Whenever I hear the name “La Union”… the beach, the waves, the surf boards, and the Luke Landrigan come to mind. This magical place in the Ilocos region has gained prominence due to its exquisite waves and one-of-a-kind beach life experience. People from all over the world make sure that they visit La Union whenever they are in the Philippines. It is widely known as “The Surfing Capital of the North”.
I was lucky enough to visit La Union in December 2015, days before Christmas. I traveled for almost six hours with my adventurous friends from school. Rina drove her Toyota Fortuner all the way from Laguna to La Union. Of course, we had some stop overs to gas up, to refresh ourselves, and to our fill our empty tummies with food. We left Laguna at around 3am and arrived in La Union at around 9am.
On the way, during sunrise, we were greeted by these magnificent views. The sky looked like a painting, don’t you think? God is indeed an excellent painter.
We ate breakfast at San Juan Surf Resort, the resort owned by none other than Luke Landrigan. He is the famous surfer in La Union, and he also owns a surf school. We went there to see and meet him, but he was still sleeping. Oh well. All of us were starving so we started to order food. I ordered some S’mores pancakes. Yummy! You would know how hungry I was by the state of my pancake on this photo. Hahaha!
The Miss Universe pageant also happened that day. We were watching the pageant while eating breakfast and we were hoping that Pia Wurtzbach will take home the crown. Fast forward to the coronation, it seemed the whole world stopped when Steve Harvey made a mistake on announcing the winner. Everyone in the resort’s restaurant was glued on the TV screens and the Filipinos cheered when Pia was announced Miss Universe.
We checked in at Flotsam and Jetsam hostel after eating breakfast. A part of the hostel was under construction at that time, but the place still looked lovely and hip. Guests could choose where they would want to stay— there were rooms that resemble that of a hotel (not Manila Hotel level though) and bahay kubo. We chose the bahay kubo. In the bahay kubo, there were two pairs of double deck bed and four sets of cabinets. By the way, we booked prior to our trip.
After settling down and fixing our things, we rode a tricycle going to our first destination— Tangadan Falls.
I am not really into trekking but when you are with adventurous friends, wala kang choice. Hahaha! Just kidding. Also, I was on an adrenaline rush at that time so I had my game face on. I was determined to conquer my fears! It was not an easy journey though. We had to walk 3km to be able to reach the falls. The trail was so rocky and slippery as well. I was afraid that my sandals would break but yaaay they survived. There was a stop over as well and some of my friends tried cliff jumping. It was a definitely a Y.O.L.O moment! However, I did not try because I wasn’t ready yet. It was too risky. 😉 But I did swim in the river because it was getting hot and I was a little bit sweaty. It was refreshing!
The long walk to Tangadan Falls was super worth it! The falls, it was so majestic! No words can totally describe it. During that moment, I was thanking the Big Guy up there for giving me this opportunity. I felt proud of myself too because I was able to do something which I’ve never done before— swimming in the river that is more than 40ft deep. And I do not know how to swim. That’s one more fact about me. 😉
We traveled another 3km going back to the place where the tricycle dropped us off. One family was kind enough to welcome us in their humble abode so we could use their comfort room. They even bought us some ice water because they noticed how tired and thirsty we were. 😉 That’s Filipino hospitality at its finest!
When we came back to the hostel, we took a bath and refreshed ourselves. We explored the restaurants outside so we could choose a place where we could eat dinner. We ended up at Surf Shack. We rewarded ourselves with grilled food such as barbecues and isaw, some sandwiches, buffalo wings, corn dogs, and pizza.
Before sleeping, Ate Madel and I stayed at the lawn of the hostel and we laid down on the bean bags on the mat. We did some star gazing while listening to one of the guests play the ukelele. We went back to our bahay kubo when Ate Madel noticed I was on the verge of falling asleep. Hahaha!
Next day, it was surfing day! We walked again from our hostel to San Juan Surf Resort. I did not surf because my legs still hurt from the trekking. While Ate Madel, Hazel, Bee, and Rina were surfing, Abby and I were at the edge of the shore, people watching and enjoying the waves without the surf board.
As much as we wanted to stay longer, we had to leave La Union to prepare for Christmas. After surfing and packing our things, we left La Union with a happy heart. On our way back home, we ate lunch at Halo-halo de Iloko. It was a popular restaurant in La Union and it was also featured on the different local shows.
La Union is an interesting and cool place. There’s a lot to see and explore! We were not able to visit the other tourist spots due to lack of time. On our next visit, we will make sure that aside from surfing, we will also have adventures at Baluarte Watch Tower, Pindangan Ruins, Centennial Tower, World War II Vintage Canon, Bolikewkew Rice Terraces, and the other places worth seeing for.
Have a great day, everyone!
/Photo Credits: Some photos taken from Abby Platero and Rinalyn Moreno/