Baler, a hidden paradise in the beautiful province of Aurora is the birthplace of surfing in Philippines. Located 231 kilometers (143.5 miles) north-east of Manila. Baler is perfect getaway during weekends and holidays. This surfers’ paradise is not only known for surfing but also its rich history, panoramic views and hidden gems.
Last April 17,18 we spent 2 days 1 night in the beautiful Baler province of Aurora. It was Holy Week so expected that the place is crowded and fully booked. We booked ahead for our accommodation via Agoda. Also several accommodation can be booked via AIRBNB
During peak season and holidays like Holy Week make sure to book ahead your accommodation and come super early in the bus terminal. We didn’t catch the last bus of Cubao – Baler trip.
We thought 12 am is early enough to travel but we still didn’t catch the last trip of Genesis bus. Because of the volume of passengers they are not following trip scheduled. Make sure to come super early.
But that day our patience were tested. hahahaha. Edsa and NLEX are both traffic so the bus driver find alternative way but still took us 7 hours of travel from Cubao to Cabanatuan yes 7 hours! After we reach Cabanatuan terminal we transfer to UV going to Baler. Cabanatuan – Baler is another 3 hours travel so all in all from Cubao to Baler 10 hours of travel. Usually Cubao to Baler is only 7-8 hours but because it is Holy Week so expect delays and heavy traffic.
After 7 hours of travel from Cubao to Cabanatuan we still managed to smile! Excited for our Baler escapade
12 Things to do in Baler
- Surf at Sabang Beach
- Travel back in time at Donya Aurora Aragon Quezon House
- Learn history at Museo de Baler
- Visit San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish
- Conquer Baler Hanging Bridge
- Enjoy the breathtaking view at Dicasalarin Cove
- Go snorkeling at Dicasalarin Bay
- Enjoy the views of the Pacific at Ermita Hill
- Take a shower at the multi-level Digisuit Falls
- Explore Digisuit Beach and Rock Formations
- Go Scuba Diving
- Dine at the beach
1. Sabang Beach
The famous Sabang beach is a surfers paradise. Perfect place for beginners and those who would like to learn surfing. Surfing was introduced by Americans after they filmed the Vietnam War Movie “Apocalypse Now” in Baler. When they left, most of them left behind their surfboards, which were picked up by locals who went on to continue the sports. Until they mastered riding the waves.
Your visit to Baler is not complete without surfing. There are instructors everywhere in Sabang that offers surfing lesson.
Surfing 101 with my instructor
2. Donya Aurora Aragon Quezon Ancestral House
A few steps away from Museo de Baler and just right next to Baler Church is the ancestral house of Donya Aurora Quezon. Aurora Aragon was born in Baler to Pedro Aragon and Zenaida Molina. She married to Manuel L. Quezon who later became the second President of Philippine Republic, making her the second First Lady of the Philippines.
The house is a typical “Bahay Kubo” made of wood with nipa roofing (Palm grass) and wide windows. A big painting of President Manuel L. Quezon and Donya Aurora Quezon will greet you.
Aurora province was named after Donya Aurora Aragon Quezon. Donya Aurora Quezon is known for her humanitarian efforts, being the first chairman of Philippine Red Cross among her other projects and volunteer works.
During her reign as First lady, she helped establish learning centers, churches and helped re-establish the Church of Baler which was left in ruins by war.
3. Museo de Baler
Baler is a historical municipality in the heart of Aurora province. If you want to know the rich history of Baler, Museo de Baler is the perfect place. Established in 2002 it houses artifacts such as porcelain from galleon ships, photos about traveling at galleon ships, and Spanish era artifacts as well as atifacts from the Siege of Baler.
4. San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish (Baler Church)
This Catholic church is built-in 18th century making it the most iconic and historic landmark in town. It is the site of the Siege of Baler wherein 50 Spanish soldiers and 4 officers took refuge in the church, declining to surrender to surrender to American army after the proclamation of Philippine Independence 15 days prior.
They stayed at the church over a year, refusing to believe that the spanish army surrendered to the Americans. In 1899, the soldiers raised their white flags and were permitted to return to Spain.
5. Baler Hanging Bridge
Created for the locals of Sitio Zabali, Baler Hanging Bridge was not meant to be a tourist spot. But however this became a tourist spot because of its uniqueness and nice view. It was made with steel cables, rope and wooden planks.
6. Dicasalarin Cove
A stunning cove privately owned by the Angaras who also owned Costa Pacifica. The cove is known for having one of the best vistas of Baler. Tours going to the cove can be arranged at Costa Pacifica and other tour operators around Baler.
7. Snorkeling at Dicasalarin Bay
Baler is not only limited for surfing enthusiast. Certain water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving can also try in Baler. One of the best snorkeling site is Dicasalarin bay with its coral reef untouched by fishing.
Other snorkeling spots includ Lukso lukso Islets, Cemento Beach, Digisuit Beach and Anlao islets.
8. Ermita Hill
Located at Brgy. Zabali, Ermita Hill commemorates a catastrophic tsunami that occurred in 1735 that wiped out the settlements in town. Few families made their way to Ermita hill to seek refuge during tsunami. A set of statues that holding each other can be seen before going up the hill to remember the event. Upon reaching the hill you’ll be rewarded with a scenic view of Baler Bay, Sabang Beach and Pacific Ocean.
9. Digisuit Falls
Chasing water falls? Then, this multi-level waterfalls is perfect. No long trek needed, it is just along Baler highway in Brgy. Zabali.
To reach the second and third level, a short trek through a muddy and slippery road is needed. The third pool allows visitors to swim the cold waters.
10. Digisuit Beach and Rock Formations
Another public beach located at Cemento Beach, Baler Bay. Perfect for advance surfers because the wave here are harsher than Sabang. If you’re not a surfer you can go to Digisuit to explore rock formations called Lukso lukso Islets.
11. Scuba Diving
Aurora province is still not fully explored. Several spots off coast Baler might be discover soon. For scuba divers Baler has a lot to offer too.
12. Dine by the beach
One of the things you must do in Baler is dine by the beach. When i saw the episode of Drew Arellano in Byahe ni Drew they feature this cozy Baler Surfer Grill. The vibe is simply amazing it merges surfing, beach and food! This place is definitely must try.
Baler Side Trips
- Ampere Beach
Ampere beach is an hour’s drive from Baler located at Dipaculao, Aurora. The beach can be spotted along the national highway, before you reach the town center. This beach is not advisable for swimming because of the strong waves and undercurrents. But, the place is picture perfect.
- Ditumabo Mother Falls
If ever you are tired of sea and sand then try to soak yourself in this cool mountain fed water. Ditumabo waterfalls is located in the neighboring town of Baler, at Brgy. Ditumabo, San Luis, Aurora. This adventure requires an hour-long trek that is rocky and rough, taking you through several river crossing.
After almost an hour trek you’ll be rewarded by an imposing 140 foot (42.67 m) Ditumabo Mother Falls. Foods are not allowed to prevent littering and donation is requested, this goes to the maintenance of the falls and its surroundings.
- Millennium Tree
A marvelous 600 years old Balete Tree (Millennium Tree) located at the town of Maria Aurora, a 30 minutes away from the town of Baler. It reaches up to 200 feet (61 m); much higher than Ditumabo falls. Its diameter is measured by 50 people circling the tree. It is said to be one of its kind not only in Philippines but in Asia.
How to Get to Baler
From Manila, travel time to Baler is roughly 5-6 hours by private car.
Genesis Transport Inc. provide a direct route from Manila to Baler. They have terminals at Cubao and Pasay. First trip depart at 3 am with an hour interval. Fare cost Php 500.00. Travel time is 6-8 hours depending on traffic.
If you want a more convenient way to get there Joy Bus of Genesis Transport is an option. There is no stop overs, on board comfort room, free snacks by a bus steward, free wifi, blanket + pillow and a good morning kit. Schedule is 12 mn and 4:30 am. Travel time: 5-6 hours, non-stop. Make sure to book a ticket online if you chooses this option. Or call Genesis (02) 709 – 0544 / (02) 709 – 0545 / (02) 441 – 6834. Fare is approximately Php 700.00+.
By car or private vehicle
From Manila, enter the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and exit at SCTEX ( entry La Paz, Tarlac toll gate). From there, follow the highway leading to Aliaga and Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. From Cabanatuan City proper, take Nueva Ecija – Aurora highway, passing through the town of Talavera, Rizal and Pantabangan until you reach the Aurora border. Then, through the town’s of Maria Aurora, San Luis and finally Baler.
We decided to take alternative way going to Baler, Aurora via Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. We fall in line at 1:30 am and boarded about past 3:30 am. There are several bus terminals that ply Cubao – Cabanatuan. ES Transport, Baliwag and Five Star terminals are your choices if you want alternative way going Baler. We took Baliwag Transport and waited over 2 hours of long line ahead of us. Bring more patience during this time. Cubao to Cabanatuan fare is Php 202.00. Then you can take a van from Cabanatuan to Baler. Fare is Php 230.00.
Where to Stay
There are tons of accommodation along Sabang Beach budget friendly to luxurious hotel. There are transient houses also that offers affordable price.
Among top rated accommodations in Baler are the following:
- Costa Pacifica
- Aliya Surf Camp and Resort
- Casita de Bahia
- Nalu Surf Camp
- L’sirene Boutique Resort
- The Circle Hostle
- Charlie Does Hotel Motel
- Mahdox Backdoor Villa
- Surfhouse Baler
We choose Azbahaen Leisure Farm and Resort for our accommodation. It is located at Brgy. Reserva a few kilometers away from Sabang Beach and Poblacion.
The place is perfect if you are looking for quite and more laid back vibes and to avoid crowed place like Sabang. But we didn’t like this place because of its poor service. The room is nice though but the air-conditioned is not working. They need to change the AC. The tiles were broken and not fixed they just cover it with mattress. If I will rate this place from 1 – 5 i will rate this 2.
Check rates of accommodations near Sabang
Where to eat
There are wide array of restaurants in Baler and along Sabang beach. In Poblacion there are several kainan that offers buffet for only Php 200.00. We eat dinner at one of the buffet in poblacion but not satisfied with the food. Not worth recommending I guess.
I will definitely recommend Baler Surfers Grill. The ambiance is perfect and beach front. The food is nice and affordable. Their fruit shakes are must try too. If ever you are in Sabang you must try this place.
According to travel bloggers below are recommend cafe and restaurants in Baler:
- Myrtle Park Baler
- Kubli Bistro
- Bike Kings Kitchen
- Boardwalk Restaurant by Bay’s Inn Resort
- Mumunsi Chocolate Cafe
Travel Expenses Breakdown
|Cubao - Cabanatuan Fare||Php 202.00|
|Cabanatuan - Baler (UV)||Php 230.00|
|Baler Terminal - Azbahaen Resort (2 tricycle)||Php. 200.00 / 7 = 29|
|Azbahaen - Sabang Beach||Php 200.00 / 7 = 29|
|Dinner (Buffet)||Php 200.00|
|Poblacion - Azbahaen||Php 200.00 / 7 = 29|
|Azbahaen - Baler Surfer Grill||Php 200.00 / 7 = 29|
|Lunch (Baler Surfer Grill)||Php 975.00 / 7 = 140.00|
|Fruit Shake||Php 90.00|
|Sabang to Poblacion||Php 20.00|
|Poblacion - Terminal||Php 15.00|
|Baler - Cubao (UV)||Php 600.00|
|Accommodation (Azbahaen Resort)||Php 500.00 / head|
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A freelance hairstylist and makeup artist. Love to travel and explore places. Festival lover, local food lover and proud Filipino! Join me in my adventures and misadventures exploring my beloved country Philippines. Don’t forget to follow me on my social media accounts to stay updated.