The only means of transportation to Aurora is to travel by land. For the commuters, Genesis Bus has trips from Manila to Baler, with the travel time lasting for six to seven hours. If you’re taking the more comfortable and non-stop services of Joy Bus, travel time is cut short to only five hours.
If you’re bringing your own vehicle on this escape to Aurora, you will take the North Luzon Expressway and take the Santa Rita, Bulacan exit. Follow the highway that leads to Cabanatuan City. Once there, follow the signs that lead to Bongabon until you reach a fork with road on the right leading to Baler. From there, follow the Baler-Bongabon highway that eventually leads to the Aurora Welcome Arch.
How to Get Around
Bicycles are a great way to move around the city. Not only are you transported from one point to the other, bicycling also gives you the opportunity to do a cardio workout at the same time. Bicycle rentals are available for PHP 300.00 a day.
Motorbikes are also available for rent and is another good option, especially if you know how to operate one and have a driver’s license. But you can also use tricycles in moving around and about Aurora. What’s great about these tricycles is that the drivers also double up as tour guides too! You can rent their services for PHP 500.00 for half a day, or PHP 800.00 for one whole day, good for three persons per tricycle.
What to See
In 1611, the Franciscan Friars who settled in Baler had begun construction on a wooden church that has now become the Baler Catholic Church. The church also has historical significance, having been the site of the Siege of Baler, which started in 1898 and ended a year after. Today, the church was rebuilt in brick and stone though some of the original pieces and elements were retained, including La Campana de Baler, the church’s old bell.
Baler, the capital of Aurora, is where you’ll find the Quezon Memorial Park. A statue of President Quezon proudly stands on a roundabout located at the heart of the sprawling property. A replica of the nipa hut where he grew up is also found within the property, as well as the presidential car (a 1936 Chrysler Airflow Limousine) that the President used during his term in office.
Not too far away from the park is the ancestral home of the Quezons in Baler. The house was made in typical bahay na kubo fashion—its walls were made of wood and its roof was made of thatched nipa. For a minimal fee (entrance fee is PHP 35.00 per head), visitors can go inside the house where a mini library is found, as well as some of the old wooden furniture used by the former First Family.
The province of Aurora doesn’t fall short of natural attractions that will undoubtedly take your breath away.
Aurora is also home to a 600 year-old Balete tree that is found in the town of Maria Aurora. The tree, which is officially named as the “Millennium Tree” of the Philippines is the largest tree of its kind in all of Asia. The tree is so big that it would take 60 people to encircle its trunk. Climbing the cavernous insides of the tree is also possible.
Baler is the focal point of most visits to the province, and visitors often flock to this cozy town because of its surfing activities. It is, after all, considered as the “birthplace of Philippine surfing.” Cemento Beach is one of famed surfing spots in Baler, with waves that can go as high as 14 feet. This beach comes highly recommended for expert surfers but is also a place where you can look forward to seeing white sands, seashells, and crushed corals along its shores.
Sabang Beach, on the other hand, is the more suitable choice for the beginners to surfing. The months from October to February the best times to visit, since the waves during these months are just right for beginners to conquer. Further north of the beach is a spot called Lindy’s Point, which is a favorite among the local surfers.
Located off the coast of Barangay Zabali in Baler are the Aniao Islets in Digisit Bay. Harsh waves from the Philippine Sea often pound these islets. Nevertheless, they make for an interesting destination where you can even enjoy a thrilling climb towards the top. Digist Bay is also a favorable diving and snorkeling spot, especially during the calmer months. The islets of Dimadimalangat, Lukso-Lukso are also fascinating natural attractions that you can visit when in Baler.
With its breathtaking spot fronting the Pacific Ocean, Dinadiawan Beach, located in Barangay Dipaculao, is definitely worthy to be considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Aurora. The beach is specially known for its long, wide, and white sands, which make beach bumming in Dinadiawanan an even more enjoyable activity.
Another exciting adventure for visitors to the province is the trek to Ditumabo Falls in the town of San Luis. The trek is several kilometers long, with fallen or cut logs appearing as either a bridge or as an obstruction. However, once you reach the summit, the towering sight of the falls, its cascading waters, and the cool and refreshing pool at the bottom will surely make you feel that the trek is truly worth it. An alternative to Ditumabo Falls is the Cunayan Falls, also located in San Luis. The trek up Cunayan Falls is relatively easier, but the sight of the falls and the waters are just as beautiful and refreshing.
The Sierra Madre Mountain also encompasses a large part of the Aurora province. This stunning mountain range is home to waterfalls, rivers, streams, and a variety of flora and fauna that nature lovers will surely come to love. It is also one ideal spot for mountain climbing, birdwatching, or even picnicking.
Ermita Hill is also one of the most popular tourist attractions found in Baler. The hill treats visitors to a spectacular view of Baler Bay and, further away, the Pacific Ocean. The hill also served an important part in Baler’s history. When a tsunami struck Baler in 1735, only a few people survived because they climbed up Ermita Hill. A shrine called “Tromba Marina” is found at the foot of the hill, which is dedicated to the families who have survived the catatstrophe.
Learn more about the history, arts, and culture of Aurora by visiting Museo de Baler. Artifacts such as old jars, porcelains, and bells, as well as artistic paintings are showcased at this museum, which was built in 2002 through the efforts of then Senator Edgardo Angara in cooperation with the Baler Historical Committee.
Events and Festivals
The annual Aurora Foundation Day is celebrated every February, and is highlighted by a street dancing completion called the “Karansa.” Many activities are lined up for the event, which includes parades, beauty pageants, a culminating beach party, and a fireworks display too.
Also in February, the Aurora Surfing Cup is held in Baler. Local and foreign surfers travel to Baler to join the competition that is usually held in Sabang Beach, Cemento Beach, or Charlie’s Point.
In addition, the Sabutan Festival is held every August in the town of San Luis. The festival is celebrated to highlight the importance of growing palm trees, which plays a significant role in the town’s economic independence.
Where to Eat
When in Baler, Gerry Shan’s is one food spot that comes highly recommended. While the place is known for its delectable Chinese and seafood dishes, people often come back to this restaurant because of their affordable buffet, which is priced no more than PHP 200.00!
Meanwhile, Yellow Fin Bar and Grill, which is also found in Baler, is the go-to place for those craving grilled dishes. Their inihaw na pusit is a crowd-favorite, as well as their signature grilled yellow fin. The blue marlin steak is also another must-try.
Kusina Luntian is one restaurant you’d want to visit if you are with a large group. The restaurant is known for their boodle fight-style of eating, letting you enjoy traditional local dishes in a fun but relaxed and laid-back dining atmosphere. Ala carte dishes are also available at the restaurant.
Tapsilog lovers will definitely look forward to dining at this 24/7 tapsilugan in Baler: Ram’s Tapsilog. Tapsilog is, of course, the crowd favorite, but the hotsilog, longgasilog, and torta silog are also distinctively popular amongst the crowd.
Fare: PHP 750.00++
A one way trip on a regular bus from Manila to Baler costs around PHP 650.00. If you’re taking the deluxe bus, the one way ride costs around PHP 750.00.
When going within and around towns in the province, a tricycle ride will cost you PHP 500.00 for half a day, and PHP 800.00 for the entire day, inclusive of the tour guide. You can also rent a mountain bike for only PHP 300.00 a day.
Food: PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00
Depending on your food choices, the average amount you’ll spend on food in Aurora is about PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00 per meal.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 250.00
Buy souvenirs so you’ll have something to remember your trip to Aurora by. Ref magnets and key chains cost only about PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. Souvenir shirts are also available starting at PHP 200.00 and could go as high as PHP 250.00, depending on the design and materials used.
Accommodations: PHP 800.00 to PHP 5,500.00++
For the budget travelers, there are comfortable, overnight accommodations that you can avail for only PHP 800.00. For those with a bigger budget for accommodation, there are also mid-range to high-end hotels available, with rooms starting from PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 5,500.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 35.00 to PHP 500.00
Visit the ancestral home of the Quezons for only PHP 35.00. A visit to the Balete Tree requires no entrance fee, but tips are highly encouraged. Those planning to take on surfing activities will have to pay PHP 350.00 for an hour’s worth of surfing lessons.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Restaurants usually charge for service, so tipping is actually no longer necessary. But if you insist, a PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 tip should be just fine.
When visiting the Balete Tree, since no entrance fees are collected, you can also leave tips behind. A PHP 50.00 tip would also already be enough.
||Depart Manila for Baler.
||ETA in Baler.
||Have breakfast at Ram’s Tapsilog.
||Have a walk around Sabang Beach.
||Lunch at Gerry Shan’s.
||Visit Ermita Hill.
||Visit Aurora Quezon’s House.
||Visit Diguisit Beach.
||Have dinner at Kasa Luntian.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Surfing at Sabang Beach.
||Lunch at Yellow Fin Bar and Grill.
||Trek to Ditumabo Falls.
||Depart Baler for Manila.
||Have dinner at one of the pit stops along NLEX.
||ETA in Manila.
The weather in the province of Aurora is characterized either as rainy or sunny. Rain falls heavily during the months of January, February, April, October, and November. August, on the other hand, is the driest month. The average monthly temperature is around 26 to 27 degrees, so do bring light clothes when visiting the province. Don’t forget to pack a jacket and a scarf too, in case the nights get too chilly.
There are a couple of hospitals available in the province, so seeking medical attention wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Two of the province’s leading hospitals, however, are found in Baler—the Aurora Memorial Hospital and the Premiere Medical Center.
Pharmacies and drug stores are also available throughout the city. However, it is still advisable that you bring your own set of medicines, especially if you have a unique medical condition where the medication may not be readily available.
As a coastal town, Aurora is often battered with harsh rains especially during the rainy season. As such, scheduling a visit to the province during this period could be quite risky. But aside from this, Aurora is generally a safe place to visit. However, always be vigilant about your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings at all times, especially when visiting public and crowded places.