Paoay + Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
How do I describe the Paoay Sand Dunes? Magical. Majestic. Mysterious. Magnificent. Shall I keep going? IT IS A MUST. Hands down. This should be at the top of your itinerary. We stayed at Fort Ilocandia and it was just under a 10 minute drive down the road to get to the sand dunes. I made reservations with Gilbert of Suba Adventure a few days in advance. You could just drive up to the sand dunes yourself and find any number of 4x4's or other companies but I read a great post with Gilbert's contact details (+63 928 9473518) and I cannot recommend our experience with his company enough.
When you arrive there is a tented area for checking in and payment, portable toilets and stalls to buy water bottles and snacks. You can choose which type of vehicle you would like. We rented a 4x4 jeep for the hour+ and my husband took the quad out after.
The ride was thrilling! Exhilarating and every single one of us loved it. The view was unreal. Fine sand hills for the whole landscape. We went up and down hills, circles, drove on the wet sand. The kids hopped out and swam in the ocean for 40 minutes. I didn't realize how much they would love this pit stop.
The sand boarding was unreal. Each of us except the baby went down the dunes multiple times. It is hot but not uncomfortable. Definitely bring your sunscreen. There was a handful of teenagers who helped with the boards and took a ton of photos and video footage. The Paoay Sand Dunes are set up for you to have the best time. They obviously really care about their clientele.
The last stop on the way back was on the top of my list, Leeroy New's Sand Dunes Sculpture Park. The first sculpture was created for the Himalaya Film Festival in 2012. Unfortunately, the recent storm really hit the sculpture park and so much was dilapidated. Even still, it was remarkable to see. Just as weird and enchanting as I had hoped.
On our way out we just briefly stopped by Paoay City proper and had our pants charmed off. Too bad we were leaving early in the morning so nothing was open yet.
The Paoay Church built in 1710 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason. Good glory, look at her! She was stunning. 1710! And I got to stare at her.
Ah, Ilocos Norte I love you so very much. Thank you for the joy you fed our family. We must meet again. You are a gem in The Philippines I never knew existed.
*Again, we didn't have much time in Paoay to explore so if you have recommendations please share.