Discover the charms of Baler, a coastal town that sits northeast of the Philippines’ capital, Manila, that is known for surfing and its many natural and historical landmarks.
Baler, located in the province of Aurora, is only a few hours away (272 KM) from Manila, making it a popular vacation spot for those looking for a quick weekend escape. It’s also home to one of the top beaches near Manila.
You can visit an array of natural and man-made attractions for your Baler tours. Known as one of the most famous surfing spots in the Philippines, taking surfing lessons from the locals is a must-do when in Baler. Aside from riding the waves, you can also learn about the rich culture and history of Baler in well-preserved museums or take a refreshing dip under a giant waterfall.
To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a list of the best Baler tourist spots to add to your itinerary or book for your Baler tour packages.
The San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish, or more commonly known as Baler Church, was constructed back in 1611. It first stood on the site of an important battle called the "Siege of Baler" that took place during the Philippine Revolution.
The church was initially made from bamboo and nipa. Years after, it was renovated using stones and rocks that were held together by lime and honey. However, the church was later destroyed by a massive tidal wave known as "Tromba Marina" in 1735. Soon after that natural disaster, locals rebuilt the chapel on the highest point in San Luis Street in Barangay Buhangin, where it currently stands.
During the Spanish period in the country, Spanish forces made the church their garrison until they surrendered it in 1899. Aside from this, Baler Church was also the home of a famous large bell called La Campana De Baler. Fray Jose de Esperagoza brought it to the province in the 17th century. The bell later became well-known for its loud echoing sounds that even reached the neighboring towns of San Luis, Maria, and Dipaculao.
In light of its cultural significance in Baler, the National Historical Institute proclaimed it as a historical landmark in 2000.
The Baler Hanging Bridge is situated along Zabali Road and connects the barangays of Tibang and Sabang. The bridge is made of wooden planks and railings that are suspended above a wide river by sturdy metal cables. It measures about a meter in width and is over a hundred meters long.
While locals often use it for their daily errands, it has become a well-known tourist attraction over the years due to the stunning views it offers. As you make your way from one end of the bridge to the other, you will be able to get a panoramic view of the river and the vast mountainscape in the distance. Travelers can also catch a glimpse of the river's opening that connects to Baler Bay.
Visitors who traverse the bridge are treated to a refreshing breeze as well, thanks to its position. Before reaching the other end, you can also take the time to take photos of the beautiful scenery around you. On either end of the walkway are a couple of souvenir shops that feature local delicacies and trinkets that showcase the area's culture.
Another popular spot that provides tourists with stunning views of Baler's natural wonders is the Baler Lighthouse, one of the top lighthouses in the Philippines. This white structure sits on one of the hills of Sitio Tibag. After arriving at the parking area, visitors will have to hike up the hill to reach the towering structure.
Once you reach the top of the hill, you are immediately rewarded with a stunning view of Baler Bay's deep blue waters. You can also see Diguisit Beach from the hill's peak. For travelers looking for an even better vantage point, you can climb up the steps that circle the lighthouse to reach its top.
From the top, you can feel the sea breeze blowing while enjoying the panoramic view of the bay and the nearby hills. You can also see the structure's huge light and solar panels that power it. While it no longer serves as a beacon for ships coming to Baler, tourists still drop by to take in the view.
Immerse yourself in the rich culture of the province by visiting their local museum, Museo de Baler. One of the must-visit museums in the Philippines, the two-story building stands in Quezon Park in Barangay Poblacion. Even before entering the museum, you can already see a beautiful artwork on its red brick exterior.
The installation depicts crucial moments and individuals throughout the province's history. Meanwhile, a statue of the late Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon, a native of Baler, sits in the center of the park.
Inside the museum, you will see exhibits and several historical artifacts that date back to the Spanish colonization period in the Philippines. Among these items are old letters from missionaries who lived in the region from the early 1600s up to the late 1890s.
On its second floor, visitors can find pieces relating to the Siege of Baler. These artworks include paintings of those who took part in the fight and those who survived it as well. Along with the historical pieces, the museum also features more contemporary pieces of art. The most notable ones are the props from the 2008 Filipino drama film named after the province.
Photo by Provincial Government of Aurora
A few minutes away from the museum is another historic site: a replica of the ancestral home of Aurora Quezon, the wife of the late president Manuel L. Quezon. The cement and wooden home is situated on the corner of Rizal Street and San Luis street. It also features a roof made from dried nipa leaves, which was often used for traditional homes in the Philippines.
However, the house is not an exact copy of Aurora's original home, as local authorities recreated it with sturdier material. Despite this, it still features many items, such as a coal-heated iron that were likely used by Aurora's family back in the day. The interior also houses a large colored painting of Aurora and the late president.
While Aurora was widely known as the second First Lady of the Philippines, she was an important historical figure in her own right as well. Aurora gained the respect of her fellow Baler natives and other Filipinos through her various humanitarian efforts. Among these was her time as the first Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross and her involvement in advocating for Filipino women's right to vote.
In honor of her notable contributions, the province where Baler is located, Aurora, was named after her.
The Balete Tree in Aurora is known for being the biggest of its kind in the whole continent of Asia. This enormous tree is cared for in a park inside the municipality of Maria Aurora. This tree has been around for over 600 years and has grown to about 200 feet.
Balete trees are also often regarded as homes of fairies and other magical creatures in Philippine mythology. Whether or not you believe in myths, you can slip past an opening between the roots of the tree here to inspect for yourself.
The tree is so huge that several people can fit inside its interior of twisted roots. The interior appears almost like an otherworldly destination, as light can only come in from the gaps between the entangling roots.
From inside the tree, you can climb up the tangle of roots to get a closer look at the tree's large crown. However, scaling the tree from the inside involves squeezing through tight gaps. Aside from this, travelers can also climb the tree from the outside by clinging to the sturdy roots that make up the gigantic evergreen.
Diguisit Beach is one of the popular surfing spots in Baler and is located about 11 KM from the town proper. In addition to the constant waves that are great for surfing, this white sand beach also boasts unique rock formations and crystal clear water.
The most famous formations here are the Aniao Islets, which are two small islands. These islets were naturally shaped by the strong waves that slam against the shore when the winds are strong. Surrounding these sturdy formations were rocky landscapes that become pools of cool water whenever the tide is low.
Each islet is also home to small patches of greenery that make their profile even more unique. The islets make for amazing photos at sunset when the tide is low, and the orange-pinkish hues reflect on the pools of water surrounding them. Aside from the natural formations, Diguisit Beach is also known as an ideal location for snorkeling from May to November when the winds are weaker.
Another destination that features rock formations is the Ampere Beach, just west of Baler Beach. In contrast to the finer sands of most beaches that line Baler Bay, this spot boasts a shoreline comprised mainly of different-sized pebbles. While it is not an ideal swimming spot due to the strong waves that lap the shore, it still attracts tourists thanks to its unique landscape.
Aside from admiring the sturdy rock formations that jut from the beach's waters, tourists can also make their own "rock formations" with the smooth pebbles that make up the shore. Feel free to get creative as you stack rocks on top of each other, and make sure to snap a photo of your small towers for a unique souvenir! Though the pebble beach and the large rock formations are the main draws of this attraction, travelers can find a lesser-known spot just past the karst-like walls.
Beyond the rock walls, you can find a cave. Locals are said to forecast the weather by measuring how loud the waves slam against the interior of the cave. The louder it gets, the worse the weather would supposedly be.
Photo by Provincial Government of Aurora
Ermita Hill is a historical and natural landmark located in Barangay Zabali. Its cultural significance dates back to 1735, when a large tidal wave called Tromba Marina struck the region. During the natural disaster, the residents headed up the hill to seek refuge from the fast-rising waters that were engulfing the homes.
However, only a few families managed to make it up the hill in time, while the strong surge of water wiped out the rest. To commemorate the hardships that the natives had to overcome, statues depicting people helping each other scale the hill were placed here. Most of the artworks were put along the cemented path that leads up to the hilltop.
Once you reach the top, you will enter a deck that provides a panoramic view of Baler Bay, its surrounding forestry, and the vast Pacific Ocean. Take your time to relax and take photos before heading back down. There are also gazebos where you can sit and take in the view and a modest chapel where you can say a prayer.
Dicasalarin Cove is a private-owned beach that attracts tourists with its pristine waters and stunning white sand beach. The beach is surrounded by natural landscapes that often break the waves, making the water here calmer than most beaches in Baler. Since the area is managed by the owners of Costa Pacifica, a nearby resort, travelers must first register here to reach the cove.
The cove sits about 10 KM away from the resort and best accessed by car or renting out tricycles or motorcycles. After arriving at the cove, you will be greeted by a picturesque shoreline that stretches for miles on both sides. Unwind and enjoy the cove's cool waters by going for a swim or snorkeling.
Aside from the cove's shore, travelers can also head up to the nearby lighthouse to get a beautiful view of the bay. Guests also frequent the lighthouse because of its more modern and geometric shape. If you want to extend your stay on this secluded cove, you can also rent tents, air beds, and sleeping bags. You can set up camp along the shoreline to fall asleep to the gentle sound of waves lapping the beach.
The Ditumabo Falls is a grand waterfall that stands at about 140 feet tall. Locals commonly refer to it as The Mother Falls, largely due to its sheer size, especially when compared to other waterfalls in the province. Though it is located in the neighboring town of San Luis, this attraction is often visited by tourists when staying in Baler since it is only about 15 KM from Baler's town proper.
Nestled in a lush forest, travelers first have to trek through rivers and rocky paths to reach the majestic waterscape. The trek can also prove to be difficult as the rocks in the rivers can be slippery. While the journey to the falls is not smooth, just getting to see it up close makes the trip worthwhile.
After arriving at the falls, you will be greeted by natural pools that the clear, ice-cold water drops into. The rocky basin is large and is ideal for swimming, so make sure to take a dip and take in the grandeur of this natural wonder.
Sabang Beach is a gray sand beach that is widely regarded as the birthplace of surfing in Baler. Thanks to the frequent waves that approach the shore, it is a great place to learn how to surf for the first time. Various resorts and shops that line the shore offer lessons for beginners and even more advanced surfers.
Baler natives began to surf in 1976, when the epic war movie "Apocalypse Now" filmed in Charlie's Point, a resort along this beach. Soon after the production wrapped up filming, locals taught themselves how to ride the waves with surfboards that the movie's crew had left behind. Since then, more and more people come to this beach to learn as well.
Thanks to the large crowds of surfers that the waves here attract, the beach scene is often lively. After you've had your fill of surfing, you can then enjoy the delicious cuisine served at the beachside restaurants. Travelers can also stay until after the sun sets to partake in the local nightlife scene or to simply go on a stroll along the two-kilometer-long stretch of sand.
Along with surfing, guests often come to this beach to marvel at the stunning colors of a sunrise. Since the beach faces the east and opens to the Pacific Ocean, travelers can get an unobstructed view of the sun as it breaks through the night sky and paints it in warm, orange hues.
Take the Trip to the Baler
Filled with both natural and cultural wonders, it is no wonder why Baler has become a popular tourist destination over the years. On top of its lively surfing scene, its close proximity to Manila makes it a perfect getaway for those looking to take a break from the city's usual pace.
Along with its pristine beaches, its breezy hills, rich biodiversity, and gorgeous waterfalls contribute to the overall allure of the province. Surfer or not, you are sure to find an area of Baler that interests you. Plan your escape to this vibrant province and explore tourist spots near Manila by checking out Baler tours that you can book.