Sunday, March 11, 2007

san juan, la union

since i went there to learn surfing three years ago, the place has become so close to my heart. though my surfing has not vastly improved (through my own doing), i keep coming back.

true, san juan doesn't have the powder-white sand beaches of boracay, nor the loud bars of puerto galera. the resorts you'll find are pretty spartan, the beach is riddled with rocks, but ask me to go, and i will definitely go with you.

the place has a charm of its own: the people are friendly, fun, and laidback, the resorts clean, and the water quite perfect during the cold season (it's pretty warm!).

and of course, there's the surfing. it's proba
bly one of the closest places (to manila) to learn surfing in, aside from zambales. the waves are pretty stable, and there are lots of instructors on hand. board rentals can be found in all resorts.

how to get there

i've mastered the commuting route to san juan, as it's actually quite a breeze. i even find it more fun than driving there, plus the stopovers serve pretty good food!

i usually leave friday night, so i can get enough waves over the weekend. i choose from the 9pm, 11pm, and 12mn trips at the partas bus terminal in aurora boulevard. you can take any of the following routes: vigan, laoag, and even abra, as all these use the highway that passes through la union.

when you're already at the ticket booth, don't forget to tell the guy at the counter that you're getting off at san juan, la union. otherwise, you'll be charged for the entire journey. you should only pay P396 for a one-way trip.

partas buses are clean and comfortable, not to mention fast. some drivers are daredevils on wheels, but i've never encount
ered an accident in my three years of shuttling back and forth. their conductors are also pretty friendly. don't forget to tell your conductor that you'll be getting off at se-bay (pronounced sea bay), so he'll anticipate this stop and even wake you up should you doze off during the trip. he'll even help you with your bags at no additional cost!

where do i sleep?

so the bus has sped off and left you at the side of the street. the sun has barely risen. now's the time to wake yourself up, as you'll be crossing the two-lane highway. look left, then right. no cars? then cross.

that side you crossed to is
lined with resorts. behind them is the beach. yes, the sea is just right there. you can choose among the resorts in this area so you can rest. face the waves after about two hours.

my favorite resort among the lot is surfer's inn. it's simple, clean, and affordable. they have three townhouses that serve as inns. bedspace is at P250/person/night. for that, you get a clean bed and access to a clean bathroom that you may share with other guests. i've stayed here many times, and have never seen the bathroom filthy. if you'd like to try this place out, contact viva olalia at 09285588265. she can also organize surf lessons for you!

another resort that's quite popular with foreign tourists is san juan surf resort. they have bigger bedrooms with air conditioning. i've had quite a few not-so-pleasant experiences with them already, but i'm not completely scratching them off. you may contact them at: (072) 7200340. like surfer's inn, they offer surf lessons and board rentals.

waveriderz is another option. i've only stayed here once, and the room we got could fit in about 10. so this is pretty good for big groups who don't mind staying in tight quarters. the room we got contained a pretty run-of-the-mill bathroom. try contacting lemon at
09197650702 for reservations.

and finally, there's little surf maid (photo). this one's more
on the expensive side, especially for la union, but i assure you, you'll get your money's worth! if you feel like pampering yourself after getting battered by the waves, this is the right place for you. the resort is quite new, it just opened last january. i have no complaints at all about the service--from check-in to check-out, everything was superb. if you want to see photos of the place, click here. a room for two costs P2,000 to P2,500. just give omar a call at 09106870548.

my stomach's grumbling.
aside from the surfing, another reason i keep going back to la union is the food. grub fr
om the nearby eateries, such as aling norma's (just cross the highway again), costs about P28 to P40 per meal. that already includes rice, ulam, and a bottle of cold softdrink.

se-bay also serves bulalo (it's pretty ordinary, though), arroz caldo, and other dishes for about P60-P100 per meal.

but la union's best-kept dining secret has got to be midway grill. it's definitely pricier than aling norma's, but you'll definitely not be disappointed. you can feast on grilled blue marlin (photo) for just P120 (with garlic rice and buttered veggies), babyback ribs for P220, midway slam (breakfast meal of pancakes, ham, scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon) for just P98. they serve breakfast all-day long!

to get to midway grill, go to the highway and hail any jeep going in the direction of manila. the jeeps usually have a sign that says "sn. fernando" on the windshield. inform the driver that you'll be getting off at midway grill. landmarks to watch out for are the flying v gas station (this means you're about 2-5 minutes away), or the shell gas station (this means you just passed midway. sumigaw ka na ng "para!").

okay, now what?

so you've surfed. you've stuffed your stomach. now what? nothing, actually. la union doesn't have much of a nightlife. if you're with a bunch of friends, you can ask the locals to build you a fire. you can all gather round and drink the night away as you listen to the huge waves crashing against the shore.

if you're more adventurous and have already made friends with the locals, you might actually get an invite to one of their nightly get-togethers. these usually entail either videoke singing, or just hanging out on the beach and drinking. whatever happens, you'll definitely have fun.

which way is home?

you've had your fun, and now you want to go back home. you can either hail any bus bound for manila on the highway, or if you want to take the partas bus again, hail a jeep bound for san fernando instead. tell the driver to drop you off at the partas bus terminal. from there, you pay for your ticket (p396), you wait for your bus, and you ride it back home.

thanks for visiting la union!

summary of contact details:
partas bus company
aurora blvd. cor bernardino st., quezon city
tel. nos.: 7251740; 7251256; 7257303; 7249820

surfer's inn
tel. no.:
09285588265 (viva olalia)

san juan surf resort (surf camp)
tel. no.:
(072) 7200340

tel. no.:
09197650702 (lemon)

little surf maid
tel. no.:

visit manila surfers' association for more details on surfing events.


Patricia said...

djongy girlash!
congrats on your travel site! makes me wish i was right there (where else, riiiigh, but at the breakfast nook of san juan surf resort eating beans and watching the waves). :)
i hope you get lost more often in some really lovely places.
pats x o

Anonymous said...

this is a truly helpful and informative write up. Everything I need to know. Been planning to go to San Juan to surf but never got the guts to go alone. Hope I'll make it this time. Thanks!

crazybeautifulwildflower said...

wow... thank you so much for the la union (san juan) information. great site you have here. :)

liza b. said...

wew!!! thanks for all the info.. really helpfull. hope you can post more of it

rhonskiepeeee said...

what is the cheapest long board i can find? for sale and at least 8ft.

noshow said...

how do u do ur hyperlinks? cos i can't do it at my multiply account... "a href" just wouldn't work. reply here mr.blogger. thank you. nice day!

maureen said...

i love this guide, its oh so complete! Hahahah ask ko lang ok lang ba na pumunta dun magisa? hahaha I'm looking for a place to soul search

i gotta go! said...

hey maureen!

yep, okay na okay magpunta dun mag-isa. i did that twice already. :) the people are really nice, di ka pababayaan. :D

gen said...

i wanna go toooo. ok ba waves pag May??

farthest na umalis ako with a friend via public transpo was batangas hahaha.

i want surfing. yes i am miserable at it but its so nice being carried by the waves. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your informative blog! Your comments were better than any guide book

miya said...

i appreciate your article and helpful information :-)
got to go this december!!!
thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Very informative and well written. Thanks. Appreciate it. :)

wanderlass said...

Hi, are you still surfing? Do u have the new number of surfer's inn? The one is not working anymore.

i gotta go! said...

just read your comment. you can contact viva olalia at 09178448482. :)

Anonymous said...

hey there! anyone going to san juan, la union this long holiday break? (dec.25, 2008-jan.1, 2009) =)

lia said...

your blog was really helpful! just the info i was looking for!! hope you keep on posting! =) thanks and Godspeed!!

Anonymous said...

Great blog. very informative. Got everything i needed to know. will go surfing in la union this weekend.

Kareen (^_^)

Anonymous said...

WRONG # *****************************

SURFERS INN - The ph# when we tried to call, she says its a wrong#

Anonymous said...

Lemon is so good. He was my instructor at surfing april 29, 2010 SO GOOD.

thegeorgerunner said...

thanks for the info. very helpful. will be going there this weekend along with my friends. will be staying at surfers inn.
Nice blog...

jane s. said...

this is how instructions should be given so that the dumbest person on earth (me) can never get lost.. im going to san juan with my friends last week of march.. thanks for all the detaile3d info..

i gotta go! said...

hey jane,

glad you found it helpful. :)
i just realized that i haven't updated the prices since i wrote this post, so there are probably some adjustments with that.

enjoy la union! :) have fun surfing!

Anonymous said...

This one's great help! Thanks! I will definitely take note of the resorts you mentioned :)

Anonymous said...

Your blog is great! Thanks for the info. I'm sure the rates will just have minor tweaks :) I have tried surf lessons in Siargao & Baler, would like to attempt learning in LU too. It will be my first time and doing it solo. You think it's best to go that famous surf school or try other resorts which have good instructor also like surfer's inn? Mas magaling ba talaga ang instructor nila? Would really want to learn more and up my skills :) Will be travelling to Hawaii or Cali this autumn.

i gotta go! said...

hi there! :) according to my friends who surf regularly, san juan surf school is the one to go to if you want to improve your surfing. :)

have fun in LU! and enjoy hawaii and cali! :)

Nikolo Baua said...

I followed your blog, Im now here in San Juan. Its been very helpful! =)

i gotta go! said...

hi nikolo! :) so happy to know the blog helped.

how are the waves? :) enjoy LU!

carly said...

i came across this site and found it very helpful for those who will travel alone and specially for 1st timers. Thanks!

JeffZ said...

Enjoyed reading.. very straight forward! :)

thanks for the tips as well.. I'm creating an IT for May's planned trip..

i gotta go! said...

hey JeffZ,

thanks for dropping by. :) enjoy LU! let me know if you need more help.

Anna said...

Thank You :)
Now me and my friends know where to stay. We're really great full. You should award yourself for you helped dense teenagers have an easier trip on a place we have never been to.

i gotta go! said...

hey Anna!

i know how it feels to go to an unfamiliar place, and the internet has really been a great help to me. :) i'm glad my post was able to help you guys out, have fun in LU! :)

Tish said...

hi, misss :D missed you last weekend! also wanted to say this post is spot on, even after 5 years. kitakits soon!

Foxykix said...

Thank you for this blog. So funny while reading, I can relate in the part where i was left in the side road not knowing which way to go. Im glad i was able to drop off at the San Juan plaza where i can easily get a tric ride. Next time i will try the resorts you've mentioned here.