Skip to main content
Are you looking for the best things to do in Baler, Aurora? This guide’s for you!

I’m Mel, a British-Filipino travel blogger who absolutely loves visiting Baler.

In this post I’m rounding up all the best things to do in Baler so you can guarantee an amazing trip.

Surfing in Baler, Aurora, at sunset in the Philippines

Surfing in Baler, Aurora, at sunset in the Philippines

Where Is Baler, Aurora?

Located on the sunny east coast of Luzon, Baler is tucked away in the province of Aurora.

It’s about a 5-6 hour drive north-east from Metro Manila.

The journey’s a bit of a trek, but trust me, it’s worth it. The stunning coastal scenery along the way is a visual treat in itself.

So you have some time to spend on mainland Luzon and you’re itching to catch a couple of waves, I highly recommend seeing Baler for a few days. (Last updated: October 2023)

Check out: 5 Best Weekend Escapes Near Manila – A Travel Guide

Young Filipino Local Boy Watches the waves in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - Best things to do in Baler Aurora, a travel guide - illumelation.com

Young Filipino local surfer boy watching the waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

Why Aurora is an Amazing Province To Visit

Aurora is an absolute gem in the Philippines. The province is a real stunner with a splash of charm, history, and jaw-dropping natural beauty. You’ve got the perfect mix of mountainous landscapes, verdant forests and pristine beaches, which is catnip for adventurers and beach bums alike.

Baler, the capital, is a surfer’s paradise with waves that are just mint for that perfect ride. History enthusiasts will also have a field day exploring the rich heritage of the province – from the centuries-old Baler Church to the Museo de Baler, there’s plenty to ogle at.

Another perk of visiting Aurora? The local food is to die for the province’s seafood dishes are a fresh, flavourful fiesta for your tastebuds. Aurora, with its laid-back vibe, beckons you to let loose, embrace island life, and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

Filipino surfer, Mike, strolls towards Cemento Reef with his shortboard in Baler, Aurora

Filipino surfer, Mike, strolls towards Cemento Reef with his shortboard in Baler, Aurora

What Is Baler Famous For?

Baler is famous for surfing. Known as the birthplace of surf culture in the Philippines, Baler boasts Sabang Beach, a top spot for surfers of all levels. Surfing is one of the best things to do in Baler, hands-down.

Here’s a bit of history.

After the production crew of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic film, Apocalypse Now (1979), finished shooting in Baler, they left their surfboards behind with the locals.

The rest is history, and Baler is now one of the Philippines’s hottest surf spots. (Think Siargao on a budget.)

Beautiful sunrise over Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler, Aurora, Philippines - Best things to do in Baler Aurora, a travel guide - illumelation.com

Beautiful sunrise over Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler, Aurora

What Else Is There to Do In Baler Except Surf?

Baler is a place to chill, surf and breathe: a perfect getaway from Manila’s chaos. Warm clear water, beaches, mangroves, reefs, forests, waterfalls, and ancient trees.

Great food, drink and coffee joints abound. The waves here are year-round, making it a surfer’s paradise no matter the season.

But that’s not all – there are so many incredible things to do in Baler even if you don’t surf.

Brunette girl in bikini by the ocean, spotting waves at Cemento Reef, Baler

My friend Roxy by the ocean, spotting waves at Cemento Reef, Baler

Baler is also famous for its fascinating history and heritage. You’ll come across some awesome landmarks, like the centuries-old Baler Church and the Dona Aurora House. They’re definitely worth checking out.

And if you want to tuck into some local grub, Baler’s foodie scene will not disappoint. From fresh seafood to local delicacies like the Baler Suman, a local sticky rice cake, your taste buds are in for a treat.

So, in a nutshell, Baler really is a gem for surfers, history buffs, and foodies alike.

Beachfront gardens at Costa Pacifica. Dreamy!

Beachfront gardens at Costa Pacifica Resort on the beachfront in Baler. Dreamy!

Best Hotels To Stay in Baler, Aurora

What’s The Best Place To Stay In Baler?

Baler offers a multitude of accommodations to suit all budgets.

Costa Pacifica Baler (Luxe Option)

This luxury resort is perfect for those who want a bit of pampering during their stay in Baler. It’s right on Sabang Beach, so you can easily hit the surf early in the morning. Costa Pacificamy favourite resort in Baler, is right on the seafront by the waves. It’s a beautiful hotel. Check out my review here.

Circle Hostel Baler (Budget Option)

A budget-friendly choice popular among surfers, this vibrant hostel offers dorm-style rooms and a laid-back, social atmosphere. If on a budget, Circle Hostel is cheap, cheerful, and usually full of dizzy teenagers and/or backpackers. They have communal areas, hammocks, games, multiple outlets, and bunkbeds. Good for socializing.

Aliya Surf Camp (Boutique Option)

Aliya Surf Camp is a popular beachfront hotel, with a clean pool, prime location, decent food, a grassy knoll to park your board, and a little surf shop selling all kinds of equipment and zinc. It could do with an update but it’s cute.

Nalu Surf Camp (Party Option)

Offering neat, nipa-hut style rooms, this place is perfect for those who want to be close to the surf and enjoy a chill, beachy vibe. It’s got great reviews – but music does thump ’til the early hours, so it’s best to stay here if you like a night out!

Bay’s Inn Resort (Mid-Range Option)

This resort offers clean, comfortable rooms and a restaurant with a view of the surf. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a restaurant and a bar with a seafront view.

Circle Hostel - cheap, cheerful. Best to avoid if you can't stand Instagram quotes or drunk teens.

Circle Hostel in Baler – cheap, cheerful, clean, full of Instagram quotes and merry teens

Remember to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season.

There are a bunch of different accommodation options to suit every budget in Baler, from cheap inns to luxury resorts. So far I’ve stayed at two resorts, a hostel, and at a friend’s beach shack. Regardless of where I stay, it’s always a great time in Baler!

So let’s jump into the guide!

Peanut butter and salted caramel iced lattes from Groundswell Baler.

Peanut butter and salted caramel iced lattes from Groundswell Baler

10 Best Things to Do in Baler, Aurora

Here’s a cheeky little guide to the top 10 must-do activities in Baler, Aurora. Let’s dive in!

Golden sunrise in Baler, sweet birthplace of Philippine surf.

Golden sunrise in Baler, sweet birthplace of Philippine surf

1. Catch the beautiful sunrise on Sabang Beach. 

Baler’s dawn has a cool, ethereal mystery to it. Wake early, head to the beachfront, and watch the early locals catch waves in the golden morning light. It’s extremely soul soothing. Once the sun’s up, grab an iced coffee and stroll along the boardwalk.

2. Go Surfing on Sabang Beach

Baler is known as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a total newbie, Baler’s waves offer a thrilling experience for everyone. Here’s an Insider’s Guide to Surfing in Baler.

Crystal clear rock pools at Cemento Reef

Crystal clear rock pools at Cemento Reef, Baler

3. Explore the Mangroves and Rock Pools at Cemento Reef (also known as Cobra Reef)

Even if you’re not surfing, there are beautiful rock pools and mangroves nestled around Cemento Beach, which is perfect for people who love poking around in nature. Remember to wear your Crocs or reef shoes.

Cemento mangrove reserve

Cemento Mangrove Reserve by Cemento Reef (Cobra Reef) in Baler

4. Splash around at Ditumabo “Mother” Falls or Diguisit Falls

The Ditumabo Falls in San Luis are the biggest of Baler’s waterfalls. Cold water cascades from a 100ft drop, forming a natural pool, from which a stream trickles to Diteki River. The trek might be a bit challenging, but the view is absolutely worth it. At Diguisit Falls, en route to the cove, these three little cascades offer a natural waterfalls massage. Perfect for sore surf muscles.

5. Rent a Bicycle and Explore Baler on Wheels

Explore the trails around Baler and neighbouring towns, San Luis, Dipaculao, and Maria Aurora. You can rent a “sand” bicycle with chunky wheels that lets you ride over all kinds of terrain!

6. Photo opportunity at Dicasalarin Cove

This cheeky little secluded cove south of the town offers huge waves, fluttering winds, cream sands, and gorgeous cliff faces. Prime Insta-friendly material. Like, like, like.

7. Climb a century-old Balete tree

Clamber to the top of the Millennium Tree for a small fee: local guides will help you up using roots and branches. Try not to upset any spirits.

8. Check out Baler Church

Catch spiritual vibes at this church made famous by the Siege of Baler (1898-99) between Philippine Revolutionary forces and Spanish troops during the Revolution Spanish-American War.

9. Stroll around Museo de Baler and Quezon Memorial Park

Take in some culture at Baler’s museum, located at the birthplace of President Manuel L. Quezon, the first ever President of the Philippines. For those who love history and art, this museum is a must-visit.

10. Go hiking in the Aurora Memorial National Park

A much-needed dose of nature and a lovely trek, what’s not to love? The road can be very zig-zaggy, so be careful if driving. If on foot, enjoy the stunning views and untouched nature.

11. Have a picnic by Dicaloyungan River

Sip beers (or fresh coconuts) by some cracking scenery (the river is something else, honestly.) Good romantic spot if you’re coupled up – or just having some Me Time.

12. Hike Ermita Hill in Baler

Situated in Mount Dibudalan, this hill will give you a cracking panorama of Baler Bay, Aniao Islets, and Dima-Dimalangat.

13. Explore downtown Baler and explore the public market 

If you’re tired of the waves (how dare you!), check out the historical church, local market, and the Quezon house. Love a good bargain? You’ll find unique local crafts and delicacies at the market, as well as functional things like SIM cards.

14. Cross the Hanging Bridge in Baler

This charmingly rickety bridge at Tibag-Sabang, originally thrown together with bamboo sticks, creaky wooden planks, and rusty wire, is no longer that rickety – but it is charming. Check it out.

Clear, glassy 'peelers' (small waves) breaking in Cemento Reef, Baler - best things to do in Baler Aurora guide

Clear, glassy ‘peelers’ (small waves) breaking in Cemento Reef, Baler

15. Watch the Sunrise at Ampere Beach

An early morning trip to this pebble beach for the breathtaking sunrise is well worth it.

16. Practice Skating on Baler’s Smooth Roads

Cruising down the smooth concrete roads on a longboard, or popping ollies on pathways between palm trees is a pretty sweet way to pass the time. If you want to practice skating or balancing, Baler’s smooth roads are the best place.

17. Visit Doña Aurora House in Baler

If you’re a history buff, you’ll adore this. This restored ancestral house was the residence of President Quezon’s wife, Doña Aurora, and it’s now a homage to the past. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time. It’s chock-full of fascinating historical memorabilia, so take your time to explore!

Iced buko (coconut) shake from Costa Pacifica.

Iced buko (coconut) shake from Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler

Where To Eat & Drink In Baler

Best Restaurants in Baler, Aurora

There are so many options lined up along Sabang Beach! Have a wander around and pick somewhere that grabs your fancy. Otherwise, here are my picks:

  • The Good Food – Located right along Sabang Beach, The Good Food is a great spot for cheap, cheerful, moderately hipster grill stall eatery. Food is fresh, simple, and tasty. Order the fish taco. And then a chicken one. You’re welcome.
  • Kusina Luntian – You’ll find good Filipino food at this joint, which is owned by a former Manila kid who fell in love with surfing. Eat kamayan-style (with hands, from a banana leaf). I recommend the ‘Pako’ Salad which is made with local fern and salted egg. A hidden gem, Kusina Luntian offers a laid-back, al fresco dining experience.
  • Dialyn’s Bakeshop – Dialyn’s is a must for sweet tooths. With its wide array of pastries, bread, and cakes, you’ll no doubt find something to satisfy that sugar craving.
  • Yellow Fin Bar & Grill – If you’re after delicious drinks and a great atmosphere, Yellow Fin is the place to be. Alongside a solid menu of grilled goodies, they serve up some of the best cocktails in town.
  • Baler Surfer Grill – For a truly unique dining experience, head to Baler Surfer Grill. Here, food is cooked on a surfboard-shaped grill. Pair their signature skewers with a cold beer for an excellent evening.
  • Costa Pacifica Resort – Great buffets go down here during breakfast. Fairly affordable prices, but the food is well cooked and the menu is full of options. Mix of Western and Filipino meals, drinks, shakes, and desserts. The salads are pretty awesome.
  • Charlie Does (also known as Groundswell Café) has delicious homemade treats baked up by a surfing Filipina lass named Barbie, and epic iced coffee. (If you get the shakes before you can finish the cup, shove it in a freezer for tomorrow’s pre-surf bevvie.) They also have decent cocktails, beers, shakes, teas, and sandwiches. Fun crowds hang here too. Charlie Does also serves their own micro-brewed beer called Baler Brew (which uses wild honey) as well as craft beers like Summer Sessions from Craftpoint, and Tropic Haze from Nipa Brew.

 

Best Local Delicacies to Try In Baler

  • Nanay Pacing Peanut Butter: Baler sells the DOPEST homemade peanut butter by a brand (or nice old lady) named Nanay Pacing. It’s made of peanuts, sugar, and salt (and probably joy). You can’t leave without trying this. For a post-surf pick-me-up, spread that ish on some Skyflakes and feel your muscles weep. Get a jar immediately. (Unless you have a raging peanut allergy, in which case, check out the coconut jam instead. Just as good.)
  • Savour Baler’s Suman: While you’re in town, you simply can’t miss trying the famous suman de Baler. This delightful local delicacy is crafted from organic black rice and coconut milk, and conscientiously wrapped in coconut leaves. A dream come true for health-conscious foodies, it’s not just high in fibre but also dairy-free (perfect for those with a sensitive tummy!) and gluten-free (be healthy, be happy!).
  • Longganisa de Baler: Remember to treat your taste buds to Baler’s famous sausage, Longganisa de Baler. It’s a garlicky taste explosion you won’t forget! Bring a pack back to the city with you, if you’re heading home.
A friend's friend stacking surfboards on top of his SUV in Baler

A friend’s friend stacking surfboards on top of his SUV in Baler

How To Get To Baler From Manila

Getting to Baler from Manila is a straightforward journey, although it does require some patience as it can take a fair few hours. Below are some of the most common ways to reach Baler.

Baler is only around 6 hours from Manila by car. You can take a cheap, air-conditioned overnight bus and get there by early morning, or hop into a car and drive yourself, or hit up a surf Facebook group and hitch a ride with city locals headed over there.

  • By Bus: One of the most popular and budget-friendly options is to travel by bus. Genesis Transport provides daily direct trips from Cubao, Quezon City to Baler. The journey takes around 5-6 hours, depending on traffic, and costs around PHP 450 – 500. Buses leave Cubao at intervals throughout the day, with the first bus departing around 3:00 am and the last one at 7:30 pm.
  • By Car: If you fancy a road trip, you could drive to Baler. The journey from Manila to Baler can take around 5 hours via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), then via the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and finally, the Aurora Memorial National Park. Don’t forget to bring a reliable map or use a GPS device to help you navigate.
  • By Plane: Although there’s no airport in Baler, the nearest one is in Clark, Pampanga. From there, you can take a bus to Cabanatuan City and then another bus to Baler. It’s a bit of a roundabout way, but you will be able to skip Manila’s traffic.
  • Remember, it’s always best to check the most current travel information and advisories before setting off on your journey!
  • Via Locals & Organised Trips: Alternatively, if you want to catch a ride with locals and hang out with new people, shout out for a ride in the Manila Surfer’s Association FB. Also check out Surfista Travels or FlipTripPH if you’re looking to go via organized tour, where everything is paid for and you get to catch waves for a weekend with some like-minded people. Obviously stay safe and do your research before getting into a random car. Please!

What’s The Best Way To Get Around Baler?

TricycleTricycle tours abound in Baler. Hit up places like Baler Church, Museo de Baler, Diguisit Falls, Aniao Islet, the Hanging Bridge, Millennium Tree, Mother Falls and more. Tours are around P500 for half a day, or P800 for a whole day, depending on where you’re headed.

Bicycle: Work those legs! Rent a bicycle from hotels and hostels – I recommend the “beach bikes” with the huge wheels that make cycling on sandy beaches a breeze. (Geddit?) Around P300 a day!

Scooter/Motorbike: Get your ped on and zoom around like you’re in Bali. You can cover more ground this way and zip off to destinations further out like the Dicasalarin Cove and Millennium Tree. Motorbikes can be rented anywhere in Sabang, under P1000 per day depending on the model.

Boat: If you’re a lazybones who can’t be bothered to walk the shore/carry their board from one spot to another, catch a boat ride at T. Molina Street. You’ll get to Cemento Reef from Sabang Beach within minutes. P5, too. Very wallet friendly, and a bit of a timesaver, too!

Surfers riding waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

Surfers riding waves in Cemento Reef, Baler

What’s Surfing Like in Baler?

Surfing in Baler is an experience second to none. Beginners can take comfort in the gentle waves at Sabang Beach, perfect for learning the basics without too much of a challenge. Intermediates can venture out to Cemento Beach, known for its stronger current and bigger waves – a chance to test your skills and up your game.

For seasoned surfers, the famed Charlie’s Point offers a thrilling ride with higher waves – where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tibag-Sabang River, creating a unique point break known for its incredible swells. The local surf scene is friendly, welcoming, and always ready to lend a hand or share a tip.

So, whether you’re a pro or just starting out, Baler’s surf has something for everyone.

And the best part? The waves are great all year round! So you can grab your board and catch a wave whenever the mood strikes.

Two cute local teens (still smiling, even though their boards got ripped in half. Oops!)

Two cute local teens (still smiling, even though their boards got ripped in half. Oops!)

Baler’s Surfing Culture In A Nutshell:

Consistency: Surf is pretty consistent all year round. Dry season runs from November to May. The best waves are brought in by the north swell from October until April. Waves hit peak size and quality between December and January.

Beginner-Friendly: Newbies, have no fear. Surf schools and board rentals abound. The locals are friendly too. There are plenty of tutors ready to help you out.

Crowds: Overcrowding isn’t an issue, although Sabang beach gets busy on weekends with learners. Line-ups are regular. You may get schooled by an 8-year-old local on a beaten-up shortboard..

Expenses: Compared to other surf spots, Baler is definitely budget-friendly. You can find cheap accommodations and affordable meals all year round, which is great if you’re backpacking.

What Are The Best Surf Schools In Baler?

Make friends with the local surf instructors and you can score an hour lesson for as low as P250, depending on time of day. An instructor once stayed out with me for 3 hours for only P400 (but afterwards I paid him in full and bought him a six-pack of San Miguel, ‘cos he was awesome).

Board rentals are around P200 an hour, P400 for a half day, and P800 for a whole day. You can definitely haggle.

What Are The Locals Like In Baler When Surfing?

Locals in Baler are pretty chill. If you mess up on a couple of waves, they’ll throw you some helpful advice (and probably also laugh at you a little bit. All good fun.) If you’ve brought a shortboard and fancy a go on a log, ask a local on the line-up to switch with you for a few hours. They’ll be more than happy to play around on a new board.

Most Popular Surfing Spots in Baler

Cemento Beach

Near an old cement pier, a short paddle away from a large rock, is a strong, right-hand reef break offer excellent quality right breakwaves. Best place to find the largest, cleanest, good quality waves in Baler. This is where local surf comps and the Annual Aurora Surfing Cup are held, frequented by Aussie, Japanese and European surfers in Aurora. Perfect for experienced surfers. Reef shoes 100% recommended if you don’t want to have bleeding, broken feet for the next two weeks.

Charlie’s Point

North of Sabang Beach, a short walking distance from Baler town, Charlie’s Point is the famed beach seen in the film, Apocalypse Now. Depending on the swell, medium-quality waves can break both right and left on a sand and gravel bottom. Great for surfers of all experience levels. Waves best in December to January.

Lindy’s Point

Further north of Charlie’s Point, around 15 minutes walking distance from Bay’s Inn, Lindy’s Point is a relatively new discovery. The tall breaks were “accidentally” created by the local government when engineers opened the mouth of Baler Bay to the river as a flood prevention mechanism during rainy season. Tall, strong, sharp breakwaves are formed by the river and Pacific waters clashing, giving surfers unequivocal stoke. Newbies, steer clear.

Sabang Beach

This is probably the most popular place to catch a wave when in season, October to February. Best for beginners and novices, providing small to medium size waves (unless typhoon season), breaking left and right on sand. Saying that, more experienced surfers have a blast here when swells get bigger. Glassy lefts and rights can be caught early in the morning, with locals carving from as early as 5am. Sometimes mushy, always fun. Great spot for getting back into the swing of surfing, if you need practice.

Hope that helps! Next up: 5 Best Weekend Escapes Near Manila – A Travel Guide

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.