The Philippines’ smallest province and northernmost island group, the Batanes lie at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, showcasing a rugged, elemental beauty that many have likened to the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. Its inhabitants, the Ivatan, call their gale-blown islands the “Home of the Winds,” and over the centuries since the Spanish introduced them to masonry, they have constructed solid limestone houses to keep the elements at bay.
Places of note: A 15-minute drive from Basco Airport, The Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge is the region’s first luxury hotel, overlooking the sea from the main island of Batan. It was once the studio and home of late Pacita Abad, one of the Philippines’ most acclaimed contemporary artists, which was later on refurbished into a warm lodge with replete with handmade furnishings, native wood floors, and works by Ivatan painters. The Honesty Coffee Shop has also become one of the island’s most iconic gems. With no shopkeeper to man its small space, the shop, as it name suggests, counts on the honesty of visitors to purchase any of the goods it has to offer and leave their payment near the counter. No visit Batanes would be complete without a visit to one of its lighthouses, from which travelers can enjoy some of the most picturesque views the region has to offer.
When to visit: Visit Batanes during the Philippines’ dry season to get the best of the islands, which runs from February to early June.
How to get there: Philippine Airlines and SkyJet fly directly to Basco from the capital of Manila.