This is the fantastic facade of the Caoe Bojeador also known as Burgos Lighthouse. This is a perfect portrait place and I must admit that for heritage places, we need to turn to the experts at Heritage Conservation Society to accurately describe its beauty.
“Faro de Cabo Bojeador is set majestically on top of a hill overlooking the South China Sea. Located approximately 35 kilometres north of the City of Laoag, the lighthouse is the most accessible of all lighthouses in the north of the Island of Luzon. Situated 160 metres on top of a hill named Vigia de Nagparitan, the lighthouse of Cape Bojeador serves as a station point for ships veering towards the Pacific Coast heading towards the Babuyan Channel. Similarly, it as well assists ships heading towards the ports of Salomangue in Ilocos Sur which is 87 kilometres south from the lighthouse, and Curmimao, which is 60 kilometres away in Ilocos Norte. In addition, beyond to the port of Manila. Completed on the 30th of March, 1892, the design and construction of the Lighthouse of Cape Bojeador was initially undertaken by the Engineer Magin Pers y Pers but was subsequently reconfigured and finished by the Engineer Guillermo Brockman. …” ( >> Read More: Heritage Conservation Society – Cape Bojeador Lighthouse )
You must be wondering what is the big deal with this lighthouse? This magnificent view of the jagged coastline facing the South China sea awaits anymore who patiently waits their turn to go up the lighthouse. You can also opt to go here to view the magnificent sunset in Ilocos Norte!
“The tower, which constitutes the highest level, is situated in the rear, five metres higher than the pavilion below. Built of locally made brick, the octagonal shaper tower has an inner dimension of two metres and an exterior dimension of three and half metres. The lower one fourth of the tower is truncated whereas the remaining body of the shaft is straight. The top of the tower supports an overhanging balcony, which is surrounded and supported by decorative grill works. The attic where the cupola and lantern rests is cylindrical. What is notable about the Bojeador Lighthouse is that is still has intact the original cupola and lantern.” ( >> Read More: Heritage Conservation Society – Cape Bojeador Lighthouse )
This is the door that leads to the staircase going up to the actual lighthouse. You have to wait for your turn since only a few people at a time can go up because it is narrow. Also, this lighthouse is the most visited lighthouse in Ilocos Norte so going up could take some time.
” The cupola, made of bronze is surrounded with glass panes. The dome on the other hand supports a ball shaped flue, which exhausts smoke from the flame of the original gaslight. The lantern on the other hand is fitted with a first order Fresnel Lens that is partially intact. “During my very first visit to this lighthouse way back in the 70’s, the original lens and mechanism was still operational. Sadly due to the intense earthquake that shook the region in 1990, parts of the lens collapsed and the alignment of the mechanism was displaced.” Nevertheless, the Coast Guards has retained the original mechanism for historic purposes and only retrofitted the lighting mechanism for its daily operations. ” ( >> Read More: Heritage Conservation Society – Cape Bojeador Lighthouse )
How to get here: Located approximately 35 kilometres north of the City of Laoag, there is a large sign along the national highway which serves as the landmark for Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.
Links and Resources:
Heritage Conservation Society – Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
When people say Pagudpud beach, it usually refers to the popular Saud Beach. “Pagudpud actually consists of three vast beaches, strung along Luzon’s northern edge and hemmed in by huge points jutting out into the ocean. Coconut palm-backed Saud Beach is where the resorts are. Maira-ira, also known as Blue Lagoon, is a few points east. Deserted Pansian beach is still further on, near the bother of Cagayan Province. “*
It should be called the “anti-Boracay of the North” since it boast of beautiful white beach backed by rows of coconut palms minus the noise and nightlife of Boracay. In fact you can call it either serene or boring depends on how you want to look at it. If you are standing in the middle of Pagudpud, Saud beach the photo above is the scene that you would see on your left side with the shores transforming into a rocky coastline. Behind it, you can already see the Bangui windmills.
On your right side, you would see the photo above of endless shoreline cove vanishing into the forest mountains. It is great to walk in the morning from one end to another. After seeing Blue Lagoon, I was much less impressed with the quality of sand in Saud. But still its warm cove embrace never fails to welcome you and impress you after driving for more than 14 hours from Manila…
Saud Beach Evaluation
Sand quality and color– White when dry and midday. Beige when wet in the morning or late afternoon. I took the pictures above early in the morning, that is why it is beige in color. When you see a photo of Saud Beach that is white, I’m sure it was taken in at noon time. The sand quality is good but looks disorganized when wet.
Water quality– Clean and inviting.
Pollutants– Well Maintained. Most of the resort owners makes it a point to clean their own surroundings.
Gradient Waves– The beach is a gradient slope which is very good for a swimming beach but at some point, there is a sudden drop off. For kids, make sure that they have a life vest instead of just floaters.
A view of Bangui Bay
Currents– Be careful not to go far from the shore.
Underwater obstructions– there is none near the shore that is why this is ideal as a swimming beach.
Marine life– Be careful of the Jelly fish.
How to Get There
There are a lot of signs already once you reach Pagudpud via the National Higway. Just make sure that you arrive when there is still light because there are no street lamps. This is a famous Saud Shell landmark near the different resorts which means you already arrive in Saud Beach.
Links and Resources
* Lonely Planet 9th Edition
The latest attraction in Bangui bay where Pagudpud is located is these fifteen huge 23 storeys high “Giant Electric Fans” that might as well be built by Aliens. The common mistake of people is just to be satisfied at looking at these windmills from a distant view from the Bangui look out on the way to Pagudpud. You don’t need a tour guide to reach this place. You just need to know where to turn and go straight passing by a village all the way to this Bangui coast .
I love the description of the windmills by Cecil Morella (Agence France-Presse):
” Standing in an arc in wind-lashed scrubland, the windmills, which started supplying electricity to 40 per cent of Ilocos Norte province in May, are the first source of clean energy introduced in the Phillipines, a nation with 84 million people reliant on oil and gas. “*
This bangui coast is a black pebbled beach with a fishing community along its shorelines. It is quite a walk from one windmill to another. The best time to go is before sunset where you get an awesome sunset sky as a backdrop to your windmills shot.
1. This is a good place to watch the Awesome Sunset in Pagudpud.
2. This is a good backdrop for your portrait shots ala Regine Velasquez in the Biyahe na video.
3. Say your final good byes here to Pagudpud by visiting this during sunrise before you head back to Manila…
How to Get there:
There are no signs and only the tour guide knows. But I took a picture of this intersection where you need to turn. This is after a bridge and the road leads to Pagudpud. This is already after the Bangui lookout and pass the mountains. You have to turn to the road where the CRV is and just go straight until you reach these windmills.
Bangui Windmills by Our Awesome Planet
* Giant windmills energize northern Philippines (Oct 12, 2005) By Cecil Morella Agence France-Presse
by Allen Staley
Technically the beach maybe defined as the area from the shoreline up to the natural sand area and if developed/landscaped shaded with other amenities up to 50 meters beyond the natural sand area.
Primary considerations for SWIMMING beaches
Sand quality and color
Sand quality and color – People tend to equate sand color with cleanliness but that’s not entirely so. The advantage of really fine white sand is that it doesn’t absorb heat, walking barefoot is comfortable and you leave clearly defined footprints. Boracay beaches have this quality. The only finer white sand beaches I have seen are in Palawan and it took a microscope before one could say for sure which sand was finer and whiter.
Sand that looks beige when wet in the morning or late afternoon can become unbelievably white when dry at midday. That’s why there are different opinions as to sand color all of which are correct just viewed under different conditions.
Water quality – clarity and lack of pollutants. Clarity is obvious but due to wave action that disturbs the bottom, one may have to go to deeper water say 5 feet before judging actual clarity.
Pollutants – natural debris not a real bother but lots of plastic bags and styrofoam are unattractive. Water born bacteria is not so obvious but a health hazard if swallowed and may cause skin rashes.
Gradient – The slope should be gradual with no surprises such as sudden drop-offs.
Waves – Experienced swimmers can enjoy big waves but such would not be safe for non-swimmers or small children.
Currents – Even a good swimmer could be in a dangerous situation with a strong undertow. While at the beach don’t loose sight of your children even if they are wearing a floatation device. Most children’s floatation devices do not provide real safety value and may only provide a false sense of security. It is advisable to provide children with life vests suitable for water sports such as ski-jacket/vest. Sport equipment shops in Makati sell small sizes for around P600.00.
Underwater obstructions – Swimming area should be fairly clear of rocks and corals with sharp edges. In clear water you can see were you are stepping otherwise be sure to wear protective footwear.
Sunset – I always love beaches where the sun sets directly in front of the beach. This gives a romantic ambiance which you would look forward too at the end of each day.
Marine life – unavoidable but infrequent natural situations when marine life could be problematical for casual swimmers. Experienced divers and snorklers know what to avoid and follow the rule IF YOU CAN’T IDENTIFY IT DON’T TOUCH IT. Please don’t allow collection of marine creatures, once out of the water most die quickly and are then discarded only to stink up the beach.
Other hazards – Based on experience the most common injuries are to the feet. Cuts, stubbed toes, sprained ankles – not life threatening but such can otherwise ruin a perfect holiday. Just use protective footwear while at the beach.
Exposure to the elements, sun, sea and sand leads to sunburn. Remember you can burn just as easily on a cloudy day. In addition to sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration are possibilities. Wear hats, protective clothing, drink plenty of fresh water even if you are drinking other beverages.
In extreme cases such as near drowning or cardiac arrest quickly available CPR treatment and medical oxygen maybe the difference between life and death.
Consumption of alcohol and swimming at night, greatly increases the possibility of accidents. Please be guided accordingly.
If staying at a resort, check if there are people who can help you when necessary. Also inquire as to hospital locations just incase emergency treatment is needed.
” Luzon’s white sand and bluest water conspire majestically to be situated in one place. ” – Lonely Planet 9th Edition
Maira-ira point is the northernmost tip in the Luzon Mainland. You can say that you are on top of the Philippines literally. The unspoiled white sand beach within the Maira ira islands is known as Blue Lagoon. I would dare say that this is the best swimming beach in the North and more apt to be called the “Balesin of the North”. It has an undeveloped charm that seduces you to stay despite the lack of proper huts and urban amenities. It is serene and perfect for presence walks and enjoying bonding time with friends and family.
Blue Lagoon Beach Guide: (definition)
Sand quality and color – White when dry and midday. Beige when wet in the morning or late afternoon. The sand is fine mixed with small shell bits.
Water quality – Crystal clear and stunning Blue due to the color of the sky reflecting in the water.
Pollutants – Minimal. Since this place is becoming popular, I do hope they will be able to maintain it.
Gradient – There is a gradual slope from the beach as it kiss the blue water and it suddenly drops off exceeding a normal person’s height.
Waves – Calm as a pond when the notorious Ilocos surf is taking a break.
Currents – I don’t think this will be safe for children so make sure that they have a life vest and not just a floater device.
Underwater obstructions – Minimal and the bottom is mostly beach sand near the shore. So, our favorite past time here was to jump into the blue waters…
Marine Life– Hardly noticeable from the beach area.
Sunset- Unfortunately, the sun sets behind the mountains and you cannot see it. Therefore, the best time to go here is in the morning before lunch and spend your sunset in Saud beach or Bangui beach.
How to get there
Blue Lagoon is further down the road about 45mins drive from Saud Beach. From the main Maharlika highway, there is a beach turn-off to a low road as the highway approaches the seaside. At this point, the caretakers have begun charging an entrance fee for the use of the table and as well as the rinsing rooms. Be prepared for a dirt road ride along the mountains side so it is not advisable to go here during heavy rains. On the way, you will see a sea arch to the right that looks like a naturally formed rock donut. You’re now 1/4 of the way and will see Blue Lagoon soon to your right. Please bring flashlights and camp gear if you want to stay for an early evening swim.
Awesome Philippines Travel Guide 001: Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
A couple of people already asked me to give them travel tips for their upcoming vacation to Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte. Instead of developing a frequently asked question (FAQ) in my Our Awesome Planet blog, I decided to create a dedicated online travel guide for each awesome places in the Philippines. This is the first Awesome Philippines Travel Guide and I aim to create 100 guides within a year.
I’ve been to Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte around 3x times already and I enjoyed each trip. Everytime I go back, these places never fails to surprise me. I would like to share with you our awesome experience! Also, this guide is formatted like a blog so that we can get feedback and comments from readers of these guide. Based on my blogging experience, the readers can even contribute a lot to make this guide richer and up-to-date.
In this definitive travel guide, I don’t intend to overwhelm you with so much information. In fact, I already did most of the research for you and I distill the information on what are the essentials and the awesome places to go to. I can guarantee you that you would have an awesome experience just by reading this guide.
You should never miss the 8 Awesome Places of Ilocos Norte!
1. Blue Lagoon, Maira-ira Beach
2. Bangui Windmills
3. Saud Beach, Pagudpud
4. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
5. Fort Ilocandia
6. Sand Dunes of Ilocos
7. Paoay Church
8. Patapat Viaduct
Most of the information in this guide, is based on my own experience which I’ve documented in my blog, including:
Our Awesome Planet Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte Index
Blue Lagoon Cove, Maira-Ira Beach, Pagudpud
a Fort Ilocandia Affair
The Youngest Quester @ Microsoft CIO 5th Quest
The Sand Dunes of Ilocos
Also, these are the other online resources and travel books I used to develop this guide:
Other Links and Resources
Lonely Planet Philippines 9th Edition
100 Resorts in the Philippines, Places with a Heart 3rd Edition 2005
Heritage Conservation Society
If this guide was able to help you in any way, please do let me know. If you want to show your gratitude, please do so in the following ways:
1. Please provide comments and feedback to the articles in this guide.
2. Send me a travel writing/essay or share with us your blog journal about your experience.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy your vacation in the Philippines!
If this was your first time to go on a long road trip to the North, this article will save you a lot of time in being prepared for your roadtrip. This also documents all my key learnings based on my experience to avoid frustrations and mis-adventures during your tip. Although, I must admit that its the mis-adventures which makes the trip fun and memorable.
If you have been to Pagudpud or Ilocos Norte already, I do hope you learn a thing or two from this guide. I would also sincerely appreciate it if you can contribute your own learnings and perspective by commenting on this.
The best part of going to Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte is the long road trip. I enjoy it very much and I encourage you to plan it very well to make it enjoyable. I won’t be covering using public transportation to go to Pagudpud since I don’t have a lot of experience on this.
Make sure that you make a beauty stop over hear at Suso Beach, Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. This will be the first beach you would see that is visible and near the national higway.
1. Stopover Strategy
It is certainly possible to drive straight from Manila to Pagudpud but you need to leave as early as 3am. The main reason is that you don’t have to arrive in Pagudpud at night because there are no street lights. It would be dark and it would be difficult to find your way going to the resorts. I did this once already and it was tiring, and you cannot enjoy the road trip.
On the way to Pagudpud, I would suggest that you stopover and stay for a night and take advantage of exploring one city in the North. Here are my recommendations:
- You can either stay in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (3 hours away from Pagudpud), or
- Fort Ilocandia in Laoag, Ilocos Norte (1 hour away from Pagudpud), or
- Recently, I heard of this new place called Sitio Remedios in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. I have not stayed here yet but the pictures were great. You might want to check it out (mobile: +63917-3320217 or email: [email protected]).
On the way back, my favorite stopover is Baguio which is the half way point between Manila and Ilocos Norte. You can easily get accommodations in Baguio without prior reservation and you get to enjoy the city’s beauty and its restaurants for a night. Most people would drive straight back to Manila since you are already familiar with the place even if you arrive at midnight.
2. Where is the best place to eat Breakfast and Lunch?
It would be sad if all you eat during your long trip would be fastfood from Jollibee, Mc Donalds or Max. I was surprised when I was in Vigan to find these fast food chain among the antique houses. You have to maximize you’re long road trip and there are three places that I would recommend that you eat:
A). Breakfast/Lunch @ Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac.
Isdaan is the home of the tacsiyapo wall. Where you buy stuff to throw and shout “TACSIYAPO” which is “shame on you” in the local dialect. It serves very good Filipino Food since they are a sister company or the same owner as Barrio Fiesta. It is a floating restaurant concept where you eat in huts floating in the fish pond. One other unique thing about Isdaan, is that you can cross the San Kilo bridge which is a narrow cement bridge while bringing one pail of water. If you are able to successfully cross the bridge and come back, you get a free 1 Kilo of Fish!
Check out my blog post on this place –> Tacsiyapo Wall @ Isdaan, Gerona Tarlac. This is just along the national highway, you’ll never miss it once you are in Gerona Tarlac…
The old house ambiance was great and sets the mood for a good lunch. It serves good filipino food turo-turo style where the food is displayed buffet style and you have to point the food that you like. Prices are almost the same as in Manila restaurants but still eating in capiz style vigan houses is quite an experience.
Cafe Leona is very popular and right in the center of Vigan. Just ask around and it is near the Max Restaurant along Crisologo street. I don’t have a full blog post on this but I have a more photos here –> Cafe Leona, Vigan Lunch.
C). Lunch/Dinner @ S.O.U.L Cafe in La Union
I have never been to this place but I’m hearing a lot of good things about this from different people. This is owned by Amboy Guevara, and located beside their family’s Shell Gas Station. This is the first shell gas station in La Union and the first one before going up to Baguio via Kenon road. S.O.U.L means Spice of Urban Life and people rave about the food which are priced reasonably well below P200. ( Check it out –> S.O.U.L Café Camp One, Rosario, La Union. Tel: (072) 712-0852 )
3. Road Trip Final Reminders
- You need to make sure that you’re car is well tuned up, have the right tire pressure with a good tire spare, and with the gas HALF FULL all the time.
- If you are going on convoy, I suggest that you agree on a meeting/ end point because it is useless to go on a convoy like a parade in this northern part of the Philippines.
- Cash is King so make sure that you withdraw enough money for your trip. P1,500/ day is a good rule of thumb.
- Buy an atlas so that you can follow your road trip in the map. It is interesting to see where you are in the North. Also, this gives you added confidence that you will not get lost.
- You should look at your trip as a two phase road trip: a 6 hour road trip to Baguio and another 6 hour road trip going to Ilocos Norte. Just follow the signs going to this places and you won’t get lost.
- If you have short range two-way radio, bring them because this might be better for coordination between two cars or groups.
That’s it for now. I do hope by now, you would have an idea on what your Road Trip itinerary would be. I’ll update this entry from time to time based on readers inputs and as I remember them.
Other Places to Visit along the 14-hour Road Trip:
Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur – One of the Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines listed in the UN World Heritage Sites!
Do you have any other suggestions and comments?
These places are simply AWESOME and you should never miss to visit them on your trip to Pagudpud. Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect to be able to visit them all at once. You should be able to arrange your itinerary to go to the places that interest you the most. Here are the 8 Awesome Places in Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte:
Other Places of Interest in Ilocos Norte
Marcos Museum & Mausoleum – The embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos (1917-89) is laid out on a mattress and lit by floodlights with eerie choral music as the background.
Malacanang of the North – The opulent former residence of the Marcos Family. The house is impressive 🙂
Kabigan Falls – a scenic 30 minute hiring trek to a famous falls in Pagudpud.
Enjoy your Trip!
There are a lot of resorts in the Saud Beach area and usually, you can choose the resort upon your arrival. The rocky west end of Saud Beach usually offers affordable accommodation. If your intent is to just use the room to sleep and take a bath, then don’t spend too much money on getting a high end resort.
We have stayed in resorts just with basic amenities and just use it a base for traveling to the different awesome places within the area. We also stayed in Saud Beach report which is the high-end resort in Saud Beach owned by the Mayor and we decided to just stay and enjoy Saud at that time so it was worth it.
Here are some of the Pagudpud Resorts located in Saud Beach:
1. Saud Beach Resort — High End Resort amidst a coconut plantation with nice wooden floors and bamboo furniture.
Tel: +632-928 9853 Manila
2. Villa del Mar — If you want a deluxe cottage with stone floors and capiz-shell windows.
Mobile: +63 920 553-4161
West End Rocky Shore Resorts in Saud Beach
3. Apo Idon — One of the nicest resorts in Pagudpud with appealing rooms made of stone walls and good lighting.
4. Terra Rika Beach Resort — One of the popular relatively affordable resort with a nice restaurant.
Mobile: +63 918 937-1752
5. Northridge Resort – Sister company of Terra Rika and Apo Idon located in the West End.
Mobile: +63920 220-5089
Pagudpud Resorts not located in Saud Beach
1. Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort – located near the long, black sand beach of Pansian often beaten by strong winds.
Tel: +632 646-9020
2. Kapuluan Vista Resort – The resort possesses a distinctive, contemporary design and décor that creates both a high-energy and serene ambiance on a casual setting. This is located near Blue Lagoon.
Tel: (+6372) 888-2809
Cellular: (+63920) 952-2528
So, to answer the question of where to stay?
If you want a resort with all the urban amenities and expect to stay with first class accommodations, you should stay in Saud Beach Resort. For a romantic place, I suggest that you book in Apo Idon. If you are on a budget, canvass your way from the different resorts in the rocky-shore west end of Saud Beach. If it is your 3rd time in Pagudpud, I suggest you try Kapuluan Vista Resort.
2. What and Where to Eat?
I need to level your expectation that the food is ridiculously Expensive and not also that good. This is contrary to the belief that the provincial resorts offer more affordable food. Specially in Saud beach, they want to earn as much from the food and the source of ingredients are scarce. More than P200 for every dish and don’t be fooled by the label good 2-3 persons. By the way the menu below is from one of the low end resorts in Pagudpud…
Click here for a Larger Size
1. To save on food expenses, I suggest that you bring your own gallon of water or buy one before entering into the Saud beach resorts. Also, you can buy your own canned goods or instant noodles if you really want to save.
2. Pick the best restaurants to eat from. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recommendation since most of them looks the same. Maybe, you have any suggestions on where to eat in Pagudpud?
3. Avoid the Ilocos specialties like Bagnet which is not healthy and at the same time, they would charge more for these.
4. Btw, there are no nightlife in Pagudpud. People usually spend the evening singing the night away or drinking and enjoying the time with friends. So make sure that you savor your dinner and just relax.
Do you have any other recommendations?