot yellow rice and camote. Batanes has an abundance of turmeric which they mix with rice while the root crop camote gets to be served in various ways - okoy, camote cue, minatamis, and camote turon.
One of the delicacies that I really loved and I suggest that you try is the Uvud. It is a native delicacy similar to meatballs that is made from grated banana stalks, meat, and fish. It is served in a broth.
Two of our well-loved restaurants in Basco is the Ivatan Pension House and Beehan. The Ivatan Pension House, located near the airport, serves a platter called “Best of Batanes” that serves beef cooked in four ways.
Beehan is located near the police headquarters of Basco and this is where you can enjoy Pancit Ivatan - a Batanes noodle cuisine.
Make sure that you give your tummy a treat when in Basco.
Bike/Walk around town
The best way to explore is either on a bike or by foot. Head up to the Basco Lighthouse to enjoy a panoramic view of the town. Make sure to drop by the historical Basco Church and the Provincial Capitol along the way.
Walk around the streets of Basco and enjoy the local’s simple way of life. Enjoy a quick chat with Manang over isaw and barbecue. Or you can just simply sit down and chill at the sprawling town plaza to just watch the day go by. Or if you still the energy, you can bike through the winding roads of Batan and explore the town of Mahatao.
At the heart of Basco is another art center/shop that displays artworks done by Ivatan artists. The Yaru Art Gallery, along the National Road, will excite art lovers with its varied artworks that depict life in Batanes. You can buy handpainted stone souvenirs and Batanes postcards that feature paintings of their famous Ivatan stonehouses.
If you are fascinated with local art, this is a great place to get a steal of amazing Ivatan artworks.
Send Yourself A Postcard
I got this idea from the movie “Sakaling Hindi Makarating” so I bought a set of postcards from Yaru Art Gallery, scribbled an interesting message addressed to me, headed to Postal Office near the town plaza, and mailed the postcard to my home.
Two months after, I finally received my postcard to remind me of my trip in Batanes. I think it is a good souvenir from the trip with the Batanes postal stamp.
FB Check-in Challenge
For social media guys, here is one challenge that you got to do in Batanes - doing an FB Check-in! Although mobile network signals are relatively strong in Basco, data coverage is hard to come by or none, at all. Your lucky if your accomodation or cafe offer wifi services but for majority of these places, there is none.
But do not fret, there is one location in town where you can buy at least 50MB for Php50. A bit pricey, right? But for a social media addict, it is a price to pay to be connected. The challenge is to find that spot, get connected, and legitimately check-in on Facebook. Here is a clue so you can find the spot - the place sells medicine. Happy hunting!
Chilling by the Cliff
Just right outside Basco is a viewing deck where you can hang out if you want to avoid the crowd. It is just biking/walking distance from the town center, towards the direction of Mahatao. It is about 300 meters from Octagon, another popular restaurant in Basco.
The spot is marked by the “Welcome to Basco” arch. The viewing deck is not as amazing as that of the Chawa Viewdeck but it gives you a glimpse of Batanes’ port area with the Basco Lighthouse on the background. Every now and then, you would hear a “boom” sound from the small rock formation. The sound comes from the hollow cave when huge waves crash onto the rock formation.
It is a great place to sit back and chill with the sound of the sea in the background. If you are there early, you may chance upon airplanes on their final approach or taking off from the Basco Airport.
Well, the best way to enjoy a day in Basco is to go around and hunt for souvenirs. There are a lot of shops to go around. You can choose to get a personalized shirt, key chains, ref magnets, artworks, etc. Name it they have it. Batanes has a very organized tourism economy so there are a lot of souvenirs to choose from.
Interesting local produce finds are turmeric powder and tea, camote chips, and camote cookies. You can also buy kanayi or vakul on some shops in town if you want to own this local protective attire.
Post Travel Notes
Whether your chilling out or you are shopping in Basco, one thing will definitely stand out - the simple life in Batanes. You will be amused with how locals get to enjoy the laidback life of the province. Time slows down in Batanes and walking or biking around town is the best way to get from one point to another.
Batanes made me realize that life is simple. It teaches you to appreciate the things that we usually take for granted because it is readily available to us. It enlightens you that the best way to face life is to appreciate the small things and to find the simple things that make you smile. Dios Mamajes, Batanes!
Getting there: Air Swift, Philippine Airlines, and Sky Jet have direct flights to Basco from Manila and Clark. We scored good priced airline tickets in one of the travel fairs held here in the metro through Air Swift. Air Swift flies to Basco 4x a week and there services are good. You can check out their ongoing promos here.
Marfel’s Lodge is a great place to stay-in when you are in Batanes. They have great accommodations and their staff are very helpful. You can check them out on Facebook or you can also call (0908) 8931475 for your inquiries.
You can also contact Kuya Joaquin at (0947) 1069342 for your Batanes tour packages. Remember that the rates for their tours are standard. Their 3-Day package costs Php4500 per head for a group of three and it covers the North Batan tour, the South Batan tour, and Sabtang Island. Lunch for the three days are already included in the package. Kuya Waks will make sure that you get to enjoy Batanes with fun facts about Batanes to bring home.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.