Baler, oh Baler. Where do I even begin? This small town located on the east coast of the Philippines is a hidden gem that packs a punch of fun and adventure. This is the hometown of my parents and although I was not born there we had our vacation in Baler every year. I just love going back to this place to surf and just chill out.
They say that this is the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines but contrary to popular belief; it was not because of the film Apocalypse Now. Sure, the film helped in starting the surfing culture in Baler. However, stories from the locals say that years before the film was shot, there were already US Peace Corps volunteers riding the waves of Baler. There was also US military personnel who went to Baler to catch some waves. A local named Arturo Tolentino is believed to be the first surfer from Baler.
I will just talk about surfing and where to stay in this piece. The other good stuff will be written in another article soon. So make sure to subscribe to get the latest update from my blog
How we got there
As a child, getting to Baler was quite an adventure. Back in the day, it involved two legs of the journey starting with a bus from Manila to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ejica. From there, Sarao-type jeepneys would transport you to your final destination, Baler. However, let me tell you, this was no easy feat. The road conditions were notoriously rough, and during the Habagat season (rainy season), a landslide could leave you stranded in the mountains for hours, if not a full day.
Fast forward to today, and getting to Baler has become much easier. The roads have been improved, with many now being fully paved. Additionally, public buses now take a more modern route, passing through the Pantabangan Dam, rather than the older road through Bongabon, Nueva Ejica. So, whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, getting to Baler is now a breeze.
The quickest way to get to Baler is to book a ticket from JoyBus. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were several buses going to Baler in a day. But right now there are only 2 buses, one leaves at 1 am and the other at 2 am. Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon. You can check trips going to Baler by calling JoyBus for the most updated schedule.
Surfing in Baler
With surfable waves all year round, it's no wonder why many flock to this beautiful town. However, the best time to catch a wave is from September to February, making it the perfect getaway for the winter season. And, as if that's not enough reason to plan your trip, February also marks the celebration of Aurora Day, commemorating the founding anniversary of the province and the birthday of Dona Aurora Aragon Quezon, the wife of former President Manuel L. Quezon. Not only will you be able to catch some gnarly waves, but you'll also be able to immerse yourself in the local culture and history.
Whether you're just starting out or you're an experienced surfer, there's a wave here for everyone. The vibrant surf community in Baler will make you feel right at home, and you'll find yourself spending hours in the water, getting lost in the thrill of riding the waves. Here are some of the surf spots in Baler
Sabang Beach - If you're just starting out as a surfer, you'll definitely want to check out the most popular spot in Baler- the one right near the bustling town and convenient hotels of Sabang Beach. This is where all the newbies flock to take their surf lessons, and for good reason- it's the perfect place for first-timers to catch a wave. With a long, sandy beach that breaks both left and right, there's plenty of room for everyone to shred some gnar and ride the waves to their heart's content.
Lindy’s Point - Nestled further north of Sabang beach and Charlie’s point, lies a relatively new surf spot that was created by chance. The local government of Aurora made the decision to open up the mouth of Baler Bay in an effort to prevent flooding during the rainy season. The result of this action has been the formation of towering, robust, and sharp breaks that have been providing an adrenaline rush for surfers.
Charlie’s Point - This is arguably the most famous of them all. It's no surprise that this location has gained its fame, as it was the backdrop of the famous movie "Apocalypse Now." This spot is situated between Sabang and Lindy's Point, offering surfers both left and right rides on a sand/gravel bottom. The combination of its historical significance and top-notch surfing conditions makes Charlie's Point a must-visit for surfers and movie enthusiasts alike.
Cement Reef - Located on the eastern side of Baler, this surf spot is perfect for experienced surfers. A 15-20 minute trike ride will take you to this spot, where medium glassy barrels await on a good day. With its reef break, surfers must exercise caution, but the thrill of riding the waves is worth it. This is also where the Aurora Surf Cup is held every year.
Check out my other Baler photos.