Surfing in La Union is ideal. It’s the closest one to Metro Manila, ample public transport system, good roads and the waves cater to all levels from beginners to well seasoned pros. It even has an inviting night life.
Last January 2010, I was invited by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau to join a media tour of travel writers and bloggers to experience North Luzon for seven days starting in Cagayan province all the way to Pampanga to sample the various local cuisines and experience the attractions offered by the various provinces along the route. When one speaks of surfing, the mention of San Juan in La Union is never far behind, specifically the long stretch of sand that is Urbiztondo Beach. This municipality has been a popular venue for riding the waves ever since the Japanese Aki Naga started the surfing trend in 1981.
During that time, he taught the locals how to surf and to this day, these locals have been reaping awards and accolades and Urbiztondo Beach has become the surfing mecca of La Union, the surrounding provinces and of Metro Manila.
The surf here is said to be ideal, good enough for the president of the Philippines! Not only is this place blessed with two surfing seasons, July – October and November – March, quite a rarity in the country, the waves here are said to be standard, which is good, and is of consistent quality. It’s also suited for beginners as swell size starts at less than one meter. The coast here also has a sandy bottom and on a good day, wave length is at 50 -150m.
For newbies or those who want to start surfing, there are surfing clinics available offered by the various resorts. In one, the popular multi awarded icon, Luke Landrigan actually gives out instructions. An hour’s demo is enough and one can spend a few hours practicing.
The best time to hit the waves is early in the morning until 10 AM when the sun just gets too hot and later in the afternoon starting at around 2 PM. Surfing season in La Union can get the beach crowded but if you’re one who enjoys the nightlife, that would be a welcome as there are nightly events during the La Union Surfing Break.
San Juan is quite accessible. It’s just 5 – 6.5 hours by private vehicle or bus, respectively, from Metro Manila where several bus companies pass en route to Ilocos. It’s two hours from Baguio City and 30 minutes from San Fernando, the capital of the province.
When in Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan Surf Resort (+63 72 720 0340, www.sanjuansurfresort.com.ph, firstname.lastname@example.org) is the best place to learn surfing when you’re just starting as Luke Landrigan and his team are there to assist you. The resort also offers accommodations.