As Filipinos know all too well—and hope many other travelers will soon discover—the Philippines is a country that features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But if you’re looking for an underrated destination where the crowds are far fewer, then journey to the northernmost region of Ilocos in Luzon.
Lounge on sandy beaches full of character. Listen to the crashing waves of crystal-blue waters. Feel the West Philippine Sea wind on your face as you stroll. In Ilocos, you can explore a variety of beach experiences.
Below is our handpicked list of breathtaking beaches in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces. Make sure to make a beeline to these places when you head way up north.
Ilocos Norte beaches
The shores of Ilocos Norte are extreme, so much that you can find black sand, golden sand, and rock formations all in the same province. The variety of landforms will astound you, and you won’t run out of beaches to visit. Here are a few of our personal favorites.
Pagudpud is what most travelers imagine when they think of Ilocos beaches. Local guides, however, clarify that Pagudpud is not a one-beach area. The coastal town in the far reaches of Ilocos Norte offers several beaches, each with a distinct vibe.
Tucked away between widely famous Saud Beach and the winding Patapat Viaduct is Blue Lagoon or, as Ilocanos call it, Maira-ira. The rough waters are ideal for surfing and water activities. Resorts of varying scale and price points line the waterfront, but we recommend a day at Kapuluan Vista.
When beachgoers talk about Pagudpud, they are, in fact, referring to palm tree-lined Saud Beach. Saud was recently named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by a leading travel magazine. Visitors have described the place as “the best beach for miles around” with a well-kept shoreline, stunning views, and a peaceful atmosphere. There are several low-key accommodations in this part of Pagudpud, but Casa Victoria is highly recommended.
Are you looking for a less touristy beach where you can meet locals? Visit Currimao, a favorite and well-kept secret among Ilocos residents. Unlike the far-reaching trek to Pagudpud, Currimao is conveniently situated near Paoay (home of San Agustin Church, a World Heritage Site) and Batac (where you can taste Iloco empanada). Both Playa Tropical Resort and Sitio Remedios Heritage Village offer unique stays in this seaside town.
Ilocos Sur beaches
Vigan immediately comes to mind when dreaming of Ilocos Sur. But the province also plays host to surprising natural wonders and stretches of dreamy coastline. Here are three beaches worth exploring in Ilocos Sur.
This photograph of floating sea cottages certainly caught our attention. Where in Ilocos could this beach attraction be? You’ll want to thank the enterprising townsfolk of Lugo Beach in Sinait for this piece of paradise. Sinait is an Ilocos Sur town just south of the border with Ilocos Norte. If you’re visiting Vigan from Laoag, make a stop, picnic in one of the cottages, and wade the clear waters.
Enjoy Pug-os Beach in the town of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, where you can experience stretches of shoreline unobscured by fishing boats. The beach is popular among local residents for its creamy-white sand. At Pug-os, relax and unwind, whether you prefer a thrilling surf or a soothing glass of fresh mango.
Driving all the way from Manila? Then make a rest stop at Sabangan, popularly known as Santiago Cove. The locale boasts a gorgeous one-kilometer stretch of coastline. Perfect white sands and calm waters make it an excellent place for swimming and exploring. Looking for a place to spend the night? Vitalis Villas serves Santorini-inspired accommodations without having to fly to the Greek isles.
Book your Ilocos transportation through KKday
A private van is the best way to get around Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. If you’re coming from or heading to Baguio City, arrange for one-way private transportation through KKday. Simply choose between Laoag (Ilocos Norte) or Vigan (Ilocos Sur) as your destination.
*Featured image via Aninah Ong on Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)