It may not be the right time yet to travel—whether you’re thinking out-of-town road trip or a flight out to somewhere an hour away. But if you’re just dreaming of your next trips, and conjuring beaches in your head, we suggest you consider Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. This northern attraction recently led Travel + Leisure’s list of the 25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World.
“If you're searching for Southeast Asian beach bliss, super-mellow Saud Beach on the island of Luzon is a sure thing,” suggests T+L writer Anne Olivia Bauso. “Its white sand pitches gradually into the clear-as-glass water, like a real-world example of a zero-entry swimming pool.” Bauso even listed a few musts, should you take her up on her reco. “Swim in the peaceful waves, lunch under a thatch-roof cabana under the palms, or hire an outrigger for excursions on the water.”
For other activities you can do while in the neighborhood, we asked Aian Raquel of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office to suggest the best dining joints, shopping spots and landmarks to visit to make sure you get to know the local culture while you’re getting your dose of—wait for it—Vitamin Sea. (Yes, we went there.)
WHERE TO DINE
Known for good food and good service, and the view of the Northern mountains and rice fields from its terrace. Specializes in German dishes but also serves Filipino food. Very recently, it added pizzas to its menu. Visit http://bergblick-pagudpud.com
Emohruo Beach Restobar
The restaurant is inside Evangeline’s Beach Resort so dining comes with a view of the ocean. The interiors are very Filipiniana and the menu list a host of Asian dishes, from pansit bagnet (you’re in Ilocos, after all), spicy fish in banana leaf, seafood rolls with a spicy coconut milk sauce. Visit https://www.facebook.com/pagudpudparadize
The restaurant in Casa Victoria Resort and Restaurant, a beachfront property in Saud, serves traditional Ilocano dishes from bagnet to pinakbet to dinengdeng, as well as fresh seafood dishes. It’s an open air setup so diners get to enjoy the sea breeze while having a meal. Visit https://casavictoriaresortandresto.com/home
WHERE TO SHOP
There’s always a shop selling local products and souvenirs in three of Ilocos Norte’s most famous sites: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Kapurpurawan Rock—both 30 minutes away from Saud Beach—and Bangui Windmill, which is 15 minutes away.
“In Laoag,” says Aian, “local inabel [the traditional Ilocano textile] are sold at Sarusar, the Museo Ilocos Store, and Red Dot Collective, a concept store selling Philippine products and collaborates with local artists and designers.”
WHAT TO SEE
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Its name comes from the Ilocano word “puraw” which means white, because of the creamy white surface of the rock formations. The place also offers a good view of the Bangui Bay.
Bangui Windmills of Bangui Bay
This nine-kilometer strip of windmills is one of the iconic tourist spots in Ilocos Norte. This wind farm provides electricity for 50% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity.
If you’re up for a hike, you may want to check out this 87-feet high waterfalls tucked in a forest terrain in Barangay Balaoi. The sweet ending of the hike is, of course, a refreshing dip in its cool waters.
Also known as the Patapat Viaduct, this winding 1.3-kilometer long coastal bridge in Pagudpud—one of the longest bridges in the country—provides a picturesque view of the beach. It’s over 30 meters above sea level and connects the Maharlika Highway in Laoag to the Cagayan Valley.
WHERE TO DRINK
Villa Manuela Ilocos Beach Resort
Enjoy their signature cocktail drinks—Lala Cosmo, Berry Sangria, and Rhum Kaloka—with their variety of pulutan such as sisig, bagnet, crispy fried chicken, and dinakdakan. Visit https://www.facebook.com/villamanuelailocos/