The gods seemed to have heard my prayers because that morning, it rained. This somehow lowered the temperature and it stopped before our tour began. Our tour guide, Kuya Vincent, picked us up at around 7:00 a.m. Kuya Arnel was nowhere in sight, we soon learned that he had another tour to go to on the same day.
I wondered why we had to stop at the Pagudpud Arc because why do we have to take photos with the arc? But my friends seemed to not mind, in fact, they were ready to do the silly jump shot. So that’s what we did for like 10 minutes, jumping like morons in the middle of the street.
Kapurparawan Rock Formation
After all those silly jumping in the middle of the street, we went to the Kapurparawan Rock Formation in Burgos. To get there, we had to move down the hill and go horse-back riding (PHP 100/USD 2.00 per person, two-way). The name of my guide is James, a thin old man with dark skin and a toothy grin. He calls me Ading, which according to Kuya Vincent is an Ilocano word for “young sister.” James’s horse is named John Paul, a brown-colored, scrawny horse that was a little restless.
So why did I love the place? ‘Cause it’s an effing masterpiece. Imagine seeing these huge white rock formations in shapes that made them look like they’d been sculpted. The view of the sea and the raging waves crashing to the shore, the uneven grounds made of rocks and dead coral reefs, and craters of different shapes and sizes, some even look like bathtubs were simply mind-blowing. What I’m trying to say is, Kapurparawan is every photographer’s utopia.
It was so beautiful I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures. My friends shared my fascination. Soon we were scattered about the place, doing our best to capture its beauty.
We were all frustrated that we didn’t get to eat at Cafe Uno when we were in Vigan. So I told them we should find a coffee shop somewhere. Gerald said that there is one listed in our itinerary, the Kape Bojeador. Upon realizing that he mistook the “Cape Bojeador” for a coffee shop, laughter erupted inside the van. Cape Bojeador ladies and gentlemen is not a cafe, it’s a lighthouse, about 62 foot tall, built on Vigia de Nagparitan Hill in 1890.
It is also known as Burgos Lighthouse. It’s a Spanish colonial lighthouse made of bricks designed by Engineer Magin Pers Y Pers in 1887. However, it was Engineer Guillermo Brockman who finished the project in 1890. It was declared as a national historical landmark in 2004 by the National Culture Treasure. We didn’t go all the way to the top because they say it’s forbidden. To this day, Cape Bojeador serves as a beacon to foreign ships entering the Philippine territory.
Along the Bangui Bay, facing the South China Sea are these 15 wind turbines that provide 40% of electricity in Ilocos Norte. To see these giants up close is an experience like no other. One blogger even suggested to put it on everyone’s bucket list; I totally agree.
The only thing that stopped me from enjoying the view completely is the heat coming from the sun, in fact, it was so hot even the sand was scorching. My friends didn’t seem to mind, they took time photographing the place, while I stayed inside the service van after taking a few pictures of the wind turbines.
I still remember with fondness the risks we had to overcome to get to Ditumabo Falls during our Baler trip. Thankfully, the trek to Kabigan Falls is not that difficult, though it still took us almost one hour to see the prize and here it is.
We were led to the falls by a tour guide, this short woman whose name escaped me. We each paid PHP 30 (USD 0.60) for her effort. We took the opportunity to strip down to our bathing suits to dip in the ice cold water. It has been a sweltering day so the moment I hit the water I felt really good.
I admit, I didn’t see the point in seeing Patapat Viaduct. It is a coastal bridge that connects Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley. We almost skipped the opportunity to put off in the area and take pictures but when Kuya Vincent took us there, we were off the van in a heartbeat. The Patapat Viaduct offers a spectacular view of the Pasaleng Bay and the Cordillera mountain.
Kalbario Patapat Natural Park
Kuya Vincent took us to this place that was not on our itinerary, which he viewed as something that is worth visiting, the Kalbaryo Patapat Natural Park. We went there for one thing and that is to drink water from the natural spring. Kuya Vincent assured us that the water there has been tested and declared clean and safe to drink. Of course, I had to try it and I must say, the water was cool and refreshing.
Bantay Abot Cave
Just before we went to our ultimate destination, Blue Lagoon, we had a quick stopover at Bantay Abot Cave. It was a little tricky going to the cave due to the sudden crashing of waves and the rocks but we managed.
This cave has a unique feature, it looks like a giant square hole. We dared not swim into the beach because the waves were big and strong. We just stayed there for like 10 minutes to take some photos. If you stand back a bit, the hole makes for a good frame when taking the picture of the sea. It was kind of like looking into a window, I just loved it.
Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for, to swim in the Blue Lagoon. I was expecting a crowd since it’s the summer season but to my delight, the place didn’t have a lot of visitors. Kean was even able to take this picture of the beach with no single soul blocking the view.
The crystal blue water, the white sand, and the blue clouds that blurred the sun… ah… this is the life! So we went swimming for almost two hours. I loved everything about the place except the seaweeds, god there were so many of them, I get the chills when they clung to my body. Nevertheless, I still consider it as one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen in my life. It is not too commercial, the water is not too salty, and I repeat, it is not crowded compared with Laiya, Batangas. Blue Lagoon, by the way, has an entrance fee of PHP 20/pax (USD 0.40).
In our last day in Ilocos, after our hearty breakfast, we spent half of the day beach bumming in Saud. It was just a few minutes walk from the homestay where we were staying. Unlike the Blue Lagoon, Saud is more crowded due to the fact that the seashore is lined by resorts and other establishments. Think Boracay or Puerto Galera’s White Beach with less people, that’s what Saud is. I didn’t go swimming this time and decided to just enjoy the view. We were supposed to go surfing but the water is calm at this time of the year (much to Pao’s disappointment).
And this concludes our 3-day trip in Ilocos Norte. The travel was long and tiring, the summer heat was fierce, but it was all worth it. Ilocos has so much offer, from falls, uncrowded beaches, century-old infrastructures, to the best food, Ilocos is an ultimate tourist destination. We went to so many places but it wasn’t even half of what you can discover in Ilocos. If you haven’t been there yet, I suggest you plan the trip already. I assure you that it’s a trip worth taking.
Some photos in this post are courtesy of Kean Verzosa and Patti Agnes.