What To Do In La Union, Philippines, If You're Not Into Surfing

What To Do In La Union, Philippines, If You're Not Into Surfing
| 7 min read

The laidback province of La Union in the northern Philippines is a renowned surfing mecca for local watersports enthusiasts, but there’s more to it than its inspiring swells and breaking waves. It’s also just a few hours’ drive from Metro Manila, making it a favorite weekend getaway for beachgoers. It wasn’t hard to see why people kept returning to La Union with its welcoming community of artists and surfers as well as its epic sunsets straight out of a painting. This coastal haven even has a diverse food scene—I could stuff my tummy with comforting Filipino cuisine and indulge in various international dishes. Whether it’s volunteering for an organization protecting sea turtles or having impromptu tarot card readings with my host, my experience here was one for the books. From practicing beach yoga to playing tennis, check out these things to do in La Union, Philippines, for non-surfers.

1. Join a community yoga by the beach

A vibrant community of yogis in La Union can find their flow and radiate their positive energy with the tribe by partaking in a magical yoga session by the beach. Joining a multi-sensory yoga class at Ili Norte beach during the holiday season left me feeling more invigorated than ever. The sunset provided a blissful backdrop to the practice, while the soundtrack of the gently crashing waves came as music to our ears while doing our downward-facing dog.

Organized by the host of La Yoga homestay, the session was a combination of a deep core-centric vinyasa class and a soothing sound bath with space and energy-clearing elements. Half of the donations from the yoga class were given to Curma, a sea turtle conservation and protection program. What’s more, the participants even went home with artsy gifts from local brands.

2. Play some tennis

Get ready to bring your A-game on the tennis court! Whether you simply want to shape up or hone your forehand and backhand techniques, head over to the courts of Game Na Tennis Club in the town of Bacnotan. As beginners who were interested in learning the basics of the sport, my friends and I trained under a seasoned coach. He focused on improving our form and taught us some fundamental drills to work on our footwork and basic strokes.

This athletic activity is a perfect outdoor sweat session for those who want to take up a new sport or enjoy a friendly competition with their buddies.

Game Na Tennis Club - GTC

Address: Raois, Bacnotan, La Union, Bacnotan, Philippines

Website: Game Na Tennis Club - GTC

Opening hours: 24 hours

3. Volunteer with an environmental conservation organization

Fancy joining the local fisherfolk for sea turtle patrolling? During my trip, a friend randomly invited me to a turtle conservation event by Project Curma, an organization that advocates the protection of the pawikan (sea turtles). I was grateful to join the educational affair and learn valuable information about these lovely creatures of the ocean.

The team instigated an awareness of the importance of safeguarding these endangered animals and their natural habitats through informative presentations, fun trivia questions, and interactive games with the kids. After the program, the students of Taboc Elementary School received packed plant-based meals as well as school and hygiene kits.

Curma also holds marine turtle hatchlings releases near its headquarters in San Juan, and the nesting season is generally between September and February. As a volunteer, you can further support the initiative by getting involved in coastal clean-ups or participating in the hatchling release to help ensure the baby turtles get to the sea safely.


Address: San Juan, La Union, Philippines

Website: Curma

4. Go for afternoon runs on the beach

Nothing beats the liberating feeling of running along the beach barefoot while listening to your go-to feel-good music playlist. Aside from being a great cardio workout, an afternoon run before the sun goes down was a meditative practice for me. It helped me clear my mind of negative thoughts and focus on the moment. While jogging, I saw locals playing volleyball, friendly beach dogs wagging their tails, and tourists setting up their cameras to capture the sunset.

Mebuyan’s Vessel, a spaceship-like masterpiece made by a Filipino artist, also caught my attention. This outdoor art installation in La Union pays tribute to the Bagobo goddess of fertility and death and is made of bamboo and recycled materials such as plastic bottles.

Mebuyan's Vessel

Address: M88H+26M, San Juan, La Union, Philippines

5. Embrace the digital nomad lifestyle

La Union is an ideal destination for digital nomads who prefer working from the seaside. The province provides freelancers and online entrepreneurs a chance to enjoy a work-life balance with its relaxed beach vibe and reliable internet connection. When I needed to squeeze in some online tasks while on vacation, I brought my laptop to coffee shops such as Clean Beach, a solar-powered beachfront cafe.

The budget-friendly cost of living in La Union also draws remote workers like me to this place with some accommodations having their own co-working spaces. In between virtual meetings, digital workers can marvel at relaxing sea views while sipping a smoothie. After getting things done, they can go for a swim, attend wellness activities, or experience a lively nightlife scene.

6. Enjoy a cocktail or wine night with friends

Feeling extra fancy or celebrating a special day? Doll up and go out with your pals for a lovely dinner and toast your friendship with a glass of wine or cocktails. The Lark is a perfect choice for an amazing girls’ night out, serving North African-inspired dishes and a wide assortment of carefully crafted drinks.

It has a cozy ambiance as well as live music sessions, which spotlight talented local artists. When my friends and I came back to spend Valentine’s Day at the restaurant, it hosted a retro love song open jam night that made it an evening to remember.

7. Try Filipino street food

If you’re feeling adventurous, sample mouthwatering Filipino street food snacks for an authentic gastronomic experience in La Union. There’s something heavenly about munching on some grilled isaw (chicken and pork intestines) dipped in chili vinegar while chugging a bottle of cold beer on the beach. Other food choices include skewered meats marinated to perfection and betamax (coagulated blood cubes). Grilled squid and oysters are available for those who crave seafood.

I also bought a flavorful Ilocos empanada in a small stall near the People’s Park and St. John the Baptist Parish. This area features an array of inexpensive viands and street food.

8. Beat the heat with summer desserts

There’s always room for cold brews and desserts, especially on a hot and humid beach holiday. After a day spent basking under the heat of the sun, delicious chilly treats such as refreshing smoothie bowls and shaved ice are the way to go. Fresh fruit shakes and iced beverages are also at your disposal.

One of the must-try summer desserts in La Union is the fiesta halo-halo from a popular restaurant-museum called Halo Halo de iLoko in San Fernando. It has locally sourced ingredients and oozes a delightful medley of flavors and colors topped by a scoop of ube ice cream. The place is also a feast for the eyes, featuring a quaint ambiance, beautiful antique collections, and handcrafted souvenirs.

Halo Halo de iLoko

Address: San Fernando, Philippines

Website: Halo Halo de iLoko

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 8pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 9pm

9. Watch the glorious sunset with your nearest and dearest

Many locals and visitors wax poetic about the beauty of sunsets in this tranquil coastal province. They gather around not just to photograph La Union’s natural work of art but also to spend the golden hour with their loved ones. My friends and I would spread out our beach mats on the sand and eat some finger food while we chased the last rays of the sun. Meanwhile, some couples would take this moment to shoot their romantic pictures.

Although I wasn’t usually an early bird, I also tried to catch the sunrise on the beach. The shoreline wasn’t as crowded and busy as the end of the day, and the scenery was splendid.

10. Laze on the beach and take a dip

For a relaxing day in the province, you can get your dose of vitamin D by swimming outdoors or simply sunbathing in natural sunlight. Take some time off your bustling city life by bonding with friends, making new memories together, and playing with adorable beach dogs.

Whenever I go to La Union, I bring a book to read during my downtime on the beach. It was an excellent way to get some peace and quiet while destressing and boosting my creativity.

11. Experience a fun nightlife scene

Are you in the mood to party the night away on the beach or simply chill and listen to relaxing blues music in a bar? La Union provides a plethora of opportunities for you to enjoy a lively nightlife scene. Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel is a hip party hotspot that easily gets jampacked in the evening. You can also attend several beach parties during surfing events and other special occasions.

On nights when I preferred to unwind while downing a few drinks with friends, I went to Lakbai Musika for live music entertainment and The Lark for open mic jams.

12. Sample local and international cuisines

La Union is teeming with local and international flavors that foodies will love. If you want to treat yourself to some well-loved Filipino comfort food such as kare-kare and sisig, you can go to Kabsat La Union. I also loved the hearty brunch menu at Alpas as well as its relaxing beachfront location. Surf Rice’s tummy-filling rice meals with flavorful sauces are a must-try, too.

My friends and I were delighted to feast on the delectable Italian favorites and classic Aperol spritz served at Kermit. For tasty Indonesian food, I sampled the mie goreng and nasi goreng of Little Canggu and Warung Lokal. Meanwhile, Mexican appetizers are the specialty of El Chapo’s.

13. Join a beach barbeque party

Tagging along with my friends at their potluck barbecue party was a spontaneously fun experience and a testament to the warm hospitality of the people living here. We set up camp on the beach, and others brought healthy eats such as party trays of vegan pancit (Filipino noodle dish) and plant-based skewers. Aside from grilling beef and tuna, we also indulged our taste buds in veggie salads, fruit platters, and dim sum treats.

It was an amusing night filled with games, gift-giving, and guitar jams capped by a beautiful moonset.

Embrace the beach vibe in La Union

Aside from being a popular surfing destination in the northern Philippines, La Union has developed into a hub for creatives and digital nomads who, like me, are adapting to the relaxed beach lifestyle. The province is packed with serene natural beauty and diverse gastronomic culture that attract visitors who seek a respite from life’s hustle and bustle. To make the most of your trip, refer to the above list of my favorite activities in La Union.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Jeremy is a former sports journalist from the Philippines who has a penchant for solo traveling and immersing in diverse cultures. She also finds solace in books, nature, and yoga. Her idea of a...Read more

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