April 13, 2016

Kahanamoku Inn, Baler

“You know, there are so many waves coming in all the time, you don't have to worry about that. Take your time — wave comes. Let the other guys go; catch another one.”
- Duke Kahanamoku

Only a surfer would name his home after Duke Kahanamoku. Definitely not a ballerina or a furrier. This was demonstrated by Jessal, a surfer who fell in love with the waves of Baler and later on decided, together with the love of his life Camille, to relocate and build a beach house on a foot of a hill in a more quiet and secluded side of the Philippine’s surfing capital. They named it Kahanamoku Inn, as their own way of immortalizing the Hawaiian surfing legend, known for his famous “Kahanamoku Kick” swimming technique.

I discovered Kahanamoku via Airbnb and since it was my first time to try the service, I find the whole experience – from booking to staying - quite personal and amazing.

The charming bed and breakfast place is a little paradise for surfers and yogis, and even those who just want a peaceful and me-time weekend get-away. It is a 15-minute drive from the town proper and far from the noise and action of Sabang Beach, so guests are assured of tranquility but at the same time treated with the soothing view of greenery and allure of the Pacific Ocean, which is just right across the street. 

Upon arrival, everyone will be greeted with the street art sign “Give Back to the Ocean”. It seems like an advocacy campaign supporting shark conservation - perhaps a subtle way of saying that a shark too could also be a man’s best friend. Hmm really? Maybe if they no longer have teeth. 

They offer one group studio and five private villa rooms, each equipped with air-conditioning, toilet and bath with hot rain shower. They also provide organic wash, soap and shampoo. The side wall of the villa has a beautiful, vibrant mural of a kalaw bird, a large hornbill species, which sometimes could be found flying in the area. 

There is a wide space for group activities and several hammocks where guests could lounge, relax and perhaps learn a thing or two from Yvon Chouinard’s “Let My People Go Surfing” under the shade of coconut trees.

They also have Shala Shake which functions as a meditation and yoga space, reading nook and dining area. A mural of an ancient Sanskrit greeting “Namaste” (translated roughly as “I bow to the God within you”) and two Teppanom angel statues welcome guests, along with books, yoga mats and pillows, and some life lessons and quotes such as “Share your knowledge”, “Shred ‘til dead” and “Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon”.  

Staying overnight comes with a complimentary continental breakfast. I had Guayusa tea, scrambled eggs and French toast with fresh fruits. I just bought lobsters from the town center for my lunch and dinner. The delectable crustaceans are actually one of the main reasons why I love coming back to Baler.

Though I haven’t met Jessal and Camille personally, they have a wonderful staff - Ate Maricar, Orly, and Jessa – who can capably man the fort whenever they are not around. They also have an adorable pitbull named Java. He didn’t bite me when I was petting him, so I’m certain he’s a good boy. But he looks pensive most of the time. Maybe he just misses Jessal or his other half Tala, terribly.

A short walking distance from Kahanamoku, guests could enjoy swimming at Cemento Beach, surfing at Cobra Reef or sunset-watching from the fish port. Since I’m not a surfer and afraid to suffer the fate of Bethany Hamilton, I just settled for a shallow natural pool, far from the swelling waves and the sharks. Just kidding, there are no sharks in Baler. None that I have heard of.  

But after all the fun that I had, what I would never forget most from my recent summer discovery was Tala. There’s a bittersweet story behind that mural of bull terrier. It must have been really hard for the owners losing someone close to their heart, someone they treated as family. But that’s how life works. And inferring from Duke’s wisdom, there will always be lost opportunities and lost love, as long as we live. And we just have to accept them. And be patient, for someday our wave will come, a wave that could change everything.

I heard a little bundle of joy is on the way soon to Kahanamoku. And I am confident that it will be another reason for Java to wag his tail again.

Kahanamoku Inn
Purok 6, Sitio Cemento
Brgy. Zabali, Baler, Aurora
Tel. No.: 0998-8574851
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