Baler, a beautiful town bordering the Pacific Ocean along the eastern coast of the Philippines became a well-known tourist spot after the Hollywood classic, Apocalypse Now, was filmed in the area. The famous scene from the movie, which had U.S. soldiers surfing, was shot in the high waves at Charlie’s Point near Sabang Beach. The movie not only put the small town in Aurora province on the international surf map, but also fuelled local interest in the sport, thanks to the surfboards left behind by the film crew. Baler boasts of one of the best surf spots in the country and is home to some of the famous Filipino surfers.
While surfing is one of the main reasons that visitors come to the area, Baler has many places to see and things to do for keeping non-surfers busy. The beautiful beaches, coral formations off shore and the mountainous terrain of the Sierra Madre ranges in the surroundings present opportunities for snorkeling, trekking, scuba diving and other outdoor activities. The Aurora province also has a few historic sites that are worth a visit, such as the Baler Church, which was held under siege for over a year by Spanish resistance fighters during the war against the Americans. In addition, the region has several places of natural beauty, including waterfalls, springs, caves and islets, all within easy reach. There are many resorts and inns in Baler that cater to tourists, and most activities can be booked at these resorts.
While English is widely spoken in the Philippines and Filipino is the official language of the country, in Aurora the population comprises mostly of Tagalog and Ilocano people, so you can expect to hear the locals communicating in these dialects.
Aurora province, of which Baler is the capital, is located in the east central region of Luzon, which is the main island group of the country. From Manila, you can either travel by road or take a short flight for getting to the city. The drive is around 230km and takes approximately four to six hours. Genesis Transport Services, which offers the most regular services to the region, has six buses a day connecting Manila and Baler. If you want to take a flight, SEAir has services twice a week from Manila. The journey time is 45 minutes.
If you are going to the city for surfing, the months from October to March have the best waves. June to September has the wettest spell due to the South West monsoon, and this is also the typhoon season. The hottest months are from March to May. However, this is the ideal time for diving and snorkeling as the sea is at its calmest during this period. The summer months are also best suited for other outdoor activities such as mountain climbing, mountain biking and trekking.
So before you plan your vacation, be sure to consider the weather in Baler and the type of activity that you want to experience.