Seeing the cool photos and videos of people surfing, particularly the pros, always makes me want to grab a board and ride the waves. I would imagine myself being a kick-ass surfer on the ocean. The only problem is I haven’t tried surfing before – ever. Not until that trip to Baler in Aurora, one of the best destinations to surf in the Philippines.
It was an exciting weekend trip for me since I’ll finally be able to cross out surfing off my bucket list. Getting to Baler is easy via land travel. You have the option to ride a bus or rent a private vehicle. I joined an organized group trip together with a few friends and some people I’ve never met. Travel with strangers: another bucket list item checked.
The road to Baler is long, winding, sometimes smooth, other times rough and bumpy but scenic all throughout. The time of our arrival was perfect to grab a hearty Filipino breakfast of tapsilog at Bay’s Inn with the sun sparkling over the ocean as our view. There were a number of people enjoying the beach early that morning, which made me want to join them too. But first, we checked out other places worth visiting in Baler and other towns in Aurora. And all this time I thought there’s not much to do here but surf. I was wrong.
Off we went onboard the van and headed to Ampere Beach. I’ve read from blogs that the beach offers a magnificent sunrise view. Well, we were way too late for that, but still the place didn’t fail to give a good impression. It wasn’t the usual sandy beach. Instead, thousands of rocks and pebbles of different sizes are scattered on the shore. Large boulders of rocks are grouped on one side leading to a small cave. I could imagine having a peaceful morning moment right here.
Learning the province’s history and culture was also part of the trip. The quaint Museo de Baler showcase interesting photos, artifacts and exhibits that showed Aurora’s past and the traditions of its people. Noontime came and Alaine, the trip organizer, brought us to the famous Rolling stores in Baler. Apparently, it’s a ‘carinderia’ located in San Luis street. The stalls offer food options which are surprisingly good yet affordable.
Our visit to Diguisit beach was also a good one. Standing on the shore facing the Pacific Ocean will give you a stunning panorama of the sea, the sky and some rock formations. Though the sun was shining unforgivingly, the wholeness of Diguisit beach provided an ideal place to slow down and relax. We challenged ourselves a bit by climbing one of the tallest rock formations to get a better vantage point of the surrounding. It was beautiful.
A trek to Ditumabo Mother Falls proved that Aurora is gifted by nature. The trek to this towering falls was refreshing and challenging at the same time, passing by rivers and rocky terrain. The falls, which stands more than a hundred feet, showers the river bed with cool, clear waters. I can see why people come to see Ditumabo Mother Falls. It is really majestic.
Come early afternoon, the moment everyone was waiting for finally took place. It’s time to learn how to surf. There’s a short orientation and how-to lesson with local surf instructors before starting to surf. For the sake of transparency, I was admittedly nervous and thrilled at the same time. This is it, I thought. At that moment, I was a few minutes away from actually riding the waves. I can’t help but overthink if I can do it properly or if I can do it at all. I tried to keep cool and think that everything will turn out okay, maybe great.
A couple of attempts made me fall off my board. But giving up doesn’t come easy on me. During my third attempt, after taking in and trying my best to follow the tips of my instructor, I finally did it. I was able to stand up, keep my balance and ride the waves. It was a short period of absolute bliss, a proud moment. A big, silly smile was plastered on my face all throughout. I think I was even laughing slightly, I’m not sure anymore. I did it and I’m feeling really great. It was all that matters that time.
As expected, I was game for more. I wasn’t able to count the number of times I fell off and got wiped out. Who cares, right? There were other times I got to make it to the shore, which made me crave for more. It was a repetitive process of mounting the board, waiting for a good wave, trying to stand up, keep my balance, get wiped out or surf to shore. And I loved every single moment of it. I got bruised after the board hit my knees, yes, but it didn’t stop me from living the moment and enjoying the thing I’ve always wanted to do. I was all for the love of surfing.