Paoay, Ilocos Norte: Sand Boarding and 4x4 Ride in Sand Dunes

The province of Ilocos is not only about the different historical sites and/or wonders of nature as it also offers extreme activities for adventure/thrill seekers. La Paz Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte is a known site where the extreme 4x4 ride and sand boarding are being held. Sand Dunes already gained popularity as one of the must visit place when in Ilocos Norte. It has been featured to different blog sites as well as on television and films. In fact, some scenes taken from the local movie, Panday (FPJ version) were shot in Sand Dunes.

How did we there?
The hotel we stayed-in offers a complete Ilocandia tour (Ilocos Norte and Sur). As for our group of 5, we paid 2,990 pesos/pax (price varies depends on the number of head count) which includes a private aircon van transportation to Laoag-Vigan-Pagudpud, a hotel accommodation for 2 days and 2 nights, a daily set of breakfast, entrance fees, toll fees, driver's meal, and as well as airport transfers. Airfare is not included. Oops, before I forgot, the name of the hotel is UKL Ever Hotel and it is located in Laoag City. It is also 15 minutes away from the airport. A trip to Sand Dunes is not included in the package above. We avail it separately from UKL. We paid 500 pesos per head to experience it. It includes transfer from UKL to La Paz Sand Dunes (two-way), 30 minutes 4x4 ride, and unlimited sand boarding experience!

Welcome sign at La Paz Sand Dunes
Registration Area

The "4x4 Ride"

I've jump to a lot cliffs, crossed the longest zipline in asia, tried to walk in the edge of a building, and passed through tunnels under the sea but I never thought a jeep ride would shake the hell out of me. Yeah, I'm not kidding here. This activity really weakened my knees at the end of the ride! The idea of this activity is simple. You have to stand at the back of the jeep, hold on tight and survive until you reach the last level of the ride without falling or fading out. Easy? Hmmm, not sure of that. You'll be going to different obstacles and big slopes. And what makes this activity more extreme is, there are no harness, knee pads, elbow pads, and even helmet. You will also have to sign a waiver before you do the activity. Still thinking it's easy?

Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte
The whole area of La Paz Sand Dunes serves as the trail for the 4x4 activity. There are 3 levels as far as I can remember. The easy, medium and hard. The easy trail is just a warm up on what to expect on the ride. The road is pretty rough and designed that when the jeep passed through it, it will be really bumpy. Then next is the medium trail. You'll be heading on a bigger area where there are big slopes. You will be brought on top of a platform then your the jeep will stop on the edge of it (this is the time where you'll go crazy) then the driver will step on the gas so hard and drive you down! It was like you're being drop on a 45 degree platform. 

Then we reached the hard trail. Oh shoot. I can still remember the adrenaline rush it gave me. I never thought that I'd scream like that as if I am on a roller coaster ride. Well, its almost the same. The difference is that you have safety gears when in roller coaster. If in medium trail the slopes is in 45 degrees... in the hard trail, it feels like you'll be drop at 90 degrees platform. I couldn't see at the back of the jeep the trail anymore. Every time we stop at the edge of the slope (before dropping), I cursed our driver for dragging us. Well, I apologize afterward to them. It was just a burst of emotion and nothing personal. Hahaha. I knew as well that these are professional drivers and know the trail very well. If not, they will not be issued a permit/license to drive in Sand Dunes.

The easy trail area
Highest point in Sand Dunes
Our jeep. Thanks for not dropping us off you! 

Sand Boarding

Sand boarding is also held on the same place where the 4x4 ride is being conducted. It is the same slope that I am referring earlier you'll used in sand boarding. The driver who droves us in the 4x4 ride is also our instructor in this activity. They brought kinds of 2 boards. One is for the sitting position and the other one is for the standing position. Again, no protective gears for this activity so take extra careful guys! As a starter, we started on a sitting position as it seems much easier than the standing. At first, everyone were hesitant to try this activity. I guess it was because we're still in the recovery phase from the jeep ride. Since I am the guy on the trip, everyone point at me to try it first. Do I have a choice? I wish.

So I sit down on the board then the instructor led the board at the edge of the slope. Then off I go! It didn't took me 10 seconds to reach the ground! That was one great ride and I really enjoyed it. Minus the sand that got into my face due to the speed. Tip: Don't open your mouth during the ride. Lol.

Are you ready to slide down?
Dona doing the siting position

And when all were tired with the sitting position, we then gone up a level. Standing position it is. As usual, I became a guinea pig again. I got to try it first. Well, it is more challenging than the sitting position. One reason is that, the board is more narrow than the one being used in the sitting position. Another reason is, it will be about balancing. I was hesitant at first as well. I imagined the things that may go wrong... like throwing myself in the mid-air, finding myself rolling on the sand, hitting the ground with my face first and other stuff. But I want to complete this experience. So I drag the board on the edge of the slope, prayed, took a deep breath, then slide down. Result, I fell off the board but... I was fine. I wasn't hurt at all and the sand were soft. Then we went all on a standing position!

At the latter part, I've noticed that it is somehow similar to water surfing. You have to bent your knees for better balance, used your arms to help you on balancing and also, put weight on the back of the board to reduce your speed.

Ferdie sand boarding like a pro
Dona dancing through the sand
And this is me :)
Then after more than an hour of sand boarding, we called for a time out. We were satisfied and decided to end the activity as the sun is starting to set high. If you are planning to try this activity, I suggest you schedule it early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid burning you by the sun. We started the activity at 7:30 am and call it off at around 9:30 am. It was a great experience! I recommend this activity for thrill seekers and adventurers! Also, this is a good bonding activity for friends and even to families. 

Breakdown of Expenses:
Sand Dunes Experience - 2,500 Pesos / 5 pax = 500 Pesos 


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