The surf, the easy going vibe and the interesting eats may be the draw for the destination such as La Union. But even when the swell’s down, there’s another activity to get wet while away from the coast. At the highlands of San Gabriel, La Union, the cool climes of this municipality entices with nature hikes and waterfalls like is Tangadan Waterfalls. I was participating in Lakbay Norte, a long-running annual familiarization tour of north Luzon and this was one of the stops in our itinerary I was looking forward to.
Ride to San Gabriel
There are two ways to Tangadan Falls as I have learned. The first one is a two-hour river trek along Baroro River. Speaking with the people who have done this trek, they said it was a lot scenic despite the longer time to get to the falls. The thought of doing that excited me but since we have limited time and I don’t think everyone in the group is prepared for the trek we took the easy way. We hired a couple of jeep to ride us to the closest jump-off point in San Gabriel. From there on it is just a 20-30 minutes hike. The ride was very scenic with an overlooking view of San Juan, La Union at the higher points. As the elevation gets higher, the temperature gets closer. One of our guides claim at times they need two blanket to sleep as it was cold at night.
Curtains of Tangadan Falls
The hike was indeed very manageable as the trail was an easy flight of stairs and dirt paths. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at Tangadan Falls. There were vendor stalls there but it is far enough from the falls to obstruct its view. Fitting to the origin of the fall’s name of “Tangad” which means “to look up”, people would naturally look up from the ground to admire this falls. Tangadan is a multi-layer falls. The two falls on the main basin. The water is also wide enough to swim in. Large bamboo raft can be rented to get under the falls. The bamboo is deep enough that thrillseekers can jump from the top of the falls.
There is also a smaller falls but a basin as deep on the upper level. Other people also enjoy jumping from this upper level of the falls. I find this falls really enjoyable. It’s large enough for many people. If one is looking for a nature side trip as a break from the surf, Tangadan Falls is both magnificent and fun.
To visit Tangadan Falls contact Daryl Dacumos of the Tourism Office at 09177943484. Guide fee is Php 500 for up to a group of 5pax. Jeep rental is Php 1500-2000. This is ideal for groups.
For independent travelers, from San Juan, La Union, ride a jeep north and tell the driver to drop you off San Gabriel. Hire a tricycle to take you to Tangadan Falls jump-off, fare is Php 50. Guide fee is still Php 500.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.