5 Things To See And Do In San Juan, La Union


Last month, we took you on an online trip around two of Bataan’s towns thanks to our new article series called 5 Things to See and Do! But now that it’s a brand new month, we’re ready to feature a new province. And this time it’s… *drum roll* La Union!

Known as the Surfing Capital of the North, La Union’s relatively close proximity to Manila has made it a favorite among newbie and experienced surfers. A town called San Juan in particular has become one of the trendiest places in the whole country among surfers and non-surfers alike!

You might be scratching your head and wondering, “Is there more to San Juan than just surfing?” There definitely is! And we’re here to show you four other things (along with surfing, of course) that this town has in store for you!

Commuter’s guide to San Juan, La Union

Because of its growing popularity and proximity to Metro Manila, San Juan isn’t that hard to get to. There are even direct trips available thanks to Partas Bus! It’s important that you remember that San Juan-bound buses are found in the Pasay terminal only, meaning there are no buses coming from the Cubao terminal.

There are two daily trips that you can choose from. The first trip departs the terminal at 12:15 am, followed by the second and last trip at 5:00 am. Schedules are subject to change without prior notice so it’s best to check Partas’ official Facebook page for any updates!

Now if Partas’ bus schedule doesn’t fit your itinerary, simply catch any bus bound for Vigan or Laoag and asked to be dropped off in San Juan!

What you can do in San Juan

While San Juan is definitely a surfer’s paradise, there are many other things you can do here if you’re just not into surfing. You can stuff yourself with super yummy food prepared with the freshest local ingredients. You can party the night away with your barkada and some solid booze. You can even give pottery making a try!

1. Go on a food trip

San Juan isn’t just for surfing trips. It’s for food trips too! With the growing number of tourists coming to see San Juan, it just makes sense that the number of places you can eat in is increasing too. And we swear that you can find a lot of quality and even Insta-ready food here!

El Union Coffee is definitely one of the most popular places in San Juan. Though it’s a great place to get your caffeine fix, it’s a non-coffee drink called Horchata that’s actually been making waves on the looloo app! Made up of rice milk, vanilla extract, almond essence, and cinnamon, it’s become a crowd favorite among our reviewers!

Photo from Kevinross B.’s looloo review of El Union Coffee

“Didn’t know that this drink would be damn addicting,” Prae B. says in her looloo review.

Now if you really just can’t let go of the caffeine, go for the Dirty Horchata! It’s basically the same drink with the addition of espresso!

Another super popular place to eat in that you’ve probably heard of by now is Makai Bowls. Completing the hipster beach vibe with their colorful smoothie bowls, it’s a great and refreshing treat at any time of the day!

Photo from Patrick V.’s looloo review of Makai Bowls

Two of its bestsellers include the Beach Break, which is made up of spinach, banana, coconut juice, spirulina, and homemade granola, and the Amianan, which has dragon fruit, mango, papaya, banana, and acai juice.

There are so many more awesome and delicious restaurants and cafes you can find in San Juan aside from these two. So many, in fact, that they deserve their own listicle! Stay tuned for that in the coming weeks!

El Union Coffee can be found on the G/F of The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Shop & Viewing Deck, MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.

Makai Bowls can be found on the 2/f of The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Shop & Viewing Deck, MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.

2. Party the night away

Chances are you’ve already heard of Flotsam and Jetsam by now and how it’s one of the coolest, Insta-ready places you can stay in when you visit San Juan. You’ve also probably heard that it’s also one of the go-to spots for some mouthwatering food. But do you know what else makes Flotsam and Jetsam one of the standout favorites of tourists? The nightlife!

Whatever floats your boat, you’re sure to have a fun, laidback night out at Flotsam and Jetsam regardless if you come on a weekday or weekend. Want to dance the night away? Sure, you can! There’s live music provided by the hostel’s DJs. Would you rather drink the night away instead? The bar will keep your favorite alcohol-filled drinks coming.

If that’s not your thing, you can simply chill by the bonfire at the beach. Flotsam and Jetsam even does film screenings!

Flotsam and Jetsam can be found along the MacArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union.

3. Splurge on a staycation

Sometimes the reason why you go out of town is just to get away from the city. You don’t need to go on some wild adventure. All you want is some peace and quiet, and a place where you can be lazy and no one will care.

San Juan may be buzzing with so much life and activity but it’s also an ideal place if you just want to find a resort and go on staycation mode the whole trip. Not quite sure where to book your staycation? Here’s one place we can suggest: Kahuna Beach Resort & Spa!

The Standard Garden Room is the cheapest room you can book at Kahuna Beach Resort & Spa. Priced at ₱5,765 (Sundays to Thursdays), ₱6,499 (Fridays to Saturdays and other holidays), or ₱7,499 (Easter, Christmas, and New Year), it has a queen sized bed and patio by the front door of your room.

But if you want to splurge on the ultimate San Juan staycation, book the Rest House instead! Priced at ₱26,325 (Sundays to Thursdays), ₱28,957.50 (Fridays to Saturdays and other holidays), or ₱29,957.50 (Easter, Christmas, and New Year), the Rest House has three bedrooms (the master’s bedroom comes with a balcony!), a living room with a flat screen TV, its own private lap pool, jacuzzi, and fully equipped kitchen, dining room, and bar!

Kahuna Beach Resort & Spa can be found along the National Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union. You can book your desired room through the official website or through any of the contact details listed here.

4. Surf the waves in Urbiztondo Beach

No list of activities that you can do in San Juan will ever be complete without talking about surfing in Urbiztondo Beach. “Elyu is a great spot to catch waves,” Sandy P. says in her looloo review. “But you need to check out the surf forecast before you go.” Better keep this piece of advice in mind. You wouldn’t want to ruin your plans by not checking!

Photo from Janine S.’ looloo review of Urbiztondo Beach

Don’t fret if you have minimal surfing experience or if your skills are totally non-existent! There are numerous surf schools in Urbiztondo with really accommodating and patient instructors who will gladly help you learn!

Photo from Norman Lester T.’s looloo review of Urbiztondo Beach

San Juan Surf Resort is one of the many that provide surfing lessons for tourists. A surf lesson with an instructor will cost you ₱400/hour while a surf guide will cost you ₱500/hour. Don’t have a surfboard? No worries! You can rent one for ₱200/hour!

Urbiztondo Beach can be found in San Juan, La Union.

San Juan Surf Resort can be found in Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.

5. Try your hard at pottery making

Now here’s one activity you probably didn’t expect you can do while in San Juan! Aside from being one of the ultimate surfing destinations in the country, this town is also known for its pottery industry, specifically for earthenware or pottery made from clay.

While it’s definitely so much more convenient to just buy a readily available earthenware as souvenir, why not take the chance to experience something new by making them yourself!

Red Clay Pagdamilian (otherwise known as Pagdamilian Ti) is your go-to place to learn pottery making. It was only eight years ago that the store began offering some classes for tourists who want to learn the art and acquire the skills. Here, you’ll receive some detailed instruction from the potters of Red Clay Pagdamilian themselves. And the best part is, you can bring home your finished work!

Red Clay Pagdamilian can be found along the MacArthur Highway, Barangay Taboc, San Juan, La Union.

Is there any other activity we might’ve missed? Sound off in the comments!


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About Author

Bella Javier

Bella is a lover of all things sweet, a multi-time winner of the timeless children’s party and icebreaker game, Name That Tune, and a self-proclaimed queen of wishful thinking. A wanderer whose hunger lasts 24/7 and a proud owner of an oldies playlist mixed with songs she can sing fluently but does not understand, she’ll choose neither Edward or Jacob when asked that same old question.