Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Great Escape to Baler

I’ve always wanted to go to Baler but I thought it wasn’t that easy. But hey, I think I can do Baler anytime now. It’s not total convenience but ultimate adventure and fun is guaranteed. I just found another home in the east.

If there’s one thing that Baler is known for, it’s surfing! And yeah more recently the movie ‘Baler’ where the surfer/actor Jericho Rosales played the lead role. Baler boasts its beginner to glassy five feet waves (or higher I suppose). Sabang Beach, a five-minute ride from Baler town proper, is the long stretch of beach where surfing action happens.

From March to June, you can enjoy relatively calm waves where you can surf and swim. But I was just there last Labor day weekend and the waves are kinda overwhelming for someone who’s used to La Union’s waves. Come October to February, larger waves offer a different kind of stoke to surfers both beginners and pros.

Surf lessons and board rentals are offered in most resorts. An hour of surf lesson rates at Php 350 per hour inclusive of board rental and surf instructor. Meanwhile, you can rent a surfboard at Php 400 for half day.

Aside from surfing, Baler has other tourist spots worth visiting. This includes the Baler Catholic Church, Balete Park and Millennium Tree, Pasalubong Center, Aniao Islets, and more. See.. you never run out of things to do in Baler from beach bumming to sightseeing, Baler has it all!

Where to Stay

Bay’s Inn is the most famous accommodation in Baler. The rooms range from Php 650 (non-airconditioned) to Php 1200 (A/C room). Bahia de Baler is another good option.
There are also transient and lodges suitable for pocket-friendly price. Check Kahea’s Lodge, Desiree’s Lodge and Transient House, Aurora Mabuhay Homestay, Little Girls Surfer Lodge, and Amihan Aplaya.

We stayed at Aliya Surf Camp which is a five-minute walk from Bay’s Inn – the center of Sabang Beach. It has really cozy rooms, clean bathrooms, and a nice beachfront all for yourself. Two thumbs up for Aliya Surf Camp!

Good Eats
Unfortunately, Baler isn’t commercialized yet like its other surfing beaches counterparts. There are only two restaurants in Sabang Beach and these are Bay’s Inn and Bahia de Baler Bar and Grill.

I’d recommend Bay’s Inn for its affordable food, good serving, and excellent service. They serve Filipino dishes, pasta, pizza, merienda meals, and breakfasts. On the other hand, Bahia de Baler also offers good food but the service is poor. We waited an hour for our order and when we asked the waiter why it took so long, he was kinda rude to!

But you only got two choices anyway, Bay’s Inn or Bahia de Baler. You can also go to the town proper to dine but don’t expect to see any fastfood.

Getting There
If you will bring a car, it will take around 7-8 hours to reach Baler. But beware of the road conditions en route Baler. The roads in Sierra Madre aren’t all paved and these are winding mountain roads.

If you’d rather commute, Genesis Bus is the only bus company that has direct trips from Cubao to Baler. The bus departs daily from 4:30 AM – 7:30 AM. Expect to arrive in Baler by lunchtime or after. Or you can also take a bus bound to Cabanatuan and then transfer to a van going to Baler. Once in Baler bus terminal, hail a tricycle to Sabang Beach. The fare is Php 13/person.

From Baler to Manila, ride the Genesis bus again and take the last trip at 2:30 PM. Or you can ride the non-airconditioned van from Baler to Cabanatuan and from there take any bus going to Manila.

If you’re not fond of long and bumpy bus rides, thank God for Seair. They have daily flights to Baler which leaves at 8:00 AM then they fly back to Manila at 9:30 AM.

An overnight trip to Baler is not enough, make it a 3D/2N Baler affair.

Contact details
Genesis Bus Company
(02) 709-0803, 709-0545, 551-0842

Bay’s Inn
80 Sitio Labasin, Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora 3200
Mobile no: 0907-700-5734 (Ask for Pia or Weng)

Bahia de Baler
80 Buton St., Sitio Labasin, Brgy. Sabang,
Baler, Aurora

Kahea’s Lodge

Desiree’s Lodge and Transient House

Little Girls Surfers Lodge

Aliya Surf Camp


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