Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte: Seascape Escape

Saud Beach, Pagudpud
Postcard-pretty Saud Beach

Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte along the northernmost coast of Luzon has been on my bucket list for years. I finally got to explore this coastal resort town over the weekend, and I must say it exceeded my expectations. Despite an incoming tropical storm, the main stretch of Saud Beach managed to whip up a postcard-pretty union of sun, sand and surf, accented by equally bright blue outrigger boats. Across the sweeping bay, the mammoth Bangui windmills looked no larger than toy pinwheels.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud
A shellcraft vendor shares a sunny smile
After taking a stroll down Saud, I took a tricycle to Maira-ira, a secluded beach cove of aquamarine waters which give it its other name, Blue Lagoon. The cove is characterized by two craggy islets called Dos Hermanos. Walking back to the highway, I passed by two more seaside formations popular with tourists: Bantay Abot Cave (actually a sea arch) and Timmangtang Rock, where some cheerful children showed me how to fish at the tidal pools.

Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon), Pagudpud
The eponymous aquamarine waters of Blue Lagoon
Along the highway towards the provincial border with Cagayan province is the Patapat Viaduct, a 1.3 km long concrete coastal bridge snaking along mountain cliffs that drop into the churning ocean. I walked the entire stretch of the viaduct before hailing a bus back to Saud where a blue marlin dinner completed an incredible seaside Saturday.

Bantay Abot Cave
Bantay Abot Cave, a sea arch near Blue Lagoon makes for a favorite tourist photo op
HOW TO GET THERE: Florida Bus (+63 2 7815894) runs direct trips (PHP 700, 10 to 12 hours) to Pagudpud from Manila everyday at 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM, Sampaloc station. From Pagudpud to Manila, buses leave the town plaza at 8:00 PM. From the town plaza, tricycles to Saud Beach cost PHP 50, 1 to 3 pax.

Patapat Viaduct
The scenic Patapat Viaduct snakes along the dramatic coastline
Tricyles offer northbound day tours for PHP 600, 1 to 3 pax. This includes Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon), Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct and Kabigan Falls. A friendly and reliable driver is Gerald, mobile: +63 9056266861. For solo travelers, taking the tour is costly, so I recommend visiting these places DIY by taking tricycles to and from the highway (PHP 40 to 50) and hopping on passing buses (PHP 25 to 50).

Vangie's Homestay
Cheap sleeps at Vangie’s homestay start at PHP 160 per head!
WHERE TO STAY: Beachfront resorts at Saud Beach are pricey. The cheapest accommodations are homestays a few minutes walk from the beach. I stayed at Vangie’s Homestay (+63 9285393184) – 50 meters or so from the beachfront – where an AC room for six persons costs only PHP 1000 (off-peak rate)! Single and double occupancy at PHP 500.

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