Philippines, Travel Destinations

Where to go this summer in the Philippines? Try surfing at San Juan, La Union

Surfing? Game?

Summer is upon us already especially in the Philippines and here in Dubai, a lot of us would want to take a break or visit nearby beaches to cool down and unwind. Chill for some time and forget all about our work or possibly go for a vacation in the Philippines.

I suggest you check San Juan, La Union in the Philippines. It is a province that is located on the Ilocos region in Luzon. La Union is one of the nearest quick escape from the urban lifestyle of the city and is known as a place to surf, if you're coming from outside the country this is also a good choice for you if you're into surfing.

From the airport or anywhere in Manila, it will take 5 to 6 hours of travel time by car to reach San Juan, La Union. Might be less depending on how fast you drive, how much traffic you encounter and what time of the day you are planning to go.

There are buses available as well if you don't have a car or if you don't want the hassle of driving on your own as some prefer to sleep during travel rather than get tired driving.

Last January, me and my brother plus 1 cousin went for a short vacation to San Juan. I have been there a couple of times already. I was coming from Dubai so I was looking for a quick getaway that will not take much of my time as I only have a month to stay in the country ( you might think it is enough time already, believe me it wasn't ). You can follow my itinerary for a short and budget trip to La Union.

Our meetup time was 5:30 AM in Manila ( this is late already, I suggest you travel as early as 3:00 AM). We took the NLEX/SCTEX/TPLEX connection to arrive at La Union as early as we can. We went by car but lots of buses use the same route already, especially those with express in it. You can take any bus that is going to Laoag or Vigan as these buses will go by San Juan, La Union.

Stopped by to eat breakfast in NLEX and buy supplies for the travel.

Took some photos along the way as well.

We arrived at our accomodation around lunch time. The place we went to, Circle Hostel is located a few minutes after entering the municipality of San Juan. It was specifically designed for backpackers and alike. They offer hammock beds and room sharing for a very cheap price. They brand themselves as a chain of budget friendly eco - hostels in the Philippines. They have branches in other places as well.

This is where we stayed for our 3 days trip.

Before coming here I actually have no idea of the said hostel, it was suggested to us by my cousin. Take note we didn't book before coming to the place, we just walked in and luckily got a place for ourselves to stay in the hostel. Don't ever try to do this if you don't want the hassle of looking and checking every hostel and inn in the area. During peak season make sure to book in advance to secure a place for your trip.

  • Some of the places you can stay in La Union:
    • San Juan Surf
    • Sebay
    • Little Surfmaid
    • Kahuna Beach
    • The Circle Hostel
    • Flotsam and Jetsam

The list above are the few places I know where you can stay in San Juan but feel free to check online on booking.com or any site in the web that offers accomodation in the area.

We rested for some time before heading out to the sea which is a short 10 minute walk from Circle Hostel as it is still low tide at the time we arrived, add to that the hot weather at noon.

We started checking the beach and rented surfboards to start our activity for the day. The 2 hours quickly passed by as we struggled, paddled, fell sideways, forwards, drank some water and luckily rode some of the waves. It was hard especially for newbies(like me), but don't fret since La Union is mostly known for its surfing spots, the supply of available instructors meets the number of demand for tourist who wants to learn.

So why should you try surfing?

It is highly recommended to try surfing, aside from the fact that you will enjoy playing in the water, the experience is something that you will definitely remember.

Base price for an hour of surfing lesson is 400 pesos with instructor, they will show you how its done, and what to do once you guys are in the water learning how to surf. If you have tried it before from other places and would just want to rent surfboards it will cost you 200 per hour and 400 to 500 for half day use of the board.

It has health benefits as well which includes cardio improvement, whole body exercise as you will use your whole body while doing the sport. It improves blood circulation by restoring depleted minerals that were loss because of stress ( swimming in seawater - as discussed in livestrong.com ). Definitely a must for the employees working in a high stress environment or job.

It strengthens your shoulders and arms from paddling and improves your balance from building your core.

You get vitamin D from exposing your self in the sun is essential for stronger bones, it regulates calcium and phosphorus in your body.

It improves your flexibility as well due to changing position while tackling the waves which helps improve your overall mobility.

There are a lot more benefits from surfing aside from the fact that you get to spend time outdoors while enjoying the environment. If you're the type of person who loves the beach then you should include this in your to try list if you haven't tried it yet.

Take note surfing is not easy. If you ever plan to try the sport you should always practice caution and listen carefully to your instructor as they're much more knowledgeable with it. Don't fool around and take the lesson seriously to avoid accidents or mishaps during your activity. I've seen people get hit by the surfboards and suffered injuries. It is best to follow all the rules that your instructor will give.

It takes time to gain some of the benefits which I enumerated above. It will require continuous practice and dedication, but everyone is very much welcome to try. You should first consider how well you swim or if you know how to swim. San Juan's surf spot in front of the numerous accommodations is a perfect spot for beginners as the sea level here is somewhat shallow. Always consider what to wear as this will also give you comfort for the duration of your activity.

Additional tips:

  1. Take sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  2. Always be vigilant of other surfers to avoid accidents.
  3. Warm up to loosen your body.
  4. Don't forget to put on the board leash.
  5. Make sure to have fun.

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and try surfing in La Union. There are other places which you can try surfing as well which I will cover on my future contents. I would if I could but I'm too far from the Philippines as of the moment.

You can check Skyscanner to check for cheap flights to the Philippines and Agoda for cheap hotel booking. Click on the links below for my affiliate links.

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