Itbayat is the adventurous sister of Batan and Sabtang. Overlooked by many, because it’s too far away if you’re only in Batanes for a short trip. The boatride will take over 2 hours, on rough sea if you’re unlucky. During this ride I saw many people tasting their breakfast for the second time…. yup, that’s disgusting!
You can’t go back and forth here on the same day, since the boat will not stay long in Itbayat before returning. So you’d need to stay at least one night on the island. And if the sea get’s all too rough, you might even spend some more time….
Yes, this place is hard to reach! But when you’re here, oh my. Nature is even more rough and beautiful than at the other two islands. There are caves to discover, little harbors seen from high above, sunrises where the only other living soul is a single cow on the lands below. It’s breathtaking!
I did two tours in Itbayat. The day of arrival I got kind of a ‘highlights of the island’ tour, combined with a sunrise tour next morning. Very early morning 😉
The first tour covered amonst others the viewpoint deck on Mount Karoboboan, from where you can see the other islands and even Taiwan! We saw the old airport, which is no longer in use except from then the militairy wants to fly here.
We visited several cliffs to enjoy the beautiful rocky coastline of the island.
We also were lucky, since there was a wedding celebration going on in Raele in the south of Itbayat. We were invited to the feast, eat and drink with the guests and sit down with the happy couple. If there is a celebration in these villages, everyone comes to get some of the food. They provide it on big leaves, so nature friendly when disposed.
I am not sure if this really is a ‘standard; tour. There were two priests visiting their collegue when I was in Itbayat, I just joined in on their tour. If you’re staying in miss Cano’s place, talk to her about all you can do and just pick your favorites. I would definitely recommend the sunrise tour though.
And I really enjoyed walking to Torongan Cave. It’s a weird kind of limestone nomansland – which leads you eventually to the cave. At the end of the cave there’s a small hole and you can see the sea from here. Very serene and very beautiful! It’s believed to be one of the oldest settlements in Itbayat, the first landing. The way back from this cave will be through the forest, so you’ll go in a circle. Note that, picture wise. No ‘I’ll take that picture on the way back’ here.
Note: you should bring good shoes on this tour since the grot is not easy to access. It might also be a good idea to bring a scarf or towel. The sun is burning on your skin and you’ll sweat like crazy, that’s why 😉
In the center of the villages, you’ll also see the old stone houses. If it get’s all too stormy, you just bind the roofs to the walls and wait till it’s all over. Locals say it’s better to stay in your own house, than the government built houses. They’re just stronger.
It is possible to see more caves on Itbayat. I did not opt for it now, but you certainly could! There is a lot to explore here, you can easily enjoy yourself a few days. The northern Sarokan cave seems to be amazing for example. 1,5 hours of hiking, to the middle of the cave and back out. It’s open on two sides, so you can go right through her!
What I paid for the Itbayat island tour + morning sunrise = 2000 pesos
Note: they charged me 1000 pesos for sitting at the back of a motor cycle + 1000 for the guide + 500 next morning motor cycle ride + 1000 for the morning sunrise tour. That would’ve been 3.500 pesos. While I was going with two other guys on a tour, this would be the price just for me. I found that a bit expensive to be honest. I talked about it and we came to 2.000 pesos. Since I had a great time and the guide was friendly, I gave him a little extra in the end.
The ride to Itbayat starts at Batan Port. If your luggage ain’t too heavy, you can walk here. At least that’s what I did from Nanay Cita’s. There are two boats going, both costing 400 pesos for a single ride. It will take you around 2,5 hours – depending on the weather. One tip: keep watching the horizon! I saw many people laying down and getting sick, even at a relatively calm sea.
Also note, the port is far from town and there was no transport or jeepney waiting when I arrived. I just started walking till someone on a motorcycle pulled over and offered me a ride to town. Thank you! 😀
Food needs to be brought to the island. Back in the days they did a lot of farming, but that’s dying out. The island is becoming less and less self sufficient. They do still use waterbuffalo’s to work on the land though, which is great to see!
Anyway, I got my food at miss Cano’s. She can also introduce you to the canteen, where you can get food for 200 pesos. I didn’t do that, since I was not hungry enough in the evening.
Just as you do in Batan and Sabtang, you also pay a registration fee in Itbayat. It’s 100 pesos – to be paid at the registration office. I almost forgot, but was able to give my 100 pesos to Miss Cano in the end, just to be still registered.
As mentioned I stayed at Miss Cano’s place. It’s 250 per night per head. You’ll sleep in a dorm room. I was the only one there back then, so I had the place for myself.
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