La Union is in the Heart; Surfing and a lot more
The first time I’ve been to La Union, I wasn’t much of a traveller back then. I go on outings mainly for entertainment, food and beer. I don’t call it travel, I just call it expense. A temporary fun. But that has changed since. Every time my friend has a trip to La Union, he always invites me and I always join. I’ve been there countless of times and after every visit, I bring home a different story.
Some travellers and tourists might think that La Union is just another spot for surfing, but for me, it has always been special. Here’s why.
My first ride
It was 2008, and as we are approaching the beach, one of our friends is already giddying up and silently screaming in joy with “Ang ganda ng waves! Ang ganda!” (The waves are great!). Since It was my first time to set foot in LU, I really don’t get all the joy she was experiencing. I was like, “Ok… they’re not that big. Nothing compared to what I see in movies. Is that it?”
Related: 5 Life Lessons I Learned In Surfing
Thinking about myself that day, I knew I was an ignorant ass. Karma hits me back immediately though because as soon as I entered the beach, the waves keeps on strongly pushing me back to shore as if saying “Not that big huh? Take this fool”.
But at last, Poseidon softens and let me enter the line up. Since I didn’t avail a surfing lesson, all I have is my courage and what my friend taught me before paddling against the waves. After several funny wipe outs and sore muscles, at last, I got my wave, stood up, balanced and shouted in joy that I finally rode one! I was one with nature!
I don’t have much pics of those rides but this’ll do.
I was ecstatic. I feel rejuvenated. I feel awesome! So stoked that I kept on paddling back to the line up and try, and try again and again to catch a wave and ride. It’s something that I’ve never felt before in my life and It felt really good that time.
Typhoon Season is beach time
Never in my life had I thought that I would love going to the beach during typhoon season. Surfing changed my mindset. Whenever I see a beach that’s flat, all I think of is “I hope this beach has waves to surf” and ‘Hey, there’s a typhoon coming, let’s check out this beach and maybe there’s a secret spot for surfing?” Next thing I know, I’m checking surf forecasts online!
After many trips to La Union, I noticed that the best waves are often during or just after the typhoon have passed. But of course, you can always drop by during Surf season starting from the month of September up to March.
I immediately became interested in surf culture too just after about 2 surf trips. I browsed the internet for information, watched documentaries like ‘The Endless Summer’, ‘Riding Giants’ and ‘Step into Liquid’, movies like ‘Chasing Mavericks’, ‘Soul Surfer’ and ‘Lords of Dogtown’ and even bought and read Kelly Slater’s biography lol.
Surf culture is just so rad and chill and it just want to make you travel and find the perfect wave year in and year out. That goes the same in LU. The positive vibe is just radiating everywhere. They even hold an annual surfing festival where there are surfing competitions, art galleries, concerts and all night fun!
Image credit to La Union Surfing break
The Sunset is just as perfect
Our country is home to many beautiful sunsets and La Union isn’t spared. After a whole day of surfing, all you need is a bottle(s) of beer and a beautiful sunset to watch.
Admittedly, I haven’t explored much of the food scene here especially the new ones because every time we visit there, these two restaurants is where we always eat.
Midway Grill and Halo Halo de Iloko.
Since 2008, we’ve always frequented these two restaurants and every visit is just pure gastronomic bliss.
Related: Food Trip in Sagada, an Honest take
Midway Grill is like your favorite neighborhood restaurant that you keep on coming back even though they seldom change their menu for many years.
Halo Halo de Iloko on the other hand is this quaint, artsy, traditional looking homey restaurant. They offer delicious Filipino dishes and don’t forget to try their awesome halo halo.
Image credit to Halo halo de iloko Balay
TIP: Try to be there as early as possible. Lots of people eating here and if you’re late, you might wait a little while.
You know what? The truth is, it’s not the place, but the friendship that was built and cemented all along. If our surfing trips happened in another place, I might say that one is special to me and not LU.
I’ve known my friends for 18 years, but just like any relationship, you have to take care of it. One of the reasons why we are friends up until now is because we share amazing experiences together. LU was one of those witnesses to our long lasting friendship. And aside from old friends, I also found new ones which makes it extra special.
This is the reason why it’s nice to tag along with friends every now and then. The travel experience you’ll share with them is one of those precious things you’ll treasure in your life.
La Union for me is like the place where I first learned how to bike. With the guide of my father, he taught me how to ride one. I fell a lot, had bruises but in the end it’s all worth it because I finally able to ride. I circled the lot for hours and hours, enjoying my ride until sunset. Friends came with their bikes too and suddenly I found myself riding with them to far places out of our little town. Those days of biking together were precious memories to me, and now it happened again in LU.
How to get to San Juan, La Union:
Take NLEX, then SCTEX, then TPLEX, Exit at Urdaneta. Continue to Binalonan, then enter La Union passing through Rosario, Santo Tomas, Agoo, Caba, Bauang, San Fernando City then San Juan. It would take you around 4 to 6 hours depending on speed and stop overs.
As far as I recall in one of our trips, we took the Dominion Bus lines going to LU. Anyway, that’s too long ago so here is a direction taken from Sebay Surf Central’s website.
Getting to La Union from Manila via bus is the easiest way to get to San Juan. It is only a 5 – 6 hour ride depending on traffic and whether you travel during the day or night. The usual transport carrier is PARTAS with terminals at Cubao (P446-P544), Quezon City and Pasay City (P466-P564). Other buses that operate in the area from Manila are Dominion Bus Lines, Fariñas Trans, Maria de Leon, Viron Transit, Sta. Lucia and Florida which leaves Manila terminals every hour. Take a bus bound for Laoag, Vigan or Abra. Just tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Sebay Surf Central at Urbiztondo, San Juan La Union. The resort is just across the street from the drop off point.
Where to stay in La Union?
1) Fat Wave Resort
2) San Juan Surf Resort
3) P & M Final Option
4) Sebay Surf Central
5) Lola Nanny’s – Budget stay