ILOCOS NORTE | Riding the Sand Dunes of Paoay

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Sunset at the Paoay Sand Dunes

My worn trek shoes slid through the shifting sand as I navigated a hill. The sun looked like a golden disc, silently and poetically hovering above the hardy trees of Paoay’s arid sand dunes. I kept my pace, battling the loose dunes for that spot on its hilltop where I can try and frame the desert sunset.

Hardy Shrubs at the Paoay Sand DunesI have been to this place before. More than a year ago, while circling the island of Luzon, we decided to drop by and have a peek at Paoay’s odd sand dunes. Deserts aren’t really part of the usual Philippine landscapes and everyone’s curiosity was piqued by this unnatural scenery this part of Ilocos.

A Goat Evades me at the Paoay Sand DunesEventually, I made it to one of the higher dunes. A goat quickly evaded me as I wend my way through the sparse undergrowth resilient enough to flourish in this very dry environment. The sun graciously threw some golden rays my way and I answered with a quick succession of shutter clicks.

4x4 Jeep Rides at the Paoay Sand DunesJust then, a rumble coupled with a chorus of screams echoed from the desert. Within a few seconds, a 4x4 jeep filled with a rowdy crew jumped from the hill and careened down the steep dune, making its passengers holler and screech their lungs out even more.

My 4x4 Mates at the Paoay Sand DunesIt was a good preview of what’s in store for us as we’re gonna be riding that same four-wheeled rollercoaster in a few minutes.

I was supposed to ride with my fellow travel bloggers but through chance, got mixed with RJ of the Royal Tru Orange fame (if you still remember that commercial from the 80’s).

Early Evening at the Paoay Sand DunesThe 4x4’s monster tires started rolling and we rumbled on towards the desert dunes of Paoay. The ground was uneven and it was a huge task to simply hold on to the iron bars of the jeep. I initially tried to shoot through the ride, but quickly gave up; I simply didn’t want to be thrown off the 4x4.

Riding the 4x4 at the Paoay Sand DunesWe flew into the early desert twilight. Whooping through steep dunes and enjoying the sunset afterglow over the flat lands. It was a rough drive, but everyone seemed to be enjoying it.

A Stop at Leeroy New's Art Installation at the Paoay Sand DunesA curious structure made from bamboo struck our attention and we requested our driver to stop for a few minutes. The installation looks like a cross between Star Wars and some indigenous tribal ship boat. It was sculptor Leeroy New’s art piece which was supposedly burned last May in culmination of the La Milagrosa Festival.

A Stop at Leeroy New's Art Installation at the Paoay Sand DunesI’m guessing it was just too interesting to go up into smoke and the locals probably decided to just keep it. One can actually climb inside the peculiar structure before, but our guide warned us that it was now too rickety and advised to simply take pictures instead.

End of the Ride at the Paoay Sand DunesEvening swallowed the desert as we clambered up our 4x4’s once again. We actually could’ve gone farther and experience more of Paoay’s sand dunes and even do some sand boarding but it was getting late. No matter, like what I said in my previous visit here, I’m gonna take it one slow savoring step at a time.

Paoay Location Map

Paoay Sand Dunes 4x4
Address: Brgy. Suba, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Phone Contact: (0917) 645-3087 | (0929) 771-9036 
Rates: Php2,500.00 per 4x4 vehicle (max 6pax).
Includes 30-minute 4x4 ride with 3 stops and sand boarding

GPS Coordinates: 18.140713,120.517037
View location on Google Maps: Click Here


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  1. I didnt get to do this when we were in Paoay last week. It looks fun! Saving that number in case I get to go back :)

    1. Ako din, it took three or four visits ata bago ko to na-try :P

  2. Ah Ilocos Norte pala to. Maganda pumunta dito taglamig hehe.

  3. ikaw na! my favorite photographer and writer rolled into one! :) Haneeeep! oppps prang troll ako sa comment nato ah? :P Peace!!!

  4. no need to go to other countries to experience something like this! very nice! :)

    1. Yup, who would've thought we have our very own desert in the Ph, right? :)

  5. can't wait for you to mount your photo exhibit with free postcards! love the silhouette shot.

  6. love the 6th picture! poetic!