Ilocos Series: La Paz Sand Dunes

January 01, 2016

La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

The third and final day of our Ilocandia tour was spent exploring several tourist attractions in the capital city of Ilocos Norte, which is Laoag. On top of our agenda for the day was to try the exciting activities offered by their famous La Paz Sand Dunes.

Our call time was at 6:00 am, which seemed to be too early, but according to our tour guide, Mang Mario, this was the best time to go for an adventure in La Paz -- prior to eating breakfast and before the outdoor temperature gets too hot.  

I was really thankful that Mang Mario suggested to move this activity first thing in the morning because frankly, I cannot imagine myself enjoying the place under the scorching heat of the sun.  Don't get me wrong, La Paz Sand Dunes is such a beautiful and romantic place, especially during sunrise or sunset.  It even has an overlooking view of the South China Sea.  However, you must also keep in mind that this popular attraction is in fact an 85 square kilometer sandy coastal desert, which can get really hot especially at noon when the blazing sun is high.

La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

Tourists can go on a YOLO (you only live once) kind of adventure by trying out dune bashing and sandboarding for only PHP 2,500, which is already good for four persons.  Otherwise, you may want to rent an ATV to explore the area for PHP 2,000 per hour.

My husband and I, together with the senior citizens in our group, decided not to try the heart stopping 4-wheel drive ride anymore for health and safety reasons.  However, Mang Mario didn't want us to miss the experience and requested the person-in-charge to give us a complimentary tour of the place (minus the thrilling drops on steep sand slopes), thus we ended up riding the 4 x 4 jeep as well!

La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

I have already experienced dune bashing in Al Ain Desert Safari and I have to admit that it was indeed a scary experience.  So when I saw La Paz Sand Dunes' 4 x 4 jeep, which they use for such activity, I told myself, "this is crazy!"  Just imagine yourself standing on the jeep the entire ride while having ONLY a piece of rail to hold on to, as your driver steps on the accelerator pedal to drive down a 30-meter high sand slope.  That's really crazy!

Dune bashing in the Middle East is a lot safer because they use a large SUV (instead of a 4 x 4 jeep) and you'll be instructed to fasten your seat belt as well before driving off.  Unlike in La Paz, where your safety literally depends on how tight you can hold on to the jeep's rail, not to mention that you'll likewise be required to sign a waiver before the ride.  And to me, that's just way too risky!

I'm sorry for sounding a little bit pessimistic about it, but as a wife and a mother, I cannot take the risk of getting myself injured just for the sake of experiencing a YOLO kind of adventure because I do have a family to take care and look after too.  Yeah, I know!  I was a bit KJ (kill joy) for not trying it out.  Nevertheless, I was glad that my siblings were able to get through the ride safely and I must say that they obviously enjoyed the experience!

The entire 4 x 4 rough-driving along the sandy desert of La Paz lasted approximately 30 minutes.  Thirty long minutes that's full of thrill and excitement, where my siblings couldn't help but scream their lungs out while holding on a piece of rail for their dear life.  Anyway, while they were busy with dune bashing, my parents and I, together with my dear husband and Rafa, decided to just walk around and enjoy the beautiful view of the sand dunes.  

La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

The PHP 2,500 package that they availed also included unlimited sandboarding.  None of us knew how to skateboard or surf, hence this sport could be a little bit intimidating. Although it looked fairly simple and easy because basically, you're just going to slide down the sandy slope using a sandboard, the challenge actually lies in being able to do it without losing your dignity in the process (if you know what I mean).

There are several positions by which you can do sandboarding -- either you sit or stand on the sandboard.  The only rule is, to keep your balance so you won't end up eating sand, together with your self-respect, as you slide down.  However, in the event that you lose control and find yourself kissing the earth, fret not!  For I am sure, you are not the first and only person to stumble in La Paz Sand Dunes, in front of the 'madlang people.'  Believe me, that's totally fine! (As long as you don't come back here again.  Lol!)

La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

Of course, my husband and I wouldn't want to leave this place without trying out anything, that's why we decided to go for their ATV adventure instead.  At least, this ride is a lot safer because you are the ones who does the driving.  Thus, you have the option to take the less hazardous road.  

The ATV's regular rate is PHP 2,000 per hour, but my brother was able to haggle with a staff, who generously allowed us to rent it at half the price for 30 minutes.  

Overall, I would say that La Paz Sand Dunes is undeniably the best destination in Ilocandia for all the adventure lovers out there!  If you are the sporty type who enjoys trying out extreme sports, then this is the place you should not dare miss!


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You have read Part 13 of 16 of my travel blog posts about our family's trip to Ilocandia.  Should you wish to view the rest of the blog posts under this series, feel free to click any of the links below:


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