It has been 8 months since our trip to Batanes but whenever our group gets together, we still cant help but talk and gush about it. I can say for certain that it's my best and most memorable trip yet. I admit though that traveling with a fun group of people was a big factor. It always is, right?
I'll try to cover as much as I can share in one post (at least, those that I think those wanting to travel to Batanes will find quite useful).
The Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA) is a tour operator that offers several packages to Batanes -- from the somewhat affordable to somewhat luxurious (yes, it is quite possible). According to their site, they are working with the local government to promote Batanes. Their website is pretty comprehensive (http://batanestravel.com) so it will be good to check it out. If you live or work around Ortigas, you can drop by their office at the Park Chateau condo (it's near Unionbank bldg) and actually talk to someone (if that's what you prefer). They can actually assist you in choosing your accomodations and preparing your itinerary.
Flying to Batanes
We flew via SkyJet. I believe it is affiliated with the Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA). They have flights twice a week. According to a recent post at Pinoyroadtrip.com, that hasnt changed. It also lists some other airline options and costs (http://www.pinoyroadtrip.com/2013/02/manila-to-batanes-flights-airlines.html). I should warn you that flights to Batanes aren't exactly cheap. With the prevalence of promo fares, you can get much, much cheaper flights to say, Thailand, HK or Singapore.
We had a talk with our very wise guide, Ed, about this and I hope I can convey the message he wanted to say -- that attracting tourists is not really a priority for them -- they would prefer that few people visit actually. They have seen the effect that tourism does to a place and somewhat controlling the number of people that do visit to a few groups at a time will help them maintain and preserve the culture. Afterall, Batanes was declared by UNESCO Paris as a World Heritage site. I hope that made some sense.
Where to stay
We initially planned to stay at the swanky and famous Fundacion Pacita.
Unfortunately, it was fully-booked so we ended up choosing Octagon Bed and Dine (http://www.octagonbedanddine.com) which wasn't so bad (except for the water pressure tho I'm unsure if this is the case throughout the island). It was cozy (I loved the knickknacks and quirky wood carvings) and had an amazing view of the sea and a lighthouse. The breakfast fare was pretty good too and they had a well-stocked fridge (sanmig light anytime). They only had 3 rooms which was just enough for our group so we thought we had the place to ourselves. But since it's a local hangout, people will come and drink and sing. Don't worry though, the videoke/karaoke singing is usually over by 10pm.
To be continued...
Where to go/What to see: I'll share our itinerary and some awesome photos
Other things you should know...