Where To Go in Ilocos Norte Province?

Ilocos Norte is not just a typical province where nature welcomes you with chirps and fresh twigs to pleasure the ears and the nose. It is a province with a distinct character that astonishes every tourist that steps foot in it.

Ilocos Norte is a world-renowned eco-tourism spot with rich baroque architecture and rich local culture. It is also home to seemingly endless rocky coastlines and the remarkable Cordillera Mountains. Here, history meets natural beauty to form an idyllic masterpiece. 

Whether you want to explore the charming Spanish heritage churches, slide down the slopes of the sand dunes, or gaze at the cinematic row of windmills and waves during sunset—there is an experience waiting for you in Ilocos Norte. If you want to know where to start, here are the places to visit first on your list of tourist spots. 

Photo source: WayPH

Saud Beach: Immerse in World-Class Beauty

Dubbed as the “Boracay of the North,” Saud Beach is where fantasy and reality meet. To prove its magnificence, the beach is listed in Travel+Leisure’s 25 most beautiful beaches in the world.

Located at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Saud Beach is accessible and just an hour and 30 minutes away from the provincial center. This beach became famous for its rustic appeal, pristine waters, and refreshing surroundings to relax in.

Here, you can laze on perfectly white sands, in glass-clear water, or under the hood of coconut trees cabana. Saud Beach is the place to go if you want a refreshing dip and a perfect escape from the bustle and stress of the city.

Photo source: Ralph Olazo on Unsplash

Bangui Windmills: Along with the Giants of Bangui Bay

Behold to the sight of the first and largest wind farm in Southeast- Asia, the Bangui Windmills. What may look like giant electric fans along the Bangui Bay are actually turbines that generate electricity. The Bangui Windfarm stretches across nine kilometers of shoreline to form a perfect arc. It has a total of 26 turbines to date and counting. 

The windmills are lined and dotted along the shore facing the sea to capture the strong winds blowing inward to Ilocos Norte’s coast from the West Philippine Sea. Aside from its magnificent view against the bay horizon, the Bangui wind farm also generate enough energy to supply at least 40% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity needs. Talk about getting the best of both worlds of being clean and green plus harnessing the region’s natural topography, making it one of the icons in the province.

In Bangui, nature meets technology without damaging the surroundings. Instead, it enhances the place’s beauty while providing a cleaner alternative source of energy for the province. If you want an open tourist spot where you can have unlimited picture taking, Ilocos Norte’s windmills is the place for you.

Photo source: Zen Rooms

Paoay Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bearing the Philippines’ rich history, the Paoay Church is a Roman Catholic place of worship that boasts of unique architecture and artistry. This makes it one of the most famous and oldest churches in the Philippines. 

Completed in 1710, the church stands strong to this day on its enormous buttress foundation that acts as a support system. This strengthens the stability of the church itself, allowing it to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Impenetrable as it may seem, the church still sustained damages from earthquakes over the last three centuries. Still, it only added to the character of the structure. For some, it also serves as a metaphor for the resiliency of the Ilocos Norte people.

Suppose you’re one of those people who likes to appreciate intricate architecture and its deeply rooted historical value. In that case, Paoay church is one of the tourist sites that you should stop by.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Laoag Church: Home of the Sinking Bell Tower

Located in Laoag City, the Laoag Church or St. William’s Cathedral is a more ancient church built by Augustinian friars in 1580. First built with wood and thatch, the church now carries an Italian Renaissance design after many earthquakes and renovations.

The main attraction in Laoag Church, however, is its sinking tower. Because of the sandy ground where it stands, the tower holding the church bell is slowly sinking to the ground. It sinks further at around an inch every year. Stories say that the tower doors could once fit someone on horseback. Now, one has to duck to gain entry into the tower.

Labeled by scholars as an Earthquake Baroque structure, the tower is assumed to have been built after the church and also surviving numerous earthquakes and typhoons. If you are curious to see what is inside, tourists are also allowed to climb up to the sinking bell tower’s belfry.

Photo source: The Smart Local

Paoay Sand Dunes: White Sand Adventure

From the white sand of Saud, Ilocos Norte offers more white sand adventures in Paoay Sand Dunes. The Paoay Sand Dunes is a white sand desert spanning over hundreds of kilometers in land area. Here you can try a range of activities, from riding a 4×4 on the terrain or sandboarding down the cliffs.

From Laoag, you can reach the Paoay Sand Dunes within 30 minutes of travel. If you want something nearer offering the same activities, you may alternatively visit the La Paz Sand Dunes. This tourist spot is just under 15 minutes from Laoag.

Photo source: Red Maleta

Paoay Lake: The Big Water

Paoay is truly imbued with a bounty of natural wonders that you can explore. Another one of the most visited tourist spots in Paoay is Paoay Lake, the largest in the entire Ilocos Norte Province. Despite its seemingly still waters, the lake’s history is also as deep. It is believed that the lake was the site of a sunken barangay called San Juan de Sahagún, which the earthquake sank.

Also within Paoay Lake’s vicinity is the Malacañang ti Amianan, or the Malacañang of the North. The structure is a two-story mansion built for the Marcos Family that now serves as a Marcos Museum.

Photo source: Erviews

Tan-ok: Stories of Greatness and Diversity

If you are looking for festivals, Ilocos Norte also has its own event to watch out for. The grandest activity in the province is a showdown of all municipalities and cities, featuring dance interpretations of the local culture and traditions. The festival is a celebration of shaping people’s consciousness, defining their identity, and empowering them to preserve their heritage while embracing change and growth.

First organized in 2011, Tan-ok is celebrated annually in one night of grand showdown to embody the event’s name, which literally translates to “greatness.” This activity draws tourists from neighboring provinces and media, art, and culture enthusiasts all over the country.

Can’t get Enough?

Ilocos Norte has no shortage when it comes to paradise and technologies elevating the local lifestyle. It continues to rise and become an ideal place to live in, resulting investors prefer to invest in North Luzon and seek to expand their wealth & assets. Aside from its natural and historical wonders, Ilocos Norte is also home to many developments. The province has infrastructures that cater to the needs and leisure. Ilocos Norte also has hospitals and medical centers, financial establishments, public transportation, and food hubs. The province lives up to its name for convenience, a place for a combo lifestyle of metro-urban living set in a nurturing environment.

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