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Tuesday, May 13

Baler-Aurora Trip: Tips and Guide

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Surfing is what you wish for in Baler, Aurora--and you might just get it.

Baler in the province of Aurora is an emerging tourist destination in the country because of its popularity as a surfing spot. Other than this, Baler also offers a piece of historic memoirs and the nearby towns offer one-of-a-kind nature trip that you might not be able to experience in other places. It is exotic and different. Baler is one of my most favorite places that I have been to in the past.

Part 1 of Baler-Aurora Trip: An Exotic Adventure

 If you plan a trip to Baler, Aurora with your family, loved ones or friends, this handful of realizations (things and tips) may be helpful to you:

Lush green fields along the way to Baler, Aurora

Baler, Aurora
THE JOURNEY. We came all the way from Baguio City, and if you also will, then you have to prepare for a very lengthy trip over the vast rice plains in Central Luzon up to the zigzag roads through Sierra Madre to reach Baler. If you will go via a private vehicle, one can pass through the City of San Jose in Nueva Ecija, go through the towns of Pantabangan and Alfonso Castañeda and reach Aurora Province within 6 hours depending on your speed. If not, then you have to reach Baler via commute. There is a direct Baguio-Baler bus in Slaughter Compound in Baguio City. However you should be aware of their schedules. When we had our trip, we commuted via van bound to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija then transfer to a bus bound to Baler. And it was like eight hours neglecting stopovers and standby times. If you are not into long trips, then prepare for this.
A small church in Baler

Waves at Ampere Beach in Dipaculao, Aurora

THE VIEW. Nothing is spectacular from Baguio to Cabanatuan, but once your engine starts its journey from Nueva Ecija to Baler, it was like again going to Baguio but of course a different view of the mountains. We were able to see somehow Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija (where there are ‘giant’ freshwater fish living). What I noticed though was the mountain or hillsides were not reinforced with retaining walls that somehow alleviate the chances of deadly landslides along the road. Kinda scary if you go there and it’s raining. The mountains are very green and the roads are somewhat beside ravines where accident is a matter of life and death. 

Inside the super old Balete Tree in Ma. Aurora
THE TOWN. Baler is a small town, even though it is the capital of Aurora. The grid of the downtown is small that I think if you ride on a trike and explore it, you can do it in less than an hour. It's like Sagada in Mountain Province, where there are no signs of franchised local or international restaurant brands. No Jollibees, no McDonalds nor KFCs. Your best bet to fill your stomach is to try their local food. Life is very simple in Baler. When I asked our trike driver if this town is always flooded, he answered no. Bihira lang bumaha kahit na madalas daanan ng bagyo ang Baler. And the driver explained it all.
Baler Museum, where history lives forever
 THE TRANSPORTATION. The best way to tour Baler is when you have your own car and you know where the tourist spots are located. However, some of the roads leading to the prime tourist spots like the Ditumabo Falls (Mother Falls) are rocky. And when it’s rocky, it is a very rocky road! If you don’t have your own car to tour Aurora, you can hire tricycles to tour you (we hired 2 trikes for P2200 including Ampere Beach). The tourist spots in Baler are from each other unlike Baguio where you can actually plan a walk tour. By the way, the main mode of transport in Baler is tricycle.

Diguisit Falls in Baler, Aurora
 THE TOUR. Unlike Sagada where there are several tourists spots for you to explore for a couple of days or more, Baler somehow has fewer tourists spots to explore and you will only have to spend a fraction of a day in each of the tourist spots. Two days is already enough for you to explore these sites (we actually managed to pack all of them in 1.25 days haha). However, for you to enjoy it, you may allot another day to extend your time in each place. Plus if you are planning to have your surfing lessons, then that’s another story. Our trip is purely nature appreciation and we did not bother to try to surf, though we plan to visit Baler again for its waves.

THE TIME MANAGEMENT. Obviously, one cannot tour the different spots in Baler and Aurora in just one day. Two days will do. We only spent a night in Baler and still managed to witness bulk of its tourist destinations. We talked to our driver about the sequence of our trip (this is important, may mga tourist spots kasi na madadaanan mo on the way to another tourist spot). Our first destination was Ampere Beach in Dipaculao, a farther town, and the last one was Diguisit Beach in Baler.
Dona Aurora Ancestral House fronting Baler Church
THE ACCOMODATION. Another plus point for Baler, the different inns, resorts, hotels or lodges are located in Sabang Beach (most of them) where the popular surfing activity is done. From budget rooms to luxury, I think they are there in Sabang Beach. They are adjacent to one another that even if you did not book for your accommodation, you can scout the different resorts or inns there. We stayed at Jamjen’s, located beside a popular resort (with pool) in Sabang, Baler. Jamjen’s is for the budget travelers (fan room=P750/night). The owners are accommodating (GLOBE: 09162001731).
Sunrise in Dipaculao, Aurora
THE BUDGET. What I love with Baler is the fact that almost all of its tourists spots have no entrance fee whatsoever, caretakers only ask for donations (for its maintenance). So basically, all you have to budget is your fare, accommodation, food and pasalubong, and a few bucks for the donation.

So there, I just presented you a simple list of things you may consider when you have your trip to Baler. Just though remember that the other things are for you to discover when you are already in Aurora, so go ahead and enjoy life traveling, exploring and having fun in the Philippines!

Diguisit Islets in Baler, Aurora

Baler-Aurora Trip: An Exotic Adventure Travel Series:
Part 1: Baler-Aurora Trip: Tips and Guide

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