Aurora is a name of a roman Goddess. And just like any other goddesses, this province in Northeastern Luzon whose capital is Baler is just divine. It is blessed with plenty of tourist attractions.
It is a place sweetly tucked between the massive Sierra Madre mountain range and the mighty Pacific, a good balance of lush forests and a lengthy seacoast. It occupies the eastern part of the mountain range so its mostly highlands and hills. And a part of this is the 5000-hectare Aurora Memorial National Park. The national park is a refuge for a thriving biodiversity of rich flora and endangered fauna. It is nestled with a vast coastline of more than 230 plus kilometers.
For the city dwellers of Manila, a trip to Baler can be quite a drive. It’s around 235 kilometers and can take 5 hours commute or more. But for wave riders, it is, but, a quick trip and a promise of a weekend of adrenaline rush and surfboard dreams.
Baler is among the new wave of up-and-coming towns in the local tourism industry. With sweeping swells to boot, this town is slowly surfacing on any surfer’s top go-to spot in the country. Probably, It is the numero uno surfing destination in Luzon. It attracts both local and foreign wave worshipers.
But as much as Baler is a surfer’s paradise, it also boasts historical places, virgin white sandy beaches, rugged rock formations and more.
Here are nine places to visit in this land of Manuel Quezon, surfboards and sweet peanut butters.
1. Museo De Baler – This museum is right smack in the middle of Quezon Memorial Park. A park dotted with stately trees and a good number of ornamental plants. It houses artifacts that link this country to its first colonizer, the Spaniards. A statue was erected in front of the museum in honor and in memory of the late president Quezon. It is in Poblacion and is a couple of steps away from the marketplace.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons): Museo de Baler by RamonFVelasquez
2. Ermita Hill – A tsunami hit Baler in the 1700s that wiped out the entire town and left only 7 families to survived. They ran to Mt. Castillo for refuge, which is now known Ermita Hill. Statues were built on the foot of the hill in memory of the survivors. On top is a commanding view of Baler town and the enigmatic Pacific.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons): Ermita Hill by RamonFVelasquez
3. Digisit Beach – It is a kilometer long of white coral beach well suited for diving and snorkeling on calmer months.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons): Digisit Beach by RamonFVelasquez
4. Ditumabo Falls – The crystal clear and cool waters of Ditumabo is well worth the trek. It is a 4-kilometer hike of rugged terrains and river trails.
5. Gerry Shans Restaurant – This food shop stirred enough buzz to cement its spot as the most popular restaurant in all of Aurora. Chef Gerry serves a buffet of sisig, lechon kawali, crispy pata etc. for less than 200 pesos. It might not be as tasty as your mom’s home cooking but is definitely a bang for the buck.
6. Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter – the creamy goodness that is mastered by Nanay Pacing throughout the years is the sweetest way to cap off Baler vacation.
7. Dicasalarin Cove – It is a picturesque white sand beach perfect for swimming or lazing around. It is the setting of the romantic scene of the Jericho-Rosales-Anne-Curtis movie.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons): Dicasalarin Cove by CarlosJoseGarcia
8. Millennium Tree – The 600 year old Balete tree is said to be the oldest of its kind in Asia. It is nothing but imposing and inviting. Philippine Folklore, Balete trees are believed to be the nest of haunting supernatural beings and mystical creatures. In contrary to this urban legend, this tree in Aurora is not feared but loved.
9. Sabang Beach – It is said to be the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines. It definitely put Baler on the travel map. The advent of surfing culture in the Philippines in the early 2000’s made way for this sleepy town in the Pacific to be known to Manila’s weekend warriors of both newbie surfers and wave wizards. The surfing season starts around September until late February.
Photo Credits (Wikimedia Commons): Sabang Beach by RamonFVelasquez
Have you been to Baler? Feel free to share your tips and recommendations.