1.09.2014

Baler - A Travel Guide




The town of Baler in Aurora province is making a name to pop-culture as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines. The coastline of Sabang Beach facing the pacific ocean provides perfect waves to ride by both novice and seasoned surfer.

On the other hand even before the movie 'Apocalypse Now' have launched Baler as a surfing destination of the North, the small laidback town is already home to sites that greatly impact Philippines history.

Experience the historical town and plunge to a laidback lifestyle of surfer as we take a look at Baler, Aurora.

Genesis Regular Aircon Bus - P450 Manila to Baler


HOW TO GET HERE?

Baler is the capital of Aurora that sets northwest of Manila. Since no direct flights fly in and out of Baler, it can only be reach by land; five to six hours travel by private transport or a seven to eight hours with public transport including stop over.

Genesis Bus Lines at Cubao offers 'Joybus' an executive coach class passenger bus that leaves the terminal every hour starting 12 midnight until 5 am. It has recliner seats that are super comfortable and comfort room inside the bus so this bus takes no stop over for bathroom breaks.  It also houses a large compartment where surfboards can easily be kept. While traveling a stewardess will tend your needs and will give you free blanket per request. Fare is around Php750 which includes a snack and drink. Lastly free wifi so you can get connect while enroute. Early reservation though is needed.

You can also take regular aircon bus from Genesis Transit aswell for around Php450 that will take a seven hour travel time with stopover.

Once you arrive at Baler secure your seats back to Manila by reserving in the Genesis Office in Baler Terminal, last trip usually leaves at 3PM.

The luxurious Costa Pacifica Resort

WHERE TO STAY?

Upon arriving at the terminal near Baler Public Market, you'll be greeted by tricycles that will offer a transfer from the terminal to your choice of inns and hotels. In some cases hotels will offer van transfer from the terminal to their place free with your reservations. You can discuss this with them upon reservation.

Aliya Surf Camp is one of the famous place to stay at Baler right now. Rates ranges from Php2000 for a double up to Php4500 for quadruple sharing with free breakfast included. The facility houses a souveneir shop, restaurant and a surf school.

Pacific Waves Inn on the other end of Sabang beach is good when traveling in groups as they can accomodate 6-12 pax per room for a rate not exceeding Php4000. Affordable not so fancy but clean, airconditioned room. There's also a common area for dining and preparing food. Toilets are always clean. I personally recommend this for group sharing.

Another new hotels has risen to fame as the most luxurious, Costa Pacifica Resort rooms and amenities are unparalleled. Rooms with wall glass overlooking the Pacific Ocean, outdoor pool, bonfire pit, kid's area, gym and their own surf school.

For a more tight budget, Michael's Tent City offers tent pitching for as low as Php150 and kubo style lodging for as low as Php500.

There are also a few homestay and lodgings on the beachfront so you can take a walk and inquire.

Surfing 101

WHAT TO DO?

Surf! Surf! Surf! After checking in, change to your swimwear and rushguard as the waves are really inviting. A number of Surf School (except those offers by hotels) stands in the streatch of Sabang Beach. A few recommendation would be Mahdox near Pacific Waves Inn, Dehins Surf School near Bay's Inn, and Freedom Surf School at the very end of the stretch. Though rates are standard, you can ask for free time extention and discount depending on your haggling skills.
  • 1 hour rental with instructor - P 350
  • 1 hour board rental - P200
  • half day board rental - P400


After tiring surf session, you can ask for a tour around town from the tricycle drivers. Tour rates range from Php600 to Php1200 for one tricycle good for four, depending on your haggling skills. Tour includes the following sites:
  • Dona Aurora Mansion - a vintage mansion where the mother of Pres. Quezon and where the Province was named used to live.
  • Baler Museum - The towns museum that showcase the town's colorful history.
  • Baler Church - Where the last force of Spanish soldiers take refuge.
  • Motherfalls - Technically not part of Baler but a must see, though includes an hour of trekking on a river stream.
  • Casiguran Falls - A much smaller and more accessible falls.
  • Amco Beach Resort - A small beach that features a mixture of sand and grass terrain with the rock formation.
  • Ermita Hill - A hill/park with overlooking view of Sabang and Cobra Reef.
  • Lukso Lukso Islet - A rocly formation that looks small island in the middle of shorebreak waves.
  • Baler Fishport - A scenic view of Pacific Ocean and light tower.

Beautiful Baler [near Bay's Inn] offers bike, kayak and ATV rentals so you can cruise around town on wheels and on boat above the sea.


At Amco Beach Resort
Casiguran Falls



Baler Church

WHERE TO EAT?

I'm not familiar with the town's delicacy but sure you'll not get hungry on this part of the planet.

A number of restaurants, tapsihan, ihaw-ihaw, carinderia grace the shore of Sabang Beach. Hungry Surfer at Bay's Inn offers delicious foods for price less than 200 bucks. Aliya Surf Camp and Bayler View also offers delicious meals.

Baler Surfer Grill operates at night and roast their barbecue on a Volkswagen Beetle's compartment that was modified to function as a grill. Php60 a meal, wallet friendly.

I don't know the name, it's the Tapsihan near Kahea's Surfer Inn. Looks ordinary but I saw some foreigners bombarding the scene and munching on tapa - egg - rice combo. A must try.

They called it the 'Rolling Store' it's the lane of carinderia in front of Baler Hospital [just 5 minutes form Sabang] that offer's authentic turo-turo food: goto, papaitan, nilaga, dinuguan, tawilis. By the afternoon an 'ihawan' sells grilled BBQ, betamax (porkblood), isaw (intestine), pork ears, hotdog, balut and penoy. Very filipino.

Gerry Shan's Place at the center of the square, near Mercury Drugstore offers eat all you can buffet of their delicious Chinese and Filipino dishes for Php180 per head. Real value for money as the food are DELICIOUS!



So that covers almost everything about Baler. They said the best time to visit is on the last quarter of the year, but with experience, anytime is perfect.