LA UNION | Tangadan Falls, Elyu's Iconic Water Cascade

Besides San Juan surf town's beach and fat waves, Tangadan Falls in the forests of neighboring San Gabriel town is also a frequented destination in La Union. Most Elyu trips, if not all, include this water cascade in their itineraries.

We hopped on our rented Hi-ace van right after breakfast on that gloomy Sunday. We're headed to Tangadan Falls, or so we thought. Kuya Jim, our driver who has driven many times to La Union but never been to San Gabriel, asked the locals and fellow drivers in San Juan for directions before we left. And so we went.

From what I knew then, San Gabriel was a 30-minute drive only from the main thoroughfare in San Juan. I got a bad feeling about that drive when after an hour or so, we're still on the road. But since I'm not the one behind the wheel and who asked for directions, I kept it to myself until I saw a signage telling we were in Naguilian, another town in La Union, and we're a few kilometers away from a certain Tuddingan Falls. I alerted Kuya Jim that there might have been a mix up.

That discovery aroused me — it's a waterfalls after all — but Tuddingan Falls is way out-of-way from Tangadan. We had a time constraint since it's our last day in Elyu and we're first-timers wanting to check what fuzz of Tangadan was all about, so we drove back. San Gabriel sits just next to San Juan, while Naguillan is farther down south passing by the capital San Fernando. We reached San Gabriel town center a little before noon.

San Gabriel Municipal Hall
San Gabriel Municipal Hall

San Gabriel Municipal Hall is the starting point of every Tangadan Falls adventure—securing permits, tour guide, paying necessary fees, and/or getting a transport, those are. Reaching the falls comes in two options; one is the one-hour trek across rivers and forests, and the other is the 30-minute motorbike ride along narrow concrete roads — or jeepney ride for larger groups — then a 10-15 minute trek from the trail head where these vehicles park. The river trek, they say, is a more scenic way to get there. Those with private rides may also drive straight to the trail head after registering at the town hall.

We opted the jeepney since we're 11 in the group and the kids were with us. While trekking could've been more scenic, the paved paths for the ride did not disappoint at all, especially when you're sitting on top of the jeepney's roof. It was my first time to topload this local ride. I wasn't able to do that during my solo trip in Mountain Province (where it was a common commuting scene) because of the rain.

READ ALSO: I Almost Skipped the Hike to Mt. Kupapey and Maligcong Rice Terraces

Me and my friends toploading the jepney
Fully-loaded tourist jeepney
Scenic view on the way to Tangadan Falls
Signage 3 kilometers away from the falls
Jumping-off point to Tangadan Falls where vehicles park
Jumping-off point to Tangadan Falls

The up-and-down-the-hill trek from where vehicles park takes around 10-15 minutes, including pit stops at makeshift stores for snacks, refreshments, and some pasalubong. Concreted pathways and staircases make the trail not-so-difficult, except at parts where one needs to scale slippery boulders right before Tangadan Falls show itself.

It wasn't only me who got his "first" at this trip. It became my daughter's first nature trek — which lasted for only about five minutes because she asked me to carry her — and her first trip to a waterfalls which she cutely calls a "big shower".

Concrete pathways of the trail going to the falls
Boulders of Tangadan Falls

Flowing along Baroro River, Tangadan Falls towers at about 50 feet cascading its cold waters into a deep, large basin that can fit a lot of swimming visitors. The upper tier of the waterfalls, though smaller than the main torrent, has a narrower but deeper catch basin that attracts cliff diving enthusiasts.

Apart from an exhilarating jump, another exciting feat to do in Tangadan is swimming your way to the falls' cascade. Behind that water curtain, there's an area to just sit back and enjoy the shower and natural noise of the violent gush. For non-swimmers to enjoy, a lot of life vests for kids and adults are up for rent. Boarding a bamboo raft is also an option to get near the torrent but it comes for a minimal fee.

Bamboo raft at the Tangadan's water curtain
My friends at the shallow part of the catch basin
My friends at the shallow part of the catch basin
My friends enjoying the cold waters

Scenic drive, friendly trail, quick refreshing dip, exhilarating dive and a panoramic water curtain in itself. Tangadan falls is a must-visit in Elyu, especially during the dry season when the sweltering climes are at its peak and swells of the famed San Juan beach are low. Besides, who wouldn't want to see an attraction so iconic that it somewhat defines the destination?

How to Get to Tangadan Falls

From San Juan (Urbiztondo Beach), take a jeepney to San Gabriel. Travel time is about 25 minutes and fare is around PHP 20. Tell the driver to drop you off at a tricycle lane for Tangadan Falls. Tricycle will take you to the trekking jumping-off point for PHP 25 per person.

Fees: Environmental fee PHP 30 / Guide fee PHP 500 (1-6 persons)

Pinoy Travelogue in La Union: 
Tangadan Falls, Elyu's Iconic Water Cascade


DJ Rivera is an I.T. professional, entrepreneur, travel blogger, writer and the online publisher of based in Rizal province, Philippines. Click here to know more.

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