Baler, Aurora, Philippines
Baler is known in the Philippines for it's surfable waves which makes it a popular destination for both beginner and seasoned surfers in the country. Besides the appeal of being in the beach all day, Baler has much more to offer than just its beautiful dark sandy coastline. Despite being a relatively new tourist destination as evidenced by new developments in resorts and restaurants, Baler is far from an "undiscovered gem". The setting for historical battles during the Spanish Era and hometown of President Manuel Quezon, Baler features prominently in Philippine history along with the often-stated fact that the town also served as the location for Francis Ford Coppola's war epic, Apocalypse Now. Although tourists are just beginning to explore the region, locals have been surfing the coastline for a long time.
Visit Baler on a busy weekend and there's a big chance that you'll get overwhelmed with crowds of families and beginner surfers, but plan a trip for earlier in the week while the rest of Luzon is at work, and you will find yourself with more time and privacy to properly explore Baler and its neighboring towns. Don't be afraid to get lost as you explore the different beaches, waterfalls, rock formations, and surf spots as the locals are among the friendliest people you will encounter. The locals who beam with pride towards their hometown are always eager to help and make friendly conversation with visitors and tourists.
Baler is a great place with even greater people, and although it's presently identified as a surf town, Baler is so much more. With lots to explore along with its relatively close proximity to Metro Manila, Baler has the potential to be the ideal destination for your next epic road trip.
Sabang beach is certainly a place to visit if you intend to try surfing. This is Aurora’s most popular beach and there are numerous accomodations on the beachfront.
Surfable waves can range from beginners to advanced depending on the area. From March through June, waves are relatively calm which is ideal for swimming, while the rest of the year is ideal for surfing.
Don’t know how to surf? No worries because you’ll find a lot of local surfers and instructors who will eagerly get you on your way to catch your first wave.
Surfing rates range from Php 300-350/hour for lessons (board rental and instructor), and it’s usually Php 200/hour for board rentals only.
This is where you'll find the municipal hall, some eateries, nearby restaurants and Quezon memorial park.
Museo de Baler
Museo de Baler holds historical artifacts, old photographs and cultural heritage displays. There’s a Php 30 entrance fee to the museum, it’s a shared fee for both Museo De Baler and Donya Aurora's house, so keep the receipt if you want to explore both.
Costa Pacifica is one of Sabang beach’s higher end resorts and features a great restaurant called The Beach House that serves Filipino and International cuisine.
Offers vegetarian food and other healthy meal options as well as some fresh coffee. Perfect for breakfast before a day of surfing. They also offer accomodations and sell some local designer brands and beach must haves.
This bakeshop is very popular among the locals so it’s best to go super early to avoid missing out on the good stuff.
A great place to sit down and have coffee along with their super delicious and affordable treats. Be sure to try their best sellers - yema bread, asado buns, kiwi cupcakes and Brazo de Mercedes.
A tree house-like restaurant that offers a wide selection of affordable grilled dishes. This place turns into a bar at night so go early if you want to have a quiet dinner with friends and family.
Check out the fresh vegetables and seafood the public market offers.
Known as one of the better restaurants in the area, Kubli’s food doesn’t disappoint. Dishes were tasty and well cooked and ingredients were very fresh.
You’ll see the scenic rock formation here. This beach is good for diving and snorkeling but not recommended for leisure swimming.
A natural cove that has a long stretch of white sand, a peninsula and a cave. Dicasalarin cove is a must see when you visit Baler.Be prepared to drive and go up a narrow road with sharp curves on your way there.
There is a 175-step lighthouse on top of the hill which you could trek up to if you want to catch the breathtaking view.
The waves in Dicasalarin are calmer compared to Sabang beach, ideal for swimming with kids. Cottages are available if you want to have lunch there but better bring your own food because the in-house restaurant has very limited food options.
An entrance fee of Php 300/person (Php 150 only if you're staying at Costa Pacifica) and a parking fee of Php 50 if you’re bringing a car.
It closes at 5pm, so better to time your visit accordingly.
A 500-year old tree which can hold at least 60 people in its bulky trunk. The last 2 typhoons hit this place hard, and destroyed a lot of trees, including this one. The Balete tree’s gigantic canopy was destroyed and almost cut in half. Poor tree.
Here you will see the “Mother Falls” a 140-foot waterfall that gushes endlessly. A perfect place if you want to go nature tripping after a super hot day at the beach.
It is a 30-minute trek where you’ll have to cross a river and make your way through narrow bridges. You’ll be delighted with the cool weather and cold water on your way there. Definitely worth the hike because the final destination is absolutely stunning. Make sure to use durable slippers when hiking.
Entrance fee is Php 35/person and tour guide is mandatory for additional 200 pesos. It opens at 7am and closes at 4pm.
Ditumabo falls was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
Feast on Baler’s very own pako salad often served with tomatoes, onions, salted egg and tangy dressing. Pako leaves (fern) are packed with nutrients that are good for the body.
The most memorable part of our trip here were the locals. They are sweet, genuine and very welcoming of tourists. We will definitely go back to see them again.
Going to Baler is around a 5-6 hours drive from Manila. Click here for instructions if you are driving to Baler.
If you opt to ride a bus, click here to see schedules and rates of Genesis Bus Liner that goes direct to Baler.
Make sure to check at the weather and wave forecasts before heading there.
Photos property of Lívph