When you get that sudden rush to get away from your comfort zone, here’s a perfect place to escape. About 278 kilometers from Manila is a surfer’s paradise situated in San Juan, La Union. The town faces westwards to the South China sea so if you want to ride waves, you know where to go.
Getting to San Juan is so easy that you can plan your every weekend in San Juan without abusing your Vacation Leaves. Here’s what we did: We secured some seats at Partas Bus Lines which has direct transport to San Juan; we took the bus scheduled on a Saturday morning which leaves at 6 (coz the bus station is INDEED jam-packed as if it was a holiday season for passengers to go home). (The bus cost Php 450- Php 480 if I remember it right.) While waiting for the bus, we spent the night til mornin’ around Cubao just chit-chattin, munchin’ on snacks, and consuming a few cups of coffee to keep us up until the bus arrives. After 4 or 5 hours of in between sleep and awake moments, a beautiful view from our window woke us up as the glaring sun’s smiling at us from the horizon. After we have alighted from the bus and walked our way to Fatwave Surf Resort, the first time I saw it, I knew that this was going to be a blast!
Locals say it is best to visit Baler from August to September because you’ll sure to catch wild waves during these months. When we went there, the waves were gentler, just right for first timers like us.
We reached San Juan, La Union at around 11:30 in the morning and the first thing we did was to pick a place to stay. We checked-in at this budget-friendly inn named Fatwave Surf, which is not only popular for its no-frills lodging but also for its gastronomic offers. Rooms are basic which price ranges from Php 700 to Php 1000.
In the afternoon, we decided to take a stroll by the seashore and stayed at Fatwave Restaurant for some chit-chats and catching up. We watched the beautiful sunset fade in the horizon while havin’ a few bottles of beer. Oh, good life!
At night, we headed to San Fernando, La Union to satisfy our gastronomical cravings. We hailed a tricycle from the resort and paid only Php 50 to get to San Fernando. We stopped by a famous restaurant named Halo-Halo de Iloko where we got our stomachs full. We had pinakbet, bagnet, and pork binagoongan rice.
There are several surf schools along San Juan Surf Resort and prices are quite the same (unless you have superb negotiation skills ehem). Ask around so you can get the best deal. We got ours from Surfstar Surfing School. They had a great offer of hiring an instructor for only Php 200 per hour and same price too for surf board rentals. If you are aiming to surf all day, surf board rentals can be availed at a very affordable price of Php 600 and same price for the instructor on an hourly basis. Perfect.
We headed to the shore with my instructor and I was asked to hop on the board while on land. They do this to check if you are a regular footer (right foot behind) or a goofy (left foot behind). Then, the instructor taught me how to lie on the surfboard with the correct position and stand up. Finally, she also gave me some encouraging words so I won’t chicken out. In all honesty, I was really excited because, for one, I haven’t tried surfing before and this is just the first time! So, my chances of actually standing up on the board and gaining control were practically non existent. Or so I thought.
TAAADAAA!!! After three falls (which I actually enjoyed because the feeling of the salt water slapping my face was such a breeze), I successfully maintained a standing position on the surfboard until I reached the shore. Awesomesauce. Standing on the board looks easy but it actually takes time before you get the hang of it. The feeling is very rewarding!
I realized that there’s more to San Juan than just surfing. It’s the hospitality of their people that makes it so great.
We are planning to go back before the year ends and I hope it pushes through!