Another weekend, another getting away from real life even for just 2 days! This time I went to Baler with my college blockmates and shobe, with a budget of around 3000PHP to 3500PHP. The accommodation and food is a bit more expensive. We did the same major activities: surf and waterfall trekking, same as Real, but with an added tree climbing. Of the 3 surfing beaches I had gone to, I still do prefer Baler. Maybe it’s because of the vibe of the place. But, it certainly does have a charm that would make you want to stay there. This trip to Baler was my sister’s and my second time.
To go there, we rode one of Genesis Bus Line’s Joybus which is at 1400PHP, round trip. The bill is inclusive of a bottle of water, snacks, and a clean blanket. We left Manila at exactly 1230AM Saturday, and we arrived Baler at almost 530am. Which is a mistake on our part; we should’ve taken the 0130AM schedule. 530AM was just a bit too early. The hotel we stayed at serves breakfast at 6AM. The accommodation per night is approximately 700-800PHP per person. Breakfast (for the next day) is included.
A friendly advice: Bring jacket and wear jeans or leggings and even socks when you do plan on riding the Joybus. The temperature inside the bus is freezing! Even with the provided blanket from Joybus, it was not enough. And make sure to wear your seatbelts! 🙂 Or you’d slide off of your seat. Time of arrival varies depending on the season. During the Holy Week season, we left the terminal at midnight, and we arrived at approximately 730AM.
The surfing lessons are 350PHP per hour, a lot cheaper than Real’s 500PHP. Renting the boards is at 200PHP, same as Real. We surfed twice, Saturday and Sunday morning. The instructors we went to were at Aliya Surf Camp.
After lunch, we went to see the “Mother Falls” aka Ditumabo Falls, and the Balete Tree. We had our surfer instructor friends part-time tricycle drivers take us there. We paid them 300PHP per head (we were a group of 7. Shobe didn’t join us to explore with us.). Which is a fair price considering the distance and especially the rough road to Ditumabo Falls.
The Ditumabo Falls is actually San Luis’s mini hydroelectric plant. The trek to the waterfalls took us an approximate 30 minute trek. There were 3 main obstacles to get there. We had to cross through 3 rocky streams with strong currents. Rating it from 1-10 in terms of ‘danger’, this would just be a 3 (compared to what we did at that hidden waterfall in Sagada, and to Anuplig Falls @_@). You can swim on the catch basin. Fair warning though, the water was freezing!
The Balete Tree was awesome. It’s a 600 year old tree, and is said to be that largest tree in Asia. They said that it was the widest tree in Asia. Climbing up is the tree is fairly easy, with guides of course. The tree trunks and branches are sturdy enough, so it’s safe, especially since we were inside the tree. There were several branches that can break your fall. Haha. We climbed outside the tree for the remaining few meters before reaching the top.
The view from above was very nice! We hanged out somewhere near the top for a few minutes with the Balete Tree guides and one of the surfer-instructor-turned-tricycle-driver-turned-balete-tree-guide. The tree guides were showing off their skills by swinging from one branch to another. (Them already.)
The duration of going to Ditumabo Falls and the Balete Tree took us the whole afternoon til early evening. It was a fun nature trip. We weren’t able to go around the city proper, though. We didn’t have enough time because we were leaving at 2pm the next day. But, we do plan on going back for another trip. We just don’t know when yet. =)
Other sites to go to: Ermita Hill, Museo de Baler, Baler Church, Ampere Beach, Dicasalarin Bay, etc.
Surf lessons: 350PHP per hour
**Boards: 200PHP per hour
Joybus (Cubao to Baler) roundtrip: 1400PHP (rountrip)
Transpo from Sabang Beach to Ditumabo+Balete Tree: 300PHP
Accommodations: 2600PHP per room @ Bayler View Hotel (min capacity of 4 people)
Other info on surfing at Baler:
Favorable months to surf is October-June. Weakest on June. July-September: forget about surfing there. There are no waves to ride during those months, as said by surfing instructor. Best waves is on February; therefore, they hold surfing competitions during this month.
PS. To get to Sabang Beach from the Bus terminal at Baler, just ride the trike. =) There are plenty of them waiting at the terminal.
PPS. The trip was last April 27-28, 2013. =)
edit [27 May 2014]
For our office outing, we went to Baler and stayed for 2 days, 1 night. Some updates:
1) Since this February, no one is allowed to climb the Balete Tree anymore. Some foreign Botanists came and visited (/research) the site, and said that the tree might die if a lot of people continue to climb it.
2) For the Ditumabo Falls trail, there are now makeshift bamboo bridges for the first two ‘obstacles.’ You can now choose whether you’ll still cross the river or use the bridge. Unfortunately (or fortunately for people who love challenges), the 3rd obstacle, which is the most challenging of the 3, still does not have a makeshift bridge. =)