A few weeks back, my family and I went to Baler, Aurora for an impromptu vacation. It wasn't actually planned but we decided to go anyway since it's just a few hours drive from my grandparents' place in Nueva Ecija. Anyway, here are some of the photos I took during the trip plus some info on where we stayed and the places we visited. Some of the photos were taken with my phone (obviously the pixelated ones lol) and others were taken using a Nikon D5000.
Most of the time, travelling by road could be boring especially when passing by the expressway. However, travelling to Baler is such a great adventure in itself. The scenery is breathtaking and amazing. Before passing through Sierra Madre, everything seems dry and brown. But after going through the mountains, it is as if you're in a new place with the scenery all green. The roads are better as compared to 10 years ago when we went there. Some parts are still aren't cemented, but these are just very few and tolerable. The zigzag roads are kind of scary so it's better to have your vehicle tuned up before heading there.
One of the cons of travelling without reservations is looking for a place to stay. During that weekend, it's as if most of Manila was there. We had a trouble looking for a place to stay since most of the hotels by Sabang Beach (near Costa Pacifica) were already fully booked. Nevertheless, we were still able to find a place near the beach. The hotel's called Akkaw Inn. We got a room for 6 people (3 beds, one bathroom) for P2500 a night. I definitely recommend the place. It's very clean and neat and the staff is really accommodating. The room we got was fronting the beach, too. The only problem we had was that the only room available was at the third floor and we had a kid and a senior citizen with us. Other than that, that place was amazing. If you're looking for a cheaper place to stay though, there are nipa huts which only costs P700 per night. Around 3 to 4 persons could stay in one "kubo" but the place is only good for sleeping and there's only one toilet and shower room for everyone.
|View from Akkaw Inn's balcony|
Baler is known as a surfing destination. Since the beach is fronting the Pacific Ocean, the waves are indeed bigger. Beginners could take surfing lessons for only P300 to P350 per hour. That includes rental of the surf board and an instructor to guide you. There are numerous surfing schools in the area so you wouldn't have any problem looking for one. Swimming skills aren't really necessary. You could take surfing lessons even if you can't swim. The surfing area is probably just waist deep and you'll have an instructor with you all throughout the session.
Swimming at Sabang Beach is also a fun activity. Sabang is definitely not your ordinary beach cause everyone's in their rash guards. It's not really wise to go away from the shore cause the current's really strong. I had to hold Zack the whole time cause the current's pulling him into the sea. I haven't noticed any lifeguards, too. And swimming at night is not recommended. I am not sure though if that's entirely prohibited though. By the way, there are several resorts by Sabang Beach which have their own pools.
|Triangl Milly insipred swimwear from Romwe.com|
Aside from swimming and surfing, there are also other tourist spots in the town. For only P30 per head (free for young kids and senior citizens), you could visit the house of President Manuel Quezon and the Museo Baler. These said tourist attractions pretty much show Baler's very rich history. Manuel Quezon's presidential car was actually even restored and displayed in his old house. These establishments are open from 8am to 5pm and are just walking distance from each other. You could also drop by their old church which is in between the two establishments.
|Having lunch at the Quezon's lol|
I cannot recommend any place to eat though except for Yolly's Ihaw-ihaw restaurant. The place is always packed, so parking's quite difficult. Nevertheless, the food's worth it and relatively affordable. We weren't able to explore other restaurants during our trip because we only stayed for the night. But I am definitely looking forward to going back and trying out several dining destinations in Baler.
Aside from Sabang Beach, most people also visit the Dicasalarin cove. In my opinion, the latter is a better place to visit if you just prefer to swim and lounge at the beach since it has nice white sand. Other destinations at Baler are usually visited if you have availed of a tour guide. Otherwise, you could actually DIY your itinerary especially if you aren't commuting and you have have researched well as to how to get to the place and other relevant details.
I have actually been to Baler when I was still in grade school. From what I can recall, there has been so much different and improvement as compared to what it used to look like 10 years ago. There were actually still fishermen's boat by Sabang Beach before. There were only several hotels. No tourists yet except for us. And the bus ride from Cabanatuan was crazy through the rough roads. After this comeback, I am definitely looking forward to visiting Baler again as this place is indeed evolving. There's always something new to try out and discover every time.
Hope I could come up with more travel posts in the future! :)