The Golden Sand Dunes of La Paz, Ilocos Norte

A desert in a foreign country. This is the weird feeling while standing in the middle of the towering sand dunes. It seems some post-civilization inhabitants would grab our gear and leave us to die. Or a young lady with a mole on her face (if you have someone in mind, no, not that lady) would suddenly emerge and shout: “Walang himala!” This is not the work of my imagination. I’ve seen it before.

[Read VisitPinas Itinerary for a 3-day Ilocos Trip]

In the movies, I mean.  If the view looks familiar, it’s because this is the location of domestic movies like Ang Panday and Himala, as well as certain parts of Born on the Fourth of July and Mad Max.

The golden-brown grass clinging to the Sand Dunes at La Paz, Ilocos Norte, is a sight to behold, especially at sunset. The Sand Dunes are framed by the China Sea at the west and a mountain range at the other side. If you’re wondering how big are the dunes, look closely at the photo below and you’ll see a black car, as a point of reference.

What I said about feeling thrown in a foreign country is justified. The barangay (village) of La Paz, where the Sand Dunes are found, is just a few kilometers west of Laoag.  If you don’t know the place, like in our case, you have to constantly ask for directions. At certain points in the journey, when people we asked said, “It’s near, just go straight ahead”, I entertained doubts if they’re pulling my leg. The road seems to go nowhere. We went through a narrow street with houses at both sides. We went through a dirt road, with wrappers, bags and other plastic trash stuck to thorny bushes along the way (I really hope they do something about that).

Good for you I can tell you this — going through a wood and steel bridge means you’re not lost and that you’re near the Sand Dunes. Carefully stick to the two running boards. Vehicles at the other side must wait.

We were told that dune buggies sometimes frolic here, but I suggest you stick to the main road. I was tempted to veer off-road and up (or down) the sand dunes, with the thought of the tires kicking sand at the back of the car. That would be awesome. Good thing I decided to take some photos first, went up one of the dunes and, after catching my breath, realized that the sand is too loose and deep. Now I say DON’T try running your car around the sand dunes. You’ll probably get stuck.

But, hey, don’ take my word for it. If you tried driving through the sand dunes and survived, let me know. If you got stuck, let us know. I’d then utter the most beautiful phrase in this kind of situation — I told you so. Peace.

5 thoughts on “The Golden Sand Dunes of La Paz, Ilocos Norte”

  1. Hi!

    I was just wondering when were these pictures taken. I’m planning to do a shoot for my short film there this early November and was wondering how Ilocos is doing after the recent barrage of typhoons.


    1. Sam, my thoughts exactly. . . how would the Sand Dunes (or, for that matter, other spots like Baguio) look like after the storm? These photos were taken when we went to Ilocos in April of this year. I’m sure our readers who are near the place would have the answer. By the way, maybe you’d like to keep everyone posted on your short film. Good luck.

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who’s been to Ilocos recently. Guess I’m back on watching the evening news. I’m crossing my fingers the coming typhoon won’t be as bad as the previous ones.

        By the way, my short film’s a course project, but if ever it gets any chance to be screened somewhere, I’ll keep everyone posted. Thanks, Fred!

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