That was what I was thinking while browsing through Travelfactor.org's site a couple of months ago. I usually plan trips DIY style but at that time, I just wanted to get away minus all the planning and researching. (We also went with Travelfactor for our Mt. Pulag trip last year. And I can say, it was really hassle-free!) While going through the list of their upcoming trips, the words "SURFVIVOR BALER" caught my eye.
I've done surfing in La Union several times. And I've always been curious what it would be like to ride the waves in Baler seeing that so many people I know enjoy frequenting the province. So without hesitation, I contacted my friends Peter and Jen and registered for a weekend of adventure.
The road to Baler
As expected, Travelfactor's service did not disappoint. The three of us met up with the group and Aica, our designated travel coordinator for the trip, at McDonald's El Pueblo around 11:00pm. Then around 12:00mn, we boarded the tourist bus and headed to Baler, Aurora.
For those who are planning a DIY trip, here's how you can get from Manila to Baler:
I thought it was going to be a looooong ride but before I knew it, we were already in Baler, watching the sunrise. (Yes, if you must ask, I slept through the whole ride. That's my special skill haha.)BY PRIVATE CAR. You can get to Baler via McArthur Highway and Daang Maharlika, or thru NLEX ( EXIT at Mabalacat toll gate) and SCTEX ( ENTRY at LaPaz, Tarlac toll gate) until you get to Cabanatuan City . From Cabanatuan, take the Nueva Ecija-Aurora highway, passing thru the towns of Talavera , Rizal, and Pantabangan until you reach the Aurora border, then thru the towns of Maria Aurora, San Luis , and finally, Baler. The ride could take about five hours.BY PUBLIC BUS. Genesis Transport Bus provides the only direct route to Baler from Metro Manila. One way fare costs PhP404. Its terminal is located along EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City. There are three trips a day starting at 4:30 A.M. till 7:30 A.M. The bus ride could take about six hours. (Via Beautiful Baler Tours)
After we checked in at AMCO Beach Resort (one of the cheaper resorts in the area), we slathered on some sunblock and got ready for some surfing fun!
Since I don't surf regularly, I always get nervous during my first few minutes on the surfboard. And true enough, I wiped out on my first wave. (It happens everytime!) But after the second wave, I found my footing and balance again and enjoyed the rest of the rides.
|Stoked! Riding the waves of Baler.|
According to our instructors, surfing in Baler is year-round. Sometimes (sometimes!), they hit an off-season from June-July, but even then, you can still spot some waves.
|Ready for some action!|
|A local breezing through the waves. One of those rare moments I wished I didn't sell my zoom lens :p|
|Students waiting for some waves.|
|Bottoms up! But of course, any beach trip wouldn't be complete without these haha.|
The next day, it was either a few hours lounging under the sun or a trek to the Mother Falls, otherwise known as the Ditumabo Falls, which is found in, well, Barangay Ditumabo. I honestly wasn't up for a tiring trek but I figured since we were already there, might as well check it out. Besides, my body could use a little exercise :p
Through the help of Jen's instructor, Ryan, we rented a tricycle which would bring us to and from the falls for Php800 (USD18.80). It was an approximately 20-minute ride to the registration area (which is actually just a small hut with a table and benches) and from there, a 30-minute trek.
It was actually a nice trek, given the tranquility of the surroundings. Though I did manage to get myself some scrapes and bruises haha.
After nearly dropping my camera into the river, I almost regretted choosing the falls over some beach time (when all I wanted to do that weekend was relax) but not after I saw this:
Our total damage for the trip? Php3,700 (USD86.95) inclusive of the following (c/o Travelfactor):
Transportation to and from Manila
2 surfing lessons
Breakfast for Day 2
Plus the 800-peso tricycle rent and meals not provided by the tour group, of course.
Not bad for a hassle free trip, right? Although I believe you can come up with a smaller budget if you go for a DIY trip. Which is what we plan to do when we go back next month. Yey!