I believe there is only one boat trip from Batan island (where Basco is) to Sabtang in the morning and I think it departs the port at around 7 AM. The boat trip back to Batan leaves Sabtang at around 3 or 3:30 PM. As the port is several kilometers away from the municipal center, you can ask around for vehicle rentals to bring you to the port in the morning and pick you up in the afternoon. I was unable to join my friends for their trip to Sabtang - you will know why towards the end of this blog post - so I don't really have the details. If you do plan to take a trip to Sabtang, and you definitely should if you are already in Batanes, just ask around when you get there (that's what we did).
We rented our bikes from two places. The owner of Amboy Hometel which is in the town center had a couple of mountain bikes and a Japanese easy rider bike for rent. The owner directed us to another place just a couple of blocks away that had a whole bunch of bikes for rent. Unfortunately, I can't remember how much the bike rental was; I vaguely recall the Japanes easy rider was around P200-250 for about 4 hours while the mountain bikes were about P800-1000. If you plan to bike all the way into the late evening, your bike needs to have a headlight; it's illegal to ride a bike in Batanes at night without a light on.
Where to stay
I stayed with three other friends in Marfel's Lodge. Or more specifically, the Marfel Lodge extension. It's a homestay set-up which means that this place is a house that is rented out to tourists who are looking for a place to stay. We got an aircon room that had four beds and it cost P2,000 per night (so each of us paid P500 a night). If you are looking for a good place to stay that doesn't cost a lot, this is for you. More info about Marfel:
- There's a kitchen and you can cook your own food. Also in the kitchen is a self-service, honesty-system store where you can buy stuff like spam, instant pancit canton, chips, and softdrinks.
- It's clean and well-maintained. Visitors are requested to leave their footwear at the doorstep.
- The restrooms are communal. In the extension lodge, there are two shower areas and two toilet rooms. As is the rest of the house, these areas are clean and well-maintained too.
- There is hot water in the showers although sometimes the water pressure is a bit weak.
- There's a communal living room with TV.
- Clean towels are provided so you don't have to bring your own.
- You do have to bring your own toiletries i.e. soap, shampoo, toothpaste. If you forget to bring your own, you can always buy these items from the store.
- The rooms aren't soundproof though so make sure you keep your noise level to a minimum in the late evenings. (We played Monopoly Deal quite loudly close to midnight one evening and the folks staying in the room next to ours requested us to be a bit more quiet LOL).
- This isn't a hotel so don't expect room service.
- It's a 5 minute walk from the airport.
Places to eat
Probably the best place to eat in Basco is Pension Ivatan. It's right across the airport. Unfortunately, I had horrible stomach problems on my last day in Batanes so I wasn't able to eat here as often as I wanted to but my friends enjoyed a meal there three times. I did have breakfast there once and the longganisa meal was really, really good. They also serve brewed coffee!
In the municipal center, right next to the Basco Cathedral, is a canteen. I think it's called SDBC canteen but I'm not 100% sure. The food is pretty basic but you can get a meal for about P100 or less. We had a few meals here and we also enjoyed their halo-halo a couple of times.
As great overall as this trip to Batanes was, I had a horrible last day. I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me on my second to the last night there and as such, I spent my last day having terrible stomach problems. Because of this, I was unable to revisit Sabtang. Such a shame since I was really looking forward to seeing the beautiful Savidug and Chavayan villages again.
I did leave Batanes with some new friends because I got to meet and interact with the other relatives and close friends of Marco and Cha. They had maybe about 50-60 guests there and we all spent a full day touring Batanes together. The reception which was held in Fundacion Pacita. Oh, and I was also extremely honored to have been requested by Marco and Cha to do lector duties for their wedding.
Batanes remains one of the most amazing places I have visited in the Philippines. I have now been here twice and I'm pretty sure I will get to visit again at some point in the future.