Sand Dunes: Adventure Not to Miss in Ilocos

Do you want to wait up and see how the sun rises at the northernmost part of Luzon and capture the most picture-perfect shots when it finally shows up?  Or wanna scream your heart out while riding a 4×4 slash roller coaster at the Desert of the North? Or maybe test your balancing ability while enjoying sand boarding/surfing activity? As long as you’re willing to rise & shine as early as 4:00 AM, then you’re good to go! As an idiom says, “The early bird catches the worm.”.


The Appetizer.

 I personally love sunrise and sunsets. It really feels surreal whenever I witness how the sun gives light and hope upon showing up and how it also provides rest & darkness to keep things balanced. Memories of witnessed magnificent sunrises and sunsets will always be a part of me. I chase one in every place I travel as much as I could. 🙂

Aubrey & I needed to rise from bed at around 3:30 to prep up for the 4:30 call time. I even took a min to pause & decide if my body would be willing to raise itself for this. But for the sake of the lovely sunrise, I eventually went up and got ready.

We were fetched by a 4×4 from our hotel /inn. We were then brought to the best part of the city for sunrise viewing 10 mins before 5 AM. The sun was on its way up so we took the chance to have our photo sesh with the Cagayan River as our background.

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We were also taken to the shore of South China Sea. It isn’t ideal for swimming due to its strong currents and big waves.

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What a great idea to start the day! 🙂


Aside from being rich in historical values, Ilocos Norte has a unique natural scenic place which can cater the adventurous side of its visitors: the La Paz Sand Dunes. La Paz Sand Dunes forms part of Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes (INSD) and covers an area of 85 sq kms or 52 sq miles. Locally called as “Bantay Bimmaboy”, it is a protected area having a dramatic landscape and provides panoramic view of South China Sea. These dunes were said to be created by the interaction of wind, sea and river, causing erosion and deposition. La Paz dunes’ height ranges from 10-30 meters.

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The Main Course.

The 4×4 adventure must be in your list when you are in Ilocos. The whole ride was truly different when driven through the sand dunes. Thrilling, exhilarating, exciting, nerve wracking – this kind of adventure is a heart pounding one!

It has 3 levels: easy, medium and hard trails. The easy trail got us warmed up and set us expectations in what will happen next. Kinda bumpy, yeah, and we could still smile. The medium one didn’t disappoint; didn’t disappoint on how you’ll scream for your life! 😀  Being brought to a higher slope and stopped at the edge of it? Then stepped on the gas pedal and driven us down? Try to imagine. 😀 The hard trail will indeed give you a hard time to breathe. Well, it made me wanting to get off the jeepey and run for my life instead. We were at the highest dune slopes and stopped at the edge of it. This time, however, we stopped and didn’t know when to expect the driver to drag us down.

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Going up and down the hill, it really weakened my knees. We gasped after every dropping.  Having no safety gears, all we could do was to scream, asked for mercy from our drivers, and hold whatever we could to survive! Hahaha!  But really, standing at the back and nothing to cling on but the metal in front and sides – trusting these professional drivers to finish the adventure safely was all we could do.

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Left us an experience of a lifetime! 🙂

The Dessert.

Sand boardings were also done in the same place as the 4×4 adventure. The drivers plus photographers were also the instructors for this activity. They brought for us 2 kinds of boards: for sitting and for standing positions.

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As a starter, we tried first the sitting positions since it’s much easier to look at compared to the other. I closed my eyes for the first try but finally got used to it and enjoyed the next ones. However, I can’t fathom the anxieties inside me when the driver showed us how to ride the board in a standing position. It looked like easy when he’s the one doing it; yet I can’t contain my trembling knees when I stood on the board at the edge of the slope for the first time. And so I thought , “I can’t, I really just can’t!”.

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They gave us tip that when we feel like falling, we just need to sit and let our pants get dirty. When I finally tried the standing position, I breathed deeply and gave it a shot. It’s kinda hard balancing from the moment the board dragged me down but it went so fast that I fell just a few distance from the stopping point. The second time I tried, well, I forgot the tip given and fell with my face first. I got lots of sand in my body & face but just laughed about it after. I think I also ate some sands! 😀 It was quite embarrassing yet it let me check one off my bucketlist.

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Had to get rid of my shoes for balancing purposes. nyaha!

Truly one-of-a-kind experience!:)


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Yay! Survived!
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Our drivers/ photographers/ instructors getting ready for their next set of victims! Haha

Enjoy and have fun! 

Other related posts:

Laoag City: Light to Marcos’ History

Vigan City: Where Time Stood Still

Pagudpud: North’s Best Coast

Ilocos Trip: 2D1N Sample Itinerary

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