Face to face with Ilocos Norte: A dip into clear waters of an untouched island, a bite on popular Ilocos crunch, the thrill of sun dunes adventures and more in day 2.

The excitement continues. It’s the second day of our press tour courtesy of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office. Yesterday was full, our eyes feasted on beautiful scenes, our hearts were thrilled by the heritage structures and our tummies are filled with delicious food offerings in town. Now, travel mode is set at high, and we are ready for today’s escapades.

Badoc Island

First on the list for today is Badoc Island, a virgin island which is about 1 km from the mainland. An early morning boat trip going to the island is a must so we have enough time to enjoy the place before we get off from there by 11am just before high tide and a safer boat ride.

With the life vest on, we stepped on the bangka, or small boat which can only accommodate about 5 passengers. After about 30 minutes, we reached Badoc Island. We are mesmerized by the beauty of the place, it is a gem in Ilocos Norte. An isolated place waiting to be explored. Right before our eyes is an island, so pristine with naturally formed rocks, powdery white sand, and crystal clear waters. On Badoc Island, one can just enjoy the freedom to frolic on the white beach away from the usually crowded beaches. It’s all about you and nature, no restaurants, no stores, no cottages, and cabanas. The island is also a popular spot for diving, and surfing on Northern side of the country. In Badoc Island, one can also do snorkeling, free diving, scuba diving, surfing, or simply go around for a boat ride.

Sitio Remedios. Photo courtesy of Dexter Ganibe

Sitio Remedios

After some beach activities, the next thing you would want to do is eat. Headed to another town Currimao we stopped at Sitio Remedios, a heritage village by the West Philippine Sea. At Sitio Remedios you will be amazed at old Ilocos houses which are named after different towns in the province to provide you home during a stay in this resort. You may choose from a one-bedroom bungalow to two-storey, two-bedroom house and feel how it is to live in such kind of house during the Spanish era.

While our eyes were still feasting on the beautiful, heritage surroundings, the buffet table was just so appetizing. And who could resist the very popular Ilocos Bagnet. Bagnet is well-loved Filipino dish from Ilocos that consists of pork belly (liempo) boiled and seasoned to taste and deep-fried until crispy.

Paoay Church

Paoay Church

What is a trip to Ilocos without going to the Paoay Church? The Saint Augustine Church or commonly known as Paoay Churh is Roman Catholic Church located in the municipality of Paoay, Ilocos Norte and declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Another tourist spot in Ilocos, Paoay Church is built in 1704 and completed in 1894. It is known for its unique earthquake baroque architecture and heavy uniform buttresses.

Empanada. Photo taken from Glory’s Empanada FB Page.

Batac Empanada

Next to Bagnet, another Filipino favorite is the Ilocos Empanada. A trip to Ilocos is not complete without gobbling on this orange-colored Empanada, one of the best snack foods in Ilocos. Ilocos Empanada is known for its thin, crispy crust that wraps the tasty filling of bean sprouts, longaniza and egg. To enjoy the best tasting Empanada in town, we went to Batac City where stalls selling freshly cooked empanadas became a haven for locals and tourists, craving to take a bite of this crunchy, tasty snack which is also best eaten with the famous sukang Iloko.

Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes

And now it’s time for another adventure, everyone is ready for the thrill at Paoay Sand Dunes. This favorite spot in Ilocos is becoming so popular tourist attraction.
From the breathtaking, scream-your-heart-out 4×4 jeep rides to the fascinating wind-formed sand dunes to the exhilarating sand-boarding experience. All these are worth the trip for an outdoor adventure you are looking for after years of staying indoors because of the pandemic. This marvelous site is not only popular among tourists but has also become a favorite for filmmakers where hit movies like FPJ’s Ang Panday and Nora Aunor’s Himala shot scenes in the sand dunes. Other sites to enjoy in sand dunes are the stone and mirror installations, which are all solar-powered.

The writer tries the sand board in the Sand Dunes

What a second day in Ilocos, our eyes are filled with beautiful scenery, our spirit is thrilled by the adventure, and our stomach again is filled with two of the most popular dishes in Ilocos. Tomorrow has another long list of exciting activities, that will bring you more of Ilocos trip stories.

Featured photo of Badoc Island courtesy of Dexter Ganibe

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