Sand, Salt, Sun, and Sea
When looking for the perfect beach getaway, people flock to the usual suspects such as Boracay, Palawan or Puerto Galera. Flat lands lead to the sea, so we go the obvious island destinations that offer lots of commercial amenities and great seascapes.
Tucked away at the base of the Sierra Madre mountain range is an amazingly pristine and beautiful patch of the Pacific Ocean. Baler, Aurora may not one of those places where you’ll immediately head to for a big dose of beach fun, but you’d be surprised at how stunning it is once you’ve cleared the forests and the mountains.
Secret Beaches for Surfers
A Quiet Place in Northern Luzon
Northern Luzon is famous for the numerous mountains scattered across the top half of the island like so much stones, but beach destinations can be found if you know where to look.
Baler is one such secret spot, where you can get as close the skies and the open sea as you want.
Baler is one of the most unique surfing spots in The Philippines. The eastern coast is flush against the Pacific Ocean, so you can be assured of powerful waves and azure waters that are as clear as can be.
Baler can be reached via bus or rental car from Manila in eight hours. The picturesque roads will take you through miles and miles of rice lands, mango orchards, poultry farms, rivers, forests and of course, mountains. You will literally have to cross mountains to get to the beach, but when you get there, it will be worth the wait. It might be more advisable to simply take the bus because the zigzag roads can be rather treacherous.
Get Closer to Nature
Because the place is not as developed as other, more favored beach spots, you might have to adjust your expectations regarding accommodations and amenities. The simple, rustic rooms complete the atmosphere of a truly-laid back holiday. No spas nor five-star restaurants are to be found here, and yet the place still has a charm all its own.
You may want to spend the night in an authentic nipa hut where the only ventilation comes from the square windows propped open to face the sea, and the only light comes from gas lamps and candles. It’s definitely a downgrade from the Ritz but the view and the experience will more than make up for the poor accommodations.
At the same time, if you want a more comfortable place to stay, you can also stay at some of the inns and B&Bs in the area. Just ask the friendly locals to direct you to the nearest place to drop off your bags and get changed into your beach wear. In Baler, you can have more than just a run-of-the-mill beach experience. Francis Ford Coppola knew this as early as 1979 when he chose the place to film parts of Apocalypse Now in Charlie’s Point, now a popular spot for advanced surfers.
Surf season starts in October and ends in February so you have plenty of time to catch the waves. Sabang Beach and Cemento Beach are for beginners and intermediate students, respectively.