Santiago Cove, Ilocos Sure: Your Gateway to the North

Santiago Cove, Ilocos Sure: Your Gateway to the North

Ilocos has always been on my list of places to visit. It’s one of the few places that I find worth visiting in the north. I’m sure many would disagree, which I understand, but I like the South more. The south feels more tropical with coconut trees, rivers, lakes, and rain forests, and I believe that Calabarzon is more in touch with its culture and heritage, while the north has its own identity.

Ilocos was just out of reach for me. I’ve driven to Baguio a couple of times and have been to Sagada, the northernmost part I visited by land. We didn’t go straight to Sagada; we spent a night in Baguio and went to Sagada before sunrise. It was 6 hours from Baguio. The thought of driving 10–12 hours to Ilocos was keeping me from experiencing its beauty until I agreed to go on a trip to visit Ilocos Sur, the gateway to Ilocandia.

Compared to Norte, Ilocos Sur is less than 6 hours away from Manila. That’s only around an hour or two away from Baguio City. It isn’t that much of a hassle if you think about it. Baby steps, as others would call it. So what is there to find in Ilocos Sur?

Top on my list is Santiago Cove.

Located in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, Santiago Cove offers around a kilometer of fine white sand, separating you from the calm waters. The beach also boasts a magnificent view of the best sunset experienced while riding the waves or drinking along the shoreline.

Santiago Cove is the peaceful alternative to the popular Gen Z destination, Elyu, minus the waves. Fewer crowds, finer sand, raw and un-commercialized, and cheaper rates.

The most idyllic place to stay in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, is, of course, Santiago Cove Hotel. It is just across the beach and offers different accommodations and dining alternatives for different groups, whether you’re with family, friends, your partner, or attending an event in the hotel itself.

Santiago Cove Hotel also offers a delightful array of dining options where your taste buds will embark on a delicious adventure.

Bougainvillea: If you’re into fluffy pancakes drizzled with local honey, savoury Filipino tapa, and fresh tropical fruits alongside international breakfast staples,. Whether you’re an early riser or a late sleeper, Bougainvillea caters to your schedule, ensuring a satisfying start to your day.

Rodrigo’s: If you’re craving a taste of authentic Filipino Rodrigo’s got you.. Rodrigo’s showcases the region’s culinary heritage with expertly prepared dishes. Each dish at Rodrigo’s celebrates local flavours, promising a delightful culinary experience.

Tiny Waves: For those seeking a broader palette, Tiny Waves offers a selection of Asian cuisine. Tiny Waves promises a delightful exploration of Asian culinary delights, all within the comfort of the hotel.

Tiny Waves also has a poolside bar that offers cold drinks and refreshing cocktails for you to indulge in while soaking up the sun by the pool.

Aside from the beach that Santiago Cove offers, you’re also not far away from some tourist attractions that are both educational and Instagramable.

First, you can immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Ilokano weaving. Just a short walk or less than a minute drive from Santiago Cove Hotel lies the barangay of Sabangan where a community led by the esteemed Corazon Agosto keeps the art of Ilokano weaving alive.

Also close to Santiago Cove Hotel is the famous rock formation, Biak na Bato. It’s a huge rock that offers a great panoramic view of Santiago Cove.

If you have time, Vigan is only an hour from the Santiago Cove Hotel. Visit the museum or enjoy freshly cooked empanadas on a heritage tour.

Santiago, Ilocos Sur is an ideal icebreaker if you want to go north. It’s closer than you think. I believe that Santiago Cove, will be the next beach destination in the north. It’s the best alternative to La Union. It’s less crowded, and it has more to offer. If you only have an hour more to spare, I definitely suggest you visit Santiago Cove.