Nestled between the magnificent Sierra Madre mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Baler Bay is a popular surfing destination in the Philippines. It is known for waves that can reach 9 feet high during surfing season from September to February.
The bay became known as a surfing destination, after the movie Apocalypse Now was filmed there in 1976. The film's production crew introduced the sport to the locals and even left behind several surfboards for them to use. Since 1997, the bay has been home to the annual Aurora Surfing Cup. During calmer months, the bay is ideal for snorkeling, windsurfing and diving.
Apart from its reputation as a water sports destination, the Municipality of Baler is also considered as one of the most important historical locations in the Philippines. It was one of the first municipalities founded by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the country and also the last place hold by the Spaniard until they were banished in 1899.
Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Baler are the Baler Museum, its lush rainforest and the small public park called Ermita Hill. The park, which sits on a hill, is where the locals took refuge from a tsunami. A huge cross was erected on top of the hill which offers spectacular views of Baler Bay.
Other attractions in the area include the Ditumabo Falls and the smaller Culayan Falls, which both provide great spots for picnics and refreshing dips.
Baler is about five to six hours away from Manila and can be reached by bus from Manila (Genesis Transportation with terminal along EDSA in Pasay City +63 (2) 551-0842 or +63 (2) 853-3115) or via a private vehicle using either the Canili-Pantabangan Road and the Baler-Bongabon Road. It might be difficult to drive along the narrow and zigzagging mountain roads so be sure to get a skilled driver.
There are numerous lodges and inns in Baler offering accommodations for tourists who wish to stay in town for a few days. Restaurants and eateries serving good-value meals also abound. There are also many surfboard rental shops near the beach for those who want to ride Baler Bay's famous waves.