Surf & Soul-search: San Juan, La Union

September 13, 1AM. All I took with me were a few sets of clothes and my strong urge to surf when I went to Cubao to catch the 2AM bus trip bound to Laoag (it will pass by La Union). Few minutes after 2AM, the bus departed. It would be a long, cold, and quiet trip ahead. Lucky for me, I was about to doze off when I hopped aboard.

It was only during the bus ride when I started reading about La Union. It was also just then, when I started asking my friends who have been there. This adventure’s just one of those impulsive travels I always do. No plans, no itineraries. Just me and my longing for the beach, what’s new? Haha!

Pros and Beginners sharing the waves

8:30AM. Scattered rainfalls were expected that day. Thankfully, I alighted to a bright and sunny San Juan Beach. Such a fine day to surf! But first, I need a place to secure my stuff.


The Circle Hostel, La Union

The Circle Hostel. The first place that came into my mind was the popular Circle Hostel and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. It is truly a backpacker’s must-go for its affordability, hospitable staff, clean facilities, and its supercool and colourful structures. After checking in, I left my things and headed to the beach as fast as I could. I was too thrilled! Surfing, at last! 😬

Saw this on my way to the beach

9AM. Renting a board and hiring an instructor is not a problem in San Juan. Surfing services are everywhere along the beach. Another good thing is that the rates of rentals and instructors are uniform and fixed so there’s no need to haggle for lower prices.

Game on!

Started off with the basics of surfing with the help of my instructor, kuya JR. Three things : paddle, stand, and balance.


Surfing’s a really physical sport, it isn’t a chill and an easy kind of activity. And for a beginner, I was able to ride a pretty decent number of waves, huh. (Dear self, you’re impressive! Haha) It was so much fun, I did not want to stop. However, I had to take a short break to regain some energy.

12NN. For 65php, I ordered a plate of hot rice along with Pinakbit and Bopis, and a bottle of soda at a nearby eatery. I know, I know, that’s a lot for 65 pesos!


1PM. I would’ve honestly spent the whole day surfing, but I just couldn’t let any beach experience pass without bumming around, walking back and forth the shore to feel the sand and appreciate nature’s masterpiece. That day, everything else didn’t seem to matter. It was all about me, my board, and the beach. Being alone, most of the time, leads me closer to knowing myself.

2PM. The waves were more aggressive, just in time for me to go back to business. People also started to grab their boards to not miss the huge waves approaching. Luke Landrigan (Super pro Filipino surfer) was even there giving his son a surf lesson. The experience just went from fun to exhilarating!

5PM. The sky turned greyish. The expected scattered rainfalls that afternoon probably just came in a little late. I knew at that time, any minute it would start to rain. So, I decided to go back to the hostel to shower and prepare myself for a 6-hour trip back home.

Rain in 3, 2, 1…

6PM. It started to rain really hard just a short moment after I rode the jeepney going to the bus terminal. After I arrived, I immediately boarded the bus. It didn’t take long for it to take-off. On the way home, I could still feel the waves. I was missing the sea already, and oh, the rain made leaving extra dramatic. Lol haha!

San Juan, La Union. With just one bus ride and no boat transfer needed, San Juan, La U’s beach is one of the most accessible beaches from Manila (That is if you don’t mind long bus rides). I suggest leaving at midnight to arrive early in the morning. The early morning breeze is what you need to start off your fun activity; the sun isn’t that scorching and the waves are consistently high enough for a long ride. This place will definitely be one of my go-to places whenever I feel like travelling alone because of its warm people and a number of options for  an affordable place to stay. Another weekend spent wisely, an awesome surf-perience! Thanks, La U!

Budget Summary

  • Bus fare (Cubao-La Union) – P 449
  • Stop-over breakfast – P 50
  • Circle Hostel (Day stay) – P 150
  • Surf board rental (Whole day) – P 700
  • Lunch – P 65
  • Jeepney fare ( San Juan – San Fernando) – P 10
  • Bus fare (La Union – Cubao) – 451

Total : P 1,875


3 responses to “Surf & Soul-search: San Juan, La Union

  1. It’s very wonderful po to budget your money and! Have a very nice itineraries! Keep safe always po as you travel on your own and proudly to say #WeAreSoloTravellers! God bless Mr. Franky!


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