I was so eager for my trip to Batanes that I barely slept the night before. I got up when it was still dark out, called room service for two cups of coffee to be delivered, and hammered out some travel plans before a friend took me to the airport at 8 am.
Even the flight itself was wild and free like a Jack London novel, as the twin-prop Bombadier rumbled and shook through the thick clouds. We were headed north – all the way north, to the furthest tip of the last island out of 7,500 in the Philippines archipelago; Batanes.
After an incredibly difficult landing (the plane has to swoop in along the windblown coast, then drop sharply after clearing a volcano, and touch down on an incredibly short runway. I got my luggage at the charming open-air airport and was pleased to see that, out of the half dozen local hotel workers there holding signs for the patrons they were picking up.
I found a sign that said “Norman Schriever” (or close enough to be recognizable), and greeted the smiling and equally enthusiastic lady holding it. We exited and got in a van, heading to the Batanes Seaside Resort.
“How long is the drive?” I asked, expecting an enjoyable 40-minute or even hour-long foray through the green rolling hills and bucolic oceanside.
“About 5 minutes,” they replied, but it was even less, as we were at the front of the Batanes Seaside Resort within three streets and about 200 seconds.
The lady who had held the sign excused herself and hopped out of the van as the driver helped me with my bag. When I walked in the front lobby, she was standing there at the front desk, ready to check me in. How cute! The hotel is so small and quaint that the lady at the airport was also the one and only front desk worker on duty!
They led me to my room on the second floor that was plenty sufficient – big bed (and an extra single bed in case the whole family wanted to stay in there), and AC that was cool enough, plus a TV on the wall (haven’t turned it on), and a bathroom where I found out the hard way that the water only worked if you turned on the light switch.
Right outside my room is an outdoor balcony with a sitting area where you can see the town all the way to the iconic lighthouse, as well as the vast ocean in front of me.
However, I was slightly stung that, although it is technically seaside, the hotel sits atop the beach and there is no direct access. The beach itself is rough pebbles and a little dirty from the refuse washing in, so you wouldn’t want to spend much time there anyway, so just be aware that you’re paying for the seaside view – not beach access.
Also, I was horrified to hear that they didn’t have wi-fi at the hotel. In fact, there isn’t a single wi-fi connection on the entire island, I found, as it was all wiped out in the Biblical typhoon Ferdie in 2016. That’s fine, except they advertise that they have wi-fi on the hotel booking websites, and I even messaged the hotel directly to confirm they had it – to which they said they do. It’s not that I’m a wi-fi snob or anything, but I need it for work, and that’s a pretty serious slight, misrepresentation, or even lie if you say you have it but don’t.
Either way, I was able to adapt by getting a local cell phone SIM card in my phone and using it as a hotspot. In fact, that’s what everyone does here, and so far, it works adequately.
Despite that bad first impression, the stay at the Batanes Seaside Resort has been wonderfully pleasant, as everyone is smiling, friendly and enthusiastic, and I’m even using my van driver as a tour guide (with his motorcycle) for my trips around the island.