I planned to travel to Baler a few months ago. I even booked my Airbnb for seven days, but because of unexpected circumstances, my trip didn’t push through.
After a few weeks, I got invited by the Philippines Tourism Promotions Board to be part of The Grand North Luzon Fun Caravan by PHILTOA, a seven-day trip, exploring the ten provinces in the northern Philippines. I don’t know if I’m lucky, but Baler is part of the itinerary.
Despite my canceled trip, I was still able to explore the laid-back town in the north dubbed as one of the best surfing spots in the Philippines.
Baler is also a place for culture and history enthusiasts. Many important events in our history happened in Baler, and I am lucky to be able to visit these spots with a knowledgeable tour guide explaining the significance of these places.
There are many versions as to the origin of the name, Baler. Some historians say that Baler comes from a type of bird in Aurora that looks like a dove; it is called Balud.
During the pre-colonial Spanish era, there was a community in Baler called Balid. The word Balid means copper wire, a commodity traded by Chinese visitors with the locals. The word Balid later became Baler, which is believed to be the origin of the town’s name.
Baler is famous for surfers and the beach, but the town offers a lot more. The laid-back vibe is inviting, a town that has a rich story and has played an enormous part in our history. So, join me in exploring Baler. Here are the best tourist spots in Baler. Let this be your guide when you decide to visit this town in Aurora.
1. Surf at Sabang Beach
Locals agree that the tourism boost of Baler started in Sabang, started with surfing. Baler has become a popular surfing spot in the country, as many tourists from Manila and even foreigners spend weekends in Baler. More professional surfers also visit Baler to perfect their craft.
Sabang beach is the center of tourism, where many resorts, restaurants, hostels, and hotels are lined up to cater to the growing surfing community. Surfboard rental and instructor’s fee is around 350 pesos per hour. If you’re a surfer and want to rent a surfboard, you can do that with only 200 pesos per hour of rental.
2. Baler Church – San Luis Obispo Parish
Baler Church looks like the typical church that we usually see in the provinces, but this one played such an essential part in our history.
When the Spanish regime collapsed, 56 Spanish soldiers and friars took refuge at this church as their last garrison, their last defense. Little did they know that more than 500 Filipino katipuneros have already surrounded the area.
They call this the Siege of Baler, and it lasted for almost a year. They stayed inside the church for more than a year, until further negotiations took place and they were allowed to go back to Spain.
We were so lucky to have an excellent local tour guide to share the stories of each spot that we visited in Baler. You can also avail of this through the “historical walk” offered by the local tourism office.
3. Dona Aurora House
A few steps from the church is the Dona Aurora Aragon- Quezon House. It is a replica of the original house where the former Philippine first lady and wife of President Manuel L. Quezon grew up.
Our guide explains that the house is not the exact house, which was made mostly of nipa hut. The National Historical Commission decided to build a more sturdy house to withstand the test of time or any typhoons in the future.
Still, the importance of this house in the lives of the locals remains. It stores some of Dona Aurora Aragon’s historical and valuable items, such as book collections and photographs.
4. Balete Tree
I know you’ve already seen a Balete, but this one in Aurora is huge. Located in the town of Maria Aurora, next to Baler, this tree has become a popular tourist attraction for its size and its mystical feel.
It is said that Balete is home to the supernaturals – the engkanto, kapre, etc. This makes this tree in Aurora intriguing to every tourist.
This is also named the Millenium Tree, said to be the largest in Asia, and is almost 600 years old. Our guide said that it would take more than 50 people to encircle the entire tree while holding hands.
The tree is also a famous spot for picture taking. You’ll encounter kids here willing to take your most wacky and creative shots. Please do give them a tip for their effort and creativity.
5. Quezon Park
Our guide has a lot of interesting stories about Quezon Park, located at the center of the downtown area near the church and Dona Aurora’s house. It was named to commemorate the former President of the country – Manuel L. Quezon, who hailed from Baler.
The location of the park is where the old house of Quezon was built. There is even a replica of the house in one part of the park.
But the most notable section is the statue of Manuel L. Quezon, just sitting, chilling on his chair. Unlike any other usual statue that stands tall and proud, Quezon’s was unassuming, replicating what would be a typical day for him in Baler.
By the time Quezon was sick of tuberculosis; he requested to be back in Baler. But that never happened, so the artist of his sculpture thought of creating something that simply shows that the former President is back in his homeland, relaxing on his patio and looking at the vast ocean.
6. Museo de Baler
Just within the Quezon Park is the Museo de Baler. The two-story building displays photos, artifacts, and paintings depicting the rich culture and history of Baler.
Some of the most notable features of the museum are paintings and stories of Manuel Quezon as well as his wife, Dona Aurora Aragon Quezon. There is a particular part that showcases scriptures about the life of the former first lady, who was responsible for fighting for the rights of women to vote. Some clothes and artifacts are also displayed to showcase the story and culture of the indigenous people.
If you like history and enjoy learning about our culture, Museo de Baler will not disappoint.
7. Diguisit Rock Formations
If you’re looking for a stunning view of nature in the morning or during sunset, Diguisit Rock Formation is just a tricycle ride away from Sabang Beach.
Visitors can access it through Daguisit beach, and walk until reaching the rock formation. The place is an outcome of years of waves crashing into rocks creating these sculptures of nature. A walking distance by the beach is the Diguisit falls located near the highway. Anyone is free to take a dip into relaxing natural waters from the mountain.
8. Dicasalarin Cove
There are many breathtaking spots in Baler, and one of these is Dicasalarin Cove – a secluded piece of paradise just a few kilometers from town proper.
The Angaras of Baler privately own this property. All visitors have to pay an entrance fee of PHP 300, a price that is worthy of the beauty that you’re about to enjoy at Dicasalarin. Creamy white beach with ocean blue waters are just some of it. On the right of the cove is the famous Baler Lighthouse, which anyone can climb and visit.
9. Ditumabo Falls
You just need to trek for less than an hour passing through forests and rivers until reaching the Ditumabo Falls or Mother Falls. Located in the neighboring town of San Luis, Ditumabo is the largest waterfall in the province, that’s why it is also called the mother falls.
Dipping into the cold waters of Ditumabo is all worthy of the trek, giving anyone that much-needed relaxation. To enjoy Ditumabo, tourists have to hire a guide for PHP 200 and an entrance fee of PHP 30 per person.
10. Ermita Hill
Ermita Hill provides stunning views of Baler Bay and Aniao Islets. It is also a place where anyone can enjoy trekking and camping activities.
But this also plays a huge part in Aurora’s history. On December 27, 1735, the entire Baler experienced a catastrophe, “Tromba Marina” or tsunami engulfed the whole town with seawater, and only a handful of families survived by taking refuge at the Ermita Hill.
Until today, the incident is remembered through the Tromba Marina Monument – a sculpture of a family climbing up the hill located at the base of the mountain.
Baler Travel Guide
How to get to Baler from Manila
From Manila, it is around 5 to 6 hours of land travel going to Baler. Bus companies like Joybus and Genesis Transport offer daily bus trips from Manila (Cubao) going to Baler.
You can also take buses via Cabanatuan like Victory Liner (and others). Then, transfer to a van or another bus going to Baler.
Baler Hotels and Resorts
Despite the laid-back vibe of Baler, there are many options for accommodations that range from affordable to luxury hotels. During my travel to Baler, we stayed at Costa Pacifica Resort, one of the best resorts in Baler.
READ: Beach Resorts in Baler
I truly enjoyed my stay at the resort. It’s highly recommended. Here are other resorts and hotels in Baler to check out.
Where to Eat in Baler?
Due to Baler’s popularity among travelers, there are now many delicious food options – from street food to fine dining. Here are some restaurants that are worthy of checking out.
- Bike Kings Kitchen – Address: Aurora St, Poblacion, Baler, Aurora
- Charlie Does Cafe – Address: Buton St, Baler, Aurora
- Kubli Bistro – Address: Alley 2, Baler, 3200 Aurora
Note: This travel to Baler was made possible through The Grand North Luzon Fun Caravan by PHILTOA and the Philippines Tourism Promotions Board. Thank you!
This blog post was first published on May 11, 2020. Updated for 2022