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. 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.
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 but we wanted privacy so our family got the only air-conditioned room (at that time) which was about Php 4,000 per night for two adults and two kids.
“Mom, can we live here forever?”
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).
San Juan had loads of restaurants for all types of foodies and fortunately for us, everything that we tried were culinary delights.
1. 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 each.
2. 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! 3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Urbiztondo Grill House Affordable Filipino food is always a good idea! We paid about Php 300 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!
6. 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.
Kaye Olfindo is mom to Erin and Talia, and wife to Miguel Olfindo. See more photos and videos from this post and all of her family's many travel adventures around the Philippines and more at Get Lost With Us.