Pagudpud, (not) the Boracay of the North


At the northernmost tip of Luzon, 560 kms from Manila,  lies the Ivory Coast of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. My first visit to to the then undeveloped Pagudpud was in the mid 80s, when there were yet no resorts. One had to make arrangements with then Mayor Benemerito to be accommodated at the family’s beach house, and when they did allow, the accommodation was for free.

Pagudpud in the 80s

not so many knew this paradise

Many years later, I went back in the company of officemates on an outing. I couldn’t then recall exactly where the old mayor’s beach house stood.

My last two visits, October 2010 and January 2011 allowed me to piece those memories together.


Saud is considered by many as the premier destination in Pagudpud. Unlike the other Ivory Coast resorts, coconut trees shield the cottages from the glare of the white sandy beach, giving the property a real, honest-to-goodness tropical setting. Of the beach restaurants in Pagudpud, Saud has the best view of the ocean, making dining an experience to look forward to. Hammocks hung from coconut trees, inviting guests to a nap.

lazing at Saud Beach Resort

no one knew where the ducks originated, and now there are thousands of them

pristine waters – the Boracay of the North

breakfast with a view of the ocean

don’t miss the bagnet, with bagoong and kamatis

a beautiful restaurant on the Ivory Coast

The rooms at Saud Beach resort are the best in Pagudpud. They are also the most expensive.Room rates start at P3,619 with family rooms renting out for P6,534. All rooms have TV and refrigerators. Suites have bath tubs.

Contact Saud Beach Resort at (+632) 9289953, (+632) 9212856, +(63918) 9208826, and (+63920) 2706075. Visit their website at



On my visit two weeks ago, I found out that Villa del Mar was where the old mayor’s cottage stood. This I learned from an old lady who owns the resort, and is  a relative of the former mayor. I actually checked out this facility last year but stayed in Saud. This time we decided to stay at least overnight.

A rather unique attraction at Villa del Mar are two monkeys, Moymoy and Mamay. I nsaw some staff playing with them. Mustering enough courage, I played with Moymoy, too. I didn’t know what he was trying to do but he was reaching inside my pockets. As it turns out, Moymoy always “steals” hankies, mobile phone, or wallets and plays with them. To make it worth his while, I then put some candies in my pocket. It was fun watching him unwrap the candies.


Vista del Mar shares the same sandy shore as Saud’s with only one big resort in between. The choice of where to stay, therefore, is dependent on one’s budget. Vista del Mar has clean, decent rooms at rates lower than Saud’s.

best spot: family room at absolute beachfront

This resort has a huge restaurant with a billiard table at the far end. They also have a swimming pool, even if no one will probably prefer to stay in the pool when you have a beautiful stretch of white sand before you.


Room rates start at P1,200, with fan, good for 3. A standard aircon room costs P1,500. Family cottages that can accommodate 6 persons cost P3,500.00

our family cottage, good for 6

Contact Villa del Mar at phone (+63921) 2958196 and (+63919) 8995673



This resort sits right in the middle of Saud and Villa del Mar. I will probably stay in this resort the next time. For this visit, I inquired about accommodations and rates, and was pleasantly surprised that they are actually cheaper than Villa del Mar. While standard rooms cost pretty much the same as Villa del Mar’s, their family rooms are cheaper, and are on absolute waterfront.

The room settings are also perfect. Two storey cottages directly facing the beach, an al fresco bar/restaurant, and beach huts dotting the sandy shore. Arinaya could just be a favorite.

the patio for drinks al fresco

long stretch of white sand beach

Rates start at P1,500 for aircon rooms. Family rooms cost P3,000 for a maximum of 8 persons.

family cottage on the beach for P3,000

Contact Arinaya at (+63921) 5581366, (+63916) 3931082, (+63915) 3159899 or email them at

LUCKY SEA: Budget Accommodation on the beach

Tucked in between Arinaya and Villa del Mar is Lucky Sea, a homestay facility. Do not expect a restaurant or any other facility. Oh yes, you can get a tattoo courtesy of its resident tattoo artists.

Henna, anyone?

cheap rooms on the same glorious stretch on the Ivory Coast

Lucky Sea beach huts

Lucky Sea is more of a backpackers’ place. Contact Mrs Gloria Galera at (+63928) 5393086


Other resorts / accommodations:

this resort has a loyal following

THE OTHER PAGUDPUD : the cluster of resorts in Malingay

While visitors to Pagudpud typically know only of Barangay Saud (now known as Ivory Coast) and choose only among the resorts there, there is another cluster of resorts in Pagudpud, in the direction of the Patapat Cliff.


the most advertised – – there is a signage every 200 meters

Hannah’s has the most complete facilities on this side of Pagudpud – –  restaurant, billiards and darts, karaoke, surf boards, banana boat, kayak, speed boats, gym, massage, etc. Contact (+63920) 9834659, (+63920) 6057121, (+63910) 4966525 or email

a friend has stayed here, and the place is beautiful yet very inexpensive


On all my trips to Pagudpud, I always  drive through the Patapat Cliff. I’d say it is the most scenic coastal drive there is in the Philippines, driving through a one and a half kilometer road  jutting out of the mountain edges 31 meters above the sea level. Always a lovely sight.


The famous windmills of Bangui can be seen from Saud Beach on a clear day, which is almost everyday in this bright and sunny place.

Read more about the windmills of Bangui :


Provincial buses ply the Manila-Ilocos Norte route, with some going directly to Pagudpud. You may also want to stop in Laoag, the provincial capital, before another ride of about an hour and a half to Pagudpud. From the town center, tricycles can take you to the resort of your choice.

By car, take NLEX-SCTEX, exit in Tarlac, and drive all the way north passing thru Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and finally Ilocos Norte. Drive time to pagudpud from manila is approximately 13 hours.