San Juan, La Union Beach Escapade

In the Philippines, the town of San Juan, La Union has earned its reputation as the “surfing capital of the north.” Merely 5 hours drive away from Manila, this place is a haven for surfing enthusiasts.

After enjoying the cold weather of Baguio we went down to La Union to end our summer vacation with a beach escapade. The improved Naguilian Road took me less than 2 hours to reach San Juan. If you are coming from Manila follow the same route to Baguio. Take NLEX –  SCTEX – TPLEX, exit at Binalonan-Dagupan Highway and turn left to MacArthur Highway / Manila North Road. You’ll be traversing the Pangasinan and La Union towns of Pozorrubio, Sison, Rosario, Santo Tomas, Agoo, Aringay, Caba, Bauang, San Fernando and eventually reach San Juan.

Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa

While there are a number of resorts available, Kahuna has the most relaxing tropical atmosphere in the area. It offers individual cabins instead of typical hotel type rooms.

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These quaint rooms surrounded by lush greens have a mixture of traditional and contemporary designs. Concrete walls with rattan exterior finish, nipa palm roofing and huge glass window panels and doors.

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On the inside drapes can be lowered down for privacy. Although the bathroom does not have one. But worry not, it is secured by a tall bamboo wall.

Here are some de-stressing activities for a laid-back stay:

1. Take a nap at the Balinese-inspired cottages and ocean villas. Yes, first on my list is to sleep. At 35 °C outside in midday summer (and this might go higher) you might want to avoid heat stroke. Furthermore after a long road trip there is nothing more satisfying than a full body stretch lying back on a soft queen sized bed. Have a rest for an hour or two and revitalize.

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2. Have a splash at the infinity pool. While the beach is famous for surfing, the north wind and the South China Sea current makes the water a natural habitat for jellyfish. Enjoy the pool and avoid getting stung.

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3. Relax at the bar. Beer. Billiards. Beef nachos. Or have some cocktail if you are watching your diet. Of all beef nachos I have tried, theirs by far is the best. I can still taste it in my mouth!

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4. Eat. Eat. Eat. Once you’re in the resort you’d be lazy to go out to town. Lunch, dinner, breakfast, the restaurant have so much to offer. Kahuna Salad, Chicken Quesadillas and a hearty breakfast platter are among the choices.

5. Take a surfing lesson. If you have the guts to play with the waves then go for it. I would’ve tried myself but the swell was not daring enough (just making an excuse).

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6. Watch people surfing. What is more entertaining than people-watching? Watch the learners and the experts alike and chill with the sound of the raging waters. Even this kid seems to be fascinated.

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Thunderbird Resorts & Casinos

On the way back to Manila we checked out Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, San Fernando, about half an hour drive from San Juan.

This 65-hectare Santorini-inspired resort with its casino, golf facility, private beach and luxurious Mediterranean villas, truly is a dream destination in the north.

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Single detached villas with own parking space
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Viewing deck
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Pool and sea view rooms
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Main pool in front of the hotel
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Infinity pool, a short walk from the hotel

I wish I could write more. Perhaps on our next trip when time (and budget) permits  I shall return and have a taste of a more lavish escapade.

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