Sole Sisters' Guide to Surfing in the Philippines
Flat abs, toned arms, meeting the surfer dude/babe of your dreams.
Just some of the rewards of surfing. Now that I've convinced you to try surfing from Part 1 of this guide, let me share 4 of the best spots in the Philippines to go to for beginner surfers:
Why Go: This is where I first learned to surf. The conditions are perfect for beginners during the monsoon months between November to February. There are several spots in Zambales for surfing but Crystal Beach break is the most popular one. The waves are not too gynormous and if you get wiped out, you fall on shallow black sand.
The Ride: From Manila, you can take a 3-4 hour bus ride from Pasay, Cubao or Caloocan Terminal. Victory Liner is one of the bus companies that has daily trips. Let the driver know you want to get to San Narciso, Zambales. Get dropped off at the nearest stop and you can take a short tricycle ride to Crystal Beach. If you're driving, take the Kalaklan Gate from Subic and turn left to Zambales. Head straight passing through Olongapo City, Castillejos and San Marcelino. When you get to San Narciso, turn left after the town hall.
Surf'n Stay: Crystal Beach Resort rents boards for cheap and often have instructors on site for beginners. There are beach huts in this resort where you can stay for the night. I have to say this is a true backpackers place and it looked run down and not so well maintained when I last stayed here. An alternative would be to bring a tent and camp out in designated areas.
I've only tried one surf spot here. The surf in Bagasbas Beach, Daet can be pretty fickle. But if you're lucky, the waves can get really high with a push strong enough for long rides. The surf also breaks on a sand bar which makes it relatively safe for beginners. Just be careful not to ride a wave too close to the shore as it gets really shallow.
Surf'n Stay: There are several resorts in the area but I've only stayed in one place mainly because it's cheap and they offer group discounts. Bagasbas Surfers Dine-Inn is right on the beach strip. The food here was pretty okay, mostly Filipino dishes with big portions.
Why Go: This surf spot is the most accessible of the four. Although it has a short coastline which means it can get crowded at the lineup. There are also a lot of surf shops that offer board rental and cheap surf lessons.
Surf'n Stay: Sebay Resort is just one among many places to stay in the area. The go-to guy here for board rentals and surf lessons is Badz. He's never failed to give us discounted rates everytime we rent boards from him. He also watches me when I surf and gives me tips on how to improve. You can also learn to surf with gorgeous Luke Landrigan and his small army of surf instructors at the Billabong Surf School in San Juan Surf Resort. Both resorts have pricey airconditioned rooms but ask about cheaper rates for fan rooms. If you're on a tight budget and not too picky, try Hacienda Peter's next door.
Why Go: There are waves here all year round but for massive swells, the best time would be from October to Februrary. Besides the surf, this place is really scenic. It has a long beach break, coconut trees that line the shore and rumor has it that Discovery Suites is setting up shop sometime soon. There are also many surf spots in the area for different surfing skill levels. Most of all, I love the feel of the place. It gives me a sense of community.
Surf'n Stay: There are several resorts in Baler that fit every budget. If you're feeling luxurious, you can get a room at the Bahia de Baler or Bay's Inn which has a great beachside restaurant. Being a budget traveler, I mostly stay at Kahea's Lodge, operated by Kuya Edwin Namora who is one of the pioneer surfers in the Philippines. He gives a good backpacker rate and is also the best place to rent a surfboard. Since it's a family run business, they sometimes invite us to eat with them- along with their 6 kids, extended family members, 4 cats, 2 dogs and a bird. I kid you not! There are several shops along the seawall that offer cheapsurf lessons for beginners.
So you're all set. I've given you info overload for all 4 surf spots. Now all you need is a rash guard, sunblock and a lot of guts. Don't forget to check the forecast before going.
|Lois and Chichi are friends, cosmically aligned, unique in their own separate ways and united by the same passion for travel. Both of them, at some point in their lives, have had to jump in feet first, take risks and see where their itchy soles take them.
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