One yardstick of a great destination, in my book, is when it’s somewhere I don’t mind driving straight for hours, get immersed in the splendor of the place for an hour or so, pack up then go home. Pagudpud (Ilocos Norte) definitely fits that standard, although the beauty of this destination is not limited to the wide open and smooth country roads, the nice views along the way, or the compelling history of the place and its people.
Ten hours of leisurely drive from Manila, through the NLE and the SCTEX, wasn’t enough to dissuade us from taking a pilgrimage to Pagudpud, though we made sure to travel way ahead of the expected swarm of holy week vacation travelers.
Pagudpud has white sand beaches. Not impressive, you may say. Boracay, Palawan or Bohol has better beaches, with finer white sand and more developed tourism infrastructure. Still, Pagudpud could hold its own.
There are a number of beach fronts and beach resorts to choose from in Pagudpud. We chose Blue Lagoon, a u-shaped stretch of white beach, shaped pretty much just like Dakak. A small sign at the left side of the road, right in front of a waiting shed where a group of local employees collect the P20-peso entrance fee, marks the spot (they were apologetic for the P20 fee, but I really don’t mind paying this amount, as long as they maintain the sanctity of the place). A long stretch of winding road along the shoreline occasionally goes around hills, revealing a view that, as a friend said, looks like the coasts of Scotland (or was he referring to the view from the Burgos lighthouse, which I hear is the oldest working lighthouse in Asia, but this will be the subject of another post).
Along the green line at the beach, where the white sand and the plant-riddled sloping hills meet, is a refuge against the unforgiving sun, the same sun that made the parched land chocolate-brown. There are huts-for-rent just behind this ridge.
Outward this green line is the fine white sand, that heats up as the sun rises in the sky. This is the first part of what I thought as tiramisu – are a number of distinct layers with different textures.
After this strand of fine sand, at the point where the waves outer reach bid farewell to the beach before going back to the light-blue sea, is a stretch composed of fine pebbles and polished corals. I must confess that pebble may not be the accurate term, but the next word that comes to mind is “sand”, but that portion is much larger than “sand”. At the edge of this strip, under the water, are stones that may hurt the soles of the unprepared visitor. It’s like a last line of defense of the sea, trying to prevent people from disturbing the perfect rolls of its bubbly waves.
Walking to that point, one will immediately feel the sting of the sun. No surprise in that, for this is a beach and, besides, that’s what sunscreen is for. What’s surprising, however, is the refreshingly cool water, even under the mid-day sun. Of course, there are a number of other surprises, including the shower room, but those are the things you’ve have to discover for yourself. Let’s not take away the fun and adventure of the trip. Enjoy!