Pagudpud, Cabugao and the Island of Puro

Ilocos is located along the coastline, and as you can expect, practically all the towns have decent beach resorts you can go to.
Pagudpud
I wasn’t really expecting we’d get to see Pagudpud during this trip. I mean, I know we allotted one whole week for our Ilocos trip but Pagupud was almost as far from Vigan as Vigan was from Manila and I didn’t think we were up for the long drive. But thank God there was practically NO traffic and the roads were good (in fact, better than some parts here in Metro Manila) – we made it in probably just three hours. 
Given that swimming wasn’t part of our itinerary, none of us packed swimsuits, and definitely, none of us brought shorts when we went out for a “drive” that morning. So we were all a bit frustrated that the beach was so near and yet we couldn’t really jump in just like that (especially since us girls were wearing jeans that day – so not me). To our credit, we did try to look for board shorts at the Saud Beach Resort where we had our lunch, but sadly, they don’t have any swimming gear for sale. 
Oh well. I just ate and drank my frustration away while looking out into the ocean. Note to self: allot at least one overnight stay in Pagudpud next time. 
The beaches of Pagudpud are not as white nor as powdery as Boracay’s or Bohol’s but definitely picturesque; the waves are rather big but then, that’s what you can expect from the waters up north. That’s why it’s sometimes dubbed the surfer’s beach. 
Pagudpud has a mile-long stretch of white beach

Shrimp sinigang! I love shrimps – to hell with allergies (my face was actually getting itchy and warm as I was eating my lunch but who cares???)!

Pork Liempo, which I didn’t really taste. 😛

Grilled squid – yummy! Amother favorite of mine.

Paoay Lake
Admittedly, our goal when we made the detour to Paoay Lake was to see the Malacanang of the North – the mansion the Marcoses had built in their home province during the Marcos regime. It has since been converted into a museum/events venue. But, as luck would have it, we got there at closing time. Guess it’s another reason for us to have a third trip to Ilocos.
The palace overlooks the Paoay lake and I can just imagine how Marcos, in his dying moments, probably wished he was brought here instead of being exiled in Hawaii. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the ocean, or in this case, lake, has a calming effect that the city cannot produce (oh well, he was probably near the ocean anyway).
According to legend, a once prosperous village was located there but they soon turned greedy and forgot to worship God. As punishment, God destroyed their village and only one couple managed to get out alive – however, the wife turned to look at their village and turned into stone, along with her husband who had turned to help her. Sounds so much like Sodom and Gomorrah, eh? Anyway, another story goes that during the Spanish regime, a storm and an earthquake struck the area and submerged the town.
Now, of course I don’t know the real origin of the lake but suffice to say that it was worth travelling to this part of Ilocos to see its beauty.
I wonder, have divers explored this lake to verify if there really is a village down there?

Cabugao
As I said, there are plenty of nice resorts in Ilocos and we almost always found ourselves in one during our week-long trip. The second resort we went to was the Cabugao Beach Resort.
Silly old me forgot to take photos of how beautiful the beach was – I was probably too hungry and too hot (literally) to remember. But if you’re ever in the area, I would suggest you check out this resort. The resort’s new and they have a pretty nice pool. Plus, you get a perfect view of the ocean while eating at their resto. The food was nothing spectacular but 

Some food pics (and yet again, I forgot to take a photo of our main dish, hahaha):
Ilocos version of Miki – it was a bit too salty but other than that, I loved it!

Ensaladang talong – I just have to order this whenever I see it on the menu
Nothing beats being on the beach and sipping fresh coconut juice

Puro Island
Few people probably know the existence of this little island off the coast of Caoayan town in Ilocos Sur and you need the help of locals getting to it – the island is uninhabited, there is no electricity and the only mode of transportation is the motorized banca.
It actually reminded me of Virgin Island in Bohol (or Potipot in Zambales), minus the long stretch of white, powdery beach and calm waters. Here, the waters suddenly go deep a few feet from the shore and the waves are quite strong – powerful enough to roll me over several times on the sand. But still, for non-swimmers like me, you still get a few meters to wade in. Just make sure you have strong swimmers in your group who can rescue you in case you get tossed about into the deeper parts. Oh, and I might suggest a life ring.  
That’s Puro Island straight ahead – just a five minute boat ride
Colorful bancas! Arrgh, hubby’s shoulder (bottom left) is ruining the shot! I must make sure to cut out that portion.
And that’s our boat. 🙂 I just loved the colorful bancas so much I took lots of photos of them.

Again, forgetful me forgot to put sunblock on my arms and back – I only put sunblock on my face and legs and I now have a bad case of tan lines and sunburnt skin. I also didn’t have any decent swimsuit and as it was the Holy Week, we couldn’t buy any. So I ended up wearing the shortest pair of shorts in my luggage and my trusty tank top. But it was worth it.  🙂
See the deep blue part so close to the shore? That’s already over ten feet (or even twenty, as one of our guides said). The sand was so hot that we couldn’t walk without our flipflops.

Yes, the island is very small – you can circle it in less than an hour

Since the place was uninhabited, we had to cook our own food and bring our own utensils – and this is where the enterprising locals helped A LOT. Our friend had already pre-arranged our boat, our guides, and our food so all we had to do was swim while our food was being cooked.
If I ever wondered what food in paradise must taste like, this would be close – nothing beats fresh fish caught straight from the ocean grilled just a few minutes before you eat. It was my first time eating fresh sea weed too, and while I won’t be craving for it anytime soon, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I liked it actually, enough to get two or three servings of it.

FEAST!

Up next: Sand Dunes only in Ilocos!
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