Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Baler tourism office at [email protected] or at +63 907 085 7947 or the office of the municipality of Baler at [email protected] or at +63 907 933 8202 to know the latest update.
Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!
Traveling to Baler for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!
BALER AT A GLANCE
At the eastern part of central Luzon, 5 hours away from Manila on a land trip, lies the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines – BALER. This small town, which has been the capital of Aurora province, is conceivably the cradle of the first surfing community that started in 1970s when it was made as a film location of the American epic war movie Apocalypse Now. Rumor has it that the film crews left behind their surfboards for the locals to try on. Thereafter, the surfing culture spread out and has flourished to what it is today.
Surfing is what makes Baler tick. But that’s only looking at it on the surface. Baler gets more interesting as you dig deep into its past and explore further into its underrated attractions. Its story of how 6 families out from a thousand survived from a humongous tidal wave that hit its coast back in 1735 and of how the Filipino revolutionaries emerged victorious against the Spanish colonizers during the siege of Baler in 1899 – are two highlights of its rich history that are definitely worth uncovering. Not to mention, Baler is endowed with an array of natural wonders riveting with composites of beautiful rock formations and sweeping landscapes. Truly, it is a destination worth going for.
WHERE TO STAY IN BALER
The best place to stay in Baler is near Sabang beach where most of the surfing activities happen. Below are top-rated accommodations near the area:
Here are other recommended accommodations near Sabang beach: (click the link for details)
- Sunny Terrace Rating: 8.5 | Price: P1,400+ for a room good for 2 persons
- Ver Amare Place Rating: 9.0 | Price: P809 for a room good for 2 persons
- Balai Surf Baler Rating: 9.2 | Price: P1,500+ for a room good for 2 persons
- Surf & Chill Inn Rating: 8.6 | Price: P1,700+ for a standard double room
- Crash Pad Baler Rating: 9.1 | Price: P1,900+ for a family room
HOW TO GET TO BALER
There are no flights going directly to Baler, Aurora. For now, the only means is to go on a land trip from difference places in Luzon, as shared below:
The total travel time from Manila to Baler is roughly 5 hours, depending on the traffic. To get there, head out to Cubao Bus terminal and choose any of the two (2) Genesis Transport service buses below which go directly to Baler.
- Joy Bus, an executive bus type which offers free wi-fi, snacks, blanket and pillow if you feel like sleeping on the trip. Bus schedules are as follows: 12:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m., 1:30 a.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:30 a.m. Bus fare is P650 or P730 depending on the schedule.
- Regular aircon bus, fare is P450. The bus departs hourly from 2:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m.
Alternatively if your travel schedule doesn’t match with the bus’, take the Manila-Cabanatuan-Baler route. Go to the bus terminals in Manila at Cubao, Caloocan and Pasay. Take any bus that goes to Cabanatuan city. Daily trip is in an hourly basis. Bus fare is P200, travel time is 3 hours. At Cabanatuan Central terminal, take another bus or van to Baler. Fare is around P230, travel time is another 3 hours.
TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN BALER
Here are top eleven (11) tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days while in Baler, Aurora.
Sabang beach is where all surfing happens in Baler. It’s a vast beach of fine, gray sand that casts a mirage display of clouds and the near mountains on its sea on a bright day. The water is shallow but comes with big swells while the seabed is sandy which makes the beach a more suitable place to swim and to learn to surf for beginners than in any place in Baler (or arguably in the Philippines). Alongside the beach are a lineup of resorts from budget to luxury, restaurants and cafes and other forms of social entertainment. While here, frolic around and feel the vibrant sense of community among surfing enthusiasts.
MUSEO DE BALER
Museo de Baler (or Baler museum) comes off with an intricately eloquent facade. Pay a visit for an entrance fee of P35 on any day of the week except Sunday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and discover the roots and Hispanic heritage of Baler through its display of paintings, sculptures and works of art.
DOÑA AURORA HOUSE
Fronting Museo de Baler, across the street, is the well-preserved Doña Aurora house. It is a small, simple, wooden house but quite a large offering for people who loves history. It showcases the traditional Filipino way of living, and the life of President Manuel Quezon’s wife, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon, on her devotion to charities and humanitarian causes. The house opens to guests daily from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Entrance fee is P30.
BALER HANGING BRIDGE
Feel the bridge shaking on your every step, Baler Hanging Bridge is definitely not one for the faint-hearted. This steel-cable foot bridge jumps over the shallow water of Sabang River that dries out a third of its areas on a low tide. At the end points of the bridge are souvenir shops which offer the cheapest price in all of Baler, better buy your items here.
Ermita Hill is the very place where the only surviving families ran to escape the enormous tidal wave that hit Baler back in 1735. At the foot of the hill are life-sized statues of the surviving families installed in recollection of the saddening catastrophe.
To reach the top, guests will have to climb through the 250-drawn out steps before reaching the 30-feet cross placed at the farthest part of the hill. There are also viewing decks in some areas where you can catch Baler in 360-degree view. Entrance fee is P15, parking fee is P10.
DIGUISIT BEACH & ROCK FORMATIONS
The rock formations nestled along the shores of Diguisit is a photographer’s dream. During sunrise, the light peaks through the mountains while during sunset, hues of golden blue and yellow bend at the back of two boulders that make an aisle for the flickering sea water to pass. It’s gripping and astonishingly beautiful.
The shore is creamy white with coarse sandy seabed. Access to the rock formations can be through any beach resorts in the area. Entrance fee can range from P20-P50.
Diguisit falls is small with a catch basin good for 10 people at most. It’s beside the road and climbing up to it would only require 2 to 3 minutes. Careful on your way as some parts to the waterfall are slippery. Entrance is free.
Lukso-lukso islets are three beautiful rock formations at the coast of Diguisit. The distance among the islets is only a hop away. Thus, its name “Lukso-lukso” or hop in the local dialect. During low tide, the shore at this section of Baler seems like a desert with rocks rough on its surface. Entrance fee is P10.
BALER LIGHTHOUSE & ANIAO ISLETS
Baler lighthouse is one of the most scenic places in Baler. To get to the lighthouse, embark on a 15-minute trek from the main road to the hill where it is installed. Get some help from the locals who usually await for guests in exchange of a certain fee.
At the top of the lighthouse is a fascinating view of the Ania islets fronting a cove with a backdrop forming a beautiful lush terrain.
600-YEAR OLD BALETE TREE
The millennium Balete tree in Baler is by far the grandest in scale that you can find in all Balete tree attractions in the Philippines. It’s hanging roots strangle to form a cave where you can freely go inside; it’s sturdy and makes for a perfect climbing wall to reach at least the midpoint of the tree. Entrance fee is P15 (another P10 if you will go inside the tree), parking fee is P10.
DITUMABO MOTHER FALLS
Arguably the biggest waterfall in the province of Aurora – Ditumabo Mother falls is towering with all her might at the town of San Luis, 40-minute drive away from Sabang beach. It possesses a strong cascade that drops 140-feet to its cold, emerald-green catch basin.
Going to the waterfalls is relatively easy which requires a 30-minute trek over rocks and streams; it is rewarding with all the scenic views and the refreshing waters of the waterfall. Entrance fee is P30, parking fee is P30, and tour guide fee (which is a requirement) is P200 per guide.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN BALER
Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Baler, Aurora.
- Surf! Baler is the best place to learn this water activity. It’s definitely worth an experience.
- Go around and check out the beautiful rock formations in most of its beaches and islets specially at Diguisit.
- Learn the roots of Baler and the different highlights of its history that helped transform the coastal town into the beautiful community that it is today.
- Feel the vibe and hang around with locals. Baler is filled with happy and fun folks.
BALER SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET
The best way to get around Baler is to charter a tricycle or a van for a day tour as the attractions are far from each other and going by yourself would be time-consuming, unless you have at least 5 days to spend.
Here is a sample Baler DIY travel itinerary good for 3 days which assumes a party of two and will set back a budget of P4,335.00+ per person, excluding expenses for accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.
Things to consider for this Baler itinerary:
- Surfboard rental costs around P200 per hour, P350 if you require an instructor.
- Most tricycle drivers double as tour guide. Tricycle tour would cover all of the attractions cited in the Top Tourist Attractions list for P500 for half-day and P800 for whole day for a group of 3 persons. A day tour on a van costs P2,500 good for 10 persons.
- Genesis bus bound for Manila leaves from Baler at 2:00PM. Finish up your activities before the time to avoid inconvenience.
DAY ONE: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.
|Depart to Baler||1:00AM||P750|
|Arrive in Baler||6:00AM||–|
|Early Check in||8:00AM||–|
|Museo de Baler||3:00PM||P35|
|Doña Aurora House||4:00PM||P30|
|Socials at Sabang beach||5:00PM||–|
DAY TWO: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.
|Sunrise at Daguisit Beach||6:00AM||–|
|Socials at El Jardin Bar||8:00PM||–|
|Depart to Manila||2:00PM||P750|
If your choice of transport to get around Baler is bicycle or motorbike, head out to Pajaroja lodge. Bicycle rent is P300 per day, for motorbike is P500 to P800.
QUICK FACTS & TIPS ABOUT BALER
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling in the province of Baler, Aurora.
- The surfing season in Baler happens from September through February during the northeast monsoon.
- During the summer months of March through May, the surfing areas and top attractions in Baler can get too crowded and may not be suitable for relaxation. Waves at Sabang beach are also average, but would still be considerably suitable for surfing.
- The roads to Baler are well-paved. Going there during the rainy season of June to September may not be a hassle.
- There are only 2 ATMs in Baler located at the town proper. Make sure to have enough cash.
- Establishments accept credit and debit card but not a traveler’s check.
- All mobile network operators have a good signal strength in the area.
English is widely understood in Baler, but in case you want to speak the local tongue, here are phrases from 2 different main languages that proved to be useful.
English to Ilocano
Thank You – Agyamanak
Good Morning – Naimbag a bigat
Good Afternoon – Naimbag a malem
Good Evening – Naimbag a rabii
How Much? – Sagmamano daytoy?
Where is… – Sadino ti…
English to Tagalog
Thank You – Salamat
Good Morning – Magandang umaga
Good Afternoon – Magandang hapon
Good Evening – Magandang gabi
How Much? – Magkano?
Where is… – Saan ang…
MY TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS IN BALER
What I like?
The surfing activity, its people and community, the tourist attractions – there is a lot to like about Baler. I would love to go back and capture more raw moments around its tourist spots using my mirrorless camera and drone especially at Sabang beach where activities are mostly concentrated.
What I don’t like?
The long drive from Manila to Baler is a pain in the butt. haha! Good thing the scenery on the way and the sunset were mesmerizing that I didn’t feel so much inconvenience at all.
Also, I wish that there was an easy access from Baler to Dingalan so it won’t have to take much time while on a backpacking journey.
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