If it’s your first time to the Philippines, you’ll most likely have cities such as Manila, Boracay, and Cebu on your agenda. For a first time visitor, it’s definitely good to experience those cities as they provide a great introduction to the various sights, sounds, and tastes of the Philippines. However, on your return trip back, I recommend you venture outside of the normal tourist areas and take a drive up the coast of Ilocos Norte.
Ilocos Norte is a province at the very top of the Philippines, on the northwest section of the island of Luzon. The area is famous for being the birthplace of former President Ferdinand Marcos. For my visit, my family and I started in the South and decided to drive up the coast so we could witness the stunning views of the ocean to our left and the mountains and cities to our right. As you make your way up the coast, keep in mind that with this drive, the journey itself is a big part of the trip. That said, here are my three recommendations of stops you should make as you make your way up the very top of the Philippines:
1. Kapurpurawan Rock formation
Located in the town of Burgos, you’ll find the entrance to this beautiful rock formation as you’re driving up the coastal highway. Keep your eyes peeled for the sign indicating where to veer off from the highway. At the entrance, you’ll make your way onto a rocky, unpaved path that is about a 10 minute drive from the highway. The path can be bumpy and the road is narrow so I recommend taking the drive very slowly. Once you’ve parked your car, you’ll then take a 10 – 15 minute walk to the pure white rocks. If you’d rather not walk, you can also enjoy a horseback ride for about P100.
In Ilocano, “Kapurpurawan” or “puraw” means white. Coming up to the formation, you’ll notice that they’re all a beautiful pure white color. These rock formations were created by forces of wind, water and waves from the ocean.
2. Bangui Windmill
After Kapurpurawan, continue driving along the coast until you reach Bangui. Soon, you’ll start to see the Bangui Windmills in the distance. Again, keep your eyes peeled for signs letting you know when to turn off the highway so that you can drive up to these magnificent, giant creations. Leave the highway and make your way onto the beach where you can drive right up to the 15 windmills that are 70 metres high. They’re definitely a sight to see and it’s fun to drive past all of them along the beach.
At this point in time, you’ll most likely want to take a break from the long drive and lucky for you, the last stop in Ilocos Norte is the beautiful beaches of Pagudpud. We finished our trip by driving to the Blue Lagoon. We were lucky to enjoy the beautiful white sand and pure blue water. The best part? There were hardly any tourists so it felt like our own secret beach. I recommend packing a picnic lunch and sitting on the sand to enjoy good food in an even better location.