Travel back in time to a more peaceful period where nature is king and locals are simply happy spending their days catching fish and chatting with their families. The rural, quiet farm town that is Pagudpud is a gem unlike any other destination in the Philippines. Located in Ilocos Norte, on the northern tip of Luzon, this thought-provoking town encourages you to slow down and live life moment by moment.
The scenery is breathtaking with green hills, rice paddies, and grassy plains everywhere you look. Blue lagoons full of fishermen catching the day’s meal alongside white sand and pebble beaches without the disturbance of nightlife parties- this truly feels like a hidden escape.
Your journey to this unspoiled oasis will include a 12-hour bus ride from Manilla, so it’s a great option to take the over-night bus. Not only will you save yourself the cost of accommodation for the night but also, you’ll arrive in the morning just in time to start exploring!
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Pagudpud:
For some reason, all of the beaches in Pagudpud are simply referred to as “Pagudpud Beach”. If you know which area you’re looking for, however, someone will surely point you in the right direction.
There is the official “PagudPud Beach” which is a small local beach whose visitors are usually fishermen. It’s a peaceful visit with some interesting people watching, but don’t come here expecting postcard views.
Saud Beach is quite beautiful with white sand, turquoise water, and coconut trees stretching out towards the water. Half of the beach is private for resorts and the other half is municipal so expect to pay 20 pesos for beauty-preserving maintenance.
Maira-ira Beach might be the most beautiful as it encompasses a blue lagoon that seems to glow! Perfect for swimming and splashing about!
2. Secret Green Hills
Bottle your water, pack some snacks, get you camera ready, and tie your sneakers tight. You’re about to go on a scenic hour-long walk through farmlands, along rice paddies, and off the beaten path towards the Secret Green Hills.
Walk up the steep grassy hill via a well-trodden path to claim Scottish-style cliff views of crashing waves on rocks and the shore. Explore even further and you’ll come to savanna-like plains where you can view the Caparispisan Wind Farm- a surprising find in this neck of the woods.
3. Kabigan Falls
In the eastern part of Barangay Balaoi, you’ll find the mesmerizing Kabigan Falls. Surrounded by lush jungle, this 80 foot tall waterfall is a pure representation of raw nature in its most beautiful form.
The pool below is perfect for swimming and is regarded to be quite a romantic spot. You are fully surrounded by fern-gully style nature that is reminiscent of a utopian sci-fy film. It’s hard not to feel totally and completely alive and in the moment with the rushing water falling next to you.
To get there, take a tricycle until you reach the beaten path where you’ll take a lazy, flip-flop friendly hike to paradise over wooden bridges and under hanging branches through the jungle.
4. Patapat Viaduct
Rent a motorbike and go for a ride along the coast on the 4th longest bridge in the country. Stretching a windy 1.3 kilometers, this well-maintained highway rolls around the rocky coast on a cliff dropping off to the water below. Any leisurely ride here offers spectacular views and a laidback cruise.
The highway is wide and not very crowded so it’s suitable even for new riders.
Stop and take some photos or just stare into the beautiful distance. Afterwards, use your bike wisely and have an adventure!
5. Bagong Lipunan Lodge Ruins
Abandoned buildings will always be fascinating. This dilapidating structure was once a lodge for tourists but has since been left to rot. There are no locks or doors to keep visitors out; in fact, the Bagong Lipunan Lodge Ruins have become a local spot for teenagers to sneak in and goof off.
It feels rather ghostly as you explore inside and gets your adrenaline pumping as you turn every corner expecting a scare. If you’re brave enough…visit at night.
Nearby you’ll find fresh spring water running off the cliff in the form of tiny waterfalls where locals say it’s safe to drink.
6. Bantay Abot Cave
Fan of the Goonies? Then you’ll find this beachfront cave to be quite euphoric. What looks to be just a plain old giant mossy boulder actually hides a tiny little secret.
Down a small embankment and carefully over some slippery rocks, you’ll make your way along the coast like until you come to Bantay Abot Cave.
While it’s more of a hole than a cave, the way the light shines through Bantay Abot Cave is truly breathtaking. With rays of light shinning through, this spot looks like a gateway to heaven. Needless to say, this spot is ideal for a photo opp.
Around the cave are some areas of rock where you can climb and be a monkey while looking out at the ocean water.
7. Hannah’s Zipline
Get an aerial view of the Blue Lagoon by soaring across it on a 1.2-kilometer zipline. Strapped in, lying on your belly like Super Man, you’ll be hurled across the sea with nothing but blue below you. You’ll wind up on the other side of the beach safe, sound, and on the ground.
You can find this professionally run extreme adventure station at Hannah’s Resort and Convention Center on the very right side of the beach (when you’re facing the water).
You have the option of buying souvenir photos but most tourists perfect to bring their own camera or Go-Pro as the staff camera is a bit blasé.
8. La Cocina de Consuelo at Casa Consuelo
Go for the food and stay for the beach. La Cocina de Consuelo at Casa Consuelo has a lot to offer in terms of taste and hospitality.
Not only will you find some of the freshest seafood around that has been plucked straight from the sea, but you will also get this seafood at lower prices than more touristy areas on the island. Try the grilled lobster in garlic butter, or go crazy with the full seafood platter.
Afterwards, take a stroll on the private beach which boasts an interesting landscape of flat sand with sporadic trees and mini-rock islands scattered about.
9. Dos Hermanos Islands
Along the western coast of Pagudpud in Barangay Balaoi, lie the islet rocks due fondly named Dos Hermanos Islands or “two brothers” islands in English. The folklore goes that there were two brother fishermen who were swept up in the waves and have since taken on new lives as rocks in the sea.
When the tide goes out, you can see underwater caves below the rocks which are home to a community of colorful fish and vegetation. Dos Hermanos Islands are also the source of a local treat of sweet gourmet seaweed.
10. Water Sports at King Fisher’s Resort
Home of extreme water sports, King Fisher’s Resort offers kite surfing and paddle boarding with a scenic backdrop. During the day, you have an awesome view of the wind farm and at night, the sunsets right in front of the resort coloring the sky with a bright orange glow. This makes for a unique environment when you’re out on the water.
If you’re a fan of extreme sports, consider staying at the resort in a beach side bungalow or guesthouse where puppies follow you around the property waiting to be pet.
11. Kayaking on Bulu River
Are you brave enough to tackle the rapids of Bulu River? This 20 -kilometer stretch of crystal clear water rolls around rocks and flows down sharp inclines making for an intense day of adrenaline-pumping action. Bulu River is popular with professional kayakers or kayakers that travel the world looking for the next fix.
Here’s the catch: this river kayak adventure is only for serious kayakers who supply their own kayaks. It doesn’t matter where you rent them from, there just aren’t any places nearby that offer tours.
12. Paraiso Ni Anton
Paraiso Ni Anton is a forest trail and delicate waterfall that is believed to have healing powers. Hike up a set of cement stairs that leads to a shrine to the Virgin Mary, with Jesus on the cross nearby. Locals visit Paraiso Ni Anton because they believe that drinking the waterfall will cure ailments and disease. You’ll see locals coming to fill up with water bottles with this magic water.
There is an area near the road selling Pagudpud memorabilia such as mini wind turbines and Pagudpud key chains, as well as fruit and beverages. Cars will drive by and honk as if to say a quick hello and pay tribute the charmed area.
13. Agua-Grande River
Another environmentally friendly area in Pagudpud is the Agua-Grande River which serves as a mini-hydro electric power plant that is also non-carbon producing. The Agua-Grande River creates and collects enough electricity to power up to 17,000 homes in Pagudpud and the surrounding areas.
In addition to being a totally progressive initiative, the Agua-Grande River is very beautiful. The waterfall flows over mossy rocks while falling to the sea below. You get a great view and there is a small spring-fed pool in which to swim.
You will also have the opportunity to try one of the Philippines most popular dessert dishes, Halo Halo.
Did you know that the Philippines actually grows and harvests coffee? You can get fresh beans and bold roasts just about anywhere in this country, including on Pagudpud.
Check out Tartaruga’s Hotel where passionately trained baristas use local beans to create amazing lattes, cappuccinos and espressos. You’ll find quite an array of Filipino brews that might surprise you. The hotel and café might not look like the most fancy establishment out there, but if you are feigning for a caffeine fix, this is the place to get it!
15. Stay in a Homestay
To really connect with the Pagudpud culture and it’s people, consider staying in a homestay with a local family who will feed you, interact with you, and possibly show you around the area.
There are many homestays to choose from, some more experienced than others. They are less expensive than hotels and the money goes directly towards the livelihood of the family. You will have your own room but amenities will differ.
You can do some research online or ask around when you arrive for homestay recommendations.