Want to head north?
Take a break from the big, bustling city of Manila and let the winds of the north guide you to Ilocos Norte.
The hometown of former President Marcos, Ilocos Norte is a great vacation destination for travelers. There’s lush vegetation, rich history, pristine beaches, and well –adventure!
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if this region is included as one of the top Philippine travel destinations among Filipino tourists. The place is seriously getting a lot of attention lately.
Eager to visit? Let your mind drift to the most fascinating spots in this quiet yet charming faraway town.
Malacañang of the North
The official residence of the Marcoses when the late Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. was still the president, Malacañang of the North sits on the shores of Paoay Lake and has well-tendered gardens. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos gave this house to her husband as a gift. It was one of the properties sequestered from the Marcoses after Marcos Sr. was ousted as president.
After 20 years in the care of the government, Malacañang of the North was given back to the Ilocos Norte local government. In January 1, 2011, after restorations and renovations, it was reopened as a museum.
Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
The Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Presidential Center, commonly known as the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, was once the ancestral home of the Marcoses. Now this place provides a massive collection of Marcos Memorabilia. The mementos detail the life of the late President Marcos through the years — from his childhood to his journey to politics and public service.
There’s also an area dedicated to his whirlwind romance with Former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Additionally, you’ll find the late dictator’s mausoleum which houses his remains. Keep in mind that you’re forbidden to take photos inside the mausoleum as doing so could let you face the authorities.
Bangui Wind Farm
Born out of a study done in 1996, the Bangui Wind Farm is operated by the Northwind Power Development Corporation. The wind farm provides 50% or 33 megawatts of electricity in Ilocos Norte. It used to be the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia until the Burgos Wind Farm took the title in 2014. But even so, many tourists still marvel at the windmills. The twenty wind turbines can be found on the coast of Bangui Bay which is an easy access for those who want to visit.
Considered as the most popular beach destination in the northernmost tip of Ilocos, Blue Lagoon has azure waters that will entice you to take a dip. You can enjoy plenty of water sports like surfing and jet ski and the longest over-the-water zipline in the country. If you want to take surfing to the next level, take some classes at Surfville and Kapuluan Surf School which are situated along the shoreline.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Established during the Spanish Colonial Period, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was first lit in March 30, 1892. This structure stands high on Vigia de Nagparitan Hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador where early Spanish galleons used to sail by. It was designed by Magin Pers y Pers in 1887 and was later continued by the Lighthouse Service under Guillermo Brockman.
After 100 years, it still serves as a welcoming beacon to international ships that enter the Philippine archipelago from the north. The lighthouse guides the ships safely away from the rocky coast of the town.
Kapurpurawan Rock got its name from puraw which translates to white in Ilocano. This visually appealing rock formation is a product of nature as strong winds and sedimentation were responsible for its magnificent feature. When trekking to the site, make sure to wear the appropriate footwear as the path can be muddy and has shrubs, soil, and pools of water. If you don’t like walking, hop on a horse for a P100 and enjoy a two-way ride.
One of the most photographed destinations in Ilocos Norte, the Patapat Viaduct offers a stunning view of Pasaleng Bay. Deemed as one of the most magnificent bridges in the world, it spans 1.3 kilometers long and is elevated 31 meters above sea level. Built with two lanes of traffic, this concrete coastal bridge has a zigzag shape and was constructed to solve the landslide problem in the area which has prompted plenty of vehicular accidents.
Surrounded by a dense forest and well-known for its concave basin, Kabigan Falls is located at the eastern part of Barangay Balaoi and is 1.8 kilometers away from the national highway. A 30-40 minute trek is needed to reach the falls. The path going to the area is mostly flat so you can enjoy the lush greenery along the way. Though the trail is visible, you still need a guide if you’re new to the place just to be safe. Make sure to bring extra clothes as you’ll surely be tempted to swim in the cold waters.
St. Augustine Church of Paoay
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Augustine Church of Paoay is made up of bricks and coral stones and has 24 large buttresses on both sides and at the back. It has an Earthquake Baroque design — a Philippine interpretation of the European Baroque that is adapted to the seismic condition of the country.
There’s also a three-storey bell tower placed on the right side of the church which is made up of coral stones. The bell tower was believed to be used as an observation post of the Katipuneros during the Philippine revolution of 1896 and by the Filipino guerillas in World War II.
Bantay Abot Cave
Located along the shore of Baloi, Bantay Abot Cave is a beautiful rock formation that resulted from an earthquake years ago. Though it is called a cave, this geological formation is actually a rocky hill. Its name means “a mountain with a hole” and the structure is beautifully decorated with green shrubbery. From afar, Bantay Abot Cave looks like a green whale relaxing on the shore.
Paoay Sand Dunes
Paoay Sand Dunes is fast becoming a must-see for tourists traveling up north. It is an 88-hectare spread of sand dunes that lie adjacent to Suba Beach. If you want the ultimate adventure, you’ve come to the right place.
Put your skills to the test with sandboarding — the fastest growing sport which you can only enjoy in Ilocos Norte. You can also rent an ATV and have fun riding in the sand. If you want it extreme, board the 4×4 rough riding vehicle for an hour and scream your lungs out as you drive through a series of sand hills.
Whether you’re looking for historic architecture, adrenaline rush, or immaculate natural vistas, Ilocos Norte has something for you. The most unfortunate part about visiting the place? Well, that would be the time when you depart. Once you set foot in the region, it can be difficult to leave. But nevertheless, the wonders of this quiet yet charming town are enough reasons to go back.