Words by Margarita Buenaventura
Everybody wants to be a surfer these days, and why not? When the sun’s out to play, might as well catch a sweet wave to beat the heat. Those rash guards and bikinis won’t be wearing themselves, after all.
Surfer and water babe Elaine Abonal knows this all too well. Besides her love for the sport, she happens to be the girl boss of Surfista Travels, an organized surf tour group that takes surfing enthusiasts and beginners to some of the country’s beloved surf spots.
In the latest installment of B/Biyahe, Elaine takes B/BLOG on a trip to the northern coast in Baler, Aurora. A five to six-hour drive from Manila, the town has made an interesting mark in history and pop culture: it is where the last Spanish garrison surrendered to the Americans that ended their 300-year-old rule of the Philippines. It’s also where Francis Ford Coppola filmed Apocalypse Now in 1976.
These days, Baler is more known for being a beloved surf spot. On a whirlwind trip up north, Elaine shows us how Baler offers a sweet alternative to sweatin’ it out in the the urban jungle. With ripe mangoes in one hand and cold beers in the other, a day in Baler is sweet relief for the beach bummed.
Breakfast at Costa Pacifica
We started our morning with a breakfast for champs, and Costa Pacifica resort had just the thing for us. The hearty buffet included beef tapa in sukiyaki cuts, suman, and some damn good coffee. After a round or two, we were more than ready to venture out.
Sabang Beach boasts of fine, powdery sand—not unlike those of tourist fave Boracay. The only difference is that Sabang’s is shades darker. At the height of summer, the shore is full of families and folks taking their surfing lessons, but it’s still a great spot to chill out at. Besides, the white bannisters that protect the community from the high tide is a staple in anyone’s Baler Instagram posts.
Yolly’s Ihaw-Ihaw and Seafood
Right in the heart of town are quaint ihawans that feature delicious seafood, and Yolly’s happens to be one of them. Simple but delicious, shellfish and lobster are offered in glass casing by the sidewalk, and cooked dishes are served turo-turo style. We particularly loved the liempo and grilled blue marlin, especially with a cup of steaming white rice.
While we carbo-loaded (and subsequently sinned) for lunch, we thought to make dessert a little guilt-free, so off to the local markets we went. Baler’s fruits are delicious and varied. The ripe mangoes are sweet, and one slice will undoubtedly make anyone’s day.
Surf lessons at Surfskwela
The late afternoon was the perfect time to hit the waves. Baler is chockfull of surf schools, but we teamed up with the good people at Surfskwela to learn the ropes. It wasn’t easy, and we definitely fell off our boards more than we got to stand up. But when you’re in Baler, surfing isn’t just an option. It’s practically required.