Mention La Union to anyone and surfing immediately comes to mind. The province’s reputation as the Surfing Capital of the North has long been cemented, with amateur and experienced surfers coming to the province in droves. The population in the town of San Juan tends to dramatically increase during peak surfing season between October and April, when the cool northeastern wind we call amihan creates consistent waves perfect for riding.
But there’s much more to La Union than surfing, and first-timers are encouraged to partake of its delights further inland, too. Read on for some of the coolest experiences you can have in the province:
Mention La Union to anyone and surfing immediately comes to mind, but there’s much more to do there. Here are some of the coolest experiences you can have in the area.
1. Go surfing in San Juan
Surfing amateurs will be glad to know that surfing lessons and schools are available in abundance, especially on Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan where it is most popular. Simply walking along the beachfront yields a variety of choices. There’s the famous San Juan Surf School, established by Filipino-Australian surfer Luke Landrigan, or one-on-one lessons from The Circle Hostel, which partners up with members of the local surfing community to provide novices with a safe but full experience. Don’t be afraid to browse and compare prices in order to choose the right surf school for you. Lessons typically start at 400 pesos per hour.
2. Sample the food in Urbiztondo
Given its popularity with Instagram-happy youths, the area around Urbiztondo Beach has since become ground zero for trendy bars and restaurants and hip cafes. Thankfully, the food is as good as it is photogenic. One of the highlights is Olas Banditos, a Mexican restaurant whose claim to fame is incorporating the famous Vigan longganisa into one of their burrito offerings. There’s also The Great Gamble Seafood Shack, which serves a killer seafood roll: a brioche bun loaded up with a quarter pound’s worth of crab, shrimp, and scallop. For a little bit of everything, visit 215 Urbiztondo Road, a small complex made up of restaurants that offer different types of cuisine to satisfy every craving.
3. Try the zipline at PUGAD: Pugo Adventure
If your idea of a good time involves extreme sports and heart-pumping experiences, head on over to PUGAD: Pugo Adventure in Pugo, La Union’s hottest ecotourism destination. They offer 3 thrilling zipline courses, the longest of which runs 450 meters and gives you an aerial view of the entire resort. Just exploring the area is a thrill in itself, as the resort is divided into 3 sections connected via suspension bridges. Other exciting activities to be experienced include river tubing, ATV rides, and wall climbing, among others. PUGAD is about 24 minutes by car from the Golden Sunrise Hotel in Rosario, which is an excellent place to rest your head after a fun-filled day.
4. Go cliff diving at Tangadan Falls
This hidden gem is located in the town of San Gabriel, about an hour away by car from San Juan. Hidden deep in the forest, you’ll need to trek for about an hour along the Baroro River in order to reach this majestic two-tiered waterfall. The lower cascade is 50 feet high and flows towards a deep natural catch basin that is perfect for swimming and treading water. The upper cascade on the other hand features a shorter drop, but the pool it flows down to is deeper and bigger, making it the perfect spot for cliff jumping. Face your fears and head to the top, or stay where it’s safe and just enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
5. Visit the grape farms of Bauang
Did you know that grapes grow in the Philippines? Mr. Avelino Lomboy of Lomboy Farms pioneered planting and harvesting this luscious fruit in La Union and formerly supplied 90% of the country’s grapes during the Marcos era. Lomboy Farms’ success has seen the rise of other grape farms in the town of Bauang, and there are now three more in operation: Gapuz Grapes, Manguerra Grapes Farm, and Calica Grapes Farm. Grape picking season starts in March and ends in May for visitors who would like to try it out; you’ll either be made to pay a small entrance fee upfront or pay for your pickings by the kilo. These farms also offer other types of fruit for sale, as well as bottles of fruit wine to take back home with you.
La Union attracts plenty of first-timers with its inland attractions and offshore activities. When you visit, head out to these 5 destinations and you’re sure to understand why many people call the province a second home and, year after year, keep coming back for more.
Have you visited — or plan to visit — La Union?
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