La Union, Philippines
People based in Metro Manila who often find themselves in need of some serious ocean therapy are no strangers to the beaches of La Union. Long regarded as the surfing capital of the Philippines, La Union's Urbiztondo beach in the municipality of San Juan has been a hot spot for the local surf scene for the past few decades. Its laid back surfer vibes, close proximity to Manila (now made even closer due to new highways) and beginner-friendly surf breaks have made it a popular destination for budding surfers of all ages.
La Union, part of the Ilocos Region in Luzon with its beaches facing the West Philippine Sea, features many surf spots, the main reason for the surge of tourism. This brought about the rush of hotels, resorts, restaurants and other establishments ready to serve all tourists, from backpackers to families and barkadas.
Although the bustling surf scene is reason enough for travelers to visit, there’s much more to La Union than just surfing. Its rich history as a well-established province beginning as far back as the Spanish era has given present-day visitors a chance to experience centuries-old churches, heritage sites and other notable historical landmarks.
Besides getting acquainted with the province's history and lounging by the beach, there are a ton of other interesting things to do in La Union. Travelers can go explore the thriving local art scene, satisfy culinary cravings with the latest restos and cafes, go on an adventure to Tangadan Falls, or they can even check out Agri-tourism farms that are open to the public for tours and grape-picking activities.
Since the pandemic, more and more people have been flocking to LU to get their road trip beach fixes out of the way, taking full advantage of the weather, location, beach culture and vibrant night life. It's been so popular, that visitors have been relocating and setting up their work-from-beach situations in La Union, whether temporarily or full time, making it clear that La Union is now much more than just a weekend destination.
Amongst the municipalities in La Union, Urbiztondo is known to be the surfing capital of the North as it is perfect for beginners and pros alike. It is also brimming with different food spots and gives visitors a fun and lively nightlife experience.
San Juan Surf Resort
San Juan Surf resort has been one of the go to resorts in San Juan due to its surf school and location – centrally located around popular shops, restaurants and bars.
Accommodations are basic, nothing fancy but definitely comfortable. If you’re looking for a more family friendly resort in San Juan, we also recommend Kahuna Beach Resort & Spa.
For a hostel type of accommodation you might want to check out Rada Hostel, Flotsam & Jetsam and Charlie’s Hanger.
Coast Call Kitchen & Bar
A cozy and homey in-house restaurant of San Juan Surf Resort. The restaurant serves a variety of local, eastern and western dishes with good serving sizes and are moderately priced.
If you’re looking for plant-based options to eat, Seabuds offer fresh and healthy smoothies, rice and acai bowls and sandwiches.
San Juan Surf School
A pioneer in teaching and conducting surf lessons in San Juan. Surf lessons with an instructor is priced at Php 500/ hour.
A homey and friendly hostel surrounded by restaurants, they offer rooms that are bunk bed style with shared bathrooms and showers – perfect for groups of friends. They also have a handful of rooms with their own private toilet and bath.