10 Exciting Things to Do in Ilocos Norte

From sandboarding to lounging on a pristine island.

Ilocos Norte
PHOTO BY Ilocos Norte Tourism Office

(SPOT.ph) When you think of the Ilocos Region, you are most likely daydreaming about its interesting and long-storied cuisine, such as bagnet and their empanadas; your Ilocano friends being the most frugal in your social circles (not an attack); and popular tourist destinations in northern Luzon. But apart from these, the region also takes pride in its opulent cultural heritage spots, natural parks, and white-sand beaches distributed in its four provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, and La Union

Ilocos Norte, for one, is a two-city and 21-town province that has a landmass of 3,662 square kilometers. You can make the most out of your trip through a three-day travel itinerary that covers gastronomic interests, heritage pitstops, and outdoor activities that are testament to the variety of places to explore in this province. 

Also read:
10 Beach Resorts in Ilocos Norte for Your Next Vacation
10 Things You Can Do in Vigan Other Than Taking a Stroll Along Calle Crisologo

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Here’s a list of fun things to do at the many tourist spots in Ilocos Norte:

ilocos norte solsona apayao road
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Get front seats to a majestic view of the Cordilleras

A recently opened highway connecting two provinces of Ilocos Norte and Apayao, Solsona-Apayao Road provides front-row seats to majestic views of the Cordilleras. The best part of visiting this site is its vast spaces ideal for camping and picnic sessions, apart from its lush green surroundings and adventurously zigzag roads, so buckle up and make sure you have good driving skills. Visitors can visit this site from sunrise until before it gets dark. An environmental fee of P20 is required. 

ilocos norte ladrillos restaurant
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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ilocos norte ladrillos restaurant
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Have a Spanish/Basque-Ilocano meal with a free bahay-na-bato tour 

Ladrillos is a Spanish/Basque-Ilocano restaurant located in the 19th-century heritage house Balay San Nicolas (a.k.a. Valdes-Lardizabal House). After a sumptuous meal at the restaurant, visitors can enjoy a quick and guided heritage tour at the Balay for a peek at the Spanish colonial period in Ilocos Region. 

Ladrillos is at Cleveland Street, Barangay 2, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

ilocos norte paoay lake waterpark
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Immerse in an adrenaline-pumping experience at a floating playground

Paoay Lake Waterpark is a 4,200-square-meter action-packed floating playground located at the Malacañang of the North. The size of the park is as big as 10 basketball halls combined.

Dubbed the first floating playground in Northern Luzon, visitors get to go through a makeshift Takeshi’s Castle experience going through obstacles, climbing, crawling, jumping, and perhaps swimming. The park also offers other activities like kayaking and paddle boarding with a food park on the side. 

Paoay Lake Waterpark is at Malacañang of the North, Barangay Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is open from Monday to Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and from Friday to Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance fee ranges from P399 to P599 per person. 

ilocos norte paoay sand dunes
PHOTO Ilocos Norte Tourism Office
ilocos norte paoay sand dunes
PHOTO Ilocos Norte Tourism Office
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Enjoy a bumpy yet thrilling 4x4 ride across sand dunes 

Paoay Sand Dunes has long been an in-demand tourist spot due to its scream-worthy experiences from 4x4 jeepney rides to sandboarding sessions. Apart from these, the location has been popular as a filming spot for notable movies like Ang Panday (1980), Himala (1981), and Temptation Island (1980 and 2011). It is also home to art installations, which were introduced during the Himala sa Buhangin music and arts festival in 2012. 

Paoay Sand Dunes is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Rates for a 4x4 ride start at P2,500, which is inclusive of sandboarding for five persons.

ilocos norte kamarinn cafe
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
ilocos norte kamarinn cafe
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Revisit Ilocano cuisine with a stunning view of Paoay Lake 

Apart from creatively sumptuous servings of Ilocano cuisine, Kamarinn Café offers a relaxing ambiance with varied plants even made better with an open-air experience. The café takes pride in its pinakbet pizza, local salad, sinigang con gata, and inkalti (Ilocos’ version of fondue). Kamarinn Café also houses Vista del Lago, a view deck on the second floor that gives way to a stunning view of the Paoay Lake.

Kamarinn Café is along Gen. Segundo Avenue, Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

ilocos norte badoc island
PHOTO BY Ilocos Norte Tourism Office

Bask under the sun while on a pristine island 

Badoc Island ushers its visitors to a relaxing beachfront away from the crowd. Apart from the beach and clear waters, water activities like snorkeling and free diving are also available. Currently, the island doesn’t have accommodations available, so overnight stays aren’t allowed yet. 

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Badoc Island is a 25-minute boat ride from La Virgen Milagrosa da Badoc. Boat rental is at P1,200 for three to four persons.

ilocos norte sitio remedios
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
ilocos norte sitio remedios
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Capture countless Insta-worthy photos in old-world Ilocos

Sitio Remedios is almost like Bataan’s Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in the sense that it’s a recreation of mid-20th-century Ilocos Norte. Owned by Dr. Joven Cuanang, the same person behind Pinto Art Museum, this private heritage resort houses Spanish-era houses in an 18,000 square meter lot. Each balay can be rented for overnight and longer stays. It has a pool, a mini chapel, and an open-air dining area facing the West Philippine Sea. 

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Sitio Remedios is in Barangay Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Rates start at P6,000 for two persons.

ilocos norte kabigan falls
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Go on a quick trek-and-trail adventure to see a breathtaking waterfall 

Before seeing the breathtaking Kabigan Falls, one gets to walk through streams and rocky, green trails to the waterfall. What better way to encapsulate this is a dip in the cold waters of the falls? For years, this place has been a constant on the list of most-visited spots in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, and for good reason.

Kabigan Falls is in Barangay Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Entrance is at P10 with environmental fee of P20 and tour guide fee of P100.

ilocos norte wind farm
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Have a (literally) windy day with picturesque views at a wind farm 

A project led by the NorthWind Power Development Corporation (NorthWind) in 2005, the Bangui Wind Farm is also known as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Phase I of the project involved the construction of 15 wind turbines, while Phase II—which was completed in August 2008—added five wind turbines. The turbines face the sea at the northwest tip of Luzon, where there is no windbreak and limited obstruction in the terrain. While renewable energy company Northwind developed the Bangui Wind Farm, the wind turbines were supplied by Danish firm Vestas Wind Systems. In 2017, AC Energy (of the Ayala Group) acquired 67.79% of the NorthWind stocks and took control of the Bangui Wind Farm. In 2021, they announced their intent to acquire 100% shares of Northwind, which is still pending approval. 

Entrance to the Bangui Wind Farm is free of charge.

ilocos norte rock formations
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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Take photos of a cinematic geological wonder

At the rocky coast of Burgos in Ilocos Norte is a cinematic geological formation called the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. These are smooth-looking almost-perfect white limestone formed by sea waves and wind for thousands of years. Apart from scenic views, visitors enjoy hiking and horseback riding in the area. 

Entrance to the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is at P30 for adults, P20 for students and senior citizens, and free of charge for children six years old and below.

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