Who said the beach life is only for the summer months? From October to March, La Union (“Elyu”) brims with so much life as waves perfect for surfing finally crashes into its shores. For those seeking an adventure and a quiet retreat from the metro, Elyu is just five hours away. It’s easy to immerse in the chill and slow lifestyle of the surf town in San Juan. It’s not just the surfing, too. The friendly locals and the delicious food are enough reasons to make a La Union itinerary encompassing all the things that make this place wonderful.
Two days will never be enough to experience the magic of La Union fully, but it’s more than enough to make you fall in love with it. Here’s your perfect La Union itinerary to make the most of this beautiful place.
Getting to San Juan, La Union
Buses are traveling to San Juan daily and every hour at Partas station in Cubao and Pasay.
Take the bus going to Laoag, but ask to be dropped off at San Juan, La Union (PHP 425) if that’s where your hotel is located. There’s also separate bus bound for San Fernando, but you’ll still need to ride a jeepney from San Fernando to San Juan.
What to do on your first day in La Union
On your first day in San Juan, it’s all about settling in and getting to know the area.
1. Eat breakfast at Sea Nymph Surf Café
After checking in quickly at your hostel, head to the beachfront restaurant of Sea Nymph Surf Café. It’s one of the few restaurants offering breakfasts as early as 7:00 a.m. They have a wide selection of dishes ranging from pasta to rice meals. But since it’s for breakfast, don’t miss out on their bangsilog and tapsilog.
PHILIHAPPY PRO TIP: They also have baconsilog, but it’s not listed on the menu.
2. Cross forests and rivers to reach Tangadan Falls
After the heavy breakfast and a quick rest at the hotel, it’s time to stretch out our legs to go trekking. We chose the guided tour Sebay Surf Resort offers, which cost us PHP 400 per person. If your hotel doesn’t offer any guided tour to Tangadan Falls, you can ask any of the tricycle drivers hanging nearby Mad Monkeys Restaurant. They offer legit tours as well. It’s advisable that you book a tour before you head out for breakfast, too.
It takes less than an hour to reach Tangadan Falls, but you’ll have to cross rivers, dams, and forests to reach it. Don’t worry, even the paths leading to the falls are pretty, so this part of our La Union itinerary is surely worth it!
3. Grab a bite at Mad Monkeys
It’s understandable to be famished after trekking and swimming for hours. Ask your guide to drop you off at Mad Monkeys to have juicy burgers for a late lunch. Try their Classic Burger (PHP 210), and partner it with onion rings for a complete meal.
4. Chill at El Union Coffee
Spend the drowsy part of the afternoon at El Union Coffee, where you can be sure to taste high-quality coffee. They use only premium beans for their brew, and of course, every inch of the coffee shop is Instagram-worthy. If you’re not too full from your heavy lunch, order their s’mores skillet to share between you and your friends.
5. Learn how to surf at Urbiztondo Beach
You can’t go to La Union and not try surfing. The place is only one of the best surf spots in the Philippines ! Anyone can learn surfing—even those who can’t swim! The waves may seem intimidating at first, but surf instructors will be there to guide you at all times. Surf lessons cost PHP 400 per hour, and this includes board rental and safety lessons. If after an hour you already know how to surf, board rental only costs PHP 200 per hour. They accept surfing lessons until six in the afternoon.
6. Binge on brick oven pizza at Flotsam and Jetsam
Don’t go to Elyu without trying what’s claimed to be the “best pizza in town.” Flotsam and Jetsam only serve their brick oven pizza from 4:00 p.m. onwards, so you might be disappointed if you arrive too early. But of course, aside from pizza, they also have pasta, sandwiches, and rice meals.
What to do on your second day in La Union
Don’t forget to set your alarm, because there’s still so much to check off your La Union itinerary.
1. Go surfing (again!)
Wake up early to catch more waves! It’s best to go surfing early in the morning. Aside from waves being ideal for surfing, the sun isn’t too harsh on the skin during this time. If you’re confident enough, you can just rent a board instead of having an instructor with you in the sea.
2. Have a quick brunch at Surf Shack Restaurant
After surfing, head to Surf Shack Restaurant for a late breakfast. From pizza to shawarma to pasta dishes, the laid-back bar and restaurant is the place to chill after surfing. It’s pretty awesome at night, too, if you want to enjoy a night of drinking and good music.
3. Visit the Ma-Cho Temple in San Fernando
As a side trip for history buffs in this La Union itinerary, the Taoist Temple is just a jeepney ride away from the surf town of San Juan. It’s the first and oldest Taoist temple in the country, and there’s something magnificent about the temple atop the hill overlooking the sea. The temple is dedicated to the Chinese deity Ma-Cho, who is a protector of the sea and said to be the Queen of the Heavens. But in La Union, Ma-Cho is also regarded as the revered Our Lady of Caysasay.
4. Dine in at the famous Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay
If you want to be seated immediately, it’s best to come in early because guests come in dozens. Though located in a residential area at San Fernando, it’s still visited by tons of locals and tourists. For delicious Ilocano fare, Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay’s selection is sure to satisfy any hungry diner. Too full to devour bagnet, binagoongan, or pinakbet? Well, they’re best known for their halo-halo, so you should at least try that.
Weekends go by so quickly and even before you leave, you’ll already want to go back. With this La Union itinerary, you’ll be able to enjoy your time in this famed province. The only thing left to do once you get home is to plan your next weekend back!
If you are looking for more surfing destinations in the Philippines, be sure to check out our list of best surf spots in the country.