Batanes in the northernmost Philippines is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been, and that’s saying something since my bucket list is to see…well, all the world. Sitting at the northern tip of 7,500 islands in the Philippines archipelago, all 7,500 islands are at your back when you stand on the beach and look out at the seemingly endless China Sea.
It’s also a wild place, so blessed and cursed by nature at the same time, with its lush green rolling hills, rocky and windswept coast that will give even the bravest sailor chills, and a volcano standing watch over the island’s only sizable town, Basco, which holds 8,000 of the entire island’s 18,000 residents.
I’m finding out the hard way that nature is nothing to be messed with (a typhoon is approaching as we speak!) They get absolutely barraged with bad weather, storms, and typhoons every year, but I’m still holding out a ray of hope that my flight can take off today before the storm gets too bad. But the island sure makes for some beautiful backdrops to daily life.
Such is the case at the Octagon Restaurant in that same town of Basco, which has one of the most unique vantage points in the entire world.
The Octagon sits along the Batanes National Highway, which is really just a fancy term for a simple but well-paved two-lane road that rings around the island, commissioned by the national Philippines government. I happen to be staying at the Batanes Seaside Resort which sits only a hundred meters or so away, and when I first asked where was a good place to eat, the hotel staff unanimously pointed at the Octagon. (It’s also one of the only restaurants in town still open during the stormy low season!)
The restaurant’s design and decoration is certainly nothing to write home about, as it best can be described as “Stormproof Fabulous.” The most notable part about it is that, in fact, it’ s shaped like an octagon, with a sturdy cement deck and bare walls sitting right above the rocky face of the incline down to the shore below.
Inside, with its open cement doorways and window cut-outs to the outside, there is little remarkable except the view outside. The restaurant has about a dozen flimsy tables covered in plastic, plastic chairs that groaned under my weight, a cooler with Gatorade and beer, and a few strategically placed fans to keep everyone from melting.
Aside from the 270-degree view of the ocean, coastline, and meandering neon green hills you’re afforded while eating in Octagon, the food is pretty remarkable. When you are handed a menu it’s certainly useful – to fan yourself while you ask the waiter or waitress what’s good that day. They’ll probably recommend a couple of things that are fresh that day, and you definitely can’t go wrong with any seafood dishes. I had a fish soup on a rainy day that was incredible, and also a local fern salad to get some greens. The prices aren’t too bad – you can try two or three things for about $10 or so, and they even have cold beer!
Enjoy Octagon – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!