Say hello to your new surftown getaway

Photos by Tin Sartorio

Surfing is scary, but what’s scarier is doing it in front of pros. There is a major disconnect between our expectations and reality when we hop onboard. You’d think it would be as easy as standing on a tabletop, but you’ll soon find out that surfers have abs for a reason. (Gotta work that core, fam.) But like anything, board skills can be developed through practice and with the help of a few friends. Surfing communities like La Union are welcoming more newcomers and weekenders with easier access to our beloved surftown (thank you, TPLEX).

Home for the weekend: Vessel Hostel is the new kid in surftown.

LU itself is also nourishing more establishments that help spread the Filipino aloha vibe all around the coast. And Vessel Hostel is the new kid in town. Merging surfing and architecture, the hostel is built atop the abode of surfing and architecture power couple — at least, according to us — Buji Libarnes and Nikki de la Paz. They repurposed six empty shipping containers and transformed them into hostel rooms. And that’s already a win-win for the eco-friendly community. Each room has two double-decker beds, and can accommodate up to eight people. The best part: there’s a personal mini desk and socket for each guest. So no need to fight over who’s going to charge their GoPros first.

Being surfers themselves, Buji and Nikki always consider the flow of air when designing buildings. And Vessel is no exception. While the hostel is smaller compared to your average hotel room, it doesn’t feel cramped. It’s as cozy as one’s home, but being in Vessel invites us to step outside and experience the waves. After all, the charm of Vessel really lies in the people who are also staying in the hostel.

Surf and turf: The breakfast nook on the roofdeck is perfect for a post-surf meal.
Clean as you go: Outdoor surfboard rack and shower
Hanging out: Vessel Hostel is made up of stacked shipping containers.
Straight lines: surfing and architecture power couple Buji Libarnes and Nikki dela Paz-Libarnes built the hostel out of shipping containers
Room with a view: Morning swell check

Our favorite part is the open-plan dining room at the topmost floor. You can chat with your newfound hostel friends while checking out the morning swell. And right after that, you can simply walk across the street and experience it for yourself. Vessel is located right in the heart of San Juan so you can simply walk around to explore. For starters, Olas Banditos right across the street is perfect for a post-lunch, premerienda P50 tequila fix. El Union, a coffee shop famous for their grilled cheese and indoor smores, is also a few steps away.

With Vessel located right at the heart of the main surftown, it’s easy to get to all the action. While it’s comfy and cool to stay inside your hostel rooms, they bring the surf closer than ever. And above anything, they make LU feel like a second home.

Vessel Hostel is located at Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union


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