In one of his novels, author Dan Brown called Manila the “gates of hell”. But while that statement is quite difficult to argue against (let’s just be real here guys, okay?), here’s what Mr. Brown doesn’t know—we have the gates to heaven here in the Philippines, too.
And that portal is Batanes.
Yes, Batanes. The northernmost province in the Philippines and, arguably, the most beautiful, too. There isn’t a soul in this country who doesn’t dream of seeing Batanes with their own eyes, and those who already have been all come home with the same light in their eyes that scream, “Batanes has changed me.”
And it really does. I have been to Batanes myself, and have been touched by its magic, too. There is alchemy in the air there—one that’s pure, cleansing, forgiving. Simply put, Batanes heals.
It’s the people, it’s the landscape, it’s the nature. It’s everything rolled into one.
So, in ode to this stunning province, submitted to WhenInManila.com by photographer and videographer Guio Carlo Baniqued, here are 13 photos that prove Batanes really is heaven on earth.
13. Unbelievable landscapes such as this.
Not kidding you, this is how Batanes looks like everywhere you look. Beauty. Beauty everywhere.
12. Quaint, old stone houses that take you back to simpler times.
Made to withstand the harsh weathers of Batanes (they get the Philippines’ worst storms), these Ivatan stone houses are made to last. And so they are. Many of these houses are now more than centuries old, but still stand, and are still as lovely.
11. Majestic waves and beach sides.
That are so remarkable they will make you believe the ocean is as every bit as alive as we are.
10. Rolling hills.
If ever a non-nature person goes to Batanes, I can’t imagine not being converted here. I mean, how can you not? Look at that. Lush greeneries everywhere, and vast, rolling hills that will make you feel both small and grand at the same time.
9. The cute, odd anecdotes that are uniquely Batanes.
Some things you’ll just understand when you’ve been to Batanes. Aside from the Batanes magic, this road sign is also one to figure out for yourself. ;)
8. The stunning beaches.
This is the Valugan Boulder Beach in Batanes. You won’t find sand in the entire stretch of this beach—just these huge, smooth rocks that make for a perfect place to sit and just admire nature. Batanes is sprinkled with many incredible, unique beaches as this one.
7. Small picturesque towns.
Even the small, quiet towns of Batanes look postcard-pretty. Is there any spot in this province that’s not picturesque? I didn’t find any.
6. Hotels with views like this.
This is an actual hotel. In Batanes. Sitting on top of that hill, overlooking all of that. Imagine waking up every morning to that view. Whew.
Friendly note: That’s the Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge, by the way, in case you want to stay there for your Batanes visit. You’re welcome.
5. The pretty lighthouses.
There’s a lighthouse almost everywhere you turn in Batanes. Some still work, some don’t. Nonetheless, they all contribute to the unique charm of the peaceful province.
4. The remarkable cliffs and rock formations.
Staring at views like this, especially when you’re actually standing there, it’s hard to imagine you’re still in the Philippines. Batanes looks like lifetimes away from the realities of Manila we know. And how refreshing that is, to know places like this still exist.
3. The greens and the blues.
I’ve never seen so many natural greens and blues in my entire life. Did you know that nature is proven to be a natural stress-reliever? Now you know why Batanes heals.
2. The most honest people you’ll meet.
A place can only be as good as the people living in it. So all the good things people say about Batanes? All those ultimately reflect back to the Ivatans—the lovely, kind-hearted, warm, and welcoming Ivatans, whose lives are not engulfed by superficiality and greed. By now you’ve probably heard of the honesty stores in Batanes. Those are actual unmanned stores where you take what you need and just leave your payment in a box or on the counter. It’s a system run by honesty—and, somehow, in Batanes, it works.
1. Sunset views like this one.
Quoting Coco Martin’s character in the 2015 rom-com You’re My Boss, he quips: “Ang Batanes, ine-experince. Hindi ginu-Google.” Are you ready to experience the sunset in this side of the country?
Guio Carlo Baniqued, the photographer behind these stunning photos, also shared his thoughts about the Philippines’ northernmost province:
I saw photos and videos [of Batanes] already in the internet and sobrang naamaze ako and wanted to experience also what life is in Batanes. When I was on the plane I was seated near the window kasi I wanted to see yung aerial view nung Batanes and dun palang sobrang ganda na ng shoreline, yung waves, yung mountains, rock formations, and sobrang buhay na buhay yung landscape ng Batanes. So pagkalapag palang parang sabi ko it was a dream come true. Dati tinititigan lang kita pero ngayun maeexperience na kita.
During my trip i met new friends na nakasabay ko during the tour. sobrang saya pala magsolo traveler kasi you gain friends, new experiences and you discover new things about yourself.
Have your own Batanes stories to share? Tell us in the comments.