Where: Baler, Aurora
Who Mr. & Mrs. Wanderlust, Papi, Mita, Aaron, Jane, baby Alonzo, Alexi & Anton (Little miss wanderlust was sick)
When: August 2014
What: Haler Baler!! Surf & Wander trip.
We always thought and heard from old people that Baler was a part of Quezon province, maybe that was true before, but upon traveling there, we learned a lot of new things. Baler used to be a part of the whole Quezon province but in 1951 Baler became the capital town of the sub-province (and later, province) of Aurora.
In short, this province is rich in history, culture, nature, beach and good consistent surf waves. And because of the nice waves, it is considered as the "birthplace of surfing in the Philippines".
Quick history of surfing in Baler:
We were lucky enough to chat and be instructed one early morning with one of the legit older "classic" surfers in the place. He told us, back in 1983 when they were still in high school they always see foreigners surf around the beach and have a good time, he says some were the staff of 1979 Hollywood movie Apocalypse Now where Sabang beach of Baler was featured. So the locals who were interested in surfing and wanted to try hangout with the surfers eventually being friends, letting them borrow their surfboards, teaching them to surf, and even leaving the surfboards to them when the foreign surfers went back to their country. Also he was telling us that there was a time when National Scholastic Surfing Association visited Baler to surf, and held surf competitions for the locals with surf items as prizes up for grabs, formally introducing the sport to the place. Even until today, Sabang Beach is a good spot to surf, friendly locals, good vibes, nice waves.
Baler is average of 6 hour travel from Manila. You can drive it, or choose to ride a bus that has available routes to Baler.
By Private Vehicle:
Enter the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) at Balintawak and exit at SCTEX (entry at LaPaz, Tarlac toll gate). From there, follow the highway leading to Aliaga and to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. We suggest to stop for a snack here to prepare you from the rough roads of the mountain pass. From Cabanatuan City Proper, take the Nueva Ecija-Aurora highway, passing thru the towns of Talavera , Rizal, and Pantabangan until you reach the Aurora border, then thru the towns of Maria Aurora, San Luis, and finally, Baler.
>Beware of wild zigzag roads, fast trucks, buses and landslides prone areas during rainy season.
>Don't take the old road -- The Baler Bongabong-Road. - (And guess what? We took the old road making the route harder and scarier because we just saw a big bulldozer push a landslide blocking the road into the cliff, then pass on the road like nothing happened.)
By Public Transport:
Genesis Transport Bus provides direct route from Manila to Baler, and would suggest you contact the bus line to inquire more about their executive coach called 'joy bus' which is a bit more expensive but has its own toilet and wider reclining space and no stopovers.
There are many choices of accommodation in Baler. You can check online listings so you will have an idea of which place to stay would be the most suitable for you, your family or friends. For this particular trip though, we have chosen to stay on the newly opened resort which has been getting a lot of buzz from the media lately. The resort is owned by family of politicians (Angara's).
Mr & Mrs Wanderlust's Reviews
Costa Pacifica Resort
> Has a nice infinity-ish pool that has a chill vibe.
> Nice bar, wide choice, and they even serve a craft beer called Katipunan.
> All rooms near the beach are already fully booked so unless you don't mind a 5 minute walk to the beach, then you can take the garden view rooms.
PROTIP: When it is a holiday, expect a lot of people, and when it comes to food, order early or suffer consequences of late meal because of too many customers.
Price: $$$ (4,700php for A/C room for 2 with bathroom)
Service: 3 star (Service on their restaurant is kinda poor, maybe because it was a holiday and lots of customers, but still)
Facilities & Amenities: 4 star (It looks nice and all, has a infinity-ish pool facing the beach but rooms are far from beach)
Restaurant (foods): 4 star (In terms of food, it is good, but service is kinda slow, again maybe because it was a holiday)
Bar: 4 star
Overall: 4.1 /5
1. Ride the pacific waves - Ride to baler may be long but for the wave lovers, consistent waves for sure is perfect for surf whether beginner or advanced, also great for other beach activities such as wind surf, snorkel, dive, paddle etc.
2. Hug a tree - The largest Balete tree in Asia, older than the Spanish empire in Philippines, at 600 years old they say it would take about 60 people holding hands to circle the tree.
3. Learn about the town's history - The town is very rich in history and you can visit Museo de Baler, the Church of Baler and the town's view point to appreciate the beauty.
4. Trek to Ditumabo Mother Falls - The trek can be categorized as an easy trek since there is a pathway, and just around 30 minute easy walk (can be longer if you have seniors or babies hiking with you) to get to the falls.
More Pics of our Baler trip, and the place where we stayed, the food, etc.
> Depending on the place a meal may range from 100php - 300 php. There is a popular eatery right in the middle of the town centre that has buffet for 199php, just beside Yolly's which is also a well-known bbq/seafood place.
> Accommodations depend on the place, mentioned above was our resort and for its price it is actually the higher priced resort in the area, there are also resorts that ranges from 1,000 - 3,000 php per night.
> Rates of surf rentals are 350 per hour with instructor, or for advanced surfers you can opt to rent your own surfboard for half day at 400 php or whole day for 800 php.
> Tour guide rates are 1,500 and is good for up to 10 persons (the more the cheaper) and will knowledgeably guide you around the town with its places, history, and rich natural resources. Or you can do on your own and just have to pay regular fees of the Museo de Baler of around 50 php and park fees for the hike to mother falls.
Bonus: A quick video of our Baler Trip.
*** Credits & Thanks to some pics that were taken by Lexi's Cannon 100D cam & Mamita's Samsung Galaxy cam ***
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