Aureo La Union Beach Resort Trip with Alex Gapuz Grape Farm Picking!

I didn’t think a short trip to the beach during a pandemic would be wise but I did it anyway. I must say that it was worth the close to 5-hour drive to and from Manila and a 3D2N stay was kind of “bitin”. It was a good slow restart though to my old travel life and made me want to write again and share my interesting finds and tips! If ever you find yourself wanting to go to La Union since it’s close to Manila, I hope you consider this laid-back itinerary for a family/couple trip. We stayed at the garden villa of Aureo La Union, which was nearest to the beachfront and had great access to the pools, restaurant area and sunsets!

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For the long drive, prepare your car along with gas and both Autosweep and Easytrip RFID installations and around P1500 load each to be sure. Make sure you made the bookings ahead and bring your vaccination cards (needed at check-in)! We used NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX to get there and Waze was a lot of help! Thank goodness I didn’t have to drive! We left at 8am, did a few CR stops and got there around 1-2pm haha. Check-in was at 3pm so we decided to have lunch at Amare La Cucina in San Juan, La Union

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This restaurant is around 30 minutes away from the Aureo resort. J and I love this restaurant and we’ve gone on dates in their Kapitolyo branch. We made reservations for 11am and moved it along the way. The place was a bit full so reserving was a good move.

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As usual, their brick oven pizzas were the best, 

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perfect with these wood-fired grilled chicken thighs too! 

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Meanwhile in Aureo, there were free parking slots near the villas (yey!) and they trolley-ed our big luggage (haha) and stuff to the rooms. 

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I chose the Garden Villa Room for more quiet time while the rest of the family stayed together at the Villa Pool Rooms. Only a few villas and a pool separated us so it’s quite a short walk.

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It’s also a bonus that we’re near the Lagoon, the Coast Bar & Restaurant, the Salt-Sea Restaurant and the other pools since the garden was in the middle haha. There are rooms with a shallow pool near the check-in counter if you like that but I think I like our room best for location, noise reduction and seclusion.

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This is our room with a king bed (2 beds joined so there’s a gap in the middle),

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mini fridge, kettle, tea, coffee, mini safe, bath robes,

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cable TV, WiFi (available for many devices),

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basic kits (like soap, shampoo and toothbrush), hot shower and toilet. There is also a rack for hanging wet clothes outside with 2 chairs and a table for hanging out at the balcony.

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They provide refilled water so good thing I brought a UV bottle to disinfect it again just to be sure. One thing to remember is that housekeeping doesn’t clean the rooms now due to COVID concerns and must be requested ahead through the front desk. Otherwise, you’ll realize it too late like us and just wonder and manage our mess the rest of the trip. 

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This was our first sunset at the beach! I like the sand there - it’s like volcanic and heavy. The waves were also not rough during this time and the water level is perfect for my height haha. I actually swam first near the deeper pool near the villas and waited after 5pm to walk to where J was at the beach.

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For dinner, breakfast and most of our meals, we just ate at the Aureo Coast restaurant

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For breakfast, don’t miss the sweet fruits. For lunch and dinner, I would probably stick to the Bistek, Seafood Chopseuy, Ilocos Empanada, Belly Kare Kare, Sinigang, Liempo with Garlic Rice and skip anything squid, molo soup and gambas. For the Salt Sea restaurant, we ordered Nachos and Honey Ribs and food from Coast. Remind them not to make the food salty as well. They can also set up Boodle Fight meal, Grill Night (but they grill inside) and an Ilocano Night but you need to reserve a day ahead and maybe request to have it alfresco by the beach.

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There were a lot of people during our stay and they all are very punctual starting 7am when the breakfast buffet starts. A good option would be just to bring containers for the kids and eat in the room. You can also refill your Aureo water jug here with ice cold water.

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I could lounge all day at my room and I did that on the 2nd day while J went to the Macho Temple nearby with Mom. I remember we went there before already maybe 10 years ago. They also wanted to go to the San Fernando Wet Market for the garlic bagsakan but it was closed on a Sunday. They picked me up for a late lunch and we were supposed to try Halo Halo de Iloko or El Union Coffee but the lines were so long and the parking was full! We ended up at Gefseis Greek Grill Elyu. I wanted lamb chops and Greek salad. Haha.
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So I took the reigns after lunch and went Grape Farm hunting next. 

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I have heard of Gapuz Grape Farm from before because they were supposedly the first ones to try growing it here. I had a hard time locating it though, even Waze gave the wrong pin. The man with a sign there even tried to trick us saying that there were no grapes left that way and he would take us to another Gapuz farm! Good thing I stumbled upon a picture with a number and ended up calling Grace Gapuz, the daughter of the owner (number below)! Haha. They told me to go to the Saint Joseph the Worker Parish and they would have their people show us the way!

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We followed their tricy down a small and windy one-way street, just around 5 minutes away by car! Basically you just turn here and go in this street,

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then go straight to the very end when you see this and turn left. Go straight again in less than 5 mins and you'll see the grape farm to your left.

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Entrance and parking are free. It’s also just a small area and they were happy to answer our questions and guide us. I suggest you call Grace then let them lead you from the parish to there.

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Grace greeted us by the entrance and showed us the tiny portion of the vines left with grapes! She said the nicer time to go would be March to May (sweeter grapes in summer) but they harvest grapes around 3 times a year. 

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These are the red cardinal grape variety - sweet and has seeds.

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I also met the kind Mr. Alex Gapuz himself! 

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Grape picking is available at around 300-350 pesos a kilo. What we brought home were Grape and Blueberry wines instead (made with grape extract here, Baguio rice wine and honey if I’m not mistaken) hehe. 

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The flavor is sweet and sparkling so I think it’s nice to have for Christmas and New Year. It costs around 200 pesos. We spent around 40 minutes here. I ate some freshly harvested crunchy grapes and they were yummy (be careful of the big seeds and make sure to wash them thoroughly first)!

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So there you have it - my busy and relaxing 3-day guiltless La Union getaway near Manila! This was our second sunset

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and we had plenty of time to go to the beach and pools again the next day before the 12pm checkout. 

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The night swimming by the villas until 10pm was a nice addition :) If you’re itching to buy something home, we passed by around 2 long stalls selling Watermelon, Danggit and JB Bagoong along the way before you leave Agoo, La Union. Haha.

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Resort Details:
Aureo Hotel Beach Resort La Union
Brgy San Francisco, San Fernando, La Union

Alex Gapuz Grapes Farm / Vineyard Picking Adventure in Bauang, La Union
Santiago, Bauang, La Union
09281759699 / 09054805220 (I called this)
09771281264 / 09457009276

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