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Sand Boarding in La Paz Sand Dunes, Surfing in La Union and Baguio : Lakbay Norte Day 3

With only two hours of sleep, we left Mira de Polaris Hotel early for our Sand Boarding activity in La Paz. Located near the Paoay Lake, La Paz Sand Dunes is popularly known as the Dubai or Desert of the North and is a prime location for shooting local films.

Laoag sunrise

Shoot Shoot Shoot

We arrived early in La Paz but the 4×4 cars were not yet in the area so we took advantage of the dramatic sunrise color to pose, take photos, and pretty much anything in between till the sand boarding team arrived. After 30 minutes, Herencia De Paoay’s 4×4’s started to arrive and with no particular instruction, we found ourselves loaded on the same vehicle that we used yesterday. Same people, same driver, but the screams got louder and louder as we started traversing the bumpy sand formation.

the laoag sand dunes survivors

La Paz Sand Dunes Survivors

It was such an amazing experience, Everyone anticipated a new horizon and sand dunes after another until we reached the edge of a cliff. We really thought we would be braving the huge cliff but as our heart beat got faster we breathed a sigh of relief as the driver announced that we just reached the Sand Boarding area.

Vince Araneta

Vince Araneta Surfing like a Pro

So What the heck is Sand Boarding? Wikipedia describes Sand Boarding as a recreational activity similar to snowboarding that takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-covered hills. For some, it involves riding across or down a dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board while others, use a board with no bindings.

philippines Sand Dunes
Fun Fun Fun

Talking about safety measures, using a strapless board is not allowed in Paoay so make sure to get the proper gear. After a short briefing about Sand Boarding, a local sand boarder attempted to give us a demonstration but unfortunately failed to set a good example since he halted and tumbled from the middle of the sand dune all the way down to the bottom.

Paoay Lake in Ilocos SurBreathtaking Paoay Lake

Ida Calumpang of Mabuhay Magazine volunteered first to sand board, immediately after fixing the strap she was able to conquer her fear and successfully slide down the dunes smoothly like a pro. After Ida, everyone got excited to brave the mighty sand dunes and had their share of fun and exhilirating experience. We were already running out of time so we had to pack up and head to our next destination. While everyone waited for the vehicle to move, we wondered why we were still facing the cliff with no signs of changing directions.

unesco world heritage site

Paoay Church : Unesco World Heritage Site

Much to our surprise, we were indeed moving towards the cliff. The driver was unstoppable, he knew that everyone was afraid but he keept on traversing the dunes the hardcore way. The dune bashing was indeed more than a roller coaster ride for the rest of us. It can be really scary at first but we found ourselves laughing with excitement as the 4×4 went up and down on the amazing sand dunes. Just a warning, basic driving skills are not enough if you want to try out 4×4 driving in La Paz Sand Dunes.

old churches philippines

Church made from Coral Stone

What I liked about this trip is the variation of activities. Right after an adventure packed activity, we headed to the beautiful Paoay Church. Still in Ilocos Norte, Paoay Church is considered as one of the most beautiful church in the Philippines.

Batac EmpanadaEmpanada Overload

The church was made from coral stones and has a mixture of Gothic, Oriental and Baroque influence. As one of the Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, Unesco will be funding the rehabilitation and improvement of the church ceiling according to the local officials.

Miki of Batac Ilocos Sur
Batac’s famous Miki

After touring around the church, we had a group photo then proceed for another adventure! This time its an adventure for the palate. Our breakfast earlier was completely unique if not unusual. We had a complete stop in Batac Ilocos Norte to experience the Batac Empanada and their famous Miki. Ilocandia has their own version of Empanada which is larger and the ingredients are also different. I ordered the “Double Double Empanada”, unlike the regular one – Double Double Empanada is bigger and the longganisa and egg fillings are obviously “doubled” (LOL).

Surfing Kids in La Union

Surfing Kids in La Union

Not every one was familiar with the food but everyone definitely enjoyed it! Available right across the street was another set of food stalls offering Miki – a popular noodle soup in Batac. Miki is much like Lomi in apperance but the noodles used is freshly made and the ingredients are different too. I was not able to finish the big bowl of Miki (believe it or not), I guess the thickness of the sauce made me full faster than I expected.

Lakbay Norte Surfers in La Union

Surfers in La Union

As usual, we cant stay long in a specific destination, so we boarded the Victory Liner Bus and headed to La Union for the much awaited Surfing Lessons. It took us almost four hours before we reached San Juan La Union. Upon arrival, our group was welcomed by Director Martin S. Valera, local CVB’s and San Juan Surf Resort who provided surfing lessons to our group.

Luke Landrigan

Luke Landrigan

The local tourism officials together with Director Martin Valera showed us a short but informative audio visual presentation about La Union’s culture, festivals, heritage sites and other tourism related information. Soon after the lunch was served, we were intoduced to Luke Landrigan – the resident Surfing Trainer. The San Juan Surf School is being managed by Luke Landrigan – a silver medalist in the most recent Asian Beach Games held in Bali. As an accredited Surfing trainer in Australia, Luke also trained qualified surfers in La Union to assist him in conducting various Surfing Clinic.

Monica Barreto : Getting ready to Surf

Monica Barreto : Getting ready to Surf

While everyone is busy learning how to surf, I was also busy surfing but not in the splashing waves. I took the opportunity to update my facebook status, answer emails and complete all my pending tasks before we head to Baguio City.

Travel Writers in Surfing Clinic

Travel Writers : Surfing 101

From the warm beach temperature, we headed up to the City of Pines to meet the people behind Baguio Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I woke up after hearing everyone leaving the bus and I just found out that we were already in front The Manor Hotel for our dinner.

Melo Villareal = Cam WhoreCamWhore goes Northbound

Amboy Guevara of BCVB gave a short welcoming remarks and gave us a hint about our activity tommorow which made us more excited. Mayor Reinaldo Bautista also welcomed us and joined us in our dinner that was prepared by The Manor Hotel’s famous Chef Billy King.

Chocolate Cakes @ The Manor Baguio
Hey Whats Flambé? (LOL)

Im currently writing this post inside my room here in Microtel Baguio. I’ll give myself 10 more minutes to check all new emails then I’ll call it a night.

Thanks to North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) for making this trip possible:)

Up Next : Lakbay Norte Day 4 : Adventures in Bokod Benguet and Tour of Pangasinan Capitol

Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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