I have never included Aurora in my must-visit list in the Philippines. It didn’t sound enticing enough for me despite being part of the top surf spots in the country, but I didn’t pass up the chance to see the place for myself. I was initially thrilled just because I was traveling with my teammates, and this was our first time to go out of town.
One of my teammates who planned this trip hails from Maria Aurora, Aurora. She sent the itinerary early January and all we had to do was block one weekend off of our February schedules because she took care of everything – from the van rental to our meals, to the list of places that we should not miss, even the booze! We left Manila Friday night, and after about six hours on the road, we started traversing a rocky, dusty path, signaling our arrival in Maria Aurora.
My expectations weren’t that high, so I was surprised upon discovering what Aurora had to offer. In just two whole days, we were able to explore Ditumabo “Mother” Falls in San Luis, Dicasalarin Beach in Baler, Dinadiawan and Ampere Beaches in Dipaculao, and of course, Sabang Beach in Baler. I have to say that I fell in love with everything – the falls, the beaches, and the food!
Our first stop – Ditumabo falls, more popularly known to locals as the Mother falls. Trekking for about 30-45 minutes, then swimming in the fresh, cold water from the falls were the highlights of our first activity. The road to Ditumabo is yet to be paved with cement, so it is more advisable to take a tricycle going there (Php100 fare).
We were starving after our Ditumabo adventure, so we had lunch at Carlito’s Inn and Restaurant in Baler. This resto offers eat-all-you-can for less than Php200. We initially planned on eating at Gerry Shan’s, which is a popular eat-all-you-can resto in Baler. It was jam packed though at lunchtime, so we drove off to Carlito’s instead.
After a hearty meal, we proceeded to our next stop – Dicasalarin Cove in Baler. Now to reach this resort owned by the Angara clan, you have to drive uphill for about 20-30 minutes on a one-way road. There is an entrance fee of Php100 per person. I realized that I’d be willing to pay more after what I saw. It was such a breathtaking sight, and I can’t help but recall the view from the hilltop in Calaguas.
Another tourist spot in Baler is the Balete tree park, which is home to the largest Balete tree in Asia. The 600-year old Balete tree is reportedly five stories high, and it was big enough that we were able to weave our way in and come out on the other side of the park. I even tried climbing a couple of feet up the tree. It is one of the most visited spots in Baler, and for Php10 you can go up the tree with the help of a guide.
Our last stop for the day was in Dinadiawan Beach in Dipaculao, Aurora. We checked in at one of the small resorts there after a two-hour drive from Baler.
Being lulled to sleep by the waves was so relaxing. Waking up to the sound of the waters crashing on the shore that morning was one of the best feelings I’ve had. We woke up a little late, so we didn’t catch the sunrise; nonetheless the blue sky meeting the seemingly endless sea was such a sight to behold.
On our way back to Baler, we stopped over at Ampere Beach, still in Dipaculao. The shore is really rocky, so we didn’t go for a swim. We spent a few minutes taking pictures instead.
A trip to Baler is incomplete without stopping by Sabang Beach and trying out surfing. I didn’t attempt though because of another possible trip to Baler in May, so I wanted to reserve this activity for my next visit. Nonetheless, I enjoyed swimming in Sabang and watching first timers at the Aliya Surf Camp getting stoked on surfing. One hour surfing lessons in Aliya including the board, free use of rash guard, and a baller band cost Php350.
We left Aliya late in the afternoon then dropped by the Pasalubong Center. My teammate said they didn’t have a special delicacy for us to bring back to Manila, but of course I didn’t leave the town without a ref magnet to add to my growing collection.
Two whole days in Aurora completely changed the way I looked at the province. The beaches and the falls were scenic spots that I wouldn’t mind visiting again, and the beauty of Aurora has occupied a special place in my memory. It is indeed true that it is more fun, more exciting, and more beautiful in the Philippines, especially once you open your eyes to the treasures that are all over our country.
Pictures taken by author using an iPad and GoPro Hero 2, edited using Aviary. Please do not use the photos without permission.