Jack Johnson was beating his usual mellow song in the car stereo as we were speeding off smoothly along the panoramic North Luzon Expressway. It was a beautiful Saturday morning of June, and I was off to La Union for a yoga and surf weekend with 10 fellow travel bloggers.
After nearly six hours rolling off from Manila, we reached our destination. San Juan, a second class municipality in the province of La Union is considered to be the Surfing Capital of Northern Philippines. It is known as a mecca for intermediate surfers, mostly coming from Manila and nearby provinces, especially during its two surfing seasons -- July to October and November to March.
It was my second time in San Juan and I was giddy for a repeat of my more-than-pleasant trip there last January. The beach may have baby waves compared to other surfing spots in the country, but I'll always remember the good vibes and friendly people I've met there. I was excited to surf, do a bit of yoga and relax!
|The common area|
|One of the two open-air dormitories|
|The walls and the bed bunks. Photo courtesy: The Circle Hostel La Union|
|NO drugs, Just LOVE|
We were booked for an overnight stay at The Circle Hostel La Union, an eco-hostel that blends well with the surf and beach vibes in San Juan.
Unlike the conventional closed bedrooms offered by other hotels, The Circle Hostel has two open-air dormitory buildings with single beds bunks that can go up to 3 levels high! :) They also have hammock spaces, a tree house, and one common area ideal for sleeping, yoga and group activities.
|The colorful pathways|
An overnight stay costs P400/head which covers a bed bunk with a mosquito net, linen and a privacy curtain; P300/head for hammock; and P150/head for day trip.
One of the things that caught my attention the moment I stepped in was the colorful graffiti all over the place. As I have later on known, visitors are encouraged to express their thoughts and unleash their artsy self by hand painting it on their choice surface, anywhere within the hostel. I noticed that thoughts about surf and travel were the two obvious favorites of their visitors.
|Share your thoughts, paint it!|
I like its business tagline "There are no strangers." Raf, one of the owners, believes that part of traveling is to make friends, so they have designed the hostel in a way ideal for maximum interaction among its visitors. The common area, for example, could be a good place for drinking games! Solo backpackers who are up to meeting new friends will definitely enjoy this place. :)
It may have been unfortunate that the waves hadn't picked up while we were there, and too sadly, we had to forego surfing. But the overall experience of staying in a cool open-air hostel, food trip to some nice restaurants around La Union ( Urbiztondo Grill, Thunderbird Resorts, Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa), and snorkeling (Abel's Tours) and yoga session with fellow travel bloggers was more than enough to brand that weekend as SWELL!!
|The weekend gang! Photo by Kara Santos of Travel Up!|
Things to remember while at The Circle Hostel
1. Services and facilities available at The Circle Hostel are free wifi, lockers (please bring own padlock), shower area (bring your own towel).
2. They do not have a restaurant inside the hostel so it's advisable to bring your own food (coffee, chips, bread). Although there is a restaurant a few meters away, Urbiztondo Grill, they offer good-tasting "lutong-bahay" foods.
3. Don't forget to bring your own toiletries (shampoo, soap) as there are no nearby stores in the area. Bring an insect repellent, too!
4. Bring rash guards or anti-jellyfish SPF especially during jellyfish season. I hope The Circle Hostel could also provide vinegar in case of jelly fish sting. :)
Address: Urbiztondo,San Juan,La Union
How to get to The Circle Hostel, La Union:
Take a bus bound for Laoag, Vigan, Abra or Ilocos Sur. Buses: Genesis, Partas, Dominion, Fariñas, Viron and Florida
Ask the driver to drop you off at San Juan Surf Resort, San Fernando, La Union. Across the resort, you'll see Urbiztondo Grill. Take the access road on the right of Urbiztondo Grill, it will lead you to The Circle.