Discover Philippines: The Rocky Ampere Beach of Baler, Aurora
January 1, 1970
by Writing Traveller
After almost an hour’s ride from the Baler town proper, I got out from the tricycle and gasped at the view. All I could think about was – Voldemort’s locket horcrux is here!
Blame the Harry Potter nerd in me. I began to picture the scene in the 6th film of the Harry Potter movie franchise when Professor Dumbledore and Harry set out to this remote cave looking for one of Voldemort’s horcruxes. A horcrux is an object where a Dark wizard or witch hides a fragment of his or her soul with the sole purpose of attaining immortality. Professor Dumbledore had to do extensive research to surmise that a horcrux had been hidden in a cave Voldemort used to visit when he was a child. Gray clouds, gusting wind, waves splashing treacherously on rocky shore, a cave. I was half-expecting, half-daydreaming I’d see Daniel Radcliffe filming the scene there.
Travelling to Ampere, Baler
Anyway, the bus ride from Cubao to Baler took 4 and a half hours. I was travelling with two friends who are as much of an adrenaline junkie as me. We came all the way from Cebu and wanted to try out surfing in the famous surfing capital north of the country – Baler, Aurora, Philippines.
We arrived at Baler town proper around 5:30 in the morning, disembarked from the bus and were quickly greeted by a handful of tricycle drivers who offered us a tour of the town. Our bus arrived together with other buses. From ladies selling delicacies to drivers offering tours, tourists milling around deciding where to get breakfast, the Baler terminal was bustling with activity. Our check in time at the hotel wasn’t until 2pm so we still had hours to kill to explore what the province of Aurora has to offer. Our trike driver pointed at the tarp in the terminal featuring images of the tourist spots and offered that at a fee of 500Php he could show us around. He was very eager to suggest we go to Ampere Beach first. It was located in Ampere, Dipaculao, an hour ride from the terminal. He said with the cold, windy weather we could witness the strong Pacific waves crash through the rocks at Ampere Beach. Great for photographs or when you’d just like to hear the sound of the waves.
The drive to the beach was uneventful but informative. The driver was very generous with trivia snippets about Ampere Beach. He boasted of the scenic sunrise which most tourists considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Unfortunately, it was cloudy that day and we already arrived a bit late for it. It would have been a great backdrop for a selfie, groufie or a landscape shot. But for future references, our friendly driver suggested the best time to go to the beach was an hour before sunrise.
Long ago, townsfolk would visit the beach to predict weather. When the waves hit the shallow, shoreline cave it makes an explosive sound of varying intensity. The intensity by which the waves make this sound determines the intensity of an incoming storm. This really seemed to work for them for then the town leader would advise everyone when to prepare for bad weather.
The Rocky Beach
Ampere Beach is not a beach for swimming. We got to confirm that when we arrived. At first glance you wouldn’t really dream of swimming there. The shore was covered with smooth, dark rocks that differed in sizes. Most were as big as my fists. Others were way larger and looked very heavy. One has to be careful in treading through the rocks because bumping your head and getting injured is a possibility. Maybe because it was really just windy when we were there, but the waves were really at it, crashing to the rocks as if they have a beef with them. But it was a majestic sight to gaze upon. A panoramic view of the Pacific horizon one does not get to see everyday.
Near the shoreline cave is a large boulder you could climb on to and have your picture taken. We made our way to it stopping here and there, to avoid slipping, extending our arms wide for balance. Getting on top then breathing the air was an exhilarating feeling. I faced the ocean, opened my arms wide and shouted to the heavens, “Hello Baler!” To the right facing the beach was the islet I mistook as the setting for Harry Potter. It was really imposing especially when the natural backdrop was filled with gray skies and rolling waves. Then we got to the business of taking A LOT of pictures – Selfies, groufies, solo shots, you name it. We even made a video where we were rotating the camera to capture a 360-degree view of the beach while we were greeting one of our friends a Happy Birthday.
Cross off the Bucket List
I think we were the first group who got to Ampere beach for that day because we got the whole beach for ourselves. The rocks near the point where the waves hit were more jagged. They were sharper and looked more dangerous. So it’s really important that you watch your step and not get too close to be caught up in the waves. I still went as close as I could though to get a nice video of how strong the waves were.
My favorite moment was when I was alone on top of the boulder, higher up than my friends and I was facing the horizon. It was when I began to realize that when you would look out to the water, you are actually looking at the Pacific Ocean breathing in ocean breeze. For a city girl, I don’t always get to go to the beach. Cebu being located at the center of a big island group, one never gets to see the ocean. So I savored that moment, that experience. I closed my eyes, listened to the sound of the waves and breathed in deep.
Gaze at the Pacific Ocean and experience its magnificence – That’s one thing crossed off the bucket list.