From a distance the jumble of coral rocks looked rather unimpressive. Then when our friends found out that we had to wade the 200 meter distance from the beach to our destination, they balked at the attempt, thinking at first that the way to the coral pools was muddy. It wasn’t an impressive start to our visit to Immuki Island.
Motoring north after our overnight at the surfing town of San Juan, La Union province, we made our way along the major coastal road (the MacArthur Highway) then turned left at Bacnotan town proper along the Bacnotan-Luna-Balaoan Road towards Balaoan town. The latter is the coastal road towards Luna that passes through Barangay Paraoir in Balaoan town where Immuki Island is located.
After parking the car and registering at the barangay hall near the Paraoir National High School we made our way on a paved foot path towards the beach and Immuki. There were huts and rafts near the water’s edge and it was obvious they have been organizing to receive tourists in the one year or so that Immuki began attracting visitors from outside the province.
It was low tide when we arrived so that it was possible to walk the whole distance from the beach to Immuki. (At high tide visitors can pay for a raft to take them to the island.) Contrary to our group’s first impression that the way was muddy, the shallow waters were actually quite clear; we were walking on hard ground and coral rocks for the most part.
Immuki isn’t really an island but a series of pools and small lagoons formed by water entrapped between coral rocks. It reminded us about the Pangil Coral Gardens in Currimao, Ilocos Norte much farther north. There are 3 lagoons at Immuki, however, that are larger and deeper than at Currimao.
The waters in the lagoons are crystal-clear and cool, very inviting for a swim especially since it was beginning to get hot as the morning wore off. When we learned that there are no bathroom facilities at the beach area or barangay hall, however, most of us elected not to take a dip. Even at low tide the lagoons looked pretty stunning. The emerald waters are so clear we could easily spot colorful fishes including a rare trigger fish underneath.
Moving on from Immuki Island we drove north along the Bacnotan-Luna-Balaoan Road towards Luna town. Less than 3 kilometers away from Immuki, we came across a white sand beach almost along the highway: Darigayos Beach.
Darigayos is within the boundaries of Luna, but unlike most of the beaches in this town which is famous for its pebble beaches, the sand here is fine to coarse white sand. This beach is reportedly an alternative place for surfing during the months of September to November.
There are a few resorts and a number of thatch huts along the beach but practically no person in sight. Despite having the beach all to ourselves we decided to just look around and take photos. With a pending drive to Luna town proper and eventually Baguio City, we simply didn’t have enough time for beach bumming here.
Getting to Immuki Island –
By public transport: If coming from Metro Manila or Baguio, take a bus bound for San Fernando, La Union then take a jeepney at that city for Darigayos, Luna. Ask the driver to drop you off at at the Paraoir barangay hall near the Paraoir National High School in Balaoan. This trip normally takes 45 minutes to an hour. If coming from Metro Manila another option is to take a bus bound for Vigan, Ilocos Sur or Laoag, Ilocos Norte and drop off at Bacnotan public market. You can then take a jeepney or tricycle going to Darigayos; ask the driver to drop you off at the Paraoir barangay hall.
By private transpo: Immuki Island is already included in Google Maps and Waize so it’s a breeze going there. Roads are also good, except for a few portions currently under repair along the Bacnotan-Luna-Balaoan Road.
Getting to Darigayos Beach –
The route is practically the same as that going to Immuki Island. Darigayos is just 3 kilometers further north.