Monday, February 29, 2016

Baler Experience: Surfing at Costa Pacifica

One week ago, we had a biglaang Baler trip! How sudden? On Sunday, my mom asked me and my siblings to reserve next Saturday for family outing. During that time it was already my uncle's 2nd week in the country and he hasn't been anywhere but in our house in Caloocan and in our province, Nueva Ecija. When I woke up that Monday morning, I knew that I had "book hotel" on my to do list but lo and behold my mother sent a Facebook message "Baler tayo" with a timestamp of 4AM (she works on a night shift).

I have colleagues who have been to Baler so recommendations were abundant, the only problem was finding a nice place ASAP for 14pax! We always travel in big groups =))). All of them recommended me to look for any place along Sabang Beach. My uncle also did his research through his kumpares and we both ended up suggesting Costa Pacifica. The rates are beyond our usual "backpacker" range and since it's very last minute, we ended up paying 2.5x the usual price. But all is well since my balikbayan uncle paid for the accommodation while the rest of us chipped in for food, transportation, gas and driver fee (nobody wants to drive).

We left Caloocan at around 4AM, had a quick stopover at Nueva Ecija to fetch our relatives and arrived at Costa Pacifica by 10:30AM. One of the perks of traveling during off peak season is that the place is not fully booked and we're able to have an early check-in, instead of waiting for 2PM.
Reception area
Preview
Baler Sunrise
The view from our room <3
<3
After checking in and fixing our stuff, my brother said that 11AM is the best time to surf. We're all first timers and very willing to try it! Costa Pacific offers surfing lessons which costs PHP350/hour and include the instructor's fee, rash guard and board rental. It's the same price price with Aliya Surf Camp and other nearby hostels. 
Baler = surfing
They had instructors on standby and kuya said they're a total of 30 for Costa Pacifica alone. Wow, they are indeed the surfing capital! We started with warm up and demo on the shore. I tried the "ready, stand" drill twice then kuya walked to the beach because we're ready to go. It was the longest 1 hour of my life, I was so tired but I'm proud to say that I had 3 long rides! The instructors deserve their tip because they tirelessly cheer on us until we got to stand on the board!
fall 7 times, stand up 8 moment

We decided to squeeze in a city tour in the afternoon, of course, the tours offered by the hotel is very expensive so we hired kuya instructor. It was already past 3PM when we thought about it so we decided to choose "Mother Falls", located in San Luis, 30minutes drive from the hotel. Kuya said it was a 20minute trek BUT we ended up walking and crawling for 50 minutes! Along the way, my sister in law's parents and my aunts have been eliminated and decided to stop trekking =)))
trekking...crawling for dear life

The glorious "Mother Falls" at last!  It was already past 5PM so we only took several photos and decided to go back - and trek for another 50 minutes. We had a stopover at the meryenda area and we enjoyed buko juice and tukneneng. I always end up following Biyahe ni Drew, so for our dinner we went to Gerry Shan's Place and enjoyed a Filipino food buffet for only PHP185!!! I really liked the small fried shrimps, KareKare and the desserts - biko and suman!
The family that treks together, eats buffet dinner!
We weren't able to try kakanin at Nanay Pacing's Cafe but I sampled a lot of Suman and Baler Pizza from the hotel's buffet.
Baler pizza, suman and kesong puti

The next day, before going back to Manila, we had a stopover at Maria Aurora and checked out the Millennium Tree. It is a massive balete tree that is 600+ years old already. They even allow tourists to go inside it, there's a CCTV inside but I still passed up the chance to walk around inside the tree! =)) I ended up walking and buying souvenirs - my ref magnet and snacks omiyage.
Baler Crew
Baler is worth the 6hours + drive, it's the best place to surf, great food and has a lot of nearby attractions as well!