Shhh. We shouldn’t speak too loudly about this wondrous cove. It loses a little of its magic every time a boatload of sunburned revellers slosh up onto its shores. But if you are the type of traveller who can take delight while disturbing nothing, then we can discuss Dicasalarin Cove like friends.
I first came to Dicasalarin back in 2015. I was already taken by Baler‘s mystical mountains and humble charm, but it was this remote, untrammeled corner that sealed the deal for me.
It takes no time at all to be out of tiny Baler town and in the gorgeous countryside of Aurora Province. The ride bumped along over green canals, fishing huts clinging to the water’s edge, and mini-waterfalls running down the hills. The road that takes you to Dicasalarin is an adventure in itself. A single dirt track climbs up over the hills, sometimes teetering dangerously on the edge of the cliff — but the view is spectacular. When you do arrive at the cove, it’s a short walk down to the water’s edge.
It was this remote, untrammeled corner that sealed the deal for me.
On the way to the beach, you’ll trample past picnic grounds, cottages, and fish ponds. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the cove deserted except for the children of the caretaker, who hails from the local Dumagat tribe. His son Michael (pictured below) was a joy to meet, although he was more interested in snorkeling than anything else.
On an afternoon in July, Dicasalarin greeted me like a faintly familiar dream. The mouth of a river emptied into beach on the right, waves splashed over the base of a rocky cliff on the left, and high above the scene, a white lighthouse leaned toward the Pacific (much has been made of this unusual lighthouse, but it’s really the astounding view that makes the 170-odd steps to the top worth it.)
Back on the beach, I found a cool, gentle current and sandy floor sudded with smooth pebbles. In other words, it had ‘solo swim’ written all over it. And that’s exactly what I did. Dicasalarin Cove is the kind of place where you can (and should) spend a whole day, ideally having a picnic on the sand and wiling away the afternoon in perfect tranquility.
Before you go, check out the rest of the estate, which includes a seedling nursery, a curious longhouse filled with paintings mellowing in the tropical humidity, and native huts for overnight stays. If you’re an experienced camper, you can bring your own tent and supplies and make a night of it.
Tips for visiting Dicasalarin Cove
Dicasalarin during the rainy season is not a good idea. There is really no safe way to get there when the seas are rough and roads slippery. A strong undercurrent and high waves makes swimming a no-go during these months.
- To get there, you’ll need to rent a boat or a car suited for the drive, which is winding, steep and narrow. The cove is part of an estate owned by the Angara family, a clan whose roots go way back in this coastal province. Entry tickets are free for guests of Costa Pacifica Resort. Visitors pay a gate pass of 100 pesos besides the ticket (PHP 300, available only from the Costa Pacifica front desk).
- Dicasalarin Cove is open from 6am to 5pm. There’s little shade on the beach, so try to avoid the hottest hours of day.
- Boats can usually be chartered for 1500 to 2000 pesos, and vans for about the same price. We recommend hiring a van especially as the road to the cove is one of the most scenic stretches of Baler.
- There are rustic showers and bathrooms on the grounds, but the water pressure can be frustratingly weak. A small hut near the parking area sells bottled water and apparently, pizza.
- To book the Ifugao cottages for overnight stays, try calling Ms. Ella at +63 946 1809489.