Location: Amontoc, San Gabriel, La Union, Philippines
Major Jump-Off Area: Poblacion, San Gabriel, La Union
How to Get There:
· Public transportation:
1. Via San Fernando City, La Union. Take a PUJ (terminal at the northern side of the San Fernando City Round Market bound to San Gabriel. The regular fare is Php26.00. All San Gabriel-bound PUJs will stop at Barangay Poblacion with 30 minutes to an hour duration depending on the traffic. Preferably, you need to go to the San Gabriel Municipal Hall for arrangement of tour guides and transportation bound to Tangadan Falls parking area in Barangay Amontoc. For DIY transportation arrangement, you can ask the locals where to hire a PUJ or a motorcycle. Round trip hire including waiting time is Php1500.00-Php2000.00 for PUJ and Php350.00 for motorcycles. PUJ ride usually takes about 20 minutes; this is typically shorter when riding a motorcycle. From the parking area, you need to hike downhill on uneven [some parts are paved] foot path at least 10 minutes [for fast hikers] or [usually] longer depending on your pace. Going back may take thrice as much since you’ll be hiking uphill. (Take note that there are no PUJs going to the area on an hourly basis. Usually, there is a single Poblacion to Amontoc trip during or after lunch hours and Amontoc to Poblacion trip only in the morning. Thus, there is a need to hire a PUJ or motorcycle in a round trip basis if you don’t have your own transportation.)
2. Via San Juan, La Union. Wait for San Gabriel-bound PUJs at the national hi-way crossing north of the San Juan Municipal Hall. There is a small sign “→ San Gabriel” along the crossing. Fare is around Php16.00
3. Via Bacnotan, La Union. Take a PUJ from Poblacion, Bacnotan to Poblacion, San Gabriel. This is the least suggested itinerary since there is a limited Bacnotan-San Gabriel trips.
4. Via Bucao, San Gabriel, La Union. This route is highly advisable when your transportation budget is limited. Take a tricycle from Poblacion, San Gabriel to Duplas, San Juan (via Bucao). Tricycle fare is PhP80.00. The hike, however, may take about an hour or even much longer to those who have a slower pace. This has a longer hike time than via Amontoc and thus not advisable to those who have no patience in exerting physical effort. On the other hand, this route might be more interesting to adventurous pips.
· Private car: Google map suffices for direction. Also, asking the locals is highly advisable.
1. Via San Juan, La Union.
2. Via Bacnotan, La Union.
Tangadan Falls is located in Amontoc, San Gabriel, La Union, a predominantly mountainous municipality in Region I. The name of Tangadan Falls is derived from an Ilokano root word “tangad,” which means to look up, probably due to the about 40–feet high water plunge.
Via Amontoc: Strenuous the hike as it may be, your physical effort will be rewarded with the mesmerizing cascade-to-pool and waterfall-to-pool series. From the parking area, you need to traverse a downhill footpath for at least 15 minutes. This may take longer depending on your pace and the condition of the path. Halfway, you will hear the roar of the water. During rainy season, the unpaved parts of the path tend to be muddy and slippery. Also, during this season, you may be rewarded with green vegetable gardens and rice paddies in you trek. Your bodily exertion during the hike will be rewarded when you reach your destination: clean, clear and invigoratingly cold water in a short cascade-to-pool-to-waterfall-to-pool series.
Via Bucao: About an hour walk from the turning point, you will pass by farms, irrigation dikes, and generally the river snaking up to the glorious Tangadan Falls. To nature-lovers, the rivulet, naturally-occuring pools, fishes (especially the abundant locally-termed “Bunog”), underwater grasses, diving cliffs, and low-height falls are but a few of the many delights en route.
Tangadan river could be divided into two levels: upper and lower. The upper level is composed of a short cascade of about 7 feet high and 4 feet wide. The width of the cascade narrows or widens depending on the season and amount of rainfall. Through the steep stone slope, water cascades to the narrow pool below. The pool is deep and about 30 feet wide by 90 feet long. It is surrounded with steep stone walls. The lower wall is easily accessible and serves as the diving and jumping point. The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The smaller outlet exits as a narrow cascade to the right of the precipice. The bigger outlet flattens as it moves above the rock ledge and plunges down to the wide pool of the lower level. The size of the pool could easily engulf two basketball courts. As of the beginning of 2016, there are three bamboo rafts (“raket” or “balsa”) which can be hired. You may ask the operator to take you near or under the falls, which tourists usually do. This is common because the jets of falling water gives a natural massage. Unlike in hand massage, you control the pressure by your proximity to the waterfall. You can also exhaust yourself swimming in this pool because of its size, thus the need for life vest for those who are not good and non-swimmers. The water from the second pool flows out through slippery rocks and exits to a gentle, wide, long, and 2-4 feet deep basin. Somehow, this is more conducive to children who does not know how to swim and those who wants to learn how to swim.
Amenities (rental prices may vary or increase without prior notice):
· Parking fee: Php10.00
· Life vest or salbabida: Php50.00.
· Bamboo raft (“raket”): Php400.00 (maximum of 10 pax)
- Cancel your trip if there is a continuous heavy downpour in the municipality.
- Registration is a must to all tourists.
- Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes and clothes.
- Strictly no cooking, grilling, and the likes. Take pre-prepared foods including water.
- Life vest is a must for those who cannot swim in fresh water. Drowning is higher in fresh water than sea water.
- Do not vandalize the stones by marker pens or etching upon it. As of late February 2016, the extent of etches upon stones have yet to abate.
- Eating and throwing of garbage or food scraps along the river is prohibited.
- The Municipality of San Gabriel is a Red Orchid Awardee and also awarded by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health as the Best LGU Implementer of Smoke-free Program in Region 1 (CSC, 2013). Most of the tourists in Tangadan Falls do not know this and are unendingly a-huffin’ and a-puffin’ clouds of cigarette smokes in and around the cottages.
- When riding a PUJ to or from Tangadan Falls, “topload style” is allowed, as this is not uncommon among PUJs bound to the municipality’s mountain barangays. Make sure that you are secure and to always be vigilant in your grips. Take note, however, that the locals are used to this and are aware to strengthen and secure their grips in parts of the ride. Though, no accidents involving tourists on “topload style” is reported yet, do not be the first in the local statistics.
- Do not go or cross cordoned areas (barricaded with bamboos or branches).
- Stones along the river could be slippery.
- If there is a sudden heavy downpour during the rainy season, do not linger in the river as it may swell to a dangerous level at any point in time.
This is the start of the downhill trek. The surface of the unpaved footpaths can be easily powderized under your shoes during summer. However, it is muddy during rainy season. In both cases, you need comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Non-hikers need to be careful in these unpaved footpaths.
The stretch of paved footpaths is increasing each year as Tangadan Falls visitors increase. There is even a plan of extending the paved road nearer to the waterfall.
This is the first view which invites you to go nearer.
The upper part consists of a short cascade and a narrow pool. The lower wall of the pool serves as a diving and jumping point.
The upper pool narrows down towards the water exit.
A complete view of the upper level.
The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The smaller outlet exits as a narrow cascade to the right of the precipice.
The shallow part as the water exits from the upper pool towards the plunge.
The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. Above is the bigger outlet before it flattens near the ledge.
The water from the first pool exits through a narrow outlet that splits into two. The bigger outlet flattens as it moves above the rock ledge and plunges down to the wide pool of the lower level.
The great plunge and the narrow cascade.
View from near the water exit of the second pool.
Two of the three bamboo rafts (“raket” or “balsa”).
You can hire a bamboo raft and try the back massage under the waterfall.
A closer look at the narrow cascade.
This cascade has a more brute force and greater volume during rainy season.
Careful! The rocks are slippery.
The water from the second pool flows out through slippery rocks and exits to a gentle, wide, long, and 2-4 feet deep basin. Somehow, this is more conducive to children who does not know how to swim and those who wants to learn how to swim.
The organic cottages is but one of the reasons why cooking with fire is prohibited in the area.
The shower facility. But then again, why do you need one? The water you’re going to shower is the same water you’ve waded minutes ago!
Well, don’t get too tired while swimming. Remember, you’ve got a steep climb ahead!