Scenic drives, sumptuous Ilocano cuisines, rich heritage, awe-inspiring megastructures and stunning landscape are some of the reasons which makes Ilocos Norte an all-time favorite for travelers. Memories of Ilocos Norte goes way back to my childhood road trips with family. Even if I had been here countless times, its always a welcome visit to this northern region. The recent Lakbay Norte 7 had me revisit the familiar places again with new companions this time. In just a day, we had the exciting rides at the La Paz Sand Dunes, to marveling the gigantic windmills of Bangui and a fun swim at Saud White Beach of Pagudpud.
It took me three visits to Tawi-tawi before I finally set foot on the famed Panampangan Island. It’s not an easy island to reach like most of the islands in the region. Hiring boats have a hefty cost especially for independent travelers. An invitation to cover the Kamahardikaan 2017 festivity includes a visit to the island. It was an opportunity that’s hard to pass. Panampangan Island is considered the longest sandbar in the country.
That Friday morning, we all prayed hard for sun and blue skies. After the drenching of yesterday, still vivid and sharp, we wanted nothing more to do with rain. And as though the echo of our collective pleas reverberated throughout the divine plane, the roiling clouds started to ease. As a result, we hurried to board our designated motorboats.
Weekend escapes usually entails some planning – from where to go, how to get there, what food to bring and where to stay. The choice for weekend trips from Manila are usually at the popular beaches of Batangas, Zambales and Quezon. What if I tell you there’s a tranquil and secluded cove only 3–4 hours away from Manila that you just have to conveniently bring yourself and not think about the food or the place to stay? Aroma Beach Hideaway is tucked in between Morong and Bagac at underrated Bataan. Managed by Bataan Nature Adventure, they emphasize on just enjoying your time at their beautiful cove and let them handle the rest.
Purple hues enveloped the sky as I watch over the ocean greeting the sun good morning at Sambawan Island. I am mindful of the tide’s ebb and flow at the beach below, the grass swaying from the breeze, the cool air touching my skin and gently the warm light creeping in the hut where I’m seated. Such a calm morning up the highest point of the island where I have a full panoramic view of the surrounding area. The volcanic Maripipi island looms over like a big brother.
Much can be said already about Sabtang Island, Batanes. It may be the the most accessible island from Batan island and host to many day trip tours, but there are still spots that remain untouched by visitors on the tourist trail. Lukoy Beach is one of those white sand beaches that people often pass by when doing a tour in Savidug and Chavayan. Often called the Secret Beach of Sabtang, the inviting white stretch can be viewed from a cliff. My native guide Mael, knew the way though. So coming from the Savidug Idjang Fortress, we rode back to the village to borrow his improvised snorkeling gear and rode towards this pristine white beach.
It’s easy to get lost in reverie when on the beach. The infinite swells and crashing waves has that hypnotic hook once gazed for merely seconds. This same trance-like state lingered for a moment as sundown sets upon the famed San Juan Beach of La Union. San Juan beach is a playground for both novice and veteran surfers. But for non surfers, it’s an ideal stretch to lounge or simply walk around.