TBJ TRAVELS: Ilocos Guide Part 2- La Paz Sand Dunes, Patapat Viaduct, Bangui Windmills, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Welcome to Ilocos guide part 2; in this post, I'll muse about our dry, rough adventure in Pagudpud and Laoag!
Patapat Viaduct, one of the longest bridges in the Philippines, was built in the 80's and connects the Maharlika Highway from Ilocos to Cagayan Valley; it is a bridge lying on the picturesque mountain side of Pasaleng Bay. This is one of the highly photographed places in Ilocos Norte; in fact, there's a parking area where you can stop by to take your photos and the nicest part of the bridge; don't forget to drop by when you visit!
Windmill City is like having another universe on planet earth. Bangui Windmill Farm is one of the popular sights at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a study in 1996 and findings showed that there are certain parts of the Philippines where wind power is feasible, and Bangui is part of the list.
The turbines, more than being picturesque, have been serving the town and neighboring seaside areas for years, providing cost- efficient, natural energy with the power of the wind; an early morning visit is ideal because the sun would still be gentle to the skin. No entrance fee to see the windmill turbines, but you're on your own in exploring the 9km stretch of windmill farm.
BANGUI WINDMILLS IMPORTANT POINTS:
1. Go early to beat the intense seaside heat.
2. Wear sunscreen, hat, and scarf.
CAPE BOJEADOR LIGHTHOUSE
Cape Bojeador, a cultural landmark in Ilocos Norte, is the oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. It was built in Spanish era 1500's to serve as guide for the galleons that dock at Ilocos.
View from the top
To get to the lighthouse, you have to drive all the way up, but due to the tight space and narrow road leading to it, you might need to wait at the entrance to the lighthouse before you get your turn; as for how long is the waiting time, I can't say because it depends on the number of visitors and how long they want to explore the area. Good thing there are motorcycles waiting by the entrance that are allowed anytime to take you up the lighthouse so I suggest park at the entrance and take a motorcycle to save time.
Let's go around the lighthouse.
This is one of the main rooms at the lighthouse; check out the old map of the Philippines; the round encircled area is where Cape Bojeador is located!
Some of the rooms at the lighthouse were converted into mini museums; this room in particular showcases the first- ever parts of the light house, particularly the fresnel and pressure vessels.
Here's a bedroom preserved in time; these antique furniture are one of the first furniture of the lighthouse!
Visiting Cape Bojeador is like a step back in time and gives us a glimpse of our rich maritime history; it's definitely worth the hike and sweat!
CAPE BOJEADOR IMPORTANT TIPS:
1. Prepare to climb a pretty long flight of stairs to get to the lighthouse proper.
2. Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and wear sunscreen as this is located on high ground, thus you are more exposed to the sun.
By Saturday, we headed to Laoag for the Sand Dunes and to complete the rest of the journey all the way to Vigan. We stayed at Isabela Suites.
Isablea Suites is situated at the heart of Laoag City with ample food establishments nearby; the seat of the Ilocos Norte government is also here (don't forget to have your photo taken at the ILOCOS NORTE spell out!). Isabela is a decent hotel: the rooms have warm, ambient lighting and interior, perfect enough to send you to dreamland in no time after an eventful day around the city and at the Sand Dunes; it also features a hot shower so hurrah! This particular room is around P1,200.00+.
LA PAZ SAND DUNES
La Paz Sand Dunes is just 15- 20 minutes away from the city. This desert was once under water, until the water slowly eroded from the land sometime around millions of years ago, leaving a vast land of sand and ocean fossil from the seaside all the way to the top of the hill surrounding it. There are a couple of sand dunes around Laoag, but the most popular is this; the classic Filipino movie, Panday was filmed here.
If you're looking for a different kind of adventure, a must- try is the ATV ride. For plain ATV ride, it's P2,000.00 and P2,500.00 if you want to go sand boarding. For the ATV Ride, I believe one ride can only accommodate around 4- 5 excluding the driver.
The ATV ride is MIGHTY challenging and this is coming from someone who's working out pretty consistently. For about 30 minutes, you will go through bumps, slalom through sand peaks, and slide down steep terrain with just your bare hands and will to survive. A waiver will be signed before you proceed with the ATV ride. This is not for the faint of heart, but I assure you, you will survive; one of my friends doesn't exercise at all and she got through the ride alive and unscathed!
Hold on tight!
There are stop over where you can rest and have a breathtaking view of the sand dunes.
Sand boarding time! This now-or-never kind of event is as fun and exciting as it is challenging.
You can sand board while sitting down or standing up. Try both! It was my first time, but I got the hang of the standing up sand boarding on my third try; of course I've had my fair share of tumbling downhill like a tumbleweed and hitting the sand face first, but it was worth the fun! You can sand board all you want if you opt for the P2,500 package.
LA PAZ SAND DUNES IMPORTANT POINTS:
1. Go for the ATV Ride + Unlimited Sand Boarding package. YOLO!
2. Prepare to get dirty at the Sand Dunes so it is preferred that your hotel is nearby so you can wash up in no time. There are portalets and water in the area, but not enough to get you clean.
3. Bring extra clothes
4. Wear sunscreen and make sure you are already dry when you get there so there won't be too much sand sticking on you.
5. Make sure you are in a fit, healthy state before joining the ATV Ride. If you feel like quitting the ride early on, say so.
Tomorrow, I'll take you to Ilocos' UNESCO World Heritage candidate, the famous Heritage Village of Vigan, and to more sights in Vigan and Paoay!
Check out our itinerary and budget break down:
*Please note that we got the van and driver at a very cheap price because one of our friends owns a car rental service. Regular 4-day rate of a van + driver is around P15,000.00 so standard total per person will be somewhere between P7,675-P8,000.
My other travel guides in the beautiful province of Ilocos:
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