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Wide eyed at the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes

The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes is a surreal Philippine landscape, a very interesting geographical feature in the country.

What a spectacular landscape! The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes is just out of this world, well, as far as the Philippines is concerned. A different kind of scenery that I was at a loss for words to describe it.

Last January 2010, I was invited by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau to join a media tour of travel writers and bloggers to experience North Luzon for seven days starting in Cagayan province all the way to Pampanga to sample the various local cuisines and experience the attractions offered by the various provinces along the route. Ilocos Norte is just more than churches, gigantic wind turbines, longanisa and empanada. Other than the rugged mountains and beautiful beaches, a desert like landscape at its western coastline awaits the traveler who is bold enough to go to this out of the way geologic wonder. Once you get face to face with the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes as it unfolds before you, just prepare to be bowled over.

One should go there early in the morning. Nay, better at dawn, just before the sun rises over the mountains of the Cordillera at the east. Soft, beautiful light wraps the sand dunes and just be amazed as how the place is transformed from purple to golden in just a few minutes. Darkness retreating to give way to light.

Early morning bathes the sand dunes with beautiful light.

A desert like landscape but beautiful.

The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes is unique in the country and stretches from the municipality of Currimao in the north and winds it’s way to La Paz, Laoag City, then to Suba, Paoay and finally in Pasuquin in the south with a total of 52 square miles.

Suba has the most extensive and continuous stretch and it was where we gazed at this National Geological Monument declared in 1993. It’s also the site of a new adventure sport in the country that gives an unusual kind of high (next post)

And lastly, nope, Nora Aunor wasn’t there this time with her reverberating walang himala lines in Ishmael Bernal’s Himala movie.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

22 Comments

  1. lakwatsera de primera
    March 3, 2010 @ 15:19

    a sunset shot would be lovely in this place 🙂

  2. ezra
    March 4, 2010 @ 16:55

    ang gandah ng sand dunes sir… may pixes kah din sah Kapurpurawan Rock Formation… whaaa i dream of Ilocos din…

  3. estan
    March 4, 2010 @ 22:02

    @ezra, pupuntahan ko pa yan in the future 🙂

  4. Thelostrays
    March 10, 2010 @ 11:30

    This is a nice place…(yes, reminds me of that movie…Himala)…it shows a different side of Ilocos and of the Philippines as a whole…
    By the way,sir estan this is the BEST blog I’ve ever visited!!!

  5. estan
    March 10, 2010 @ 15:13

    @thelostrays, thanx 🙂

  6. Northern Exposure article in Living Today | langyaw
    March 13, 2010 @ 10:39

    […] issue. Here, I’ve written about San Juan surfing in La Union and on Ilocos Norte like the sand dunes, food and Paoay Church which we visited last January during the lakbay norte […]

  7. » My two travel articles for Canada based Living Today magazine + ESTAN CABIGAS PHOTOGRAPHY +
    March 18, 2010 @ 9:57

    […] focuses on San Juan La Union for the surfing and Ilocos Norte for its food, Paoay and the stunning sand dunes. Northern Exposure article in Living Today, page […]

  8. Wild 4×4 fun at the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes | langyaw
    March 19, 2010 @ 4:58

    […] Ilocos Norte Sand Dune is one of the best places to go for a wild 4×4 offroad adventure with its wide expanse of sand […]

  9. runjan
    April 1, 2010 @ 18:54

    Hi SIr Estan,

    This is Jan, we met yesterday during the ungo run. Thanks for the ride.

    Its a privileged to meet you. Keep up the good work!

  10. The sand dunes of Ilocos Norte will take your breath away « loQal – Travel and Outdoors | Philippines
    June 22, 2010 @ 15:33

    […] Cebuano blogger Estan Cabigas recommends going there  just before the sun rises over the Cordillera mountains and describes what he saw: “Soft, beautiful light wraps the sand dunes and just be amazed as how the place is transformed from purple to golden in just a few minutes. Darkness retreating to give way to light.” […]

  11. doi
    August 19, 2010 @ 12:56

    too bad i wasn’t able to go to this part of Ilocos Norte. We just passed by La Paz and saw a portion of it 🙁

    nice pics! 😀

  12. estan
    August 19, 2010 @ 13:15

    sayang doi 😉

  13. Thinking of travel? Do the Lakbay Norte loop | langyaw
    August 31, 2010 @ 12:19

    […] offered by the various provinces along the route. Ilocandia is just too irresistible with its sand dunes and the exhilarating sports of sandboarding and 4×4 vehicle adventure. Other than that, there […]

  14. jose roco
    November 2, 2010 @ 12:45

    hi estan,
    id like to ask how many hours it would take us to go to sand dunes from loaog? may masasakyan ba kmi n bus if commute lang from loaog? thnks thnks

    jose

  15. Ilocos
    December 12, 2010 @ 22:52

    It depends on the site you plan to visit.

    Laoag to Currimao- around 45 minutes
    Laoag to LaPaz – around 25 minutes
    Laoag to Suba – around 20 minutes

    Yes there are public utility vehicles which will bring you near the area.

  16. Grace
    June 2, 2011 @ 6:27

    I’ve been looking for a place in the Philippines to bring my Australian boss this year. Ilocos is one of the places on my list precisely because of the sand dunes.

  17. estan
    June 4, 2011 @ 1:33

    @Grace, good luck and enjoy 🙂

  18. » They had great fun at Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    September 23, 2011 @ 15:18

    […] old sites. You need not go to the Middle East just to experience sand boarding in the deserts. The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes is just as […]

  19. » 4×4 adventure at the La Paz Sand Dunes | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    October 3, 2011 @ 21:03

    […] In La Paz, Laoag City, the sand dunes there is a good alternative to the one in Paoay, which we visited a year before for sand boarding and 4×4 wild […]

  20. » Three short stops in Ilocos Norte | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    March 8, 2012 @ 0:05

    […] the route. 1 Paoay Lake Fresh from our sandboarding and 4×4 offroad vehicle adventures at the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes, Paoay Lake was a contrast. A wide expanse of water, calm early in the morning and quite inviting, […]

  21. » Ilocos Norte & La Union: Northern Exposure | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    April 9, 2012 @ 10:27

    […] Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes is a unique phenomenon in a tropical Philippines. This extensive coastal stretch of sand and beach, […]

  22. Sandboarding at the Paoay Sand Dunes – The Weekend Dispatch
    June 26, 2016 @ 23:38

    […] a tropical country like the Philippines. It is for this very reason why the 85 sq kms sand dunes (which covers those in Currimao, La Paz and Paoay) was declared a National Geological Monument by the National Geological Committee on Geological […]

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