Baler is the top of mind for most people when they hear the word Aurora (province). Definitely the most well-known destination in the Aurora but did you know that Baler is not the only tourist spot that this province offers? There’s so much more that it has to show and I found about it after I stayed for 4 days in that area. Before I narrate and bore you with my escapade and it’s details, here are the must visit place and must do activities in Aurora:
1. Learn to surf or surf in Sabang, Baler
2. Learn history and visit the Quezon Museum
3. See the rock formations and swim in Kapurpurawan, Baler
4. Hike at Ermita Hills, to get a birds eye view of Baler or this is also a tsunami refuge
5. Buy fresh seafood produce at the Port (depends on the season though)
6. Be awed and amazed by the creamy sand and pristine beach of Dicasalarin Cove
7. Go glamping (glamorous camping) in the creamy sand and pristine beach in Dinadiawan
8. Hike and bathe in waterfalls in Dinadiawan
9. Joy ride from Baler to Dinadiawan, inhale fresh air, just fill your eyes with the beauty of nature
10. Lastly, buy souvenirs from food to woodworks at the Dianawan highway on your way home, very cheap souvenirs are sold compared to prices in the city.
After Christmas we usually have work, that’s the norm when you’re working for a private firm in the country…holidays are so counted! Due to a very tight schedule in the coming year, I opted to conduct my last trade audit for the year, in a territory where I’ve ever been too…. yeah Aurora is just in central Luzon yet I never get a chance to see it! Been to the farthest province but not here ha ha
Traveling to Baler in Aurora is easy, you can actually commute from Cubao, simply board the bus going to the capital, it will stop and unload in the central terminal located in the public market. My purpose of visiting is to conduct trade check of my products, Gatsby, so I drove a car from Cavite all the way to Baler! I love driving as I have told you before (see my previous post about long drive) 😀 From Molino 4, Bacoor, Cavite I traversed Southluzon Expressway (SLEX) via Skyway going to Monumento then to North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) leading to Subic-Clark -Tarlax Expressway (SCTEX) which connects to Tarlac-Pangasinan Expressway (TPLEX) and hola….exited at Tarlac! But wait we’re not even halfway…. however this is the fastest route! Drove from Tarlac to Zaragoza (which is already Nueva Ecija) stopped by
Cabanatuan city to pick-up my sales staff and off we go to Aurora. There are different routes but via Cabanatuan I think is the fastest and most convenient.
It took 30-mins from Cabanatuan to Maria which is one of the bigger towns in Aurora before Baler, and another 30mins to Baler. Since, it was December 28, there were so many tourists in Baler regardless if the weather isn’t really favorable, it was drizzling that entire week! I drove further, because I’m not really excited to stay in Baler, it’s a black sand beach, I prefer creamy white sand… so for another 30 mins I traversed the winding roads of Aurora and reached Dinadiawan, which is actually at the at opposite side of the mountain, Aurora by the way is situated at the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Dinadiawan is heaven for me, the beach boasts of creamy white sand and it’s quite, not much tourist go here, probably because they thought it’s far (tho for me it’s not!) Ok, the drive going here will make you dizzy if you’re not used to long and winding curves… another thing commute takes time, one has to wait for the bus, jeepney, van in the public terminal. Van fare is 100php per head bus is 50php and I think jeepney is higher by 10.. not quite sure about the latter.
There are several private beach resorts in Dinadiawan, we checked the area, overnight stay ranges from Php800-5,000 for twin sharing. We’re on a budget so we tried to look for the best resort, there’s this resort that offers P800 per room air conditioned, beach front and you can even cook… the downside is that the waves are bigger in this area… we checked other resorts and opted to stay at Sands and Stars beach resort, it’s new and they only gave few cabanas. The place is clean, with big air-conditioned cabanas that costs Php2,000- Php2,500 depending on the season. What I like most is the beach, the sand is fine and creamy, also the waves here are calmer, there’s also a reef in this area (not that spectacular though). That night we had fish for dinner and resort also set-up a bonfire for their guests, so we sat by the fire while listening to the waves swishing.
The next day I drove to Baler to have a taste of the busy life in Sabang Boulevard. We stayed at Bay’s Inn and paid only Php1,200 per night for two, with complimentary breakfast. The inn has parking space though limited and is on first come first served basis, so I ended up parking in one of the side streets. It was raining that day, water is cold and the waves were big good for surfing lesson, but we didn’t dare surf… I can withstand the cold water and drizzles…Instead we went to Dicasalarin Cove which is owned by former Senator Angara. The beach is located behind a mountain and one has to drive uphill and then downhill beside a ravine to reach the beach. It’s worth the drive because the place is so secluded and private very few would visit it, mostly I think the reason is it is not accessible by public commute one has drive their own car and must be a very good driver. Entrance is Php300 per heard but if you stayed in Costa Pacifica Resort Hotel owned by the Angaras the entrance is discounted to Php150 per head.
If you are in a tight budget and has no car to drive, you can instead go to Sitio Diguisit to swim for a minimal fee. The beach here boast of creamy white sand though not powdery, the are rock formations as well which are quite lovely, not to mention the mini waterfalls along the road where the locals do their laundry and bathe. You may also bathe in these waterfalls if your grave enough to dip in an ice cold water haha..If you’re not a beach person, then spend your day walking in the town and is it the mini museum right in the heart of Baler. You can also go on food trip, food here is cheap yet fresh.
On our part we spent the entire day exploring Dicasalarin Cove, there’s so much to see in this place. You may hike and see the light house which is so unconventional, design is very modern compared to the ones that we usually see. From the base of the cliff, one must hike and climb the 300paved steps leading towards the light house. once you’re on top, you will be treated with a 360 degrees view of the entire Cove and mountain. It’s breath taking and awesome. There’s a mini cave as well to explore and so much more. I will not describe the entire place else I will not leave anything to your imagination… it’s better that you still wonder how beautiful this place is and once you see in person you’ll be awed. I will post photos taken during my trip for your viewing photos pleasure 😀
On our way to Dinadiawan, I can count the vehicles we passed by during my drive, not so many 😜 But we saw a lot of bridges, of different colors and types and got tired of counting them… this one is my fave because it’s red hot!!!! You won’t miss this
Another bridge, a longer one….
The road is long and winding literally, so please no SPEEDING (my colleague kept on reminding, knowing that i’m speed driver lol) else you’ll end up somewhere else
Sometimes you’ll see decorations on the road…. uhmmm sorry it’s actually small slabs of stone that fell from the mountain 😀
The major type of transportation is Habal-Habal (motorcycles) and yes it’s a public utility vehicle…one has to back ride, hold on to the driver or sometimes hug him hahahaha even if it’s your first time to meet the guy…
Or if you felt that you’re privacy is invaded, you can also ride a tricycle… hey sometimes the driver is a female teenager… so if you feel safer with her, go on and take your chances
Did you know that a tricycle can carry as many as 12people sometimes more?? We met this family doing their laundry and having a picnic at the base of the mountain where the river ends before the water flows to the sea… they looked so happy, worry free and simply full of love…
After 30minutes of driving in never ending curves beside a mountain and ravine… we stopped on top of the mountain to survey our final destination yey……
We surveyed several beach resorts in Dinadiawan and decided to stay at Sand and Stars beach resorts because it’s less buys, homey feel and with big cabanas at the beach front. They also offer bonfire at night inclusive of the room fee.
View from our Cabana, if you noticed there’s a tent in the cottage, the resort also offers tents for Php800 good for two… apparently the couple who decided to stay in a tent has a baby so the caretaker decided to place the tent inside the cottage to protect the baby
Our Cabana facing the beach
The beach is perfect and water is calm even if it was raining and windy on that day. I went snorkeling there’s some coral reef in our area, though if I ride a boat there’s a more beautiful areato snorkel. It’s creamy white sand and wide beach front perfect for beach games and photo shoot, which we actually did before we left for Baler.
Ok, so we did stop and stay in Baler. It was raining though so Sabang Beach wasn’t really spectacular. . Not to mention by the way that the sand is black.
Even if it’s raining surfing lessons are still offered. . .rate is Php300/hr for beginner..excluding rental of the board..if you plan to learn how to surf I suggest that you bring along swimwear that’s suitable for such activity
Ermita Hill is one of the highest area in Baler so in case there is a tsunami, residents are advised to climb and go to this hill. It offers a 360view of Baler however because the trees have grown only sections of the town can be seen..it also has a giant cross on top.
Fishing port as seen from Ermita Hill
Most tourists do not miss this installation by the road side near the town hall.
There are several food and souvenir stalls near the town hall aside from restaurants along the main road
30-minutes away from Sabang is Barangay Kapurpurawan, where you can find several rock formations. There is also a beach in this area with creamy white sand.
Lastly a place you should t miss, Dicasalarin Cove. I will no longer describe this place instead I’ll leave you with photos to I Kyle your imagination and curiosity 😀
On your way back to the Manila don’t forget to buy souvenirs at Barangay Dianawan High-way …produce here are less expensive compared to Baler…. a must try is their Suman (sticky rice) made from red rice grains. . .they also sell local vinegar, honey, buko pie etc…..
What are you waiting for, schedule your next adventure in Aurora province.