5 Things To Do in La Union Besides Surfing

Let the Chosen Juan persuade you to visit La Union even if you’re scared of huge waves.

By Dave Agbayani
April 22, 2016


The first thing that comes to my mind whenever I hear “La Union” is surfing. But not too long ago, I realized that’s not even half of what you can do in this awesome province. Here are 5 other amazing things you can do to make the most of your adventure in La Union.

1. Yoga
I’ve always thought that yoga is just a piece of cake—“just” stretching your body and all that. Of course, I was proven wrong. There is so much more to yoga than just doing those cool poses: it is also about getting rid of the distractions, the negativities, and having your mind focus on relaxing and finding that inner peace (being someone who thinks a lot, this is actually the most difficult part for me). I learned all this from Aquanimous, a yoga center in La Union. With mat yoga, they told me that after all the stretching, there is actually an allotted time for rest. Aside from the mat yoga, Aquanimous also offers stand-up paddleboarding yoga classes—that’s right, imagine doing yoga on a paddleboard floating in the middle of the sea. Pure bliss.

2. Cliff Diving
The trek to Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel, La Union, takes about an hour and a half. Halfway through it is a cliff diving spot, with 3 jump-off points with varying heights: Elementary (4 feet high), High School (less than 10 feet), and College (about 20 feet). I first tried the High School, and I was so scared that I stood on the jump-off point for more than 3 minutes, just staring down at the water. When I finally found the courage, I jumped and my scream was too short, getting cut off when my face hit the water. But I enjoyed it so like the crazy tourist that I am, I immediately tried the College. This time, I leaped immediately and screamed like a madman, with my college life flashing before my eyes as I fell 20 feet. I swear, I could still feel the adrenaline rush in me even when I got back to the hotel that night.

3. Rafting
After a short trek from the cliff diving spot, we went to Tangadan Falls (tangadan means “something to look up to.”) It is a popular destination in La Union, with quite a number of people when we got there. One group was composed of students from a university in the province who decided to reward themselves with a relaxing excursion to the falls after surviving their exam week. To save money, I invited them to join me with rafting—and they did. Having a crowd on the raft was so much fun! We all screamed like little kids when the raft approached the base of the falls and the water crashed onto our heads. I’m proud to say that together with the university students, we gave the quote “Work Hard, Party Harder” a whole new meaning.

4. Chill by the Beach
When we got back to San Juan, a town in La Union known for surfing, I sat by the beach and observed the people. There were a lot who carried surfboards but not everyone was there to ride the waves. Some were simply lying on the sand while waiting for that breathtaking sunset. Some were also into the simplest but most relaxing of things like enjoying smoothie bowls by the shore and playing with sand. Frisbee was also popular: one of the guys I talked to while playing was from Czech Republic (he was amazed that I knew where it was). He told me that their friend just got married and they’re spending the reception party on the beach. It’s clear then: there really is more to this beach than surfing.

5. Meet People
Evenings on the beach aren’t so bad either. There are huts right outside Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel in San Juan that are the perfect areas for mingling and making new friends. In general, the people living the surf culture are so chill that you can start a conversation with them with just a simple “Hey!” In fact, I was rehearsing lines in my head so I can approach this one person when somebody asked me, “Hey, mind if we join you?” That’s how the night became filled with a lot of storytelling, drinking, and bonding, without having to worry about who you are and where you come from. Every night you spend in La Union easily becomes a story worth telling. And rehearsing lines in your head is actually not required.

Looking back at my La Union trip, everything reminded me of some of the things I did when I was still a student of a university—doing some tricky things while maintaining a relaxed mind, experiencing the thrill of jumping into the unknown, rewarding yourself with some time with friends, spending a chunk of my time procrastinating and chilling, and meeting new acquaintances over drinks after a long day. Of course, I wouldn’t want to go through university again. But going back to La Union and doing all of those things a second time around? Hell yeah.
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