Reviewed by Philippa Langrish
Why you’ll love Costa Pacifica Resort
We recently decided to spend the weekend away with some friends and chose Costa Pacifica Resort, a relatively new hotel, as our destination. Located in Baler, Aurora, it’s roughly a six-hour drive from the capital, especially if you do what we did and leave Manila in the middle of the night! We set off at 1am to make the most of the clear roads and the kids (aged 5 months and 3 years) and I managed to sleep the entire way leaving my husband Olly, and our driver to navigate the windy mountain road.
We arrived at Costa Pacifica at 7am to enjoy the mountain sunrise and have breakfast by the beach – and what a place to have breakfast! Costa Pacifica is absolutely beautiful. It is just a year old and has been decorated in simple but stylish surfer style. It’s an indoor / outdoor kind of place, which makes it easy to watch the kids in the pool while relaxing either in the shady interior or on an outside lounger.
We loved playing in the surf with our 3 year old and eating alfresco whilst watching the surfers catching waves. We also took it in turns to have surf lessons which was great fun. The resort is a paradise for learner surfers (like myself) as there is little wind, warm water and although the waves are big I managed to stand on the board half a dozen times thanks to my patient instructor. Lessons are really cheap at 300php for an hour (£5).
Looking for more family travel inspiration in The Philippines? Take a look at our family guide!
Why the kids will love Costa Pacifica Resort
This is a great place for families with kids of all ages. Our three-year-old daughter loved playing in the surf, getting knocked down by gentle waves and watching her sand castles get swept away by the tides. Another highlight was feeding the fish in the cool hang-out next door to the resort, “The Hungry Surfer”.
The hotel staff were really friendly and doted on Maya, even buying her packets of marshmallows. Our baby boy hung out by the pool and when it got too hot he found a shady spot and watched his big sister galavanting in the pool. The sea air and walks on the beach in the baby carrier made him extra sleepy, which made for a couple good night sleeps for me!
Our friends had tweens and they spent most of their days learning to surf, which they loved. When not learning to ride the waves, they had a ball swimming until late in the hotel pool and eating BBQ chicken on the beach.
There are 106 rooms in the resort; all simple and modern in decor with feature accents of stylised fern prints as well as representations of marine life recreated in bold colours. In some rooms, the walls are decorated with colourful woven mats in bright tropical shades. The rooms are divided into the following categories; Junior Suite, Junior Premiere, Pacifica Suite, Pacifica Premiere, One Bedroom Suite and the Pacifica One Bedroom Suite. The main difference between the rooms is size and view.
Casita & Casa de Bahia
There are also 28 cottage units that come in 3 styles; Casa Loft, Casa de Bahia and Castia de Bahia. These sit 250 metres away from the resort’s main lobby. These modern bungalow type rooms enjoy their own veranda, with views of the swimming pool. Casa Loft and Casa de Bahia rooms feature romantic yellow lights and local crafts. Casita de Bahia units, on the other hand, are contemporary and modern bungalow type rooms with light and dark wood furnishing and views of the swimming pool and jacuzzi.
All rooms come with air conditioning, hot & cold showers, wiFi connection, cable television and most of the rooms have a veranda or sit out area.
Best Rooms For Families The rooms recommended for families are the One Bedroom Suites and Pacifica One Bedroom Suites, which are next to the kiddies pool. Although more expensive you are able to sit just outside the room and watch the kids swim .
Buffet style meals are served for breakfast and dinner. There is also an extensive menu which includes kids choices. The food is excellent and diverse, including Filipino cuisine in addition to pizza, burgers, salads and soups.
We were spoilt for choice at breakfast time with an omelette station, cooked breakfast, Filipino breakfast, fresh fruits, pancakes and syrup and cereals.
I enjoyed the local Filipino dishes of Seafood Kare Kare which was a delicious mixture of mussels, fish, shrimp and squid in a coconut sauce, while my daughter Maya was content with the chicken and fish and chips.
For Kids: There are plenty of kids’ options on the main menu.
Activities for Parents:
Learn to surf (November – February), more experienced surfers can ride 9-foot waves at a Sabung Beach.
Trek the rugged terrain and experience the dense jungles of the Sierra Madre or go spelunking at the newly discovered Tikbalang Caves.
Take a dip in the pristine waters of the magical Diteki waterfalls of San Luis.
Dive beneath the waves and explore the spectacular display of marine life and coral formations at Los Confites Reef.
Revel the rich history and culture of Baler through colourful festivals such as Aurora Day which is celebrated every February.
Go shopping! Visit the Pasalubong Center and take home some of Baler’s finest handicrafts and homemade products.
Hear Mass at the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church or also known as Church of Baler where the historic Siege of Baler took place.
Relax by the pool and enjoy a massage.
Picnic at the historic and breathtaking Ermita Hill where you can find the Tromba Marina sculpture depicting the 7 families escaped to survive the tsunami in 1735.
Activities for Kids
Visit the famous Balete Tree, also known as the Milleniun Tree, thought to be the largest of its kind in Asia. It’s estimated to be about 600 years old and more than 60 metres tall!
Enjoy a bonfire on the beach at Costa Pacficia and swap learning-to-surf tales!
Learn to surf! The warm waters and gentle waves make this and ideal spot to learn to wide the waves.
Try Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter! Famous in the area it’s also a favourite souvenir to bring home.
Visit the Ilongots and learn the art of their tribal dance.
Discover how PAG-ASA collects weather information by visiting their Weather Station located at Diguisit Beach.
Marvel at the picturesque 360 degree view of Baler at the Dicasalarin Lighthouse.
Leave footprints in the white sand at pretty Dicasalarin Cove.
Aurora is the coconut capital of the Philippines, enjoy a fresh buko juice at Costa Pacfica’s Beach House.
Air-conditioning, babysitting, common areas, one baby cot available (best to bring your own), two extra mattresses allowed in a room, inter-connecting rooms available, kids’ swimming pool, laundry, pets allowed, private sit out, restaurant, hotel shop, swimming pool, wheelchair access, Wifi.
When to go:
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards. Be careful travelling in the months from September to December as this is when the typhoon season is. Temperatures range from 27 – 40+. Avoid travelling in the busy holy weeks of Easter and Christmas.
Location & Travel:
Costa Pacifica is situated between 6 /7 hours north of Manila in Baler, Aurora. If driving from Manila, there are two roads you can take, we would recommend the sealed road around the mountain. There is an unsealed road through the mountain which is prone to land-slides and very rocky with rivers running over the road and a steep drop on one side. The road around the mountain adds an extra 60km to the journey but is by far the safer and less bumpy road. For international travel fly to Manila and take a bus or private car to the resort. You can also fly from Manila to Baler with Sky Jet Airways (25min flight)
1) When travelling by bus, public car or plane pack a cardigan/sweater and socks for you and the kids as the air conditioning gets really cold sometimes.
2) The Filipino food in the restaurant at Costa Pacifica is really good (Filipino food can be really hit and miss). Go for the seafood kare kare to get an authentic taste of the country.
3) Visit Nanay Pacing’s shop, which is just a 5 minute tricycle ride into town (or the hotel offers free shuttle). She sells homemade pastillias (local sweets), coco jam, peanut butter and other handicrafts at great prices.