Batanes lies off the northern coastline of mainland Luzon, and is an archipelago composed of three inhabited islands and other smaller islands. It is the northernmost, smallest, and least populated province of the Philippines.
The province is bordered by Babuyan Islands to the south, the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to the west, Taiwan to the north, and the Philippine Sea to the east. Due to its extreme location and proximity to Taiwan, signals from Chinese-language radio stations to the north reach the province. Batanes is very prone to typhoons, and is an important reference point for typhoon tracking by the Philippine meteorological agency, PAGASA, which maintains a weather station at the provincial capital in Basco.
The islands are the homeland of the Ivatan, an isolated ethnic group that lends its name to the province. Their origins are not unclear, but they are physically similar to other Filipinos and other Austronesian peoples, and they speak a language closely related to Ilocano, used as a lingua franca in the province alongside Filipino. The Ivatan people used to live in hill forts called idjang, but after the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, they are resettled to lowland locations of the inhabited islands. While most are Christianized, most Ivatan retain their ancient lifestyle, and live in stone houses adapted to the strong winds from passing typhoons.
While the province is grouped with Cagayan Valley by the Philippine government, Batanes is considered distinct from the other provinces of that region, and Wikivoyage treats this as a separate region.
There are two airports serving the province of Batanes
- MV Ivatan Princess, ☏ .
- Sabtang Island is undisturbed and unspoiled. The island has lots of natural attractions guaranteed to satisfy the most sophisticated nature lovers. It has intermittent white sand beaches with steep mountains and deep canyons with small level areas sporadically found along the coastline. Southwest of Batan Island, Sabtang is accessible by 30-minute falowa ride from Radiwan Port in Ivana. Sabtang Island is also the take off point for Ivuhos Island from Barangay Nakanmuan.
- Itbayat Island is located north of Batan Island. Itbayat is shaped like a giant bowl. The island is surrounded by massive boulders and cliffs rising from 20–70 feet (6-23 m) above sea level and has no shoreline. It has a dirt airstrip for light aircraft. A regular ferry runs the Batan-Itbayat route. Travel time is about four hours on falowa from Basco Seaport or Radiwan Port in Ivana. A light plane flies from Basco Airport to Itbayat at ₱1875 per person and leaves only when the plane is full.
- Batan Island is the most populated island of the province. It is composed of four municipalities namely Basco, Ivana, Uyugan and Mahatao. Basco is the center of commerce and seat of the provincial government.
- Mount Iraya is a dormant volcano standing at 1,517 m whose last eruption was recorded in 505 AD. Mountaineering, trekking and trailblazing are recommended sports activities on the mountain. Walking distance from Basco, the top of Mt. Iraya can be reached in about three hours.
- Yami/Amianan is the northernmost island of Batanes. It is also called the Orchid Island. You can see Taiwan on a clear day. Tatus or coconut crabs abound in the island surrounded by rich marine life.
- Di-Atay Beach is a beautiful cove with multi-colored rocks and white sand ideal for picnics and beach combing. Located along the highway of Mahatao, it is 9.85 km from Basco.
- Songsong in Chadpidan Bay is an hour of exhilarating trek from Basco proper (3 km). It is famous for its beautiful sunset view.
- Naidi Hills is walking distance from Basco.
- Chawa Cave is for the more adventurous. An enchanted cave with natural salt bed whose mouth opens to the south China Sea and is accessible through the boulders of Chawa Point in Mahatao. It is four kilometers from Basco.
- Sitio Diura At Racuj-A-Ide is the fishermens village at Mananoy Bay. Fishing season is marked by a festival in mid-March called Kapayvanuvanua. Visitors are treated with fresh fish delicacies from the Pacific Ocean. Within the area is the legendary Spring of Youth and living cave with crystal limestone formations. The bay is 9 km from Basco.
- Nakabuang Cave is 5.5 km from San Vicente Centro in Sabtang.
- Mt. Matarem is an extinct volcano 495 m at its summit. It is 8 km from Basco.
- White Beach at Vatang, Hapnit and Mavatuy Point, all in Mahatao.
- Radar Tukon was a United States weather station on a hilltop. It offers a magnificent 360-degree view of Batan Island, the South China Sea, Mt. Iraya, Basco proper, boulder lined cliffs and the Pacific Ocean. It houses the last weather station in the north, the Basco Radar Station and is 2.75 km from Basco.
- Old Loran Station housed a U.S. coastguard detachment for almost two decades and is about 25 km from Basco.
- Ruins Of Songsong is a ghost barangay which is a cluster of roofless shells of old stone houses abandoned after a tidal wave that hit the island of Batan in the 1950s. It has a long stretch of beach. The ruins are 23 km from Basco.
- San Jose Church in Ivana was built in 1814. It has a crenellated fortress-like campanile. The church is fronting the Ivana Seaport and is 14 km from Basco.
- Kanyuyan Beach & Port at Baluarte Bay in Basco is the port of call of the cargo ships bringing goods from Manila.
- San Carlos Borromeo Church and a convent at Mahatao are 6 km from Basco. It was completed in 1789 and still retains its centuries-old features.
- Many buildings are traditionally two-storey lime and stone houses and churches with meter thick cogon roofs believed to last 60 years. These houses were built around 1795 with the help of imported masons, stone cutters and carpenters from the Province of Cagayan. These stone houses, found all over Batanes, are worthy subjects for photography.
- Radiwan Point at Ivana Seaport is where the Katipuneros landed in September 18, 1898. It is also the ferry station of the falowas plying the islands of Sabtang and Itbayat.
- Idjangs or fortified stone fortresses where the native Ivatans' ancestors migrated to Batanes as early as 4,000 BC lived in them for defensive cover.
- Boat-shaped stone grave markers, Chuhangin Burial Site, Ivuhos Island, Sabtang, Batanes
- Chavulan burial jar site, Ivuhos Island, Sabtang Island
- Arrangement of stones with holes, Sumnanga, Sabtang
- Columnar stones, Post holes, Stone anchors, Itbud Idyang, Uyugan, Batanes
- Arrangement of stone walls, Idyang Site, Basco, Batanes
- Paso stone formation, Ivuhos Island, Sabtang, Batanes
- Columnar stones with holes, Mahatao, Batanes
- The Kapayvanuvanua ritual in Diura at the start of the fishing season.
- Spelunking at:
- Chawa Cave, Mahatao
- Crystal Cave, Mananoy Bay, Mahatao
- Sarokan Cave, Itbayat
- Nakabuang Cave, Sabtang
- Trekking in Marlboro Country & Naidi Hills
- Surfing at Madiwedved, Mahatao
- Mountaineering, trekking & trailblazing of Mt. Iraya
- Bird-watching of Cuyab, the migratory birds from China that flock the islands. They stop over in Batanes for a day or two before they continue their flight in search for warmer climate. Sometimes they are called Virgin Mary's birds as they appear only on October during Our Lady's birthday.
The entire province is a place far from the madding crowd with no traffic and pollution problems. There is practically zero crime rate except for simple drunkenness and other relocated incidents. One real danger is typhoons, which frequently wreak havoc on the province during the rainy season.