The coastal town of Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is one of the closest beach destinations from Manila. While it doesn’t offer white, powdery soft sand, its proximity to the city makes it a convenient choice for a quick beach getaway.
The Laiya resort that my friends and I used to frequent more than a decade ago was La Luz. It was a small resort, the kind where most visitors seemed to know one another–at least that’s how it was for my friend who introduced us to La Luz and who went there whenever she wanted to make an escape involving some sand and sea.
When this same friend, who’s now based in Australia, wanted to spend a few days on a beach in her recent short trip to Manila, we were not surprised we ended up in La Luz. It was a chance to revisit the resort with old friends and make new memories there with Z.
It took us around four hours to get to La Luz via SLEX, Star Tollway and through the towns of Rosario and San Juan. Immediately upon getting out of the car, we realized that La Luz has drastically changed from more than a decade ago.
Steep stairs bring you from the reception area down to the beach and the resort’s grounds. The dining hall, which used to be a small pavilion that opened up to an al fresco dining area, was now a two-story structure. The few wooden cottages that used to line the resort were now replaced with several sunny-yellow two story apartments; my friends and I ended up staying in the two rooms on the ground floor of one apartment. Our room had a balcony, and with a very curious toddler in tow, I appreciated it that it was located on the ground floor.
We got a Premier Room (link for descriptions of each room), which had a pull-out bed where Zach snugly slept next to his dad. The tiled floor can get pretty slippery from our wet feet (the mat by the door and the thin towel outside the shower didn’t really absorb all that well), so be careful when you’ve got a kid who likes to run around everywhere. It made me miss the old nipa cottages with the wooden (or were they bamboo?) floors.
Even with the change in accommodations, La Luz still had the same beach. Pebbly, rocky, and something that Z didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he loved the beach! He loved getting his hands on the pebbles. We only brought a few beach toys (a truck, shovel, rake, and watering can) and he spent hours digging and dumping into the pebbly sand under the shade of the trees with a huge smile on his face and the occasional squeal.
When his feet finally touched the saltwater, the smile got even bigger. The look on his face was just pure joy and awe. I was chatting with a friend about what we liked best about being moms and we agreed that watching our kids experience something for the first time is on top of our long list.
There’s a lifeguard on patrol, but of course we never took our eyes (or arms) off Zach. If you’re heading to La Luz or any other resort in Laiya, it’s also best if you have reef shoes as there are sharp rocks and corals farther away from the shore. La Luz, I’ve been told by my friend who loves to snorkel with his son and wife, is the only one with a coral reef right smack in front of it. So if you and your kids are also big on snorkeling, La Luz is a good option. Since Z is still small, our family activity was mostly confined to the sand and the shallow water.
Booking a room in La Luz automatically means each person needs to avail of the additional P1,485 food package (this includes buffet breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner per day). Even if Z has started to become picky during meals, there was always a fish and veggie dish in the buffet spread that he could eat. La Luz also has high chairs. When it rains (and it did during our three-day stay), the tiled dining hall also gets slippery, so watch your step.
On our last day in La Luz, Z woke up earlier than his usual 6 am wake-up time. He couldn’t wait to get out of the cottage. Bleary-eyed and still in my pajamas, I accompanied him out to the beach where I watched him happily walk barefoot on
When we got home, Z kept talking about the beach, boats, clouds, and the sand. He learned some new words and my husband and I got to build some memories with our son.
For more information on La Luz and photos of the resort, visit their website here.