The surfing capital of the North isn’t just all about getting stoked. Art galleries and design studios are popping up one by one; creative cafes and beautifully designed hostels all offer a respite from a full day in the sun. So hop into your car and drive out to La Union this weekend; you’ll be rested and relaxed, and you may get a decorating peg or two.
HOSTELS & HOTELS
Tropical tranquility at Kahuna
This Balinese-style retreat features cozy-huts and villas that are either surrounded by refreshing greens or fronting the rugged sea. If you’d rather lounge than surf, the resort has a pool for a leisurely dip.
Kahuna Hotel, Café & Restaurant, National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan
Container van goals at Vessel Hostel
The four-storey hostel is a tropical-minimalist wonder that is composed primarily out of repurposed container vans. “It’s very simple but timeless,” says its architect Buji Libarnes. “Walang clutter, very calming and peaceful.”
Vessel Hostel, Urbiztondo, San Juan
The quirky-boho vibe of Flotsam and Jetsam
Up-cycled materials, cool prints, color-blocking, and an overall laidback vibe make Flotsam and Jetsam a fave Elyu haunt for weekend tourists. Tricks to try at home: Sampaguita glass used as wall transoms, mixing cobalt, teal, lemon yellow, and lavender in a single color palette (it works!)
Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel, 12500 MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan
ART & CULTURE HUBS
Natural formations at Bahay Na Bato
Drive further up notrth and you’ll across the town of Luna, which is known for its abundance of pebbles. Here, you’ll find Bahay na Bato, a resthouse-turned-tourist-spot which was built using pebbles for the walls and floors, and is highlighted by wooden and stone sculptures made by local artists.
Brgy. Nalvo Borte, Luna, La Union
The art of Inabel at Balay Ni Atong
Former accountant Al Valenciano returned to his home in Ilocos in the 1990s to study and collect Abel blankets from around the region as part of his work for a museum. While doing this, he gained a deeper understanding of the Ilocano’s life, the weavers, and Abel.
Now Al works with up to 12 weaving communities in the region, helping the weavers professionalize their production processes. Balay ni Atong also participates in trade shows like the annual Habi Fair and Manila FAME, making it possible for more foreign buyers to learn about Inabel.
Balay Ni Atong, Pindangan Ruins, Carmel Monastery Compound, San Fernando City; visits are strictly by appointment only
L.U. Art scene at La Union Culture & Arts
This gallery, also called Silid ti Adal ken Laing La Union in Ilocano, is open to artists residing or has roots in the province. Its curator, Rodel Rillera, says that the goal is to push local artists to be at par with artists in Manila and Baguio.
Culture And Art Gallery of La Union, 3/L Lupac Bldg., San Fernando, La Union
A bit of heritage at Pindangan ruins
Take a break from the beach and explore Pindangan Ruins, which are the remnants of an old stone church built in 1754. Head to this historic site in the late afternoon if you want to get the best IG-worthy snaps.
Brgy. San Vicente, San Fernando, La Union (beside the monastery of the Carmelite Sisters), entrance fee is P200
RESTOS & CAFES
Modern resort vibes at Clean Beach Co.
There’s a touch of relaxed midcentury style mixed in with super-casual beachcomber pieces (such as the Union Crafts stools made out of inabel fabric) at the appropriately named Clean Beach Co. The resto is all about clean living as well, and they shave off P10 from your drink if you bring your own glass or cup.
G/F 134 Beachfront Collective, Urbiz Garden Bed & Breakfast, MacArthur Highway, San Juan
Ethnic hip at The Coffee Library
Its first branch is in Baguio, and The Coffee Library now serves up its tasty Vietnamese brew to La Union habitués in a cozy café that’s part-rustic-resort and part-modern-ethnic with its bleach wood panels and repurposed basket lamps.
The Coffee Library, MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan
Mishmash Pinoy at Halo Halo de Iloko
This restaurant that sells the region’s local fare is decorated like your mad Tita’s Pinoy-inspired home with its fiesta-like colors, capiz windows, and a hodgepodge of traditional Filipino ornaments like sungka and taka horses. It’s charming and delicious at the same time.
Halo Halo de Iloko Balay, 12 Balay Mercado, Zandueta St., San Fernando
Surfer cool at Olas Banditos
As one of the hippest dining spots in Urbiztondo, you can get a lot of design pegs here, from the multicolored recycled wood walls and eye-popping murals, to the midcentury-style concrete blocks.
Olas Banditos, National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan
MAIN PHOTO: Vessel Hostel by Michael Angelo Chua. Parts of this article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Real Living magazine.
This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.