La Union has become one of the most popular surfing spots in the Philippines. This is due in part to the long surfing season, which can last up to 7 months. What’s more, La Union is a bit closer to Metro Manila compared to other surf spots like Siargao or even Baler in Aurora.
However, there’s more to do in La Union than just surfing. If you’re not the beach bum type, check out these other activities that may convince you to visit the province.
Pitch your tent and sleep under the stars at Rosario Nature Park, La Union’s biggest camping site. Found in the town of Rosario, the endpoint of TPLEX, Rosario Nature Park is known as the venue of many a jamboree of the Boy and Girl Scouts of the Philippines. Airsoft enthusiasts also use the camping grounds for their war games.
After camping, you can also pay a visit to the Agoo-Damortis Protected Landscape and Seascape. It is home to a flourishing mangrove forest, as well as a variety of fish species and sea grass. Once you’ve had your fill of nature, you can easily access modern comforts through the many hotels and hostels in the area like Sunrise Hotel.
Visit a Vineyard and Pick Some Grapes
You might think that grapes don’t grow in the Philippines, but in fact, there are quite a few vineyards in the country. Most of these are located in the north, and many of them are in La Union. Two of the most popular are the Manguerra Grape Farms and the Lomboy Grape Farm, the latter believed to be the first vineyard in the Philippines. You can pay an entrance fee to simply tour the vineyards, or pay to pick the grapes yourself that you can then later purchase per kilo. Make sure to drop by early (these farms open around 6 to 7 in the morning) so you can get the freshest picks.
Cliff Dive at Tangadan Falls
If you’re more of a cliff-diving, trekking, bathe-in-cool-waterfalls type, you can visit the Tangadan Falls in the town of San Gabriel. You can take a shortcut by riding a habal-habal to the exit path, then trek back down to the falls for about 10 minutes. For an adventure, however, there are tour guides to help you reach the destination. You’ll trek the path for about an hour, passing forests and crossing rivers along the way, before you reach the falls. The bigger of the two is a popular swimming spot, while the smaller falls is perfect for cliff diving. The water is refreshingly cool and definitely the best reward after the hour-long trek.
Take Photos at the Ma-Cho (or Mazu Temple)
Another popular tourist spot in La Union is located in the city of San Fernando: the Ma-Cho Taoist Temple. Built in 1977 by Chinese-Filipino residents, this seven-story temple features various attractions for visitors like the Bamboo Garden, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the Five Door Gate, and the Liang Thing Pagoda. In addition, there are also ponds of water lilies and goldfish.
Apart from the image of Mazu, the deified form of a teenager from Fujian, there is an image of the earth god Tu Di Gong and an idol of the Buddhist goddess of mercy Kuan Yi Ma in the temple. The Ma-Cho Temple is open to both worshipers and non-worshipers alike; just be mindful that it’s still a religious site, so make sure to follow the dress code and other rules.
Attend the Sillag Festival in Poro Point
Poro Point in San Fernando used to be the Wallace Air Station, one of the former U.S. military bases in the country. Today, the area is a freeport zone with a new lighthouse that blinks twice every 10 minutes to help guide sailors.
Apart from taking photos of both the new and the old lighthouse against the majestic seascape, you can also attend the Sillag Festival of Lights. Held every May, the festival honors the role of the old Spanish colonial lighthouse that guided fishermen home. The lighthouse is still standing to this day, an impressive feat considering the advanced rust on the metal.
Eat at Halo-Halo de Iloko
This restaurant has become one of the most popular foodie destinations in the area, thanks to their unique and delicious halo-halo varieties. What’s more, they also offer one-of-a-kind dishes like their own version emparedados. This deep-fried sandwich features a soft bread like mamon, filled with a cheesy patty made from La Union longganisa. Their sinampalukang manok also has a very unique sweet-salty flavor, thanks to the buko juice used for the soup.
So you see, La Union is definitely more than a one-trick pony for tourists. You can surf all you want, but when the waves die down, these exciting activities and destinations await in their stead.
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