Surf’s up: A ‘Biyahe ni Drew’ itinerary to La Union

Get your fill of the laidback surfer’s lifestyle in La Union, one of the Philippines’ top spots for waves.
Welcome to the surfers’ playground!
The northern province of La Union is home to local greats such as Luke Landrigan, the late Ronnie “Poks” Esquivel, and many other surfers who come for the waves and return for the chill lifestyle.
Planning your own escape to the beach? Here’s an itinerary from Drew Arellano and GMA News TV’s “Biyahe ni Drew.”
Quick facts
  • La Union is literally “the union.” The province was formed in 1850 from parts of Pangasinan, Benguet and Ilocos Sur.
  • La Union is the nearest surf spot from Metro Manila.
  • La Union’s best waves are from October to April. This is also the La Union’s peak season for tourists, so be sure to book hotels early.
How to get there
Drive. The road trip from Manila to La Union used to take five to six hours. With the new Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), travel time goes down to under four hours.
What to do

soul surf
Surfing at San Juan
San Juan, La Union
Don’t worry if it’s your first time! Beginners’ lessons cost P400 per session, inclusive of instructor fees and board rental. If you’re feeling confident, you can also skip the lessons and rent the board for P200.
Pugo, La Union
If you want to take a break from beach life, head to this adventure park for your fill of zip lines (P400), rappelling (P150) and Argo 6×6 all-terrain vehicle rides (P350). The star attraction here is the Australian Rundown (P250), which is kind of like reverse rappelling: Secured to a harness, you run face-down a cliff!
La Union’s hidden wonders
Tapuakan River
Take a cool dip in Tapuakan River. Lined with large, smooth rocks, the river has naturally shallow parts for kids and deeper parts for adults. There’s even an area where you can go white water rafting.
Baluarte Pebble Beach
Luna, La Union
A beach without sand? Baluarte is lined with smooth rocks all the way to the sea. Local government lets tourists take home a stone for a souvenir. Just don’t take home too many!
Occalong Falls
Luna, La Union
Most waterfalls have a sheer drop from the cliff, but Occalong has a low, angled cliff that resembles a stairway or even a slide!
Where and what to eat
Halo-halo de Iloko
Zandueta street, San Fernando, La Union
Take your taste buds on an adventure at this famous restaurant in the La Union’s capital city. Aside from filling meals like their Sinampalukang Manok (P350), they serve unique variations on halo-halo such as ginataang halo-halo, halo-halo cupcake, and more.
Beachside shacks at the San Juan beachfront sell pulpog, a simple dish of grilled pork and green onions. Grab a bowl to fuel up in between chasing the waves.
Where to stay
San Juan surfer hostels
You’ll find many hostels walking distance from the beach. Surfers spend all day on their boards and just need a place to crash at night, so the rooms are bare-bones basic in amenities. A small, non-airconditioned bedroom for one with private bathroom will cost P1,800 a night.
For more adventures, catch “Biyahe ni Drew” every Friday, 10 PM on GMA News TV!

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