LA UNION — It’s proximity to Metro Manila makes La Union a surfing haven of choice, especially during the dry season. To this writer however, La Union has left a mark that would make it a haven we’d love every summer, for a lifetime.
Like most of those who are just beginning to love surfing as a sport, we regularly visited La Union to go surfing for a few consecutive years until 2015 — when my travel buddy and special friend, Ejay Payumo succumbed to a respiratory problem. He was 24. It was Ejay whom I last enjoyed the waters and sunset of La Union. Since then, the mere thought of going back to the town was hard.
But it’s now 2018. It’s been five years since our first visit, and three years after the saddest time when he left us for good. Grieving seems finally over, and we’re ready to reminisce those awesome La Union and surfing moments. Yes, we’re ready to write about it now while the plan to revisit is being considered.
From the usual six-hour drive, the town of San Juan could now be reached within three to four hours via TPLEX, making it an even sweeter spot for young professionals living in the Metro to flock this town anytime of the week, especially during weekends.
Despite the popularity of other surfing havens like Siargao and Baler, La Union with its easy access by land, remains among the top of mind whenever we hear someone say, ‘surf.’ So the moment we see #Elyu (LU or La Union) flooding our Instagram and Facebook feeds, we can’t help ourselves but plan our own trips, right?
When in La Union, even non-surfers are easily attracted with the charm of the waves asking everyone to ride them, as if telling humans to trust the process of learning to surf along the way. No one is exempted.
So, the next thing you know, you are on the surf board, trying to find equilibrium while the waves push you forward; and after only a few tries you’d make it work. You will fall, yes. But worry not, you’ll soon find your balance. You’ll surely find yourself shouting for joy in each and every successful ride.
Surfing as a sport is easy to fall in love with. The hardship during trials and errors for the beginners. The adrenaline rush for the pro. The feeling of triumph after a successful ride. Nothing beats those.
Affordable, Comfortable Stay
We stayed at San Juan Surf Resort during our last visit. Owned by famed surfer Luke Landrigan (also the surfer in this post’s featured photo above), the resort is perfect for those who’d love a wonderful stay, and when budget isn’t that much of a problem. Luke is a professional surfer, and also teaches at the resort’s San Juan Surf School, where we had our first try at surfing years back.
Staying overnight or two in La Union isn’t costly at all. There’s a lot of affordable hotels, hostels, and inns ready to accommodate visitors. During summer season however, make sure to book in advance as hotels near the beach couldn’t accommodate the sudden influx of visitors. Budget for the whole trip if you are not too picky is less than P2,000 for an overnight stay including transportation, food, accommodation, and an hour or two of surfing lesson.
Postcard-Perfect La Union Sunset
After the day of playing with the enchanting waters in this town, everyone is treated with the majestic, postcard-perfect sunset, one of the most beautiful I’ve seen so far. No matter how much we all want to spend the day playing with the waves, the time for the sun that shone brightest since early morning will then begin to turn yellow orange, then reddish. Under your watch, you will witness the waters eventually eating up the totality of the sun.
Like any lovable creature, the slowly-fading sun doesn’t go down just that. It makes sure to paint the whole sky love, and colors, and memories that may not last longer than a night for some, but for this writer, longer than years. A visit to La Union will never be the same again without the company of a good buddy like Ejay.
For the most of us, La Union is and will always be that surfing haven we can visit summer or not but for wanderers like him, it is a surfer’s haven best enjoyed a few times during his 23 years on Earth, though too short to be called a lifetime.
This writer could never be ready again but to be excited for the next surfing sessions in La Union is only appropriate. For up there, there’s a young surfer-sea-lover watching us enjoy the waves, the seas, and cheering or laughing or teasing whenever we are riding and falling from the surfboard, but shouting the loudest cheer whenever we successfully ride the waves, no matter how short it is.