Baler is the capital and the most famous municipality of Aurora. It is on the east coast of Luzon Island and mostly known first as a surfing spot due to its surf-worthy waves. But aside from surfing, this sleepy town is also home to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, and historical sites that are worth the 6 to 7-hours drive.
Baler is the birthplace of surfing here in the Philippines. The 1979 war movie “Apocalypse Now’ is filmed in Baler and when the shooting is over, the filmmakers left the surfboards used in the set to the locals. Thus, surfing is introduced.
But Baler also has an interesting history, as seen in the movie “Baler” of Anne Curtis and Jerico Rosales. The last Spaniards soldiers to leave the Philippines after the Philippines Revolution came from the siege of Baler. The Spanish invasion ended in 1898 but the Spanish forces in Baler continued their defense to the Filipino forces until June 1899.
Baler is also the birthplace of our former president Manuel Quezon.
Baler is 232 kilometers away from Manila and is situated on the eastern coast of Luzon. The Pacific Ocean is in the east of the town, greatly affecting the winds and current making it a good surfing spot. The south part of the town consists of mountains and hills which is part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. The north part of the town, however, is the lowland where people live and agriculture is.
It is recommended to travel in December – February since these are the coolest months in the Philippines while March to May is the hottest. Avoid the rainy or typhoon months from June to October. If you are going for the waves, Baler has excellent surfing conditions from September to March.
BALER PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE
How to go to Baler
Only one bus company, Genesis Transport Services, caters to a direct route of Manila – Baler and vice versa. It is located in Cubao, Quezon City, and offers a regular or deluxe bus that you can choose from.
- Deluxe buses or popularly known as JoyBus
– P730 one way
– 5 trips per day (11 PM, 12 AM, 1 AM, 2 AM & 5:30 AM)
– It is better to drop by their terminal beforehand to buy tickets in advance.
- Regular aircon buses
– P488 one way
– 10 PM to 7 AM, the bus leaves every 2 hours
– Walk-in is entertained but the seat is subject to availability.
For the people that are already from the North, you can take the Cabanatuan – Baler route. This will also work for travelers from Manila who arrived at the terminal late or had failed to secure a bus ride due to the crowd. Just ride a bus that will bring you to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and from Cabanatuan Central Terminal, catch a bus or van that will bring you to Baler.
The van (P250) is a faster option but all seats need to be filled first before they go. There are also Genesis buses available and it costs P247 from 5 AM to 3 PM, every 2 hours.
Getting Around Baler
Motorbikes are usually the cheapest mode of transportation on any Philippine province but it is quite pricey here in Baler. The cheapest is at P800 and the price still depends on the brand and transmission you’ll be renting out.
It’s the most common way to get around Baler since there are numerous tourism accredited tricycle tour guides that you can hire. It costs P800 for a whole day tour and good for 3 people. Tricycle tours include Ditumabo Falls, Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation, and Balete Tree. Other tourist spots have different rates.
Jamjen’s Lodge is along Buton Street in Sabang Beach. It is not a beachfront accommodation but is an affordable one. It is a bright pink building and a “you-get-what-you-paid-for” lodge. The room is clean and has its own restroom. The location is good too because it is near the Baler Surfer’s Grill and it is just one street away from the beach.
On my first trip to Baler in 2015, my college friends and I are still budget traveler back then thus we settled for cheap accommodation. We were 10 in the group and we stayed in one room with 2 double beds and one extra bed. We only paid P900 per person for our 2 nights stay.
P.S. I’m not a blogger back then so forgive my photos.
On our second trip to Baler last 2017, it was a Labor Weekend so most of the accommodations in Baler were fully booked. We settled somewhere on Dipaculao Beach which is 30 minutes drive away from Baler town. Dipaculao is the neighboring municipality of Baler in the north side. It is much less crowded and also already making a name in Aurora’s tourism.
Hermano’s Leisure Farm is a beachfront resort and has its own swimming pool and bar. We rented two adjacent rooms overlooking the beach. Our room has 2 double beds and its own bathroom. The family room costs P5,500 per night for a maximum of 6 people.
It is a nice place to stay especially if you’re are going on holiday or long weekends because Baler is usually jam-packed at those times.
And just this February 2020, I went back to Baler for my mom’s family reunion. We rented a whole beachfront house overlooking Sabang Beach. It is along Buton Street and next to the famous Aliya Surf Camp.
The house has 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, kitchen, own swimming pool, and yard. It can houses until 25 people for only P20,000 a night. If you’ll be traveling with a large group then this is a perfect accommodation for you.
- Jamjen's Lodge - P500
- The Circle Hostel - P800
- Balai Surf - P2,000/4pax
- Charlie Does Inn - P800
- Nalu Surf Camp - P4,000
- Aliya Surf - P4,000
- Playa Azul Baler - P3,800
- Blue Coco Baler - P3,000
- Costa Pacifica - P12,000
- The Cube Baler - P6,000
- Casita Baler - P9,000
- Hotel Punta Baler - P7,000
Museo de Baler
If you want to know the history of Baler, head to their museum! It has so much historical information that is exciting and entertaining to learn.
Entrance fee: P30
Doña Aurora Quezon’s Houde
It is the house of Doña Aurora, Manuel Quezon’s wife, and to whom the Aurora province is named to.
Entrance fee: free if you visited Museo de Baler
Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation
On the north side of Baler, there’s the Diguisit Beach and rock formation. It’s a less crowded beach than Sabang but it is rockier. There are rock formations that make good photo backdrop.
Entrance fee: 20 PHP
Baler Hanging Bridge
10 minutes away from the town proper is Baler’s Hanging Bridge. It is a working pedestrian hanging bridge it was quite an experience to cross it.
Entrance Fee: free
Ditumabo Mother Falls
If you’re into adventures, hike your way to Ditumabo Mother Falls. We went after a rainy week so the falls have a stronger current than the usual.
Entrance fee: 30 PHP / Guide fee: 200 PHP
Just across Museo de Baler is the famous BALER sign that everyone who’s been in Baler should never miss.
Entrance fee: free
Across Doña Aurora’s house is the historical church of Baler. This is where the last Spaniard soldiers of the siege of Baler took refuge.
Entrance fee: free
Sabang Beach is the famous surf beach of Baler. The sands are dark but fine. It is also usually packed with beginner surfers.
Entrance fee: free | surf lesson: P400
Ermita Hill is in the same barangay of the hanging bridge and it gives you a view of Sabang Beach. The place also holds a history of where the 1735 Baler tsunami only survivors fled for safety.
Entrance fee: 35 PHP
Another beautiful natural wonder of Aurora is the Balete Tree that is already more than 600 years old. It is located in Maria Aurora, 30 minutes away from Baler town.
Entrance fee: 15 PHP
BALER SURFER GRILL
Price Range: P89-P250
Recommendation: Chicken BBQ & Bulalo BBQ
The Good Food
Price Range: P150-P200
Recommendation: chicken quesadilla
Yellow Fin Bar & Grill
Price Range: P150-P300
Recommendation: grilled yellowfin tuna & grilled pusit
Beach House of Costa Pacifica
Price Range: P350-P500
Recommendation: breakfast buffet and their wood-fired pizza
Cauti Bar and Grill
Nalu Surf Bar