How can you not love Batanes? Breathtaking views, fascinating rich culture, and kind locals—these pretty much sums up why travelers dream of visiting Batanes. But aside from these, there lie the interesting facts about Batanes that people should learn about.
13 Facts About Batanes Every Traveler Should Know
If dream of visiting Batanes soon, you definitely have to know these Batanes facts before traveling. Trust us, these will blow your mind.
- It is the smallest province in the Philippines
- Batanes is made up of 10 volcanic islands
- There’s almost zero crime rate in the province
- Ivatans still perform the age-old fishing tradition Kapayvanuvanua
- Closer to Taiwan than to the northern tip of Luzon
- House of Dakay is one of the only five structures that survived 1918 earthquake in Batanes
- Basco lighthouse location used to be the site of the American period telegraph facilities
- You can’t simply buy a land or property in Batanes
- Vakul and Kanayi are not made purposely for fashion
- Blowing your horns in Batanes is encouraged
- Bayanihan is still alive in Batanes
- Ivatans have a traditional way of serving food
- The local government gives free food to everyone on Batanes Day
We’ve rounded up 13 interesting Batanes facts that you must haven’t heard of yet!
1. Batanes is the smallest province in the Philippines
The northernmost province of the Philippines has a total land area of 230 km. It is located between 121° 45′ to 122° 15′ east longitudes, and at 20°15′ north latitudes.
2. Batanes is made up of 10 volcanic islands
But only three are inhabited. These are Batan (where the provincial capital of Vasay (Basco) is located), Sabtang, and Itbayat. Ivuhos island, lying about a kilometer and a half cast of Sabtang, has a handful of families tending cattle. While the other uninhabited islands are Yami, North, Mavudis, Siayan, Di-nem and Dequey.
3. There’s almost zero crime rate in Batanes Island
That is why Batanes is known to be one of the most peaceful provinces in the Philippines. Because of how honest and kind Ivatans are, they even have an “Honesty Coffee Shop” where people buy goods even without the staff to attend to it. Our Batanes facts list will not be complete without this.
4. Ivatans still perform the age-old fishing tradition Kapayvanuvanua
One of the most interesting facts about Batanes that every traveler should know is about the Kapayvanuvanua. They perform the ritual before fishing for arayu (dolphin fish), a food staple in Batanes, by offering animal sacrifices to spirits of the sea to bless them with safe and bountiful fishing season. Fishing for this prized fish is only done during summer, between April to May.
5. Batanes Island is closer to Taiwan than to the northern tip of Luzon
Distance of Taiwan from the northernmost islet of Batanes is 218 kilometers while Manila to Batanes is 500 kilometers. Usually, airfares going to Batanes are more expensive than traveling to foreign countries.
6. House of Dakay is one of the only five structures that survived 1918 earthquake in Batanes
Built in 1887, the 133-year old House of Dakay is considered to be the oldest traditional Ivatan stone house in Batanes. The traditional Ivatan stone houses made of stone and lime with cogon roofs could withstand the strongest typhoon.
7. Basco lighthouse location used to be the site of the American period telegraph facilities
Among the interesting facts about Basco Lighthouse is this. It was the site of the American period telegraph facilities that connected Batanes with the central government until it was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II. Some buildings survived and some have been converted to Bunker’s Café.
8. You can’t simply buy a land or property in Batanes
Unless you’re an Ivatan or you marry one. According to locals, only Ivatans can own a property in Batanes because the entire province is declared by law as a protected area and also covered by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, which recognizes the province as the ancestral domain of the Ivatans. This is one of the surprising facts about Batanes.
9. Vakul and Kanayi are not made purposely for fashion
Made from shredded leaves of voyavoy or Philippine date palm, Vakul Batanes is a headgear worn by women while Kanayi are vests worn by men. Locals use these to protect themselves from the sun and rain especially when they are farming. While modernity is noticeable in the province, some Ivatans still use these gears to preserve the culture and tradition.
10. Blowing your horns in Batanes is encouraged
While blowing horns in other places is not allowed unless it’s an emergency, in Batanes, it’s even encouraged to avoid accidents because there are many curved roads. Hence, “Blow Ur Horn” signs are normal sights in Batanes.
11. Bayanihan is still alive in Batanes
Bayanihan (uniting to help one another) is one of the most important values in the Philippines especially during the olden times but since time passed and technology is rising affecting our culture, traditions, and values, bayanihan is slowly fading away. But in Batanes, it lives on up to this day! When Ivatans find out that a neighbor is fixing a house or preparing for a special occasion, the community will help that person without questions asked nor any expectations in return. No wonder they are dubbed as the kindest Filipinos!
12. Ivatans have a traditional way of serving food
And it’s called vunung. They wrap the meal on Kabaya leaves. Usually, these are served on special occasions like weddings where people help hand in hand in the preparations without compensation. That’s how resourceful and kind the locals are in Batanes Philippines.
13. The local government gives free food to everyone on Batanes Day
Like any other festival in the Philippines, Batanes holds a weeklong festival to celebrate its foundation day but the most awaited event is every June 26 where street dance performances and other sports competitions are held. But not only that, because on this day, the local government gives free food to everyone may it be locals or tourists! Usually, there are around four to five trucks in Basco Batanes loaded with Vunungs and people would line up for it after the main event and they would all eat together at the plaza for the “community lunch”.
Batanes, truly, is not just a feast for the eyes for its picturesque views but also a destination where visitors can learn culture, traditions, and good values. Ivatans are so lucky to call this place home.
For a more detailed Batanes travel guide, read this blog.
Frequently Asked Questions About Batanes Facts
Q: What is Batanes famous for?
A: Batanes is famous for its breathtaking views of the wonders of nature such as the vast rolling hills, amazing lighthouses, the amazing view of the Pacific Ocean, and the kindest locals you’d ever meet. Among the popular attractions in Batanes Island are Racuh A Payaman, Vayang Rolling Hills, and Basco Lighthouse in Basco Batanes.
Q: Why are Batanes houses famous?
A: The Batanes houses known as the Stone Houses are famous across the country because it is sturdy and unique in style. Batanes Island is known to be a typhoon destination in the Philippines that’s why the Ivatans built houses made of stone and lime with cogon roofs that could withstand the strongest typhoons. And true enough, they did. But now, some were replaced into concrete houses but you can find a few traditional stone houses in Basco Batanes but in Sabtang Island, there’s a whole village full of it.
Q: What makes Batanes unique?
A: One that is simpler, laidback, quiet, but definitely revitalizing. For a country that is known for its tropical islands, Batanes’ rock formations, quaint lighthouses, and wild horses that roam freely in vast pastureland make it a truly unique destination for many people.
Q: What are the best places to visit in Batanes?
A: There are so many beautiful tourist spots that Batanes offers. From Racuh A Payaman to Chawa Viewdeck, here are some of the top places to visit in Batanes Philippines:
- Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Country)
- Alapad Hill and Rock Formation
- Basco Lighthouse
- Tayid Lighthouse
- Honesty Coffee Shop
- Morong Beach Batanes
- Valugan Boulder Beach
- House of Dakay
- Savidug Stone Houses
- Mt. Carmel Chapel Batanes
- Vayang Rolling Hills
- Chawa View Deck
Q: How to go to Batanes?
A: The only way to go to Batanes is by plane as there are no buses and ferries that go there directly. From Manila, you can book a direct flight bound for the capital of Batanes which is Basco Batanes.
Q: What is the Vakul in Batanes?
A: Vakul is a headgear worn by women in Batanes Philippines while Kanayi are vests worn by men. Locals use these to protect themselves from the sun and rain especially when they are farming. While modernity is noticeable in the province, some Ivatans still use these gears to preserve the culture and tradition.
Q: What is the best food to try in Batanes?
A: Just like its breathtaking views, the Ivatan cuisine is one for the books! Here are some of the best Batanes foods you must try:
- Uved balls
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