With every visit to San Juan, La Union, I discover another character or element. There’s always something new. Is it good or bad? I can’t say for sure. But on a recent trip I had this fear that all these changes might lead to commercialization especially when I saw a Figaro outlet just outside of our hotel. I don’t like the feeling of going to a place that looks and feels like it’s another Metro Manila. That the only difference would be the beach and the amazing sunset. Doesn’t feel like a vacation at all, right? I hope my fear would never come true. Because as much as I love ELYU, once it becomes another Boracay, it would be the end of our love affair.
I’ve been here many times and I’d like to share with you the 5 things I love about La Union:
1. The food
La Union is a great place to eat. I do think that after surfing, eating is the next best thing to do here. No matter your tastes or budget, you will never go hungry. Lunch is always Sinanglaw. You can find it in any resto or carinderia but it is a hit or miss thing. In my opinion, the best is the one served in Cafe Esperanza in San Fernando. Urbiztondo Grill House is another lunch option. They serve reasonably priced grilled meats and Ilocano dishes. Try the Chicken Barbecue and Pinakbet.
For dinner, we either go to Tagpuan sa San Juan or Surf Shack. The Beef Pares in Tagpuan is topnotch. This used to be a standing room only dining but they now have tables and stools. Surf Shack, on the other hand, offers nachos, pizzas as well as pasta dishes. The Vongole is a must-try. The booze menu is diverse and they use local wine and liquor in some of the cocktails. Bang the Bass made with Basi wine is what I usually order. You can also find local craft beers here alongside imported ones.
2. El Union Coffee
The reason why we always come back. Yep, it’s not about the stoke. To tell you honestly, I don’t even know how to swim let alone surf. I only tried to surf that first visit and that was it. The rest of the time I was just watching people surf their hearts out.
Back to El Union, we’re talking Flat White, Grilled Cheese with Bacon Jam, Milo Cookie Skillet, Indoor S’mores, Dirty White and Horchata. Oh my! I have tried practically everything on the menu. Plus the baristas are incredible. I heart this place.
3. The booze
What better place to get drunk than by the beach with beer bought from nearby 7-11 and while watching the fiery sunset! It’s unreal. But the best place to get drinks is at Flotsam & Jetsam hostel. It’s uber laid-back. You can drink without looking drunk as it’s only natural to kick off your shoes or slippers here and just lie down on one of them bean bags and pretend to relax when in reality, you’re about to pass out. There’s no judgment here. Bonus is the wonderful playlist and live music during special events or even during an ordinary day which happens regularly. And the Baby Squid and Basil…it’s delicious. Come before 9pm as they almost always run out of it.
4. Manskee’s Cupcakes
The first time I tasted Manskee’s cupcake, I knew right away that I was eating for keeps…if there’s such a thing. His cupcakes are really good. My all-time fave is Jack Daniels. By the way, they’re all laced with liquor. Don’t worry about getting drunk. You won’t. I’ve tried it. I ate a dozen and I was fine. Ya, there was a tinge of regret after as I knew those cupcakes would end up in my thighs as cellulite but it was all good. Do order ahead of time and you can just pick up somewhere in Agoo (because Manskee lives there) on your way home.
5. Sunset at the beach
No doubt that the greatest drawing card of La Union is the sunset. Of course, surfing is a given. Beach, too. But the sunset here is crazy beautiful and we always make it a point to be at the beach by 5pm to witness the sunset. I mean, look at it.
These are my top 5 but there are a lot of other things you can do in La Union. The town of Luna has so many scenic spots. San Fernando has a ton of restaurants and eateries that are worth trying. And we haven’t even visited La Union’s hidden gem, Tangadan Falls, that takes 2 hours to get there. ON FOOT! There’s no faster way. So this entails a bit of planning.
Watch a video I put together about La Union!
That’s my La Union for you. If you’re on Pinterest, please pin photo below.
Not fond of DIY tours? You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentals, rooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!