Feeling outdoorsy but can’t leave behind the comforts of home—like a proper bathroom? Plan a “glamping” trip to Baler in Aurora, where you can commune with nature without sacrificing convenience.
While Baler is more known as one of the country’s top surfing destinations, it’s also a great place for an overnight camp. The secluded Dicasalarin Cove is the perfect spot to pitch a tent just a few feet from both the sea and mountains. Aside from a wide stretch of white sand, the cove has a hidden lagoon, an unusual “lighthouse”—and working toilets and showers!
To enjoy those “camp vibes” complete with creature comforts, book your stay in Dicasalarin Cove through a hotel. Our group was assisted by Costa Pacifica, a resort on the more popular Sabang Beach where surfers ride the Pacific Ocean waves, and tour group Great Escapes.
Tents, citronella torches and a bonfire stake were set up by the time we reached Dicasalarin. All we had to do was settle in our tents and enjoy the quiet of the cove.
By nightfall, dinner was served—an assortment of grilled meat and fish, and veggies prepared by Costa Pacifica’s in-house restaurant Beach House—plated, of course. Breakfast the next day was also served by Beach House.
A bonfire meant only one thing: Smores! We paired the camping snack favorite with a few glasses of wine and beer, a nightcap before falling asleep to the sound of waves gently crashing on the shore.
Early the next day, our group took the opportunity to trek to the lighthouse, which is actually a solar-powered, sundial-type beacon, on top of a nearby cliff. The hike is relatively easy because of there are paved steps, but the 170 steps can still leave you a little out of breath. Once you reach the top, however, you are rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
On ground level, a short walk on a stony shore will lead you to Dicasalarin’s hidden lagoon. It’s hidden because it’s inside a cave, and also because once the tide rolls in, it becomes inaccessible on foot. It’s best to go early morning when the tide is low so you enjoy a nice dip in the shallow pool. (Watch out for sea urchins!)
Speedy sightseeing in Baler
Aside from camping and surfing, don’t miss out on these iconic sites in Baler and neighboring towns:
Balete Tree. Located in Maria Aurora town, the 600-year-old Balete Tree is 60 meters high with a 60-m diameter. Local guides say that if you want to form a human chain around the trunk, you would need 60 people. One can also enter the tree and pass through its network of roots.
Baler Church, Doña Aurora’s home, Museo de Baler. One can walk to all three sites by following a set of footprints. Start your walking tour at the Baler Catholic Church, famous as the place where the Siege of Baler happened, wherein “a Spanish garrison of four officers and 50 men was besieged by Filipino insurgents from June 27, 1898, to June 2, 1899.” Across the church is a replica of the house of Doña Aurora, wife of President Manuel L. Quezon. Finally, at the end of the foot path is Museo de Baler, which houses historical tidbits about the province.
Ermita Hill. The hill is famous for being Aurora’s safe haven from pirates and tsunamis. Families stayed at Ermita Hill when the province was hit by a tsunami—its first and last—in the 1700s. A tunnel, now closed, was used by locals as a hidden passage to and from the hill to avoid pirates. At the base of the hill stands a sculpture depicting a tsunami and people climbing up to safety.
Dimadimalangat or Lukso-lukso Islets and Aniao Islets. These picturesque rock formations can be seen on the drive to Dicasalarin Cove. One can take a motorized boat to explore these spots.
Photos by Rissa M. Camongol