When in Manila, there are times when you want to escape the city, hit the beach, try a new activity not involving electronics (like actual surfing), and just chill out with some newfound friends. If this sounds like something you need, then join a Surfista Travels tour like I did last weekend!
Surfista Travels helps travelers and surfers arrange group trips, taking care of everything from your transportation, accommodations and surf lessons. All you have to do is arrive at the designated meeting point in Manila at the designated time, kick back and let Surfista Travels take care of everything else! It’s owned and operated by the heart-loving and lovable Elaine Abonal, whose 10-year exposure in the local surf scene leaves you no doubt that you’re in good hands. So what exactly goes on in a Surfista Travels trip?
My Surfista trip started a little past 12:30 a.m. on a Saturday, a good time for those who need to finish piled up work on Friday, or want to go out with friends for a wholesome Friday night before heading out of town for surfing. From our Petron EDSA cor. Pasay Road meeting point, it’s 6 hours to La Union (depending on your driver), and at 6:00 a.m., we arrive at a serene San Juan beach front. :)
It’s still early in the morning and our lessons aren’t scheduled for another few hours, so we grab some breakfast at McDonald’s, get oriented with our fellow surfistas names AND complicated nicknames, get some Surfista loot, chill out a little, and change into our surfwear.
Surfistas get a whole bunch of loot from Surfista Travels sponsors including: (Left) more liquids than you can drink from Lightwater and Vitamin Boost, a Surfista Travels shirt, and a keychain and sticker from My Life On Board; (Top right) Agos shirts for repeat Surfistas; (Bottom right) VMV Hypoallergenics sunscreen; not in the pictures are stickers from Hurley, Sea to Summit, Nalgene, GoPro & Surfista Travels
Surfistas Mia, Rhomie, Jen (me), Lea, Asha, Mina & Ghoul wear no less than Hurley rashguards! (Sorry, Xavier. :P)
Check out the San Juan Surf Shop for branded surf / beach wear when you’re killing time.
Then it’s time to hit the beach!!
(Left) Surfista Travels’ Elaine Abonal with San Juan Surf Resort’s Luke Landrigan (who happens to be a big pull for people joining a Surfista trip, as proven by the silently squealing excited fellow surfistas who has their picture taken with him); (Right) Elaine and Luke leading warm-up before surfing
Surf instructor Jeff explaining how to position one’s self on the board and how to “pop up”.
I had tried my hand at surfing once two years ago (too long ago) at this very same beach, though I remember not being very good at it, so I had my apprehensions about how I’d fare this time around. Also, in spite having engaged in a number of water sports, and even getting my Open Water Diver certification lately, I am nowhere near confident about my swimming skills.
Luckily, Jeff seemed to be a lot more thorough than whoever had taught me two years back (either that or I’m just a better student now), and La Union really is one of the friendlier beaches to learn how to surf, given its beach break (read: sand bottom vs. corals) and beginner-friendly waves. Remember the scary Blue Crush scene where Kate Bosworth hits the corals? You won’t have such casualties here. (But you do have to listen to safety precautions from your instructor because other accidents could happen.)
So anyway, in a couple of tries, voila!
Surfing with fellow Surfista Lawin taken with Elaine’s GoPro camera, a waterproof outdoor sports camera that I want for Christmas or something, specially since I’ve also gotten into diving and I’ve seen cool shots with it underwater. (Photo c/o Surfista Travels)
Needless to say, my fellow Surfistas were elated with the day of surfing. And such occasions (or well, basically any beach outing, it seems) calls for the customary jump shot!
Traveling isn’t all about having fun though, but also about positively affecting communities we visit and being responsible visitors. With Surfista Travels, we did our bit by doing a beach cleanup at the end of the day. Imagine how pristine our beaches would be if every beach goer did the same.
“THIS is just from a square meter of sand. Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.” – Photo c/o Surfista Travels
Swoon-inducing sunset at La Union (Photo c/o Xavier D’Souza)
The fun doesn’t end with the surfing, in fact, it became even more fun at night when we got to know our fellow Surfistas better over dinner, some drinks, and a lot of laughs thanks to good old-fashioned card games (in this case, an alternative version of Killers), or a hack version of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?, but this time it was more like Are You Smarter Than Our 10th (or 11th?) Grader Fellow Surfista Asha Who Needs To Study For Her Physics Test?
Elaine suggested we play that game while Asha reviews, and with the exception of Mina, the rest of us would have to retake Physics if we were Asha’s classmates. :P
The next morning, we were not too excited by the fact that the weekend was coming to a close, but we were looking forward to surfing the slightly bigger waves that Sunday, but not before having a hearty breakfast that comes free with the tour package.
Bam with longsilog, and Rhomie with a huge daing na bangus. I got pancakes. Do not get the pancakes if you want something hearty and “sulit”.
After our last hour of surfing, it was time for some more camwhoring and goofing around.
With love from Elaine xoxo
Mandatory class picture! (Clockwise from left) Surfistas Hanz, Elaine, Ghoul, Lawin, Xavier, me, Bam, Mina, Rhomie, Mia, Asha, Lea
Surfista Travels was everything I hoped for and more, and I hope to see my fellow Surfistas on another surfing trip around the country some day! And while I left with a sense of accomplishment in riding some waves, I’m more stoked about the people I got to know. Thank you so much to Elaine for being such an awesome coordinator!
Surfing in La Union with Surfista Travels