Less than 24 hours in Baler

First of all, I don’t recommend it: spending less than 24 hours in Baler. Unless, you’ve been stuck in the city for months, have been salivating over beach photos in your Instagram feed, have a company outing, or all of the above. Then, it’s a welcome escape.

Baler, a coastal town in Aurora province, is known as one of the top surfing spots in the country. Pounded by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, Baler is reportedly where surfing was born in the country after the film crew from Apocalypse Now surfed and left their boards back in 1979. These days there are several surfing schools and resorts that dot the stretch of Sabang Beach in Baler. One of them is Costa Pacifica.

slouchingsomewhere_bsurfboards

Having only opened last year, Costa Pacifica has earned a reputation of being one of the more comfortable accommodations you can book in Baler, where backpacker inns also abound. I wasn’t really keen to learn how to surf, especially when there was a typhoon heading in the area–oh, who am I kidding? That weekend, my idea of being adventurous at the beach was drinking cocktails by the pool, even as it was raining.

It takes between five to six hours to get to Baler from Manila. It took us seven hours, two hours of which were spent in rough, winding roads, most of which were under construction. (Turns out, the driver took a wrong turn and ended up taking the longer route.) By the time our bus pulled over in the early afternoon in front of the resort’s spacious lobby, we were all ready to jump out, start drinking/forget dieting/lay catatonic by the pool/nap in our rooms or any of the above. (Oh, yes, learn to surf for a few.)

Costa Pacifica

The pool in Costa Pacifica, where you can take temporary residence on the lounge chairs…

slouchingsomewhere_cpacifica

…or take a nap on the day bed at your suite

Costa Pacifica

Nothing says like meal at a beach like an entire coconut for your drink. (Our lunch was an assortment of grilled fish, pancit, and local vegetable dishes like ginataang kalabasa at sitaw, pictured above)

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Costa Pacifica ready for an evening bonfire

After we finished our late lunch, a bunch of us decided to go around the town: we went to Museo de Baler (which has a handful of notable pieces, but many others–like the portraits on the second floor–seemed odd), the historic Baler Church, a couple of stores to buy some sweet Nanay Pacing Homemade Peanut Butter and some camote (sweet potato) chips, and to house of the late former first lady Doña Aurora Quezon (a simple, traditional Filipino home).

Church in Baler

The Baler Church is where Spanish troops fortified themselves for 11 months, from 1898 to 1899, as Filipino revolutionaries laid siege to it

Afterward, we headed back to the resort and finally made our way to dark stretch of beach that is Sabang.

The best time to surf in Baler is from September to March and from the looks of the waves that September weekend, it was right on schedule. The  huge storm coming our way, which was predicted to make landfall in 24 hours, was already making its presence felt. Strong winds, overcast skies, and rain showers didn’t seem to discourage the surfing students that day who were ready to take on the waves, or at the very least, manage to get up on that surf board. Cheers to them and cheers to a brief weekend getaway. Now, the trip back to Manila the following day, less than 24 hours later. That was another matter.

Surfing students lined up...

Surfing students take on the waves in front of Sabang Beach in Baler

Sabang Beach

A quiet Sunday morning on Sabang Beach before the storm

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Done for the day

Costa Pacifica: 080 Buton Street, Sitio Labasin, Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora, Philippines, 3200; phone nos: (632) 5764555 (Manila office), (63) 917 8536040

Find a map in the Costa Pacifica website

 

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4 thoughts on “Less than 24 hours in Baler

  1. Nice to see that if you’re at a beach you still enjoy having a drink and lovely looking meal on it even if a storm is coming.

    Charlie don’t surf!

    Apocalypse Now is one of my favourite films. Are there any traces left of it at the beach apart from the surfing?

    • Hi Jason, haha! Of course, you would remember that line 🙂 I didn’t see or hear of any other traces of the movie but then again I didn’t get to explore much of the beach beyond the resort’s beach front and only a small part of the town.

  2. Oooh, Baler! Been dreaming about going back there for ages! That’s the hometown of a friend who took us there way back in the early 2000s, I think (or maybe it might have been late 1990s) and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Even if getting there was a nightmare! I should tag her so she can read this. 🙂

    • The first time I went to Baler (for work) it was also just an overnight thing and we came right AFTER a storm so there were landslides and the roads were just in a horrible state. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back…but I’m glad the office outing happened so I got a chance to see it again, even if it was ever briefly and a storm was on the horizon. Maybe there’s something about me and Baler and typhoons.

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