Itbayat Travel Guide | Batanes Adventure Island
Itbayat travel guide is necessary because it is not an island that you can just easily explore. In fact, no one is allowed to do any DIY trip even Ivatans from Batan or Sabtang.
In a separate story, I wrote about the wonders of Itbayat. With its wealth of attractions, it is indeed an extraordinary island worth visiting at least once in our lifetime.
Why do you need an Itbayat travel guide?
Above anything else, Itbayat is a sanctuary for marine & terrestrial wildlife that is strictly protected by the government of Batanes. With this, not all sites are open to public.
It is also the homeland of a very tight-knit community that still observes the indigenous traditions of the Ivatans. Tourists are expected to behave in modest manners to avoid disrupting their ways of living.
Itbayat is seriously far. Obviously you don’t want to ruin your trip just because you miss to be informed of the things you need to know beforehand.
This simple but complete Itbayat travel guide is a handy information that will make most of your experience in the Philippines’ northernmost inhabited island.
Where is it & how to get there?
Itbayat is closer to Taiwan than to any part of mainland Philippines. There used to be flights to the island but was discontinued due to logistical reasons. The only way to get there today is to sail on a falowa, the motorized version of its traditional boat.
There are 3 shipping lines that sail to Itbayat from its capital town of Basco in Batan Island. These are Veronica, Itranza & Ocean Spirit. Travel time takes about 3 hours & one-way fare costs P450.
It’s a Spartan type of boat so do not expect any kind of amenity. The cabin is communal & rather cramped with passengers & goods. If you can take the heat & have strong resistance to motion sickness then sit on the sun deck.
Batanes rests where the Pacific Ocean & the West Philippine Sea meet. This only means one thing—be ready for huge waves. In fact, just by the thought of being handed puke bags upon embarkation is enough reason for the faint-hearted to cower.
If sailing there is already scary, wait ‘til you dock on the island. There are no disembarkation gangplanks because the waves on the port are unbelievably high. The only way to get off the boat is to jump as soon its nose levels off with the concrete platform.
What’s the island like?
Itbayat is one of the largest uplifted coral islands in the world. It has no shoreline, meaning it is not hemmed by sand like we what know about islands. Rather, it is surrounded with massive & jagged rock walls framed by deep tidal pools.
The terrain is generally mountainous with too many winding roads. There are not too many trees around because of its inherent topographical condition. It is mostly filled with arid savannas.
If you’re traveling on a tight schedule, just ditch the dream of setting foot in Itbayat. Voyages to the island are easily cancelled when it’s too windy or too rainy.
Between the months of March to May are the best times to travel because the sea is calm. But remember, what is a normal summer swell to the locals could be an understatement to tourists who aren’t used to sailing in open seas.
The island battles with extreme weather conditions. It is very hot in summer. But from December to January, they struggle with freezing winter chills. Never attempt to travel during monsoon season.
Itbayat is within the usual path of storms coming from the Pacific. In fact, it was badly hit by 2 successive super typhoons that destroyed pasturelands & stomped houses.
People & Language
They are called Itbayaten, a community that belongs to a larger collective group of people called Ivatan. Unlike the people in Batan & Sabtang, they are taller, very toned, chinky-eyed & have high cheekbones.
While all of them speak Itbayaten, a language similar to the one spoken in Lanyu island in Taiwan, they also speak Ivatan. But they’re very gracious to speak in Filipino & English to tourists.
The people are typically shy as tourists are hard to come by. But they’re very hospitable. You address the older folks as uncle or auntie. They’re very religious, polite & peaceful people. So do not harass them with excessive personal display of affection & other boisterous behavior.
Places to Eat & Sleep
There are no hostels or inns around Itbayat. Home stay is the only accommodation type that you could get there.
Among the popular ones there are: Cano’s Lodge (+63 919 300 4787), Uncle Danding Dierra (+63 939 199 0520).
Accommodations here come in either modern home style or the traditional stone house. There are no airconditioned rooms anywhere too. You can always walk in even without reservations because there are a lot of homes who’d be willing to host you. Price begins at P250.
There are only 2 restaurants on the island. Spare about P150-200 for a meal. But it is easier to have your food prepared by your host.
Food supply is quite a challenge in Itbayat because their land is not suitable for agriculture. Most goods are “imported” from Basco & that explains why everything is expensive there.
As the island poise itself with extreme outdoor adventures, it is important to have a local Itbayat travel guide. The best in the island is Kuya Jojo (+63 920 660 3801). Guide fee starts at P1,000/day.
The best way to move around is to hop on a motorbike or a tricycle. Self-driven rental is not allowed because of the nature of its terrain. Rentals start at P1,000 per day.
What else to expect?
Electricity on the island ends at 12 midnight. So charge all your electronics because it only resumes at 6 AM the next day. There’s mobile phone signal but Smart is the best network to use. There’s no internet too, just take it as a digital detox.
There are no banks & all transactions are in cash. There’s no public market too as each home has its own small garden or farm. There’s no hospital. So bring your medicines.
Necessary Things to Bring
It is important that you have the following: hand gloves, trekking shoes or sandals, preferably quick dry clothes & mosquito repellant. It would be helpful to bring some liniment too for itchiness, nausea & body sore.
Now that you’ve gone through this Itbayat travel guide, make sure you don’t miss to read the sights to visit on the island.
Book your Itbayat adventure through Wakay Tours. Click here.
Check out this short video too!