It was in July 2012 when I first got mesmerized by Baler.
It was the first time I got on the 10-ft surf boards and loved the waves.I was also so fascinated with the Ditumabo Falls (aka Mother Falls) as to how clean it is, and just breath-taking.
The weekend of September 7-9 2013, we had the chance to go back there and bring along our really good friends.
I initiated the planning, reservations, and “tour-guiding” while we were there.
EXPENSES / BUDGET:
I sent this email to them less than a couple of weeks before the kick-off. Of course, the actual expenses got a little higher because of the food we bought at the market, and the paluto we were charged at the resort.
The first time I went there, there were around 3 main resorts. Bahia de Baler, Bay’s Inn and Aliya Surf Camp and Resort. But now, there’s a lot more of them due to the high influx of tourists.
ACCOMMODATION / RESORT:
When I got back there, there were a lot other resorts that accommodated groups like us.
I found a resort just built a few months back, that had a room good for 10 pax, at PhP 3000 a night.
They allowed us to buy our own food from the market just 5 minutes away, and cooked it for us for a minimal fee (PhP 400 for 2 meals and PhP 150 for the gas).
They sold disposable items (cups, plates, utensils), toiletries (shampoo, soap) and softdrinks (coca cola products).
First batch got there before 8am. They were the morning shifters who left Manila at 230am while we were still at work so they got to ride the waves at Saturday morning.
We went through with the tour the entire day of Sunday after a few sunrise photo ops, and a sumptuous breakfast. The first time we toured this place, we were on a tricycle and we paid PhP 800 for the entire trip. This time, we were in a Starex Van for PhP 350 per head. More convenient, more affordable, less stress, smoke, dust and cramps. The van was still provided by Pacific Waves.
Alternatively, you can hire a single motorcycle (for a more exhilarating experience) to Dicasalarin for PhP 400 (for 2 pax) plus the PhP 300 entrance fee per pax and 50 for parking.
We enjoyed Ditumabo Falls (San Luis, Aurora) the most. The trek witnessed DJ dropping his starbucks tumbler, Mark wounding himself and us, almost treading the stream in all fours.
But the reward was heavenly.
We dropped by Museo de Baler, Aniao Islets and Ermita Hill in Baler itself, and the 500-year old Balete tree in Maria Aurora. We even played Bart Simpson’s Game while waiting for the sunset at the hill, and a quiz show while inside the van going to the next destinations.
On a separate tour, you WILL also want to try Dicasalarin Cove as shown below.
Please standby for a separate blog on these activities
FOOD AND BUFFET:
One would never really go hungry in Baler.
Hungry Surfer, the restaurant operated by Bay’s Inn, offers buffet breakfast at PhP 170 every weekend. Fill yourselves up after a tiring yet exciting surfing experience, or before you go on tour, just like what we did.
Carlito’s Restaurant also offers lunch buffet at PhP 120. And yes, we kept on eating when we were there.
When you walk along the Sabang beach at night, there are more options to choose from (unlike the first time I was there) – but don’t expect a Boracay-like night life. I sincerely hope Baler doesn’t become Boracay.
Gerry Shan also offers Filipino, Chinese and Seafood cuisines in Sentro, with unlimited iced tea for PhP 200 per pax. Right across it is Yolly’s that offer lobsters and other seafood and grilled food.
At the public market, one can go for lobsters and other seafood that are expensive in Manila.
While we don’t suggest driving to Baler (unless you’re an experienced zig-zag driver), please expect the ride to be long (around 7 hours with 2 bus stops) especially if you take the regular air-conditioned Genesis bus going there. Fare is at PhP 450. Mind you, it’s the only bus company that goes straight to Baler. All others stop at Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, where you take another bus to Baler. The latest trip of the Baler-bound Genesis bus leaving Cubao is at 730am. After that, you’d have to take a bus to Cabanatuan (via SCTEX) and from there take a Baler-bound bus or van. Fare varies but the 2 buses should be less than PhP 500 per pax. Note that the last trip from Cabanatuan to Baler is at 2pm.
A better, more expensive but definitely worthy ride home is Genesis’ executive coach, Joybus. It has a stewardess on board, 2×1 seats per row, a rest room, free snacks and blanket available, with wifi to boot. Fare is at PhP 700 but the trip only takes about 5 hours.
Here’s their website: http://www.genesistransport.com.ph/ and you can also book tickets at iwantseats.com
Please read the next blog about our surfing experience, and the day tour on separate entries. Plan your vacation now, it isn’t too expensive!