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Posted by on Jul 2nd, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, ilocos norte

Pagudpud Map

From fine, white sandy beaches to remarkable cliffs and hidden waterfalls, Pagudpud remains to be a vivid example of a true tropical paradise of Northern Philippines.

Pagudpud, a town situated 1 and a half hours north of Laoag City, the provincial capital of Ilocos Norte, and about 10 hours by land from the Philippine capital Manila, is fast gaining fame in the international travel circuit staking its claim amongst the pretenders to the throne of having the best Philippine beach which unarguably is perennially held by Boracay in Aklan. But Boracay it is not, although it comes pretty close when it comes to sand quality, the clarity of its stunningly blue waters and the length and width of its beaches (other beaches in the Philippines do have white sand, but not as fine nor the beach as long nor wide). But whilst Boracay caters to the to the party scene and its extensive range of island activities, Pagudpud derives its charm from exactly the opposite of that – even on a long weekend, the beaches of Maira-ira, Saud and Pansian rarely get the hordes of tourists that Boracay, Panglao (Bohol), and Puerto Galera (Oriental Mindoro) due to the town’s relative remoteness (although Easter Weekend is an apparent exception as told by our Korong-korong driver where the road to Maira-ira can get pretty clogged with traffic).

Philippines Pagudpud Saud Beach

Saud Beach
Photo by storm-crypt

Pagudpud, the town, was still named as Tongotong which was then under the administrative control of the town of Bangui as being one of the barrios. And then just before the outbreak of World War II, a Batangas native, according to a local story, arrived in the area selling mosquito nets and blankets from house to house until he was totally exhausted. He sought shelter in one of the houses, hungry and tired, asking the owner of the house for a simple meal. After all had settled down, the owner asked the itinerant vendor for his purpose, and the guy, not understanding the local language merely replied, “Ako’y pagud na pagod na at ang sapatos ko’s pudpod,” in heavily Batangas-accented Tagalog meaning “I am very tired and my shoes are all worn out”. The reply became the byword of the Tongotong locals even though they themselves did not understand the meaning of what has been said. A few months later, a Bicolano (native of the Bicol Region of the Philippines) arrived to seek employment in one of the logging companies in the region (as apparently the area had thick, virgin forested mountains before and logging was still allowed by law). The guy, not knowing where the office of the company was located got off in Tongotong and asked one of the locals for the name of the place and he immediately replied, “Ako’y pagud na pagod na at ang sapatos ko’s pudpod,” as the bystander thought the man was a Tagalog and those were the only Tagalog words he knew. Our guy interpreted that the place might be called Pagud-pudpod. Tongotong became Pagud-pudpod and later shortened to Pagudpud.

But that was one story. The elders say that Pagudpud is an old Ilocano word which meant soft sandy soil “kuppuoy” a kadaratan. The majority of the population of its 20,385 residents is composed of Ilocanos, whilst a few are a collection of Apayaos, Bicolanos and Visayans.

Philippines Pagudpud blue lagoon

Blue Lagoon
Photo by jessiefish

Pagudpud’s main attractions are of course its beautiful beaches, and unlike other pretenders to Boracay’s throne, Pagudpud has every reason to believe that it does rival Boracay’s spectacular sceneries. So much so, that international travelers started to sit up and take notice. Sunday Herald Sun of Australia ranked Saud Beach as Number 1 on its list of the top ten best, lesser-known beaches of Asia besting Thailand’s Ko Adang, Sri Lanka’s Bentota, and Cambodia’s Occheuteal among others.

Pagudpud has three different beaches actually – Maira-ira Point which is also known by its moniker, Blue Lagoon and the other name Malingay Cove (It is not a lagoon – it is more like a cove), Saud and Pansian – all white sand beaches. Pansian is the furthest of the three which is almost at the border of Cagayan province and rarely gets any visitors at all, if any. The two most popular are Maira-ira and Saud. Saud is where all the resorts are, and when we say that the waters off Saud are emerald-colored even during cloudy weather or when its waves are rough– we are not kidding you. The beach is long, palm-fringed and with less people and on a clear day, one can see the Bangui windmills in the distance. The waters can be rough and dangerous during the rainy season as Saud faces the open sea and the current can be very treacherous so adequate caution and common sense are very important.

Maira-ira meanwhile has a shorter beach but has calmer waters compared to Saud. Unlike Saud with sudden drops a few meters from the shore, Maira-ira boasts of a mostly gently sloping beach into the ocean. Maira-ira is more scenic as well, the beach forming a graceful arc, with some rock formations on the right end and the islets of Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers) that seem to be guarding the cove to the left end. The main annoyance is probably the irritating sound of banana-boats in Maira-ira and the presence of some trash which we think is more or less manageable. The local government of Pagudpud should start a daily clean-up and environmental education campaigns in the area to further minimize or possibly eliminate trash in Maira-ira. The Dos Hermanos islets, which can be reached by motorized boats off Maira-ra meanwhile pride themself with their caves, rock formations, and a smattering of colorful tropical fish. The best part of the Pagudpud beaches, rarely you will get any touts at all, one can actually lie down in some corner without being bothered by anyone selling crap – better watch out for a tiny herd of goats though, cute but otherwise mostly harmless.

Philippines Pagudpud Kabigan Falls

Kabigan Falls
Photo by huno

Aside from the stunning beaches, Pagudpud offers a lot of other attractions as well. The waterfalls of Kabigan and Saguigui on Barangay Balaoi are quite dramatic. Kabigan Falls is 80 feet surrounded by lush forest and a concave basin and practically reminds us of those picturesque waterfalls of the jungles of the Caribbean while Saguigui Falls is a smaller waterfall and very hard to get to.

Not to be outdone, Bantay Abot Caves and Timmangtang Rock in Sitio Gaoa also in Barangay Balaoi are other interesting spots in the area. Bantay Abot means “a mountain with a hole” and sometimes called “the underground sea” as there is luxuriant greenery on top of the cave. Bantay Abot Caves had a hole in the middle of the mountains where the waves crashed until it was wrecked in a massive tremor in the ‘80s. Inside the cave is a church where one can hear the echoing sound of the waves, hear the swallows that swarm in the late afternoon and other birds chirp freely. The shore of the caves has white sand mixed with shells and rocks and has quite a great view of the sea and the rugged mountains.

A few meters away is the Timmangtang Rock, a bell-shaped rock covered with vegetation and with the Bantay Abot Caves is collectively named as “Lover’s Rock” with Bantay Abot being the female and Timmangtang as the male – possibly an obvious reference to the male and female nether regions, hey?

Still on Sitio Gaoa, a panoramic view of the Pasaleng Bay, Maira-ira Point and on a clear day Babuyan Island way up north can be had at the Nacatnagan Cliff, 150 feet above sea level. As an Ilocano word meaning “fell down”, stories of Nacatnagan tell that in old times, two carabaos (Philippine water buffaloes) climbed the mountain and fell down the cliff, thus, its name. The cliff has an untouched forest teeming with wild animals, wild orchids and rare ferns along its slippery and steep slopes.

Philippines Pagudpud Winding Patapat Bridge

Patapat Viaduct
Photo by huno

As mentioned in the Ilocos Norte article, the Patapat viaduct which is also considered as the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines, is a winding bridge hugging the cliffs of the Northern Cordillera Mountain Ranges which connects the barangays Balaoi and Pansian and is about 1.2 kilometers long. Dubbed as the “French Riviera of the North” for this breathtakingly beautiful coastal drive, one can pass by Mabugabog Falls, a source of power for the mini-hydroelectric plant. This pretty bridge features a blue sea and sea birds on one side and the beautiful mountains on one side. Can’t be any nicer than that!

If you need to get your adrenaline fix, shooting the rapids at Bolo River which divides the towns of Pagudpud and Bangui should get that blood pumping with its big boulders, and deep water in one of its portions in Barangays Dampig, Tarrag and Poblacion 1.

Every April, Pagudpud celebrates the Kangayedan Festival.

Why Not Go

The glitter of Boracay nightlife and the sophisticated, high-rolling glamour of Palawan are typically absent here – basically Pagudpud is a beach-bummer’s beach – simple and spectacular, and if you don’t want to drive all the way to Laoag City then just hop on a plane, Pagudpud is actually not as far as one might think.

Why Go

Really excellent beaches, beautiful waterfalls, stunning sceneries, breathtaking coastal drives and a feeling of being away from it all should make anyone go to Pagudpud.

Best Time to Visit

Summer time is the best time to go to Pagudpud to head out to the calmest waters, and bluest skies hands down.

Where to Stay

Philippines Hotels and Resorts

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I would always recommend to base one’s self in Laoag City since it would afford one to explore the rest of Ilocos Norte as well as Ilocos Sur. If you have to stay in Laoag, the most convenient place is the Java Hotel ( along the main drag of G. Segundo Avenue (Bacarra Road) – Please check my Ilocos Norte article for details. If you need to spend the night in Pagudpud- there are a lot of places to stay in Saud. Villa del Mar (+63.919.899.5673/+63.920.5534161) has a great, accommodating staff. Other notable accommodations in Saud are Apo Idon Beach Hotel (, Saud Beach Resort (, and Hannah’s Beach Resort (+63.920.605.7121). Plans are afoot to build a resort in Maira-ira as well. In Pansian, you may want to check Deutsches Haus Am Meer (+63.918.5408791).

Where & What to Eat

Aside from the traditional Ilocano and Filipino fares which are offered in the resorts of Saud, one should also try get some seaweed called “gamet” which is compared to the Japanese Nori and is usually found near Dos Hermanos. Gamet is expensive and used sparingly to flavor dishes. Gamet comes in sheets and is used in soups, omelets and salads.


Pagudpud nightlife is centered in Saud Beach where most of the resorts with their restaurants and bars are located, although commercialization has crept into the area, Saud has still maintained that laidback atmosphere.

My to do List

1. Beach-hop Maira-ira, Pansian and Saud.*
2. Chill in the cool waters of Kabigan Falls.*
3. Hike to Nacatnagan Cliff.**
4. Explore the caves of Bantay Abot.*
5. Island-hop to Dos Hermanos.**
6. Drive along the Patapat viaduct.*
7. Kayak along the Bolo River.*
*- Highly Recommended
**- Recommended by Locals

Stay Away From

1. Mosquitoes! – just bring bug repellent to be sure
2. Dust Mites. – bring Lysol with you, if you think the hotel room is oldish and not cleaned properly.
3. UV rays – Apply ample sun protection and sunglasses. Ilocos can be pretty humid and searing hot when the sun is out.

Getting There

Philippines Pagudpud Airport Terminal Building of Laoag

Airport Terminal Building of Laoag
Photo by storm-crypt

Laoag City is 45 minutes away by plane from Manila (Through Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airlines) and also serves as an international gateway with the Laoag City International Airport which receives chartered flights from China and Taiwan (Mandarin Airlines currently has suspended its flights from Kaohsiung). Pagudpud is 1 hour and a half away from Laoag City either by vans or buses (Florida Bus Lines and RCJ has a Manila-Pagudpud route and vice-versa).

If you are not coming with a tour group, Partas buses are the most reliable form of transport to Ilocos Norte from Manila as well as RCJ, Philippine Rabbit, Maria de Leon, Florida and Fariñas Trans and Partas also do connecting trips to Baguio while GMW heads to Tuguegarao via Pagudpud.

Tricycles are the mode of transport within Pagudpud. One can usually hire a tricycle to explore Pagudpud for PhP600. If you are taking your own car and you are coming from Manila, take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and then connect through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), exit at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and follow the National Highway through Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur. You can get a more detailed map of Northern Luzon (Ilocos Norte included) at one of the bookstores in Manila before you embark on this trip.

Laoag City is about 9-12 hours away by land from Manila, 6 ½ hours from Tuguegarao and 5 hours away from Baguio City.

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Ryan supports socially and environmentally responsible and sustainable tourism, as well as the promotion of the Philippines as an alternative Asian tourist destination. Learn more about me [+]

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26 Responses to “Pagudpud”

  1. abbie says:

    Tranquility at it’s best! I could picture myself perched on a rock listening to the soothing sounds of the falls. And I’ll take the quiet almost deserted beaches over the crowded Boracay party scene.
    Great piece and thanks. Keep exploring and sharing the beauty of the Philippines! :)

    • Ryan says:

      Thank you Abbie, Pagudpud does offer peace and quiet and because of its relative remoteness it doesn’t have the crowds that usually is present in the more popular Philippine beaches. Not only for its beaches, Pagudpud also has a lot of attractions which you can see listed on this article as well as the article with Ilocos Norte.


  2. mary jane says:

    Nice article. I just want to make an update on the list of places to stay in the Blue Lagoon area. The newest resort that opened june 2009 is the Punta Azul beach resort located just a few steps by the water. The resort offers 3 buildings with well situated rooms overlooking the bay. All the rooms have individual bathrooms and A/c units. The two level buildings have patio over looking the bay. The crew of theTV show trip na trip and ANC had stayed on the resort when they visited Pagudpud August/ Sept of last year.

  3. desi says:

    I always like the part where pagudpud is described as the opposite of Boracay(no crowds, no parties) ..boracay has amazing sand and water.. but so greenbelt with a beach front. And, it is flattering to know, one of the pagudpud beaches was the top choice among less known beaches in asia located in thailand, cambodia ,etc ..

    Your article was quiet helpful and informative- friends and i will visit there in january..most of us from ilokos.. excited na kami! Keep up the good work!

    • Ryan says:

      Pagudpud is awesome – but yeah I actually forgot that you have to be careful as well- Pagudpud beaches are notorious for riptides – fast moving currents that can drag you under water. But yeah, Pagudpud is one of my favorite beaches outside of Boracay. Do not forget to check out the waterfalls!

  4. pam dionisio says:

    hey ryan thank you for sharing info ou you trips. i just wanna ask you on how to get around ilocos? me & my boyfriend are planning to go to ilocos & we are not planning to go with a travel agency since it will cost more so i just want to know how to get around so we can go the the places that you’ve mentioned… thank you :)

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Pam, to go around Ilocos, we virtually walked, used the local tricycles. buses and calesas. There should be heaps of them but make sure you ask for the latest times they operate because some of them especially between towns has buses that operates until 4PM. From Maira-ira to Saud, we just hired a korong-korong by one of the guys in the area to take us – the korong-korong is r\the trike without the top, so we were basically whizzing on the national highway for 45 minutes for that – not very safe but it was a total adventure. There are regular buses from Pagudpud to Laoag but the latest would be around 4-5pm. There is an A/C bus but it leaves Pagudpud town at around 7PM for Laoag en route to Manila. Have fun in Ilocos!

  5. Api says:

    These are the buses that would directly take you to Pagudpud:
    (I already provided a picture of the bus for you to have an idea)

    RCJ Lines- 2×2 seating; regular aircon- Espana Blvd, Sampaloc Manila

    Florida Transport- 2×2 seating; deluxe with restroom- (Across RCJ Lines)

    Maria de Leon Trans- 2×2 seating; Regular aircon- Dapitan cr. Gelinos St, Sampaloc

    –If you wish to ride on buses with restroom and bigger reclining seats, you could get one that would take you only up to Laoag. Then you could take a connecting bus (another hour) that would take you to Pagudpud. My best advice is Maria de Leon. Their buses are comfortable, their stops offer good food and their employees are friendly. Here are the interior photos of their super deluxe buses:


    **I hope my being a bus hobbyist helped :-)

  6. dingdong & anne says:

    We are a couple planning to go out of town on a weekend and we’re looking for not-so-crowded beach destinations that would make a 2-day trip worthwhile. Any suggestions? (We were originally planning to visit pundaquit but got turned off because of reviews saying the place is being neglected waste-wise. We also want to see pagudpud but we’re afraid we might lack time). We are “inexperienced” travellers and would really appreciate your help. Thanks! :)

    • Ryan says:

      Hi guys,

      A 2 day trip would be a little bit stretching the limit… For a not so crowded beach… hmmm.. If you dont mind an 8 hour bus trip from Manila-Daet, Mercedes Group of Islands in Camarines Norte has a lot of nice almost deserted beaches. They’ve got white sand bars as well and you can try surfing even. Unless you want to fly into Laoag and then head out to Pagudpud then you can cut down your travel time. If you are on Facebook, check out Tourism Paradise Philippines fanpage, it has an album of some of the places we went to – you can check out Camarines Norte album there. For one closer to Manila, I think the beaches of Morong in Bataan are okay. There is the Sombrero Island off Anilao, Batangas as well which was small but very pleasant. :)

      Check our destination guides on Camarines Norte, Bataan, and Batangas. I reckon you are based in Manila yes? Then those places are some of the areas we can recommend..

    • Ryan says:

      Oh yeah, Zambales is not all about Pundaquit however, there are some nice islands in the North. You may want to check out Potipot Island as well. Cheers!

  7. Beach Lover says:

    Hi! Me and my family are now in Brgy Saud. I searched Pagudpud on my m0bile’s net to check what ‘Pagudpud’ means and found this site. :) Any suggestions where to go next? Hope u could reply soon. :) thanx.ü

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Beach Lover,

      I am sorry, I wasn’t able to see your message immediately. I hope you were able to explore the area more, all of the things to see and do is on this article plus a more detailed look on Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur in our other travel guides. If you have any tips/updates for other fellow travelers, kindly post it here. Thanks! Hope you had a great time in Pagudpud!


  8. michelle says:

    hi ryan.. we are going to pagudpod dis saturday. which one is the best place to go saud beach resort or in blue lagoon. thanks

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Blue Lagoon has far quieter waters (and better for swimming) and more laidback than Saud. :)


  9. Pete says:

    I enjoyed my short stay in Pagudpud. Of course the seafood was great and the white sand was nice & clean.. I will be back !

  10. fredrick says:

    hi ryan. were planning to go to pagudpud next week. is it true that it is rocky in the waters? some says you cant even swim. is this true? can you recommend any cheap place to stay at? thanks

    • Ryan says:

      In Saud, it was a little pebbly in the waters.. Blue Lagoon is my preference for swimming but not sure if there are resorts there now as most resorts are in Saud. Check out the section on where to stay above. :)

  11. jon says:


    We went to all the beautiful places of Pagudpud during our vacation in the Philippines and Blue Lagoon stood out as the best place to go. The water is so clean and is an ideal place to swim for kids and surfers alike. We stayed at Punta Azul Beach Resort and we were surprised to see that the place is just like a residential house here in the US. We never tried Filipino cuisine before but what struck us was that the organic foods they served were so delicious.

    Want to go back again. This is where we found this place: via our friend.

    About two summers ago, my family and I visited Pagudpud. At first we were only roaming around until we stumbled across sites like White Beach and Blue Lagoon.

    Both sites are great and I am glad I went there. Pagudpud as a whole is a good place to visit and I am definitely going back to Pagudpud.

  12. Shey says:

    Do you have any idea how much is the budget visiting
    1. Beach-hop Maira-ira, Pansian and Saud.*
    2. Chill in the cool waters of Kabigan Falls.*
    3. Hike to Nacatnagan Cliff.**
    4. Explore the caves of Bantay Abot.*
    5. Island-hop to Dos Hermanos.**
    6. Drive along the Patapat viaduct.*
    7. Kayak along the Bolo River.*
    incliding transporation from MAnila

  13. Maricar says:

    hi ryan,

    your blog was so use-full. from location to transportation and also with hotels,
    just wanna ask if its o.k if we travel first to pagudpud down to vigan?

    Thanks & Regards


  14. sonny says:

    Thank you for sharing that Maira ira beach is ideal for swimming compared to other beaches around pagudpud. My wife and I together with our 6yr old son are planning to have a one day/one night stay in Maira ira beach this first week of march. As of my research, i only knew of Punta Azul and Hannah’s Beach resort. May I know what are the other beach resorts in Maira ira and pls suggest a ‘good’ resort for us. Thank you and more power to your blog.

  15. Edwiin says:

    Just been there this weekend and i must say that exploring Pagudpud and some other parts of ilocos as well is one of the best backpackers travel i ever had. The beach is indeed spectacular and the sceneries from neighboring places is unforgettable. I went for a quick dip at Kabigan Falls and the water refreshed my tired body to high heavens!

  16. Chelle says:

    Me and my friend went to Pagudpud and we stayed @ Polaris Beach Resort, our 1 night stay is awesome, nice room and good customer service. Unfortunately, we had to look for another place to stay coz they are fully booked. On our 2nd day we stayed @ SABRINA beach resort just beside Polaris. And we are totally unsatisfied and very disappointed. We got 2 rooms and no room is cold enough to sleep, the aircon is not working properly and we tried to ask for a consideration, we ask if we could borrow a Fan, the girl nmed Herminia simply said we dont have electric fan and ganun lang daw talaga ang aircon nila at wala silang magagawa. So we have no choice but to check out, the are taker said we have to pay on full even if we will not stay coz, i know its an SOP but if the place in not satisfying its my choice. We were not able to check out coz all the staffs eyes are on us, even though we are not satusfied we tried to be nice but they are so rude. The following morning my friend decided to cook noodles into the our rice cooker, the 3 care taker are to arrogant coz they unethically talk to us into the hallway shouting at us saying why we were cooking, i ask them before we chek in if we could cook, and they said yes we can use our own rice cooker. They are all denying it. We still have alot of unsatisfactory experience in this resort, very very rude staffs.

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