Baler | Surfing and Beyond

“The waves are calling and I must go.”

Baler is known as one of the top surfing spots in the Philippines and the birthplace of surfing in our country, however, many does not know that beyond surfing, Baler has so much more to offer. How well do we really know Baler?

They say you haven’t fully been to Baler if you haven’t swim into the cold waters of Ditumabo falls, witnessed the majestic sunrise at Diguisit beach and stepped on Dicasalarin’s white beach and now, I’m spoiling it.

Truth be told, I never considered Baler as my go-to destinations. I am no fan of surfing and I thought there’s nothing in Baler that would make me want to pay a visit. That changed when I came across a stunning photo of sunrise at Diguisit beach while browsing,  and I told myself I must see this.

While I was planning our tour, I invited some people to come with us, some said yes while others refused saying, “ay ayoko ng surfing e”, and there are few who said “sige check ko” (did they really? oh hi friends!). Don’t worry, I’m not ranting that was my alibi before, too.

One of the sites that I would love to watch how the sun rises is Ampere Beach in Dipaculao, Aurora so in order to arrive early we agreed to leave at 11:30 pm but sometimes things don’t go according to plan, we were able to leave Manila at 1:00 am.

Day 1 – City Tour and Surfing

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Tara? Let’s take a dip.

After an almost 6-hour drive we finally arrived at Baler and as expected, we didn’t catch the sunrise (huhu) so we just checked-in to our resort, Aliya Surf Camp to have breakfast. Recharged, we proceeded to our city tour.

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Doña Aurora’s  House, Baler Church and Museo de Baler are just a few blocks away from each other. We first went to Doña Aurora’s House to pay 30 pesos for the entrance fee of both sites.

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After a brief historical walk-through we headed to my favorite activity – crossing a Hanging Bridge. We crossed this bridge confidently, beautifully, with a heart; it wasn’t even scary (sorry, I was lying!).

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Don’t be fooled by my smile, I was freaking out while crossing this hanging bridge.

Ermita Hill has a fair share of history as it witnessed a tragedy in the 1700s where a tsunami hit the entire town. Only few families who climbed up the Hill survived including the Angara family.

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At the top of Ermita Hill

After 10 to 15 minutes of walking a steep cemented road, you will be rewarded with a scenic view of Sabang and Cemento beach.

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Scenic view of Cemento Beach from Ermita Hill

At the bottom of the Hill is a Tromba Marina Statue which serves as a marker of the devastating tsunami (goosebumps).

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Statue depicting the families who climbed up the hill to survive the devastating tsunami

If you’re looking for fine white sand and calmer waves, Dicasalarin Cove will not disappoint you. Just make sure your car can handle the steep road going to Dicasalarin or hire a habal-habal, luckily ours was Grandia. Entrance fee for regular visitors is 300 and 150 for Costa Pacifica guests. Who would have thought Baler has this enchanting place?

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Dicasalarin Light House.

Diguisit falls is a small falls located along the highway, no entrance fee and no intense trekking needed (clap clap).

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Diguisit Falls

Diguisit beach is another popular site because of its picture-perfect rock formations which is best during sunrise. There is also a swimming pool if you want to take a dip; entrance fee is only 20 pesos.

City tour made us exhausted so we opted to go back to Sabang Beach and surf instead of going to Ditumabo falls.

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Kuya teaching me how to ride the waves.

According to Aurora Tourism Office big waves are observed during the months of August to February and regular waves from March to July. In our experience though, the waves are not intimidating during this month (September), perfect for beginners. 

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Are you ready to see me stumble?

At first, I was really scared on what might happen, what if I drown? what if I fell and the board hit me? But I have to let go of those what-ifs and just ride the waves.

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Ready. Up. Fall. Repeat.

“Don’t be afraid to fall, I will catch you” – Pacific Ocean.

And after several tries, at last, I was able to conquer the waves (did I hear you clap?). It was the longest 10 seconds of my life, not sure if I was able to stand that long but I have to make you think I’m good (HAHA). Good news for non-swimmers, you don’t have to be a swimmer to surf, yes!

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This picture sums up my achievement horay!

After a tiring but fun-filled day we looked for a place with a good ambiance and we found Baler Surfer Grill, the food was quite underseasoned though (the chef must be sick? who knows). One of the dishes that caught my attention is their Bulalohan steak (if I remember it right HAHA) but I was so hungry I forgot to take photos.

We capped off our night by playing beer pong, which our team won by the way (hello losers! LOL).

What’s cooking?

Day 2 – Ampere Beach, Balete Tree and Ditumabo Falls

30 minutes before 4 am, my alarm clock rang, hit snooze and went back to sleep (HAHA), but my mind was really eager to see the sunrise so I get up and prepared my camera, then I realized I don’t have our tour guide’s number (what the ..?!!). I went outside and asked the guard if he has the guide’s number but no luck, I sat down and contemplated for a couple of minutes (T.T).

I was thinking if I should still wake my friends and our van driver or just drop the idea. I was losing hope and was already thinking of going back to sleep, when I heard a tricycle coming (yes! Our tour guide arrived on time, maybe I was overthinking earlier).

After 30 to 45 minutes we saw the silhouette of Dipaculao’s rock formation. Finally, we will be able to see the sunrise. I was hoping to get some good photos but I think I only got one (blame the lens, not the photographer HAHA), there’s always a next time :P.

Good morning Ampere Beach!

We had a quick stop to Millennium tree (Balete tree) that is said to be the largest of its kind in Asia.  The tree was equipped with a CCTV to monitor those who are climbing…and a Public Announcement to call out the pasaway (we’re one of them).

Ditumabo falls, our last destination required us to trek for 30 minutes, don’t worry it is easy and very much rewarding. The water was very cold but it didn’t hinder us from swimming. We were shouting and laughing whiles the water massages us (imagine us in a Sprite commercial, uhhh refreshing); this activity SHOULD NOT be missed.

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Mother falls and its children.

So there, that’s how the trip ends. Bitin di ba?

Travel Guide

If ever this blog made your feet itch, here’s a sample itinerary and budget breakdown to help you plan your trip.

Day 0
11:00 – 11:30 PM – Assembly and ETD Manila to Dipaculao, Aurora

Day 1
05:00 AM – Arrival at Ampere Beach, Dipaculao, Aurora
06:30 AM – Dipaculao to Baler
07:00 AM – Breakfast
09:00 AM – Start of Tour
Museo de baler, Aurora’s mansion, Baler church, Hanging Bridge, Ermita Hill, Diguisit falls, Diguisit Beach, Dicasalarin Cove (Note: the order is in respect of their location)
12:00 NN – Lunch
02:00 PM – Check-in
03:00 PM – Surfing at Sabang Beach
06:00 PM – Back to Lodging
07:00 PM – Dinner/Socials

Day 2
06:00 AM – Breakfast
07:00 AM – Balete Tree, Ditumabo falls
11:00 AM – back to lodging
12:00 NN – Check out/Lunch
02:00 PM – ETD Baler to Manila
09:00 PM – ETA Manila

Expenses:

Bus fare                                                     500 to 700
Accommodations                                 500 (but there are cheaper rooms)
Tricycle tour                                            800
Entrance fee                                         ~100
Dicasalarin cove entrance fee       150 – 300
1 hour surfing with instructor       350
Board rentals                                           200/hr

I’m not going to put any tricycle driver’s contact number to give chance to everyone but you may contact Ms. Charlotte Madarang (0999 993 6874 / 0906 205 8437) of Aurora Tourism Office for your questions .

Obligatory group shot.

A two-day tour is enough to explore Baler; however, I would suggest staying for 3 days and 2 nights to fully enjoy the place.

Can you hear it? The waves are calling…

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Tour courtesy of Kahit Saan Travel Group.

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