Gab: As a frequent visiting surfer since ’08, it’s safe to say that riding waves isn’t the only hot item in the menu especially with Baler’s rapidly growing economy. You’ve got good food, scenery, waterfalls and a bit of nightlife to cap it all off.
With only four days, my friends and I managed to get a little taste of everything this booming Aurora town has to offer. I didn’t want our trip to end as another hashtag in a boring photo album, I wanted to give my buddies an experience that would make them go back and share to others what I’ve shared to them; the best of Baler:
COSTA PACIFICA Strolling along Sabang’s boardwalk, Costa Pacifica is impossible to miss. Probably the biggest and most lavish addition to Baler’s beachfront collection, Costa is equipped with outdoor pools, a gym and an events hall. It doesn’t get any better than this. Proper Baler VIP treatment defined.
ALIYA SURF CAMP If you’re with a big group who want to try surfing for the first time, Aliya Surf Camp has your back; nothing beats learning from Baler’s finest surfers. The best part is that an infinity pool has just been installed, perfect for that cold sunset beer with your mates.
KAHEA’S LODGE One of the first resorts in Baler, it might not be as big as their neighbours but their hospitability and legacy is second to none, plus the vibe is always mellow. Everyone in the family that owns it surfs and it’s amazing to watch. They’ve recently remodelled their small but iconic nook and if you ever meet Edwin Namoro, be sure to ask him about the Baler’s Apocalypse Now days.
ROLLING STORE Say the word karinderia and almost every local would point you to the famous Rolling Store eatery. There is no signage; it’s just a series of food stalls behind one another near Baler Museum. Home-cooked Filipino dishes go for cheap, where P50 and P70 can easily get you full. There’s also a bunch of streetfood carts just beside it whose fare you can add to your meal. No corkage, no A/C and most importantly, no wi-fi.
GERRY SHAN’S PLACE If you’ve got some extra cash, Gerry Shan’s never fails, Buffet is at P185 and about P90 for a meal. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of Chinese-oriented dishes they offer. As a friendly reminder, the place gets packed on weekends and holidays. You’ll find out why once you try it.
SABANG BEACH Facing the Pacific Ocean, Sabang truly is a playground for all levels of waveriders and beachgoers. If you don’t have your own equipment or experience for that matter, just pick one of the countless resorts that offer rentals and surf lessons and learn to catch a wave.
Sabang Beach is also the busiest part of Baler but take note, it’s a long stretch of coast. Just north of Sabang is Charlie’s Point. Back in the 70’s, a scene from the movie Apocalypse Now starring Martin Sheen was shot in that location. The surfboards used were left behind for the locals, and local love says that could have been the seed that started the surfing revolution here in the Philippines.
Sabang Beach and Charlie’s point aren’t the only quality surf sports in Aurora; there’s quite a few, some are even world-class. Respect the local surfers and who knows? They might even share their best waves with you.
DITUMABO FALLS (aka Mother Falls) Less than an hour away from Sabang, Ditumabo falls is located in the neighboring town of San Luis, Aurora. The trek can be abit of a challenge so being in shape is definitely a plus. Known as the biggest waterfall in all of Aurora Province, it’s a no brainer why they call it Mother Falls, especially when you see it with your own eyes.
DIGUISIT FALLS If you want to hit two birds with one stone, Diguisit Falls is just near Mother Falls and is much more accessible. You can even bring the whole family along, no epic trek needed. It’s just near the road and will take you about five minutes to get to the pools.
NANAY PACING’S CAFE Suman, espasol, mango tarts, rice cakes and more! A take-out of these specially cooked sweets will cost you P60, probably the best way to end the whole trip.
PUBLIC MARKET Also known as “Palengke” in Tagalog, the public market is near the bus terminal so it’s always a good sign for pasalubong especially for commuters. Sweets and local delicacies are abundant in these parts. You can also find everything you might need during your stay in Baler right here.
ALIYA SURF CAMP These guys hold the hippest events in Baler and they’ve got enough instruments for a small rock show stashed somewhere so anytime could be a party! Local or foreign, beginner, or pro, Aliya can be a melting pot for waveriders especially when there are contests.
CHARLIE DOES SURFSHOP If you want a more mellow night out, drop by Charlie does. They’ve got a wide front yard to relax in and the inside is designed pretty nicely too. Argie Hugo, a seasoned local surfer and instructor can definitely tell you a story or two about Baler’s rich coastal heritage; and don’t forget to try their Lambanog while you’re at it!
Have you been to a destination worth featuring lately? Email your story and high resolution photos with subject: “Submissions” to email@example.com for a chance to get published on livetoexplore.projectdemosite.com or Explore Philippines Magazine.