Sabtang Island

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Sabtang Island is one of the 3 inhabited islands of the Batanes Island group off the coast of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. It lies southwest of the main island, Batan. Sabtang is known for its beautiful vistas, quiet unspoiled beaches with white sand, authentic traditional architecture, and historic sites. In 1994, the Department of Tourism declared it as one of the 12 best places to visit in the Philippines. Its principal municipality is San Vicente, which is popularly known as Sabtang Town. The island is 30-45 minutes away from Batan via falowa (banca) from Radiwan Port at Ivana.

Sabtang Island by mrwhitepatch


The landscape of the island is marked by many steep mountains and hills and deep canyons. About 5 ½ kilometers from the Centro district of San Vicente may be found Nakabuang Cave. The pastures of Sitio Chamantad-Tinyan are especially known for the stunning view of the mountains and seaside that can be seen from the windy hills. The mountain range along the road to this grazing land is said to resemble a sleeping woman. On top of a hill facing the mountain range are the centuries-old ruins of an Idjang (Ivatan for stone fortress). Ivatans took refuge in this fortress during tribal conflicts in the pre-Hispanic period. Some of the other neighboring islands, such as Ibuhos and Dequey, can be seen from Sabtang Island. Taiwanese junks are also frequently seen from the island.

Less populated than the major island Batan, Sabtang Island has a rather rustic atmosphere, with a few trails running across it and a 30 kilometer coastal road along the periphery of the island. Few motorized vehicles travel these paths; for most part carabaos and other animals serve as transport on the island. Sabtang is also known to be the island with the most existing examples of traditional architecture.


Nakabuang Beach, also known as the “White Beach,” has a distinctive geological formation in the form of an arch. Lime Beach is a beach which is notable for being the place where the local folk get the lime they use to bind the stones for building and repairing their houses.

Towns and villages

San Vicente, usually called Sabtang, has 2 main barrios: Malakdang and Sinakan. Itis the town where the 19th century church San Vicente Ferrer is located, near the only elementary school in the island. Also located here is the main port of the island, San Vicente Port. About 6 kilometers away, on the opposite side of the island, is the town of Sumnanga. The other villages on the island are Nakanmuan, Savidug, and Chavayan. Barrios Savidug and Chavayan are especially known for their rustic architecture.

Arts and architecture

Built by Dominican missionaries in 1844, the San Vicente Ferrer Church lies in the northeast of the island in the area known as Centro near the San Vicente municipal hall. San Vicente Ferrer has an espadaña-style façade. Its design is based on that of the church in Basco, the capital of Batanes.

In Barrio Savidug can be found traditional houses that are hundreds of years old. The houses, called vahay in Ivatan, are made of stone and lime and have roofs that are thatched with cogon. They have withstood typhoons over the years due to their solid design.

Barrio Chavayan is also known for its excellent and well-preserved examples of traditional architecture. It is also the best place to find weavers of vakul, the traditional Ivatan women’s headgear made of the leaves of the voyavoy tree or Philippine date palm.


  • Batanes Online. [1]
  • Philippine Information Agency. “Province of Batanes: A Profile.” [2]
  • “Sabtang Island.” In Asia Tour. [3]
  • “Sabtang Island, Batanes.” In [4]
  • “The Rustic Beauty of Batanes.” In Our Awesome Planet. [5]



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