Batanes: The Most Northern Island Group

By RJ Aguire

Batanes, an island group is the northernmost province in the Philippines, its provincial capital is the municipality of Basco.

Batanes situated within the Luzon Straits at a size of only 219.01 square kilometers or 84.56 square miles has only 10 islands, 6 municipalities, and 29 barangays: making it one of the Philippines smallest provinces. It is an exotic and serene destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Known for its rugged terrain, majestic cliffs, deep canyons, and rolling hills, the province consists of ten volcanic islands, with the three largest being Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang.

The Ivatan people, the indigenous inhabitants of Batanes, have a rich culture that has been largely preserved due to the islands’ isolation. Their traditional stone houses, known as vatans or sinadumparans, with thatched roofs made of cogon grass, are designed to withstand the often harsh and unpredictable weather, including the typhoons that frequently visit the islands.

Batanes is known for its picturesque landscapes that seem to transport visitors to Scotland rather than Southeast Asia. The Marlboro Country, with its undulating green hills and the Vayang Rolling Hills, offers panoramic views of the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, giving rise to the tagline “Where the land meets the sky.” The Basco Lighthouse on Naidi Hills provides a postcard-perfect scene, especially during sunrise and sunset.

The province is also a haven for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. Valugan Boulder Beach, with its smooth, wave-polished stones, is unlike any typical tropical beach, providing a striking contrast to the roaring waves. At the northern tip of Batan Island, the Nakabuang Arch on Morong Beach is a natural stone arc that has become an iconic image associated with Batanes.

History buffs will find plenty of interest in Batanes, from the prehistoric Ivatan settlements to the traces of Spanish influence visible in structures like San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao. Another must-see historical site is the idjangs, ancient Ivatan fortresses set atop limestone formations, where the natives formerly sought refuge during times of war or pirate attacks.

Despite its remoteness, Batanes offers a tranquil and invigorating escape, embodying a simpler way of life, unspoiled natural beauty, and a strong sense of community and resilience that has captivated the hearts of both local and international travelers. Whether you’re seeking solitude, a glimpse into Ivatan traditions, or the raw beauty of nature, Batanes provides an experience that is truly unparalleled in the Philippines.

Don’t forget to have the right supplies before traveling. Read our blog: What Should You Buy Before Travelling? – Philippine Tourism and Statistics (

Near Basco by Christian Paul Del Rosario
Basco Lighthouse by
By Travel Trilogy

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