Summer is just around the corner, and if you’re the typical Pinoy, that means beach, beach, beach!!
Unfortunately, I am a freak of nature and hate…no, HATE, the beach and all things…beachy – the sand that gets everywhere, sea water that makes your skin sticky, humidity, the boredom…
Anyway, if you’re normal, and want to do something other than the usual beach activity of swimming, sunbathing, and beer-drinking, then head on over to San Juan, La Union for some sun and surf!
San Juan, La Union is known as the “surfing capital of the North,” and caters to all types of surfers – whether you are a beginner, trying it out for the first time, or an experienced surfer looking to catch some serious waves.
La Union is around five to six hours from Metro Manila by bus or by private vehicle, and San Juan, where you want to go for some surfing, is just two or three towns in once you’ve entered La Union. San Juan is the town right after San Fernando.
It’s an easy drive from Metro Manila to San Juan, La Union. From Metro Manila, take NLEX (Northern Luzon Express Way) all the way to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Express) then exit at Hacienda Luisita. Drive on through the length of Tarlac and Pangasinan until you reach La Union.
You’ll know right way once you’ve reached San Juan, because of all the resorts along the road, one after the other. The first major one you will come across when entering San Juan is the San Juan Surf Resort where they have the Billabong Surf School. They have nice cottage-style accommodations as well as rooms for individual guests.
But beware; the San Juan Resort is usually fully booked during the weekend. As a matter of fact, most of the resorts in San Juan are fully booked weekends, so I suggest making reservations in advance so you can take your pick of resorts and rooms that suits your budget.
Most of the resorts have affordable prices – the ones we checked ranged from 1,000 to 3,000 a night but good for 4 to 5 people; with private bathrooms and air conditioning. There are much cheaper fan rooms if you are on a budget. There are smaller rooms available for people travelling solo or with just one other, and there are also bigger rooms/huts for larger groups.
Because we were ‘winging it’ over the weekend, we did not make any reservations to any of the resorts in San Juan. Big mistake.
We first tried the San Juan Surf Resort, which seemed very nice, but also very popular and therefore very full. Next we tried our luck at Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa, one of the newest resorts in San Juan; probably one of the best (and one of the most expensive) too. Kahuna was having a special promo that weekend, but the place was also fully booked.
We finally got a room good for 5 people (there were only 4 of us) at Sebay Surf Resort, for P1,800 a night; with a private bathroom and air con.
Once you’re there and have booked your room, you’re ready to go! Don’t worry if you don’t know how to surf because all the resorts have their own surf instructors who will give you surf lessons for P400 an hour. Surfboard rental without the instructor is P200 an hour.
Recommended surfing times are in the morning up to noon, when waves are calmer (good for beginners) and the sun is less intense. After an hour or two of surfing in the morning, take a nap or cool down with ice cold beer (served everywhere) while waiting for the second round of surfing before the sun sets.
The only surfing I did in San Juan was online surfing – yes, all (or most) of the resorts have wi-fi, so bring your laptops so you can post your surfing pictures instantly.
And don’t worry about where to eat. All the resorts have their own beachside bar and grill and restaurants that serve quintessential beach food like grilled meats and seafood, tapsilogs and fingerfoods or pulutan. If you don’t want to eat at the beachside resorts you can head over to one of the many restaurants across the street.
And the best thing about San Juan: when you get tired of the sun and the beach and want to cool down, you can head on up to Baguio City – just an hour and a half drive away, via Naguillian Road.