Mention Ilocos Sur, and most likely the municipality of Narvacan will be overlooked. This vastly agricultural land is largely untouristy, but that does not mean you have to skip it in your itinerary. Outsiders may be unfamiliar with this massive town, but for the Ilocanos, this municipality is known for serving the best bagnet in the region. Bagnet is a deep fried crispy pork belly dish that is popular in Ilocos. Narvacan has registered Bagnet to the Department of Trade and Industry as their One-Town-One-Product (OTOP) and they also celebrate Bagnet Festival yearly.
Narvacan is said to be coined from the local word “nalbakan“, which means “shipwrecked”. When a group of Spaniards arrived here because their boat was stuck, it is believed that locals asked them, “Nalbakan?” (You’re shipwrecked?). From then on, the immigrants called the place “Narvacan” and established a Spanish township here sometime in 1576. And the rest they say is history.
Today, a group of adrenaline junkies are reshaping Narvacan, from a sleepy agricultural land to an adventure haven. A building in front of Sulvec Beach was established about 5 years ago and aptly named ARKO by NOAH (Narvacan Outdoor Adventure Hub). NOAH boasts of activities that are very close to the elements: water, wind and fire.
Recently, I was invited to try out the activities offered by NOAH in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur together with some blogger friends. I’m sharing them here just in case you find yourself in the North. I’ve rounded up the best attractions and things to do in Narvacan in this blog to help you plan your Ilocos trip itinerary.
NARVACAN TOURIST SPOTS AND THINGS TO DO
PARAGLIDING IN NARVACAN
The main reason why I said yes to NOAH’s invite is the paragliding they offer in Narvacan. I’ve tried tandem paragliding in Bogor, Indonesia last year and my paragliding instructor said he trained most of the paragliding instructor/ pilot in the Philippines, especially those from Sarangani. So when I learned that the Sarangani paragliding instructors will be our pilot in NOAH, I really wanted to try it.
According to NOAH, the summit of Bantay Abot Hill in Narvacan is a great spot for paragliding because winds condition change throughout the day, therefore there are several windows within the day for a successful launch.
To get to the hill, we rode a pick up that wound up a zigzag road with a neck-swiveling view of Sulvec Beach below hemmed in by rice fields and mountains. Definitely one of the most scenic views I’ve seen in Ilocos Sur.
Narvacan tandem paragliding rate: PHP 2,500 / USD 50 per person
If you want to soak up the beauty of Narvacan, you can stay overnight here. Either you stay in a hotel or pitch a tent and camp. Yes, NOAH is open for campers, we haven’t tried this since we stayed at one of the hotels in Narvacan, but I’ll definitely consider camping on my next visit.
NOAH Camping Fee: PHP 150 / USD 3 per tent.
OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE IN NARVACAN
One of the activities that I truly enjoyed in NOAH is the driving on the sand dunes by the beach. Because the 3 kilometer long beach from the erstwhile Sulvec Port Narvacan River is hemmed in by sand dunes, it is perfect for riding on dune buggies, 4 x 4 jeep and ATVs. My blogger friends had fun driving during our off-road adventure here while the rest of us settled for the backseat. You too can try this off road adventure by driving along the beach or entering the sand dunes via a hilly track.
NOAH Sand Dunes Driving Rate: PHP 2,500 / USD 50 for one vehicle (good for 5 persons)
I’ve tried several ziplines in the Philippines, while most of them boast as the longest or highest, the zip line adventure in NOAH is quite unique. I was caught off guard when we were told we needed to climb a rocky mountain before flying down the zip line. Once harnessed, I was given a short safety instruction by a qualified instructor. Then, I flew away, feeling secure that the other staff were on the ground to offer guidance. Admittedly, it was quite tiring, as I it was achingly slow and the zip line didn’t get to the actual end point so I had to hang in there for a few minutes. One of NOAH’s staff had to pull the rope to get me to the platform. But overall, the experience was great, especially the short rock climbing.
Narvacan Zip line Cost: PHP 300 / USD 6
CLIMBING THE VERTICAL VIA FERRATA
Via ferrata uses a steel cable affixed to the rocks, which runs along the climbing trail so climbers can secure themselves to the cable to avoid falling. This is usually used on treacherous routes with the help of other climbing equipment such as iron rungs on the side of cliff.
Via Ferrata is nothing new to adrenaline junkies, but it is something you probably never heard of yet in the Philippines. Thankfully, the first full-scale via ferrata in the Philippines located in Narvacan, Ilocos is now open to tourists. “This is the short 250 m cable-safety protected trek that brings you up rock scrambling, a cable bridge, short vertical sections and finally a long 100 feet vertical section of expanse adobe rock. This section has been designed to accommodate the regular, physically fit tourist with no climbing experience,” explained Joey Cuerdo, operations manager of NOAH. I was too scared to try it since I was told I cannot just go back once I am up there, but my adventurous friends successfully finished the Narvacan via ferrata! And yes, I was green with envy!
Narvacan Vertical Via Ferrata Cost: PHP 800 / USD 16 per person
NARVACAN WATER SPORTS
Brimming with fun and excitement, some of the participants headed straight to the beach to try another thrilling water adventure offered by NOAH. Here, tourists have the option to learn wind Surfing, kite Surfing and experience hobie cat sailing. Because Sulvec Beach is fronting Bantay Abot Hill, the side shore breeze here makes it a perfect spot to try these watersports without the danger of getting blown away into the open sea.
Narvacan Wind Surf Lesson Rate: PHP 2,500 / USD 50 for 6 hours (minimum PHP 1,500 / USD 30)
Wind Surf Board Rental: PHP 800 / USD 16 per hour
Hobie Cat with pilot and Intro to Sailing Cost: PHP 800 / USD for 30 minutes / max of 2 persons
NOAH ( NARVACAN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE HUB)
Contact #: +63 919 349 8473 /+632 734 8883
OTHER TOURIST SPOTS IN NARVACAN, ILOCOS SUR
SULVEC BEACH AND THE GROTTO
WHERE TO STAY IN ILOCOS SUR
Sabangan Bridge, Santiago – Ilocos Sur, Santiago – Ilocos Sur
Metro Vigan Inn
Bayubay Norte, San Vicente, Metro Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Escolta’s Homey Lodge
Crisologo St., Town Proper, Vigan, Philippines
*Paragliding cover photo by : Doi of The Travelling Feet
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