Friday, March 7, 2014

Surfing a weekend to Baler: Travel Guide

I am en route to Pantabangan dam as I write this article through a bus bound to Baler. 

I couldn't fall asleep so I thought about writing something about How to spend a weekend in Baler.

While some people still associate Baler to Quezon, Baler is under the jurisdiction of the province of Aurora, which used to be actually part of the Quezon province.

Amongst the destinations in Aurora, Baler would have been the most popular, especially for surfers and wanna bees like me. 

Then again, as others may not know, more than just surfing, baler has a lot more to offer. Visitors would love the rock formations and coast at diguisit beach. Diguisit also has tiered falls which is even very accessible from the road.

Other than this falls, there is an even more majestic Ditumabo falls in the town of San Luis. Then, in the town of Maria, there is a century old balete tree where tourists can climb at its branches all the way to the top.

Assuming you were sold out to the idea of heading to Baler for a weekend, here's what to do.

First, no need to go undertime or rush too much for your friday work. You may be that excited, but you only need to be at the Genesis bus station at least before 12MN. The Baler bound buses leave at midnight and will probably reach baler at around 6am. Buses leave every hour after.

Depending on the volume of passengers, which becomes dense during summer months, and especially fridays, you may want to be at least in the terminal by 11pm. Reserve seats asap. Genesis bus normally provide queue tags for priority seating in the bus trips. Fare to Baler is 450; for students, it shall be 360.

Upon arrival in Baler bus station/market, have your breakfast in the Market. You may also want to purchase some more supplies, such as your food. Yellow fin tuna is pretty cheap in this town, normally P130/kilo. 

Likewise,  you may want to have your first taste of their native suman as you may not find it anywhere else.

Once finished from marketing and breakfast, it's time to head to Sabang (the surfing area).

Tricycle fare to Sabang shall be P15 per head (from Market, and P12 fr Museo). The tricycle will ask where to be dropped in Sabang, and it's time to tell him which resort.

Here are some of the budget resorts I chanced on:
Beach House (0928) 507 6551
Pacific Waves (0928) 801 1888

For first time Baler travellers, and not so surfing addict, do your tour on Day 1. Depending on the size of your group, you may want to rent either a Van or a Trike.

For van, you may contact: 
For trike, you may contact: 

For the van service, you can ask P1500 for a whole day tour (inclusive of gas); for tricycle, P600 shall be OK (say Ian's price). 

Your best destination arrangement will be Balete Tree and then the Museum (in case that's not boring for you). There are no fees in the Balete Tree, although there are some kids who guide and collect on donations. 

After that,have lunch at Chef for P185/head. This is a buffet of probably 20 plus dishes (totally worth it).

After your lunch, you can head to Ditumabo Falls. You may have to walk from the highway up to the powerplant and then further to the falls. There are some tricycle service offered from the highway, but if it's the three wheels, i think you're better off walking. If you take the trike, most of the time, you'll have to get off and walk because the road is too rough anyway. As per my last visit though, there are single motorbikes offering services too (like habal habal), and I think you are better off with these. 

In case you contact kuya efren, his trike can normally handle the rough road, though just like I said, he may have, or you might want to ask him to let you get off at some parts, for your safety. There were cases he'd insist there's no need, but I chose to get off.

This road wasn't really as rough on my first visit back in 2010. From what I heard, it has been intentionally torn to give way for some livelihood for these drivers.

It will probably take you 20-30 minutes to the original jump off, which is the electric power plant. From this powerplant, it will be another 30 mins or so trekking (including river trekking), depending on how quick you walk, and tackle the huge boulders of rocks in the river.

Nevertheless, if its your first time, and not so often do you see waterfalls, you'll just completely forget about what you had to go through to get there.

Remember to have a dry bag ready when visiting Ditumabo falls. IF none available, at least seal your valuables with some qualtity plastic.

After Ditumabo falls (and I hope you didn't over enjoy and knock off all the remaining hours of the day just in the falls), you can head next to Diguisit beach. You may also choose to sleep here instead; camping is also possible. Unlike sabang, over here is more quiet and at peace. The resort also has a pool (whewww!). Walking distance from the resort is the falls. In case you are fit, you may climb the falls; On the left side facing the falls is a trail going up (Although there isn't really a lot to see there).

Then, on your way back to sabang, you can cut a side trip to the Ermita hill (overlooking sabang, province of aurora, and the pacific ocean). That's also where the tsunami monument is.

Then, after Diguisit, you may either want to get back to your hotel/resort (and have dinner a little later), or take your dinner at the Rolling stores. The rolling stores are actually several carinderias, side by side, and are open 24/7. They are local's favorite though you'd realize that the buffet is actually much more worthy.

Where to drink?

If you're in a group, you can just buy your alcohol from the stores, sit next to the beach, or stay in the resort vicinity and drink there. If you'd rather be out, there is one bar that has a band playing from 9pm onwards (close to Mahdox). There are also several videoke bars lined up next to the beach (and just close to this bar). Within Bahia de Baler, there is also this cozy bar (no band, but just music though on an elevated floor with open air) that you can try. They also serve P65 tapsi there in case you get hungry late.

Next day is Sunday, wake up early to surf. Surfing is at P200/hr per board, and  P150 for the one hour lesson. In case you already know how to surf, I suggest you approach some random instructor and ask if they own any spare board that you can rent. You can haggle it cheaper from the surfing school rate.

Meantime, remember not to overenjoy it. Be sure to be back in the Bus stop at around 1pm. The last trip for the genesis bus is published 3pm,but if there are a lot of passengers, sometimes it leaves early. The alternative is to take the next AURORA bus line to cabanatuan, and from there, take another bus (and a lot of choices including five star, etc) to your destination in Manila. In case you still didn't make it to that bus schedule, you can take the van to cabanatuan. There will be vans until 5pm, or even so, depending on the plight of passengers.

Also, give a lee way for lunch before taking the bus back. This time, try Carlitos; Over here it is only 120; There's less choices when it comes to dishes, but the food actually taste better.

Oh yes, there are banks in Baler. PNB, Landbank, and some rural banks.

And, if you walk at its gate behind that leads to the beach road; just next to the INC church, you will have your place to eat. Veggies at P10/30 per serve. Serving is enourmous, you can go for half rice and half veggie for P20 for both. Problem Solved!

Recommended Iti:
Day 1
1:00am - Genesis Bus Station Cubao 5:30am - ETA Baler Town (or 1-2 hours earlier for the express Joybus service); breakfast and supplies purchasing in the market7:00am - check in; rest and then tour: Ermita hill, Diguisit Falls and Beach, Museo, 
8:00am - proceed to preferred surf shop for board rental and instruction;

11:30am - Lunch at Buffet (Chef's; be sure to arrive before lunch to have the complete buffet set and available seat too). 1:00 pm - Baliti Tree, and then Ditumabo Falls
5:00 pm - back in Sabang Beach and  or dinner in Town Center

Day 2
7:00am - Breakfast
11:00am- depart Sabang and head to Town for Lunch
11:30am - Lunch at Carlito's
1:00pm- Pasalubong Center and Depart back to Manila 
(No ticket reservations accepted in the terminal except for Joy Bus. Alternatively, if you miss the genesis bus, you may take the Aurora bus to Cabanatuan, and even vans, and then take Manila bound buses from there.)


  1. oo nga sir, at mas ok dahil paggising ko, paglabas sa tent, yan ang bumungad sakin. ganda ng araw ko for the next 4 weeks. hehe

  2. May mga rough roads pba bound to baler if i will take canili-pagtabangan route? Im planning to drive bound to baler using my car (sedan)

  3. Replies
    1. Basta sa via rizal ka dumaan sir, hwag bongabon.. Oks na daan.. Medyo ingat lang sa drive dahil zigzag, pero paved nman


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