As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we asked around for tours. We met a group of fit, fab,twenty-somethings at the hotel who told us they rented bikes and motorcycles and pedaled/motored their way all around Batanes. Just listening to them made our ancient hamstrings ache, so we opted to book for ourselves a 3-day Batanes tour. The hotel recommended Joaquin Cantor, who turned out to be a trained, patient and very well-informed guide and skilled photographer, answering our endless questions and handling up to four cameras at a time.
He had perfect timing for jump shots too ;-)
He outlined for us the following itinerary:
Day 1 - after lunch - Northern Batan Tour
Day 2 - Sabtang Island Tour with set lunch
Day 3 - Southern Batan Tour
Because we were a group of 8, the whole tour cost us P3K/person, instead of the usual P5K/person that he charges for groups less than five. The 6am flight from Manila to Basco meant that we woke up at 3am, so Joaquin suggested that we start the tour after lunch so we could take it easy in the morning.
Also covered by the tour fee was the rental for the jeepney for three days, and boat fares to and from Sabtang, the tourism registration fee, and set lunch in Sabtang Island.
Since Joaquin could not be with us in Sabtang, he referred another guide, Gloria, who is a Sabtang local, and who met us at the Sabtang port with another jeepney.
Gloria explains how corals and rocks are mixed and "cured" for a year in these pits before the mixture is used to build stone houses.
Although the tour fee included only one meal, Joaquin was able to suggest and arrange for sunset dinner by the Basco lighthouse, and lunch at the Racuh A Payaman ("Marlboro Hills").
We will not post too many Batanes pictures here so as not to preempt your enjoyment of the sights, but trust us when we say it was worth every peso we paid.
Here's Joaquin's pretty calling card and contact numbers:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain