The province of La Union, north of Manila is known for its famous surfing spots – with the town of San Juan being the most visited. In recent years, the sleepy surfing town has been making waves into the local and international surfing scene. Just a few minutes away from here is San Gabriel where Tangadan Falls is located – overlooked, but still worth a visit!
- Make your way to San Juan, La Union. Buses to Laoag and Vigan usually passes by San Juan.
- From San Juan La Union, ride a jeepney going to San Gabriel.
- From San Gabriel, you may ride a tricycle going the the Tangadan Falls jump-off. Just ask the tricycle driver to drop you off there.
There are now two jump-offs to Tangadan Falls. If you’re commuting, once you reach San Gabriel, tricycle drivers will bring you to the jump-off which requires you to river trek (Baroro River) for around an hour. If you have your own car, there’s a possible jump-off beyond the town of San Gabriel which will only require you a 20-minute hike down to the falls.
We brought our own car (Toyota Vios) and just used Google Maps to look for the easier jump-off (We typed in Tangadan falls). Be extra careful as the road can be very steep. Make sure your car can take it – preferably an SUV. The drive to San Juan took around 5-6 hours with stopovers while the drive to the jump-off took 40 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY
Stay in San Juan, La Union just 30-40 minutes away from the jump-off. There are numerous hotels in San Juan. If you’re on a budget you may stay at Circle Hostel or Flotsam and Jetsam since they have affordable dorm rooms. The town is also home to great quaint restaurants you might want to check out during your stay. You may check out San Juan Surf Resort as well. Here’s a list of hotels in San Juan from Booking.com.
A weekend is enough to explore the town of San Juan with a side-trip to the falls. We left Saturday early morning and arrived at the waterfalls before lunch. We took the nearer jump-off. The hike down only took 20-30 minutes. The drive to jump-off is quite difficult since we only brought a sedan. The road is very steep at some parts. There’s a parking area at the end of the road for just a minimal fee.
The falls sits in the middle of the mountains of San Gabriel. It’s created by a big rock face blocking Baroro river’s flow. There are two swim-able basins here. The main basin is bigger which sits directly below the waterfalls. Swimming at the base is possible but be very careful since the rocks are slippery. There’s also a basin above with calmer waters.
There are makeshift tables and chairs set-up at the “entrance” if you want to have lunch there. Cliff-diving is very possible, but at the height of 40-feet, it can be quite a challenge. The main basin is deep so be extra careful while swimming. You may rent a life jacket if you want. There’s also a raft for rent to bring you to the base. (It’s a waste of cash if you’re a good swimmer though)
After about two hours, we went back to San Juan and enjoyed the rest of our weekend there. Some resorts in San Juan offer tours to Tangadan Falls. If you’re new to the place or commuting, availing the tours might be cheaper for you.
If you’re going to the nearer jump-off getting a guide is useless. The trail to the waterfalls is well paved. If you’re new to hiking or trekking – get a guide. We did not get to try the river trek but given the length (of the trek), getting a guide for it would be ideal.
- It’s best to go to Tangadan before lunch to avoid the crowd.
- The falls is open from 6:00AM to 6:00PM only. We do not recommend staying late. The trek and drive back will be very difficult without daylight.
- Smoking is not allowed in the vicinity. There are stiff penalties.
- If there’s a thunderstorm, do not risk it. The drive to the nearer jump-off will be very difficult. If you’re river trekking, it will be very difficult and dangerous.