Biking in Batanes: Batan Island Loop

Categories Bike Diaries
Batanes

Route: Basco Town Proper – Mahatao Plaza – Ivana Town Proper – Uyugan Town Proper – Songsong Ruins – Alapad Rock – Marlboro Hills – Tayid Lighthouse – Mahatao Town Proper – Basco
Total Time: 6.5 hours
Saddle Time: 5 hours (approx)

After biking North Batan on my first day in Batanes, I thought I can do more. Biking in such a place can be quite addicting so I decided to spend one more day in the saddle to see more of the island with my two-wheeled machine. This time, the whole of Batan Island.

Batanes
Biking in Batanes is addicting!

The entire stretch of the Batan’s circumferential road is approximately 40 kilometers, passing along the western and southern coastal road of the island covering the towns of Basco, Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan, back into Mahatao through the rolling hills of Racuh-A-Payaman or Marlboro and onwards to Basco.

It was January 5, the Feast of the Three Kings, an occassion widely celebrated in the capital. Ate Fe, the owner of Marfel Lodge, told me to be back before three in the afternoon for some get together. I said “yes”, although unsure if I would be able to. I was clueless of how the entire stretch of the island is… its length and difficulty, the ascends and trails if any.

Batanes
Early morning takeoff.

Armed with non-scaled attraction map of Batanes that I got from Ferds, Google map and tons of excitement, I woke up early that day to finally explore the entire island of Batan with my rented bike. How did the ride go? Read on! 🙂

0632H Take Off
I planned to start pedaling before sunrise to catch the daybreak somewhere in the coastal road in between Basco and Mahatao, apparently the plan didn’t materialize. The cold weather made it hard for my recovering body to get going. The sun already broke the horizon when I left Basco.

Batanes
The day was just starting in Mahatao when I arrived.

0655H Mahatao
The ride from Basco to Mahatao was a bit easy with the cool wind and shades of early morning. The climb to the viewdeck was a breeze that in less than half-an-hour, I was already in the town proper. The day was just starting for Mahatao, an early morning mass in celebration of the Feast of the Three Kings was the first order of the day for most locals.

Batanes
Scenery along the road to Ivana.

0715H The Road to Ivana
I continued pedaling southwards, to the town of Ivana. There were some minor climbs from Mahatao but they were relatively easy. I made a short stop by the coastal road to appreciate this view.

0757H Welcome to Ivana
In less than an hour, I have reached Ivana. I was in all smile as I pedaled the narrow main road of the beautiful town, passing along century-old stone houses. I had a short stop at the most popular “House of Dakay”, believed to be the oldest stone house in the province. Then I proceeded to Irawan Port where two popular landmarks of the province are located – Ivana Church and Honesty Store.

Batanes
Obligatory shot at “House of Dakay”.

0837H Southernmost Coast
At half past eight in the morning, I was already traversing the southern coast of the island enroute to Uyugan. The road was generally friendly with some minor ascends and recovery. The cold breeze of the northern wind was my shield against the warming ray of the sun, the sound of the crashing waves was music to my ears.

Batanes
Ruins of old stone houses in Uyugan.

0858H Touchdown Uyugan
Before nine, I was already in Uyugan, the southernmost town of Batan Island, passing by more stone houses, the town’s old chapel and its beautiful coastline. I stopped in front of the chapel to rest and continued pedaling shortly after.

Batanes
Songsong Village.

0939H The Ruins of Songsong
From poblacion Uyugan, it didn’t take long before I arrived at another icon of Batanes – the ruins of Songsong. These ruins are the remnants of the village devastated by a tsunami in the 1950s. Going here is relatively easy, there are minor climbs and recovery, and surreal scenery everywhere… rolling hills on my left, ragged coast on my right. Woah!

Batanes
At Alapad Rock.

1002H Alapad Rock
At around ten in the morning, I made it to Alapad Rock Formation in Imnajbu , the last village of Uyugan in the north, before Mahatao. Alapad Rock Formation is one of the most photographed spots in the island, unique for it is a huge rock cut by the road. I stopped in the waiting shed near a junction to catch my breath while appreciating the view. The left ascending road on the junction leads to Marlboro Hills of Mahatao while the right is to the main village of Imnajbu.

Batanes
At Marlboro Hills, overlooking the rolling hills of Mahatao and Tukon, Diura Fishing Village and Mount Iraya.

1114H Racuh-a-Payaman (Marlboro Hills)
The road from Imnajbu Junction to Racuh-a-Payaman or Marlboro Hills is perhaps among the most challenging in Batan Island, with its long stretch of ascending road leading to the site. A gate marks the entrance to Marlboro Hills, a communal pastureland characterized by vast verdant rolling hills and home to numerous goats and cows. The best vantage point is at the back of the Marconines Restaurant, overlooking the rolling hills of Mahatao and Basco, Tayid Lighthouse, fishing village of Diura and Mount Iraya.

Batanes
Beautiful blue sky at Tayid Lighthouse! 🙂

1205H Tayid Lighthouse
With plenty of time to spare, I decided to return to Tayid Lighthouse, one of the iconic lighthouses of Batanes. It is situated in the rolling hills of eastern Mahatao, fronting the Pacific Ocean and above Diura fishing village. Going there is another challenge. From Marlboro Hills, the downslope towards Diura will be complemented by a narrow ascending road from the junction along the main road. It was already midday and the sun was on its peak, but the sight of the lighthouse on the backdrop of blue skies made the challenge truly worth it.

Batanes
Tayid Lighthouse.

1228H Enroute to Basco
It was a joy ride from Tayid Lighthouse to downtown Mahatao. From the lighthouse, there’s a road going to Basco via Tukon, passing by the decommissioned windmill and PAGASA Radar Station but I chose the one going back to downtown Mahatao. I made a quick round in the plaza to check out old stone houses and the church before stopping in a grocery in front of municipal building for a break. I had two slices of Banana Loaf Bread, enough to fuel me back to Basco. I reserved plenty of space in my stomach for more gastronomic activities later that day. I dropped by Mahatao Shelter Port and cemetery before going back to the same road going to the capital. The climb to the view deck was tolerable.

Batanes
The road going back to Basco.

1307H Back to Homebase
Less than seven hours since I left, I was back in Marfel’s Lodge in Kaychanarian, perfectly in time for the Three King’s celebrations happening in town. I had a brief rest before showing up at Ate Fe’s home.

1420H Happy Three Kings
The table is full of various viands of Filipino food, there were tocuhes of local flavors too such as Luñis and Yellow Rice. I shared the table with Ate Fe’s family and friends and some guests in the lodge. I met Ryan Cardona s well as Tom, Yanna and Eman, new found friends. We decided to go to Vayang Rolling Hills afterwards for the sunset.

Batanes
Almost sunset at Vayang Rolling Hills.

1636H Vayang Rolling Hills
I guess there’s no better place to see Batanes sunset than in the rolling hills. So we sat on the verdant hill of Vayang and waited for the sun to set. And that’s how we ended our day in Batan Island… that’s how I ended my day. After biking the stretch of the island’s circumferential road, celebrating the Feast of the Three King’s in Ate Fe’s home, and meeting new friends, the picturesque sunset in Vayang Rolling Hills made that day more memorable. Batanes has been so kind to me that I couldn’t ask for more.

Contact Info:

  • Marfel’s Lodge Annex
    Address: National Highway, Kaychanarianan, Basco
    Contact No: +639088931475 / +639178574493
  • Leonardo Garcia (Kuya Nards) – Bike Rental
    Contact No: +639999945408

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