“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

A Weekend in Baler

A weekend and an ambition to learn to surf brought me and my friends to a fourth-class municipality in the Philippines: Baler. Initially, we had to choose whether to hire an agency to bring us there or to simply do the job ourselves. Going with the latter proved to be not only cheaper, but also more adventurous!

How to get there

Baler is about five to six hours from Manila by bus. Genesis Transport has daily trips going to Baler. Book a Joybus for a more comfortable seat (PhP 700). Contact them here.

Unfortunately, though we were able to book the Joybus going to Baler, we were unable to book seats for the bus back to Manila. If we were to take an ordinary bus, we would have to leave town on Sunday morning, meaning that we officially only spend an entire day in Baler. Since we were seven in the group, we just opted to hire a van to bring us to Baler. Anyway, we would also need a transportation getting around the town. We paid around PhP 11,000 for the entire weekend’s van rental, including the driver’s fee.

We left Manila shortly after midnight, and we found ourselves in Baler shortly before sunrise. 🙂

What to do in Baler

On time for the sunrise

What to Do

Feeling cold and lacking sleep (the roads were bumpy and our friend Jules kept on talking in the van!), we braced ourselves to watch the sun rise. ‘Can we really do this? Can we ride the waves?’ were my thoughts as we hear the waves splash against the shore, pertaining to Baler’s attraction that brought us here: surfing.

What to do in Baler


What to do in Baler

Waves, waves, and waves

As the sun rose and people began emerging at the shore, we changed into our rash guards and board shorts. We were ready for a new experience!

What to do in Baler

Girls rock! 🙂

All under an hour, we were taught how to stand in the board, tried standing on the surf board, and fell in the sea somewhere before the board reached the shore. It was tiring, yet it was a great experience!

What to do in Baler

Riding the waves 🙂

After surfing, it was time to explore the town. We hired a guide recommended by a fellow traveler since we knew nothing about the place. First stop was Baler Museum. A few photo-ops and we were off to Dona Aurora’s Residence. Dona Aurora was the wife of former President Manuel Quezon, and to whom the province of Aurora was named after.

What to do in Baler

With President Quezon

What to do in Baler

Baler Museum

What to do in Baler

Dona Aurora’s Residence

What to do in Baler

The President and his First Lady

Next, we went to see the biggest Balete tree in Asia. Boy, it was huge! At first, I thought that we’d just take a photo here and there, but I was wrong. We were to climb the entire tree!!! Unprepared, we did it anyway. The girls rocked as the boys didn’t want to do it. 😛

What to do in Baler

The gigantic Balete tree — can you see how little the people are?

What to do in Baler

Finally, we headed to the Ditumabo Falls. Since the road was extra bumpy, we had to hire a tricycle to bring us to the jump-off point. According to the guide, it was a about 30 minutes to the falls from the jump-off point. After crossing rivers three times, standing on slippery rocks, and more than an hour, we were witnessing the high waterfalls pour itself over the basin.

What to do in Baler

Cold but happy after taking a dip in the water

What to do in Baler

Tired after trekking to Ditumabo Falls

We jumped into the water and found that it was indeed very cold. After a little bit of swimming, we headed back to the town center.

The following day, we were taken to Ermita Hill. Known as the place where seven natives climbed to escape a tidal wave, it serves as a viewpoint today overlooking Baler. See the sandbar emerge in the middle of the sea, while boats line the shore.

What to do in Baler

View from Ermita Hill

What to do in Baler


What to do in Baler

My friend Jo with her parking sign 😛

What to do in Baler

Remembering the seven people who survived the tsunami

Our next stop was another waterfall. The one we saw the previous day was prettier, though it didn’t hurt to see another one. After all, there are no waterfalls in the city. 😛 Aniao Islets was our last stop. The beach was rocky at this point, yet it was one of those beaches where you find yourself reflecting about life (or perhaps I was just sad that we were leaving this town soon).

What to do in Baler

What to do in Baler

What to do in Baler

Chill here.

What to do in Baler

Aniao Islets

What to do in Baler

Posing in Aniao Islets

Where to Stay

We decided to stay in Bayler View Hotel. It’s one of the most affordable options in Baler, with a room for four costing only PhP 2600. The room was good enough for our needs. In addition, they serve good food.

Bayler View Hotel

Where to Eat

Bayler View Hotel

Though I’m a bit a biased since we stayed here, I would recommend this hotel for food. Their prices are decent, and they serve really good food.

Where to Eat in Baler

Bayler View Restaurant

Where to Eat in Baler

The yummy turon ala mode

Gerry Shan’s

It’s time to eat all you can! After a long first day, our guide suggested that we try this place. Nothing fancy, but they serve a lot of dishes. I loved their papaitan, a delicacy where bile is added to the soup to render a bitter taste. I was cold, and I needed some hot soup!

Bahia de Baler

This is the upscale hotel in town. Despite the numerous people in town, the restaurant was empty when we arrived there! The place was nice — more formal compared to other restaurants we’ve tried. Food was a bit expensive, perhaps at par with Manila prices. The wait time was way too long. However, their chicken tinola was one of the best I’ve tasted. The addition of coconut juice to the broth really rendered a good flavor.

Where to Eat in Baler

Bahia de Baler Restaurant

Where to Eat in Baler

View from the restaurant

Perhaps this was one of the best value trips we’ve ever had — a ton of adventure for just under PhP 5,000 (USD 100)! Wish we could go back there some time soon.

Special thanks to my friend Aiza Buenaventura for lending me some of the photos used in this post. 🙂

Happy travels everyone!

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13 comments on “A Weekend in Baler

  1. Sean Kingston
    April 28, 2013

    Wow this is a great post. Really cool look at this town. We’re now following you’re blog. We also just re-blogged this on Take Ya There. Cheers!

    • Karen
      April 28, 2013

      Wow, thanks a lot! It was really fun to do. Hope you get to visit the place soon. Happy travels!

  2. Sean Kingston
    April 28, 2013

    Reblogged this on Take Ya There and commented:
    For more on surfing, check out – Where Surfing Can Take You.

  3. Aiza Buenaventura
    April 29, 2013

    nice one baby k :))

  4. Joanne
    April 29, 2013

    Agree! This is one of the most sulit adventure trip we’ve had. 🙂 And thanks for my photo too. hahaha!

  5. Marie Anabelle
    May 2, 2013

    thanks! a flyer traveler here but always been hoping to go there. 🙂

    • Karen
      May 2, 2013

      A weekend is all you need! Totally worth it 🙂

  6. Therese
    May 6, 2013

    Hi, thanks for sharing your experience, may I get the no of the van that you rent to Baler. Thank you.

    • Karen
      May 7, 2013

      Hi Therese,

      You may contact Kuya Francis at this number: 09184624027.

      Hope you have a great time in Baler! 🙂

  7. Misel
    February 27, 2014

    Hi! Can i hv the number and name of ur guide? Tnx

    • Karen
      March 2, 2014

      Hi Misel,

      Sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep the number of our guide, since it was another friend who made arrangements with him. I’m pretty sure that the hotel you’ll stay at will be able to recommend someone. Happy travels! ☺

  8. Anne
    March 3, 2014

    looking for an itinerary for baler and your post is really okay. but the van rental is pricey.. I found one that could offer a lower price.. here’s his number 09175180965.. maybe on your next adventure that number can help..

    • Karen
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks for the recommendation, Anne! ☺

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2013 by in Aurora and tagged , , , , , , , .
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