The weekends leading to the grand celebration of the Panagbenga are not exactly the kind of weekends Baguio locals enjoy. With the worsening problem of the city's traffic and waste management, the additional congestion is not something that we welcome with a big smile and open arms. Don't get me wrong, we love the attention and the business it brings but not the human behavior problems that go with the annual celebration. With the festival gearing up for its grand celebration, we decided to spend a quiet beach weekend in Camp Avenue.
Camp Avenue is a beach campsite tucked along the shorelines of San Juan in La Union. Unlike the popular surf spot, the camp is void of the usual development associated with the influx of tourists. It has maintained a low key aura despite the attention that it initially received through Facebook and other social media platforms. Its socmed exposure was enough to pique my curiousity to check and give it a grade.
A+ for the camp vibe
The vibe of Camp Avenue is grade A+ and spot on as a beach chill spot. They were able to blend the laidback atmosphere and its beautiful shoreline with the campsite's structures.
There are three ways to enjoy a night's rest in Camp Avenue - camping, glamping, and the Indo Bali Huts. In our case, we experienced staying in one of the huts. Do not expect much because Camp Avenue is still a camping site and not a resort. Expect the basics.
The Indo Bali Huts are triangular huts, like Indian teepees, made of bamboo with coconut roofings. It is designed with a mattress and a desk fan for a comfortable sleep. The hut is large enough to accomodate 2 to 3 adults and it is located within the fenced perimeters of the camp. The huts do not have locks but a swing door safekeeps your items inside. Just make sure that you bring with you all your important stuff.
If camping and glamping is your style, the campsite is located closer to the beach. Glamping facilities are the same with that of the Indo Bali Huts except that you are in a bigger tent.
A for camp facilities
Again, do not expect much because Camp Avenue is not a resort. They have clean common restrooms and shower areas. It is well-maintained but the camp needs more shower areas to cater to the surge of campers, which in our case was very evident since we came in on a long weekend.
The camp has a restaurant and a swing bar where you can get your alcohol fix. The complimentary cocktail drink is grade A. I loved the mix. There is a small store a few steps from the reception area for anything else that you need. There are hammocks within the premises that you can use to enjoy a nap or if you just want to be lazy even for just a day.
Cooking is not allowed in Camp Avenue as a precaution considering that the huts are made of light combustible materials. Although, I think a designated grill area would be able to give an extra flair to their camping experience.
A- for camp food
The biggest drawback for Camp Avenue is the food. While bringing in food is charged corkage as per camp rules, they really need to level up their cooking game in the kitchen. Food is one aspect that help create the experience and, in Camp Avenue's case, it does not.
We tried their pasta, sandwich, and rice bowl meals and it was not value for money. Too bad though that there are no other restaurant options unless you would like to drive up to the surf spot in San Juan. Even their breakfast was not enough to perk me up the next morning.
A- for camp parties
Camp Avenue has a perfect spot for a beach party and they have a good DJ to boot. The early evening music mix was really inviting that I was anticipating a huge crowd as the night deepens. I actually thought that it was going to be a nice way to introduce parties to my 10-year old lady. I'd rather that we introduce it to her than someone else.
After having dinner and taking a short nap, we came back to the party grounds but it did not pick-up as expected but the music was inviting. Then the flamboyant host suddenly announced that it was "manyakan time". That caught us by surprise. He then scooped a couple to do body shots on stage.
Now I have been to parties that escalate towards that kind of scene BUT this particular party was not that kind and was not even close to that. It seemed that it was trying to use "it" as a come on for those who were either on the beach or inside the tents. It tried to emulate Boracay by using the famous tagline "what happens in Boracay, stays in Boracay" but using "Camp Avenue" instead. One thing missed though was that Boracay never uses it to "attract" party goers. It may escalate to that but it was never forced down people's throat as THE highlight for the night the way the host did it at Camp Avenue.
I think that rolled the party vibe further down after that.
A+ for camp art
Camp Avenue has a lot of artistic nooks - from its swing bar to its Indo bali huts to its campsite. Although it is not as glam as what I have previously seen on Facebook posts, these photogenic spots does not deviate that much from expectation.
The swings carefully place by the beach front are great spots for photos, without the tents around it. Or their version of the bird's nest that gives you a perfect view of the beach and the sea. Its 3-D Camp Avenue sign would have been a perfect spot for the sunset except for the rows and rows of tents behind it. These artsy nooks would stand out if they just organize their campsite.
For those who want to play around with their creativity, there is a pottery-making corner in front of Camp Avenue. Locals will teach you the basics of pottery-making before setting you out to explore your creative mind.
But the beach of Camp Avenue stands out when it comes to camp art. It is one of the most photogenic beach spots that I have seen in the north. Unlike the surrounding beaches in the area, the rocks by the beach stop the rolling of the waves creating a lagoon-like basin by the shore. It makes a perfect spot for dramatic photos matched by a perfect sunset. I would let the picture speak for itself.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
Overall, Camp Avenue in San Juan, La Union is grade A. There is no doubt that it is in a perfect location on this side of town but it still has a lot of room for improvement to level up to other camping/glamping sites in the country. With a little reorganizing and re-wiring, it has the potential to be a preferred camping/glamping spot in Luzon.
My expectations of Camp Avenue did not really match up to my experience considering that I have tried other glamping spots, but only on a few notes. I did not come out amazed neither disappointed. It was still a good weekend beach break and it could have been better. And I hope to get a better experience the second time around.
Getting There: Partas Bus Lines and Viron Bus Lines have regular trips to the north that pass by San Juan in La Union. You can ask the conductor to drop you off at Camp Avenue at Taboc, San Juan.
You can reach Camp Avenue at +63917 7942293 for advance reservations.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.