San Juan, La Union

Eat, sleep, swim and surf. Do on loop for the next three days.

I'm not a swimmer, but I love the water. Bring me to the beach and I'll gladly stay put the whole day just reading, dipping in the water, taking photos and enjoying the company of friends and family. They say salt water makes it easier for you to float and yes, the non-swimmer in me agrees.    

But floating isn't really swimming, yes? However, while preparing for this trip, I promised myself that I'd try to surf at least once if the instructors let me given I have certain limitations. That's been my mantra for the past few years -- just say yes to new experiences and see how it goes. 

So yes, I did try to surf and as you can see in the video above, I had less than perfect form. There were more falls than successes, but the overall experience was nothing short of amazing. I was so proud of myself for doing something that scared the sh*t out of me, and I was so happy for not panicking every time I'd fall off of the board and not feel the sand under my feet. I would space out though for a few seconds and try to remember what I had to do to get back on the board. Jump up to get air, pull the cord attached to my leg. Okay, noted - not panicking at all.

"I'm so happy we got to try something new together!" - Talia


We stayed at Flotsam and Jetsam and it's the almost perfect place to unwind and disconnect from the usual hustle and bustle of city life. I say almost because as much as I enjoyed the place, I can't really say the same thing about the people running the hostel. I felt that they didn't appreciate having us around and service definitely had room for improvement. 

Flotsam and Jetsam is beautiful and it won't break the bank to stay there for a few days. A bed in their dorms costs less than Php 1,000 (about USD 22) but we wanted privacy so our family got the only air-conditioned room (at that time) which was about Php 4,000 (approximately USD 86) per night for two adults and two kids. 


There weren't a lot of people when we went so we pretty much had the place almost to ourselves. We spent most of our time in the hostel's large hut when it was too hot to swim or surf. It was really slow living for us for three straight days which we really enjoyed (and needed). 

"Mom, can we live here forever?" - Erin

 

Wanderer's Thoughts

Our vacation here was so much fun! We went surfing and ate amazing food. On the beach, the walk to the ocean felt like a walk in the desert. The hotel there was awesome, too. It may not look like any normal hotel, but I like how it looks. It's artsy and super awesome for Instagram photos. They have a little area there where you can just relax. There are hammocks there, too. The first day of surfing was super fun! The second day wasn't the best - there were so many jellyfish. I'm just lucky I didn't get stung by one. Erin (my sister) definitely enjoyed playing in the sand. We ate different things but my favorite was the squid, especially because it was fresh.
- Talia

San Juan had loads of restaurants for all types of foodies and fortunately for us, everything that we tried were culinary delights.

GEFSEIS GREEK GRILL

This restaurant would be my first stop the next time I go back to La Union. Authentic Greek cuisine, the cool breeze and the beautiful sea view makes this place the perfect end to your day of surfing. But yes, I will eat here again and again for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Main dishes cost about Php 200-300 (approximately USD 4-6) each.

EL UNION

Wonderful place, outstanding coffee and very friendly crew! Now I know why a lot of people keep on posting about this place. Eight thumbs up!

ALOHA SWEETS & TREATS

It's the perfect place to cool down after walking under the sun. Just make to sure to eat your ice cream fast or else you'll end up having creamy soup. 

MAD MONKEYS

All those social media posts about the burgers here weren't lies -- they're really, really yummy! I wasn't expecting the patties to be that thick, and when they handed me my burger, I was at a loss on how to eat it (hello, lockjaw). They didn't have utensils for guests, but Mad Monkey's awesome crew was able to get a set of utensils for me just so that I'd be able to eat my burger without injuring myself.

URBIZTONDO GRILL HOUSE

Affordable Filipino food is always a good idea! We paid about Php 300 (approximately USD 6) for two adults and two kids. The kids were a bit hesitant when they saw the environment but when the food arrived they couldn't stop eating. We highly recommend the pancit (noodles) and the squid!

MAKAI BOWLS

Healthy and delicious smoothie bowls made with real fruit. No dairy and no sugar added. I'd probably have this for breakfast almost everyday if it can be bought in our neighborhood mall.


Those three days of slow living did us a lot of good. Vitamin sea is always our no. 1 source for some downtime and family fun!


Workaholic and multitasking momma who absolutely enjoys what she does as Executive Producer for OTT.  Has faulty memory so taking photos of almost everything is part of her everyday life.