As a recommendation from a local friend, I decide to go for a quick trip to San Juan, La Union to learn how to surf. According to Its More Fun In The Philippines for many years, the Philippines province of La Union has been claiming the title of the “Surfing Capital of the North.” Reading all information of this place and how’s it attract many surfers really spike my interest to visit San Juan.
So, after gathering information on how to get there by bus (as there’s no air transport) I’ve set my mind to go on Wednesday morning at 5am. Going there I choose one of the reputable bus companies that drop passengers in San Juan town, The Partas Transportation Company. In Manila there is no central bus terminal and private buses run their own terminal in separate locations. It was a long haul ride around 7 to 8 hours of travel. I suggest you go at night so you can sleep and you will generally arrive at the town quicker. I made a terrible mistake when take the bus at 5am as it coincides with the town morning activity and there’s a road construction, which really slow our speed. Also, not only the bus take the passenger from the main terminal but would stop several times to take more passengers or toilet breaks.
My friend told me to ask the bus driver to get off at Sebay Resort at Urbiztondo Beach. For a newbie this would be the easiest way because it’s a well-known area and its right by the beach where most of the hostel/bars located. After 8 hours drive I arrived at the beach. I was shock! There are no waves and empty. Apparently it’s not the best time to go this beach. The best time to surf (or actually see waves) in Urbiztondo beach is from July to October and November to April.
Urbiztondo Beach is famous for its waves. The surfing action here kicks off in January to March for the Manila Surfer’s Cup, followed by the Mabuhay Longboard Cup.
At night you can go to bars or restaurants on the beach with your friends and experience the chill ambience. Weekends are the time most bars are busy with customers and sometimes they hold parties. I suggest staying at San Juan, La Union for minimum 2 days specially if you go there alone. Why? First, It’s easy to interact with locals and get new friends. They are very friendly and won’t hesitate to invite you for a party at the beach or bars. Second, try other activities such as hike along the Arosip Eco Trail in Bacnotan. There are waterfalls, Balay Anito Falls in the town of Santol, and Lon-Oy Springs in Barangay Lon-Oy and Bayabas in San Gabriel.
For now in the low season, what you can do are paddle boarding, snorkeling, enjoy sunbathing under the blazing sun, and party at bars on the weekends.
Tips & Tricks:
- Price of renting a board + paddle approx. PHP 400/hour. Try to bargain they might reduce it to PHP 350.
- There are buses every hour at Pasay/Cubao, Manila station using The Partas Transportation Company. However for weekends or high season its best to go early to the bus station to secure your seat. When going back you can use the tricycle to take you to the Partas Bus Station in the town.
- For stay, there are many hostels to choose. If its weekday or low season you can just walk-in to rent room. However, try to book it early especially on weekends or high season because most of the rooms would be fully book. Also, tourist especially surfers would stay as long as 1 week to 1 month. When I visit I stayed at Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel.
Data as of June 2014