While they’ve been around for awhile, board sports like surfing, sandboarding and stand-up paddleboarding are quickly gaining popularity here in the country. If you’re based in Manila, you don’t even have to book an expensive flight to another country to try these out. You can actually try all three board sports up North in Ilocos Norte, which I’ve found is a haven for some of the greatest outdoor adventures.
SURFING IN PAGUDPUD
Surfing is the one of the oldest board sports that involves riding a board on the crest of a wave towards the shore. There are numerous surfing spots in the country, including La Union, Baler and the Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, which is one of the most picturesque spots I’ve tried surfing. Mike Oida of Kapuluan Vista Resort gave us a brief orientation on the basics of surfing.
For the first 30 minutes of our surf session, I just enjoyed the view from the lifeguard tower where I got a good view of the other people in our group attempting to surf. Some were born naturals and smoothly rode the waves like pros even on their first attempt. Others struggled a bit and swallowed some water before they were able to successfully ride the waves.
Ivan B. of IvantoTravel
I don’t know if it was just my imagination, but the waves seemed to be stronger when it was my turn to get on the board. I thought I’d be able to manage, as I’ve tried surfing before in La Union and was able to stand (at least long enough for a photo op), but the waves just kept me off-balance throughout my attempts .
James of JourneyingJames.com
At one point, I almost collided with another companion, and we both hit the water, protecting our heads from the boards. It was all in good fun though and the thrill of trying to catch a good wave was exhausting yet exciting. I definitely want to go back for a longer surf session or maybe spend a week or more in Pagudpud.
Difficulty Level: 4/5. Though it’s not the easiest sport to learn, the more time you put into it, the better you can get. Seasoned surfers practice every day, so don’t be disappointed if you can’t stand on the board during your first lesson.
For surfboard rentals and surfing lessons, check out Kapuluan Vista Resort, Sito Baniaran, Barangay Baloi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Website: www.kapuluanvista.com, E-mail: email@example.com, FB Page: Kapuluan Vista Resort Hotel and Restaurant
SANDBOARDING IN LAOAG
Sandboarding is a recreational board sport similar to snowboarding but it takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-covered hills. Sandboarding involves riding down a sand dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board, though some sandboarders use a board without bindings. There’s also the option to sit on the board and hold on to two handles to maintain one’s balance and just slide down.
Ever since sandboarding was introduced in Ilocos Norte a couple of years ago, this extreme sport has gained buzz among adrenaline junkies and travel/adventure circles heading up North. During our LN3 trip, we got to visit the Suba Sand Dunes just for a quick photo op. Good thing, I got to try sandboarding during LN2 last year.
Ida of Isladida.com
The boards used in sandboarding are usually made of laminated plywood with a formica or laminex base. The bottom of the board is waxed prior to a run to ensure that it glides down easily on the sand. Riders have to maintain their balance going down a steeply inclined dune.
The hill may not seem so high when you look at it from below, but once you step on the board and look down, fear sets in. However, sandboarding is amazingly fun and the ride down provides an instant adrenaline rush. The ride down is a blur and is over in seconds. This is a definite must-try for thrill-seekers!
Difficulty level: 3/5. No prior snowboarding or skateboarding experience is required to try out the sport and falling down on the sand is not painful at all. Most of the exercise here comes from climbing up the hill again carrying the board after cruising down.
For sandboarding, contact the LEAD Movement, the group that has pioneered sandboarding in Ilocos Norte. Laoag Eco-Adventure Development (LEAD) Movement Inc., Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. +63 (77) 772 0538, +63 (919) 873 5516, FB Page: Ilocos Sand Boarding
PADDLEBOARDING IN PAOAY
Stand-up paddleboarding or SUP is said to be an ancient form of surfing. I would describe it as kind of like rowing a kayak while maintaining your balance on top of a surfboard. Unlike the two earlier board sports mentioned here, paddleboarding is definitely more laid-back since it doesn’t involve the rush of trying to catch a wave or rushing down a hill at breakneck speeds.
Stand-up paddleboarding uses a board where the surfer stands and a paddle used to propel across the water. The sport benefits athletes with a strong ‘core’ workout. (Just look at Mike’s body in the photo below.) I’ve seen some surfers do this on the beach when the waters are calm, but we got to try it out for the first time at the historic Paoay Lake, just outside the Malacanang Ti Amianan.
I found that paddleboarding forces you to concentrate and focus your mind on the task at hand. It was a pretty gusty the day we tried it, so some of us got drifted by the winds towards the middle of the lake even if we were just supposed to go one short round so everyone could have a chance to try it out.
Ed of SoloFlightEd.com
Thankfully, Mike of KVR, who gave us our surfing lessons in Pagudpud, provided one-on-one instructions during our paddleboarding session. His instructions on how to use the paddle to turn, to lower knees in order to maintain balance, and “just paddle as hard as you can” guided me back to shore.
Difficulty Level: 1/5. Paddleboarding is very easy to learn compared to surfing or other board sports. Mike says women often master paddleboarding faster than men because of their lower center of gravity.
The Ilocos Norte provincial government is exploring stand-up paddleboarding in Paoay Lake National Park as part of its tourism master plan. They also plan to eventually offer kayaking and other watersports in the area. For inquiries, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, FB Page: Paoay Kumakaway
Check out this video by Ivan Henares of Ivan About Town which contains clips of our surfing and paddleboarding sessions during the Lakbay Norte Media tour.
These activities were made possible through Lakbay Norte, a media familiarization tour of Northern Luzon organized by the North Philippine Visitors Bureau.