Ilocos Norte is a province rich in history and culture. It is home to the most beautiful heritage sites and natural attractions. One cannot simply visit Ilocos Norte without stopping by its most well-known tourist spots. I cannot put into words how beautiful the province is! I really hope my photos can suffice how wonderful our trip has been.
WARNING: This post may be extra long since it is photo-heavy. I dumped all my favorite images from the trip. I’m sorry, I just cannot help it! There are just too much beautiful memories worth sharing! Now if you don’t mind spending a few minutes on a post filled with like a hundred photos, read along. Come see Ilocos Norte through my mediocre snapshots and crappy narration.
Paoay Sand Dunes
Our first stop was the famous Sand Dunes of Laoag. It is basically a wide stretch of well, sand, but of course. To make the most out of the experience, you need to rent 4×4 jeep and ride through the vast sand dunes. It was a thrilling experience. Imagine riding a roller coaster in standing position with no safety belts! Yes, you just gotta hold on to your dear life, honey.
It was a good thing that we went first thing in the morning when the heat was still bearable. I cannot imagine walking along the sand dunes at high noon.
Sandboarding is also a must-try. It is already included in the package. You can slide or surf your way down the hill of a sand unlimited times. In case you are heading north sometime soon, you cannot afford to miss the Sand Dunes!
Malacañang of the North
The Malacañang of the North is a presidential museum in Paoay. It was the residence of the Marcos family when Ferdinand Marcos when was the President of the Philippines. It is a two-storey mansion overlooking the Paoay Lake. The lake was beautiful. Um. No further subjective comments, Your Honor. Next!
Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church)
Paoay Church is famous for its distinct architecture. It has enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. It is declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines. The facade took my breathe away. Ang ganda talaga!
Batac Church (Immaculate Conception Church)
From Paoay Church, we headed over to Batac to grab a bite of the famous empanada! (I was so excited to try it!!!) Anyway, the store is located near the church so I took a few photos before munching on my empanada espesyal (sobrang sarap by the way).
Laoag Cathedral (St. William’s Cathedral)
After filling our bellies with Ilocos’ famous empanada, we went straight to the capitol for more sight-seeing. Our first stop was the cathedral. St. William’s Cathedral, or more commonly known as Laoag Cathedral, serves as the seat or central church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag.
Sinking Bell Tower
Laoag Cathedral is also famous for its Sinking Bell Tower. It is said that the belfry sinks into the ground at the rate of an inch every year. According to my quick research, it has survived several minor earthquakes since its construction, causing scholars to label it an Earthquake Baroque style structure.
Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol
The sun had set before we even finish touring but that did not stop us from taking photos. We took a few shots of the Provincial Capitol, then went to stroll around the plaza before heading back to our hotel.
Tobacco Monopoly Monument
The Tobacco Monopoly Monument commemorates the lifting of tobacco monopoly in the Philippines in accordance to the royal decree of King Alfonso XIII in 1881.
Bacarra Church (St. Andrew Parish)
The church was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.
Domeless Bell Tower
Bacarra Church is also known for its centuries-old, domeless, leaning bell tower. I did a little research and here’s what I got: Along with the church, the beautiful belfry was destroyed by the in tensity 7.8 earthquake on August 17, 1983. It destroyed the dome and that’s how it gained its title Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.
We stopped by the famous Dragon Fruit Farm of Ilocos Norte before proceeding to our next destination. One kilo of dragon fruit for only fifty pesos plus the sight of their dragon fruit plantation! And the dragon fruit ice cream is a definite must-try!
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as Burgos Lighthouse, is a cultural heritage structure in Burgos. It was established during the Spanish Colonoal period. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
Never mind the spooky stories about the lighthouse. You may have seen Misteryo’s episode featuring Cape Bojeador. Just try not to think about it while you’re inside. The site is truly one of Ilocos Norte’s gems. Although the lighthouse does have the eerie vibe. Kuya Purgo, our tour coordinator, shared a story about how one tourist went back to Manila with a plus one so beware. Hahaha chos! Pero seryoso, guys. Totoo nga.
The lighthouse is set high on Vigia de Nagpartian Hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador where early galleons used to sail by.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Now, this may be the most fascinating thing I have seen in my life. As you may know, nature built Kapurpurawan Rock Formation on its own. It is product of strong winds and sedimentation. The white rock was stunning even at a distance!
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is located in the rocky coastline of Burgos. It is also surrounded by wind mills owned by the Lopez family (that’s according to our tour coordinator). The crashing waves and the windmills surrounding the main attraction make the view even more beautiful!
There was a pre-nuptial shoot happening when we visited, by the way. Hahaha! But that didn’t stop me from having my photos taken.
There is a short trail going to the rock formation so you have to walk for a few minutes. I do not know if it’s always that hot and humid at the site but I believe it was extra hot and humid when we visited. Do not forget to hydrate after the trek.
Bangui Wind Farm
Our next stop in Burgos was the Bangui Wind Farm. Located at the north-west tip of Luzon, the windmills face the sea from where the wind blows towards the land.
It was truly a sight to behold. Now excuse me while I take as many photos as I can.
This may be the most photographed bridge in Ilocos Norte. Patapat Bridge is a concrete coastal bridge that connects the Maharlika Highway from Ilocos Region to Cagayan Valley.
We dropped by Paraiso Ni Anton, too. It is known for its healing water that comes directly from the mountain (or hill? I’m not sure).
Bantay Abot Cave
I do not know much about this site so I read some blogs about Bantay Abot Cave. So here’s what I gathered: Bantay Abot Cave is not really a cave but a hill that was wrecked by an earthquake in the 80’s leaving a hole in the middle.
Bantay Abot Cave is surrounded by waters with waves too strong, it could sweep you away towards the South China Sea. No sh*t.
Just a few meters away from Bantay Abot Cave, Timmangtang Rock is a bell-shaped rock located along the seacoast of Balaoi, Pagudpud.
Now for my favorite part of the trip. Hello, Pagudpud! Hello, Blue Lagoon! The cove is called Maira-ira Beach. It lies within the northern tip of Pagudpud. It is more popularly known as Blue Lagoon and it is one of the most sought-after beaches in the country.
I may or may not took a little too much photos. (Okay, Maybe I did take a lot of photos.)
No matter how many times the rough and big waves tried to bring me down, I do not care! I fell in love with Blue Lagoon instantly!
Now, I have to apologize for the influx of my photos in this post. You can scroll through this uninteresting part and jump to the next one. Thank you.
Some self-loving before I brave the waters of Blue Lagoon.
From Blue Lagoon, we can see the Dos Hermanos Islands. The Dos Hermanos Islands are two rock formations located off the northern coast of Maira-ira Point.
Dos Hermanos Island from afar. Dos Hermanos means two brothers.
Thank you, Pagudpud!
Before the sun set, we made our way back to our hotel.
Juan Luna Shrine
The last place we visited before leaving was Juan Luna Shrine. Others call it Museo Nina Juan at Antonio Luna. It is a two-storey structure made of clay bricks and Molave wood. It is where Juan Luna was born.
The house contains replicas of his masterpieces and some personal memorabilia, as well as antique household items.
That concludes our adventure in the province of Ilocos Norte. Ilocos Norte is one of the provinces that will hold a special place in my heart. I learned a lot of interesting facts and stories about its most important historical sites and I can never forget how many times its natural attractions left me dumbfounded. A trip to Ilocos Norte is like getting yourself a food that you have never tasted before but ends up being your comfort food. That’s how it felt like. I went to a place I am completely unfamiliar with, but fell in love with it anyway.
If you stayed until this part, thanks lot! Here’s a collage of Ice Scramble that will surely make your day! (They’re everywhere in Ilocos Norte! That’s another reason to come visit!)