I’ve recently discovered one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever been in my whole life (literally) of traveling and living abroad: a series of islands so far north in the Philippines that they sit closer to Taiwan and China than they do to Manila, so remote that it appears like a dot on the map in the middle of the China Sea – if it appears at all. Batanes.
This island province (there are a few islands), is so far north that when you stand on its shores and look north, all 7500 (or so) islands of the Philippines archipelago are at your back!
This month, AllWorld.com is giving you an exclusive look into all things Batanes, as we have some of the most comprehensive (and just plain fun!) useful information about the island for you.
However, before we explore and celebrate the miraculous island, we actually have to GET you there! And that means flying to Basco Airport on Batanes (unless you want to take buses and boats for almost three days from Manila.)
So you’re familiar, Basco is the main town (and only town of any significant size) on the entire island (and series of islands) that is Batanes. In fact, Basco is home to 8,000 of the island’s 18,000 residents.
But Basco Airport (BSO) is a crucial transportation hub, not only for getting goods and residents to and from the mainland, but the only pipeline for a burgeoning tourism industry that brings much-needed funds to the island. (There is one other tiny airstrip on the islands but only for smaller aircraft.) Basco Airport sees 25,766 people arrive and depart last year on 716, a good portion of them tourists.
For a long time, there were only a few flights a week to Basco, almost all from Manila, and they are still known as being quite pricey compared to other flights throughout the country. For instance, you can fly just about anywhere within the Philippines for $80 – $100 here, or half of that if you’re just flying around the islands in the same region or find a good special. But, a flight to Batanes from Manila or Clark (the entertainment-based small city 100 km north of Manila where the U.S. airbases used to be located) could easily run 10,000 to 12,000 Pesos each way, which is like $200 – $220 each way. That doesn’t sound like much if you’re living in the U.S., but it untenable for the average young Filipino adventurer, even if you did want to go.
However, now, they have daily flights on several airlines, like Philippines Airlines (PAL), CebuPacific, and SkyJet, from Manila but also Clark. There are also smaller independent airlines that fly there, like AirSwift and the Sky Pasada.
It still may cost a pretty penny, but it’s well worth it for the jaw-dropping beautiful, wild, and rugged landscapes you’ll see in Batanes and the experience you’ll have.
Of course, you’ll find great flight specials from June to January or so, but that’s because those months encompass the typhoon season, where the weather is SERIOUSLY no joke. It’s still alright to attempt to visit Batanes during those months, just make sure you get insurance when you book the airfare because flights are regularly canceled because of bad weather in Batanes.
During the sunny months of February through May, it’s recommended you book well ahead of time because the limited number of flights fill up quickly and get expensive closer to the travel dates.
We hope you enjoy Batanes!