La Union is considered as one of the best surfing spots in the Philippines. The laid back city of San Juan is situated 280km north of Manila and the trip could take around 5-6 hours depending on traffic. San Juan, La Union is one of the top weekend destinations in the North, especially for people who want to unwind and get away from the bustling city of Metro Manila. You can surely find an accommodation that would suit your budget and preference. For this overnight weekend trip, my friends and I decided to stay at the hip and cool Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel.
We booked their kubo dorm (Nipa hut dorm) which costs Php780 per night/person. The price includes towel, locker, fan, use of facilities (lounge area and common shower) and standard hostel breakfast which consists of bread, jams, cereals and drinks.
Where to eat and drink?
Upon arrival, we had lunch at Flotsam & Jetsam’s restaurant. The restaurant had a variety of menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All the food that we ordered during our stay had an ample taste and serving. The restaurant transforms to a bar in the afternoon for sunset cocktails until midnight. Tourists from other hotels even flock to Flotsam & Jetsam to have drinks. I had my second breakfast the next day at Makai Bowls which is also located within the vicinity of Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel. It is tucked in the corner near the common lounge area.
After our late lunch, we decided to hang out and try El Union Coffee. It’s only a few minutes walk from our hostel. We ordered big s’mores and iced dirty horchata. Horchata is a drink that’s made of rice milk or almond milk. Dirty Horchata consists a shot of espresso. Before leaving the lovely cafe, we asked the local barista for some suggestions on where to have drinks. According to him, his list of top places to drink in San Juan consists of Flotsam & Jetsam, Surf Shack and Mad Monkey. I have to agree with Flotsam & Jetsam being on top of his list. The hostel’s easygoing ambiance makes it a perfect place to chill. We were also able to try Surf Shack’s food and drinks which were also great. We’ll try Mad Monkeys when we come back.
Around past 11pm, we decided to go back to our kubo dorm to get some rest because we will be trekking Tangadan falls the next day.
It’s very unusual for me to wake up around 5am without an alarm clock but I did. I once read an article about people having trouble sleeping. It says that going out of the city and camping or being close to nature helps people combat insomnia. Although we weren’t camping and I didn’t have insomnia, this trip definitely helped me reset my body clock. I loved the feeling of sleeping easily before midnight and waking up early without effort.
At 6am, Flotsam & Jetsam’s restaurant was still closed for breakfast. I realised that this is a laid back hostel after all.
What to do?
I found myself alone in the hostel’s common lounge area early morning and decided to just chill in the hammock and wait for the breathtaking sunrise. Some visitors enjoy reading a book in the lounge area and some listen to music and just relax. For other activities, Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel offers Tangadan Falls tour for Php800 per person and surfing lesson but surf’s flat during our visit so we decided to trek Tangadan Falls instead. I tried searching for a tour guide online for our DIY Tangadan Falls trek and found Kuya Jason. We paid him only Php200 per person. Visiting Tangadan falls is a must especially for adrenaline junkies since you can do cliff jumping there. The things I enjoyed the most during this weekend trip is just doing nothing, hanging out with friends, food tripping and watching the sun set. In La Union, there’s definitely an activity for everyone.
At around 8am, people started to wake up except for my friends. Flotsam & Jetsam’s staff started to come in. Finally, the breakfast counter was being prepared. I had a whole wheat bread with peanut butter spread, a slice of melon fruit, orange juice and green tea to perfect my healthy breakfast.
My friends woke up around 9am and ordered rice meals for breakfast. I was watching them while they eat their yummy looking bacon and eggs. I figured it’s also a great time to have my second breakfast. Nope, I didn’t order the same food. I opted for the healthier choice – a healthy bowl of goodness from Makai Bowls. I wish we had something like this in Manila.
We packed our stuff after breakfast and checked out of the hostel. Off we go to see La Union’s trending attraction, Tangadan Falls.
We drove all the way to San Gabriel where Tangadan falls is located. The drive takes around 30 minutes from San Juan. We met our tour guide, Kuya Jason, at San Gabriel’s Municipal Hall. I actually hired his brother but he was already fully booked for the day so he recommended his brother, Kuya Jason. If you decide to trek Tangadan Falls, I would definitely recommend hiring a tour guide since path way can be confusing. There are instances where there’s no definite path and you will be required to cross rivers with very strong current.
Trekking Tangadan falls can take 5 hours in all. You will be passing through a cliff jumping site which has 5 feet, 10 feet, and 20 feet jump off points. We jumped from the highest cliff and it was definitely the highlight of my La Union weekend getaway!
After 2 hours of trekking, we finally reached the gorgeous Tangadan Falls. The current coming from the bank of the falls was very strong. The view from the top was also amazing! We spent an hour here just wading and swimming. It is not required to swim with a life vest but I recommend to wear one especially if you’re not a good swimmer. I witnessed a guy who almost got drowned. Thank goodness our tour guide Kuya Jason and his brother was able to save him.
We finished our La Union trip with a very late lunch at Surf Shack. I was so hungry I ordered one whole pizza all to myself! Our trip was short yet it had a perfect mix of pure relaxation and active escape.
TLV Tips and reminders:
- Wear sunblock and cap
- Wear reliable trekking footwear and comfortable clothes
- Enjoy the water falls and be cautious of the strong current when swimming.
- Make sure that your GoPro is very secured when cliff jumping. A guy lost his GoPro after jumping. 🙁
If you want to hire our cool tour guide for your visit to Tangadan falls, just leave a comment below and let me know.