Pagudpud is a coastal resort town in the northernmost tip of Luzon. It is probably the farthest place north of the Philippines I’ve been to so far. Often hailed as the “Boracay” of the North, Pagudpud is truly a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the beach in solitary.
I went home for a short vacation for two main reasons: to attend the wedding of my dear friend of which I am part of the entourage and to have our house blessing. But I also didn’t miss the chance to hit the beach since I wasn’t able to do it during the summer. So after little planning and impromptu booking for airline tickets, me and my friend, along with her boyfriend and another friend, decided to go to Pagudpud.
We booked our airline tickets from Cebu Pacific, with Laoag City as the place of destination. We arrived at the Laoag International Airport at 09:30 pm on June 11 and arranged a van to pick us up and take us to the resort we have booked. During the drive to Pagudpud, we discussed about the possible tours we could do during our brief visit. Since we will have a whole 2 days to go around the place, we listed out the possible places we could visit. Fortunately for us, the driver of the van offered to be our designated driver during our stay at Pagudpud. So after almost 2 hours of traveling from Laoag City to Pagudpud, we arrived at the resort, settled in for the night and asked the driver to pick us up in the morning.
The resort we booked is Pagudpud Rinnovati Resort. It is a walking distance from Saud Beach. There were also a lot of resorts beside it as well, such as Apo Idon Resort, Evangeline Beach Resort, Terra Rika Beach and Dive Resort to name a few.
We decided to divide the tour into two destinations, the South part and the North Part. On the first day, we went for a tour of the north part of Pagudpud. This would comprise of the following: Kabigan Falls, Patapat Viaduct, Paraiso ni Anton, Agua Grande, Timmantang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave and Blue Lagoon.
After having breakfast at one of the resorts near Rinnovati (I don’t think Rinnovati has their own dining place), we were off to our first stop, the Kabigan Falls.
We stopped along the highway and from there we can see the sign pointing to the falls. The locals have set up a registration booth (more like in front of a sari-sari store) and tourists need to sign up and pay the 20php registration fee. Afterwards, we were designated a tour guide in their standard green shirt uniform. The ‘tip’ for the tour guide is separate from the registration fee, but minimum is 100 php so we just contributed 30php each so he would get extra 20php. From the highway, it was about a 30-45 minute walk/hike before we reached the falls itself. It was not so hard a trail, and while walking you can enjoy the lush green of the surrounding, as well as clear waters that we often have to pass by. And the long walk is definitely worth it. 🙂
At first I was hesitant to take a dip, but curiosity and a lot of coaxing from my friends made me try to swim in the clear waters of this falls. I have to tell you, the water was soooooo cold, but after sometime my body got used to it that I was able to enjoy it. It was definitely refreshing afterwards.
The next stop was the famous Patapat Viaduct. This bridge elevated 31 meters over sea level, is a 1.3 km concrete coastal bridge that connects the Maharlika Highway from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region. It is also the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines.
Third stop is Paraiso ni Anton. At first I thought that we might need to hike again to reach this but was caught short to know that it was just beside the road. The thing that draws tourists to this place is that the water coming from the falls is said to have healing abilities. From the road you can see that water gushes out of the roots of the trees and from the ground as well. We all tried to drink from it just for the sake of sealing the experience of going there. 😀
Afterwards we went back again, since Paraiso ni Anton is the farthest among the places in the north tour. We stopped at Agua Grande, where they say the river meets the ocean. This is a perfect place for family picnics. We didn’t go inside though, just looked from the outside since we’re not planning on staying long and there was an entrance fee.
The next stop was the Timmangtang Rock Formation. Before reaching this, we had to pass by a barrier in which they require tourists to pay the entrance fee of 50 php. The road also leads to Blue Lagoon where Hannah’s Beach Resort is located. Timmangtang Rock stands majestically a few meters away from Bantay Abot Caves. It is located along the shore & partly by the sea. You cannot separate Bantay Abot Cave from the Timangtang Rock for they are believed to be lovers the former being the female & the latter is the male. They are collectively called a “Lovers Rock”.
The last destination for our north tour is the Blue Lagoon Beach. We first found a place where we can eat lunch since it was already past lunchtime. We had fish and pork belly cooked on the spot and it was quite a nice meal except for the flies swarming us while eating.
Blue Lagoon, or Maira-ira Beach is one of the secret charms of this northern part of Luzon. With the waters so clear and pristine you would think that you are just in a very big swimming pool. Unlike Saud Beach, its neighboring beach with its surfing waves, Blue Lagoon waters is calm and peaceful. We spent the rest of the afternoon just soaked in the waters while taking underwater shots using a waterproof camera. Later in the afternoon, fishermen started to pull a big net from the deeper part of the ocean towards the shore. A lot of the tourists went near the area to watch, while some also help with the pulling. After an hour of pulling, they were able to retrieve the end of the net. Sadly, they were only able to catch a few, small fishes.After having enough of swimming, we were ready to return to Saud. After dropping off our things in Rinnovati, we decided to go for a walk in Saud Beach, just in time for the sunset. The waves of Saud were so inviting for surfing, but we weren’t able to find any surfing instructor so we just walked along the shore until we reached a hill on the farther side of Saud where Polaris Beach Resort is located. We capped off the day with dinner of Ilocos’ signature dish, Bagnet, at one of the neighboring restaurants, Apo Idon.
Day two will be our South tour, as well as certain parts of Laoag. The places we went to for this tour is Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Marcos Presidential Centre, Paoay Church, and Fort Ilocandia. Early morning after breakfast we packed our bags and checked out of the Rinnovati resort since we will be going straight to the airport after the tour.
First stop is the Bangui Windmills, officially referred to as the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project, a project by the NorthWind Development Corporation as a practice renewable energy sources and to help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. It supplies about 40% of power of Ilocos Norte. From Saud beach, you can already see these windmills formed in a straight line. I’ve only seen something like this once before, viewed across the sea from Coloane, a province in Macau. I’m not quite sure if what I saw is located in Hong Kong. This is the first time I saw windmills this close, and the I can imagine that sound it makes while spinning is like the propelers of an airplane.After buying souvenirs from the shops near the windmills (miniature Bangui Windmill as magnets and figurines), we moved on to our next stop, the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Kapurpurawan in Ilokano means white, so it is frequently also called the White Rock. True to its name, this rock is light in color weathered and shaped by nature to be as what is it now. From afar it looks like a boat on top of a hill. The third stop was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Also known as the Burgos Lighthouse, is a cultural heritage structure in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, that was established during the Spanish Colonial period in the Philippines. The lighthouse still functions upto now, but they blocked access to the public. The view from the deck is nice though, it would’ve been better if we can see from the lighthouse. After the lighthouse, we headed to Laoag because part of the itinerary will be near the Laoag International Airport. We had our lunch in Chicken Ati-atihan restaurant in Laoag which is famous for its barbeque chicken. I was personally amused by their slogan: “Sasayaw ka sa Sarap”. The chicken bbq was definitely worth dancing for. 😀
Nearby is also the public market where we get to buy our pasalubongs, Ilokano Longganisa for me and Kornik for the rest of us. Afterwards we travel to our next stop, the Ferdinand Marcos Presidential Center. Located in Batac, Ilocos Norte, it houses a museum of all things related to the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, as well as tells a story from his childhood upto the time he was exiled to Hawaii where he died. Next to the museum is his Mausoleum, where they supposedly preserve his dead body.
Another breathtaking sight that we saw was the Paoay Church, also known as the St. Augustine Church in Paoay and a Unesco World Heritage located in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Known as the “Earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines, Paoay church was built of baked bricks, coral rocks, salbot (tree sap) and lumber, and has 24 carved massive buttresses for support.
In front of the church is the Herencia cafe, where they claim to be the ‘Home of the First Pinakbet Pizza.’ We were supposedly going to try the pinakbet pizza but changed to Ilokandia pizza with longganisa as main ingredient. Yum! 🙂
We made our way to Malacanang of the North only to find out that it was closed after 4:30 pm. Afterwards, we were taken to Fort Ilocandia, our last stop for this tour before the driver drop us off to the airport. Fort Ilocandia Resort & Casino is located in the heart of Laoag City, just 10 minutes away from Laoag International Airport. This is a five star hotel with beautiful gardens inside the compound, with a golf course, mini zoo and many other recreational activities to choose from. Fort Ilocandia is popular to foreigners and is a property of the Marcos family.
Then we were taken to the airport for our flight back to Manila. This trip only strengthened my love for the beautiful beaches in the Philippines. Thankfully, all went well despite the short time we had for planning, as well as for this trip. All in all, it was a very fun and memorable and delicious vacation ;p
For a detailed account of expenses, as well as the contact number of the driver which took care of us for 2 days, you can have a look at my friend’s blog chasingjayce. 🙂