Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sabtang Island

From Basco, take the jeepney to the port of Ivana. Ask locals for the jeepney and boat schedule. If you're staying in the town center, the jeepney passes Abad Street and announces itself by blaring its horn. The 30-minute jeepney ride to the port costs Php 25.

The Ivatan's boats, called falowas, do not have outriggers for these will only snap like toothpicks in the way-bigger-than-your-regular-sized waves. Passengers are required to wear a lifevest. If lifevests weren't  mandatory, I'm willing to bet you'd beg to have one.

There was only one passenger boat that day. Do you want to know why? Do you really really want to know why? If you don't, you may skip the rest of this paragraph. The other falowa sank the day before as it was leaving Sabtang. And you thought the Ivatans knew their sea conditions well! If this falowa I am getting on sinks, I will have to enjoy my indeterminate extended stay in Sabtang and learn to build a falowa.

Because I easily turn green, I had my eyes screwed shut (and my fingers crossed) most of the way. Sneaked a peek as we were nearing Sabtang Island and saw the island disappear behind the waves. You have to pay Php 50 to experience this half-hour rollercoaster ride on water.

On land, oh lovely land, I head on to the tourism office located just a few meters to the left of the port of Sabtang to register and pay the Php 100 tourism fee. Most visitors come to Sabtang for a day tour but I think it's best to stay a night to be able to explore the entire island. There are rooms at the tourism office for Php 300 a night or you can follow my lead and snore at Sabtang National School of Fisheries, just next door, for Php 150 a night (dorm type).


Vans to tour the island can be rented at the tourism office. Unfortunately, or rather, fortunately, all vans were booked and the only option left was a tricycle with an open sidecar. This proved to be a blessing for 1) it was cheaper, 2) open air equals fresh air, and 3) it can pass thru some areas where vans can't.

Sabtang island has six villages: Savidug, Chavayan, Sumnanga, Nakanmuan, Malakdang, and Sinakan. And I am going to visit all six.

The traditional houses at the village of Savidug.

There are two roof types: maytuab (cogon roof on four sides) and  sinadumparan (two sides only).
 Photo by Bee Chavez

On the way to Chavayan one can see the idiang of Sabtang
(below right, photo courtesy of Bee Chavez) from the roadside

and stop by Chamantad Sanctuary

The best place to find weavers is at the village of Chavayan.

Ivatan women's headgear, worn as protection from either sun or rain, is called a vakul (below left), while headgear for men is called talugong. During cold or rainy days, they wear a coat (below right) made of fine strips of vuyavuy (small palm growing in the coastal hills of Batanes).


The basket (below left) is called a pasikin. And the woven slippers (below right) are used by fishermen when fishing in shallow rocky coasts.


In Chavayan lives Lolo Marcelo Hostallero, the oldest person of Batanes. He is 104 years old.
The secret? Coconut water.

Roads cut thru the rock on the way to Sumnanga.

Duvek Bay at Sumnanga fishing village.

Nakabuang beach is a perfect place to pitch a tent or have a picnic.
But, poor me, I neither had a tent nor food.

Sabtang lighthouse

From here you can see the port of Sabtang and the villages of Malakdang and Sinakan.

Yup, we circled the island of Sabtang in one day.

How Batanes bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Will tell you in my next post. I promise. That's if you're still interested.

If you missed my other Batanes posts, do not fret:
Sketch Batanes
Hello Batanes
Northern Batan on Foot
Northern Batan Not by Foot
Southern Batan
Sabtang Island (you're here!)


  1. Oh yes, long live butong juice! Haha. That's really cool. He doesn't look as old as he is, too (well, in the picture at least).

    Babe For Food - your new bff in Cebu dining!

  2. Maybe we should all replace our 8 glasses of water with 8 glasses of coconut juice...
    Thanks for visiting!

  3. NICE! I want to visit Batanes soon! I wish Seair would have their Batanes flights back. Great that you were able to visit Sabtang. Some skip this due to lack of time. Hope I'll be able to do Batanes soon! :)

    1. Hi Adventure Accountant! Seair doesn't fly to Batanes anymore? Or just for now? There is another option: SkyPasada. They fly from Manila to Basco too. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. We will be traveling with an 18 month old toddler. Haha. I wonder if we will brave this ride.

    1. Hi Benj! Happy new year! Wow, the little one is starting his traveling career early (and to Batanes, to boot!).

  5. I left the little one with my partner in Basco. The ferry got canceled in the afternoon. Hahahaha. Good call.