Mention Ilocos Norte and people will automatically think of sand dunes, Bangui Windmills, and Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. But do you know that there is more to the province than these popular tourist destinations?
Home to magnificent landscapes and savory cuisine, Ilocos Norte promises a flurry of activities for travelers seeking new discoveries. Here are 10 of the best ones.
1. Kitesurf at Kingfisher Resort.
Away from the busy beach strips of Pagudpud you will find Kingfisher Resort, a secluded beachfront haven that hosts watersports like windsurfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Touted as “The New Hawaii”, its beach boasts of exciting swells that are perfect for kitesurfing. Instructors are available to show you how to kitesurf on water.
2. Take a peek of the newly installed windmills in Pagudpud.
Sitting on hills near Kingfisher Resort are 27 newly opened windmills–Ilocos Norte’s third of its kind. Built by the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the turbines produce 87 megawatts and rest on a 997-hectare forested area. Go on an early morning hike for a breathtaking view of Pagudpud Beach and surrounding towns.
3. View Paoay Lake from Vista del Lagos.
Translating to “view of the lake”, Vista del Lagos affords its diners a scenic view of Paoay Lake as they sample local and Mexican flavors. The restaurant is best known for its unique desserts like Tres Leches and saniata popsicles, which incorporate one of Ilocos Norte’s biggest produce: dragon fruit (locally known as saniata).
Drop by the adjacent cafe, also owned by the same management, and head to its roofdeck for a more encompassing view of the lake.
4. Dip in Madongan Dam’s cool waters.
Madongan Dam previously supplied water to plantations in Dingras, but it has now been converted into a tourist attraction. The dam features a majestic cascade surrounded by mountains and bamboo cottages. Visitors can cool down in its nippy waters for only ₱10.
5. See Apayao from another angle.
Drive through the Kabugao-Apayao-Solsona-Ilocos Norte Arterial Road and enjoy spectacular views of Ilocos Norte and its neighboring province, Apayao. The nearly 80-kilometer stretch spans four towns, beginning from the Cabetian junction in Kabugao and ending in Solsona.
Flanked by the Cordillera mountains, the drive takes you to the regional boundary in Apayao and traverses Mt. Kilang, Calanasan’s highest peak. You will also pass by major rivers along the way, including Sicapoo and Apayao Rivers, all amid sky-high clouds and a stunning cliffside vista.
6. Taste Western dishes at SEA’s Kitchen.
An acronym of its owners’ names – Sonya, Elizabeth, and Al, SEA’s Kitchen is a newly opened country-style diner in Pagudpud. Resting on a lush garden away from the crowds, its menu consists of Western favorites that are sourced straight from its own garden and the surrounding sea. Foodies here can enjoy dishes like paella, Rocky’s Rustic Herbed Chicken, and brick-oven pizza.
7. Swim and sample dragon fruit delicacies at Reeer Dragon Fruit Farm / Resort.
Swim in two massive pools and tread a hanging bridge amid hectares of dragon fruit farms in Reeer Dragon Fruit Farm/Resort in Sarrat. As one of Ilocos Norte’s major producers of dragon fruit, the resort also crafts and sells a variety of affordable dragon fruit products such as dragon fruit ice cream, jams, and cookies.
8. Take a hike in Dingras.
Guests staying in Medardu’s Stone House in Dingras get exclusive access to a forest owned by the stone house’s owner. Covered by hectares of wooded forests, the trail passes by clean streams and has a vantage point that overlooks Mt. Sicapoo and the Cordillera Mountain Range.
Organic farms that house various farm animals like wild boars, cows, and sheep can also be found along the way. The one-hour hike is best done before sunrise.
9. Relive the past in Sitio Remedios.
Take a trip back to the Spanish era at Sitio Remedios. This coastal heritage resort in Currimao boasts of vintage homes and a church that were fashioned from abandoned ancestral homes around Ilocos Norte.
The wood-and-brick houses are designed based on the concept of a quadricula. Ringed by trees and the open sea, it’s an excellent destination for history buffs looking for peace and quiet.
10. Have lunch at sea in Badoc.
Pack some Ilocano delicacies and dine on a floating raft in Badoc. Floating off its white shores are rentable thatched bamboo rafts, where you can enjoy respite after a swim. Nearby islands can also be accessed by hiring a boat.
Along the shore, you will find the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc Chapel, which houses the 400-year old image of the La Virgen de Milagrosa.