EXPLORE: Cruising, jet skiing, glamping, and more at San Rafael River Adventure, Bulacan

For river cruises, Loboc in Bohol is top-of-mind for me, followed by Palina or Cadimahan-Libotong in Capiz.  Certainly Luzon, let alone a place near Manila, does not ring any bell for me when it comes to cruises.

So when I heard of cruises and river activities being offered in Bulacan, I was excited. Bulacan does not readily come to mind for a day trip or weekend of river adventures and communion with nature, but the province is blessed with the 1,085-square-meter Angat River and watershed. And, in San Rafael, Bulacan, in particular, is a laidback riverside resort perfect for water activities or just relaxing by the river.

San Rafael River Adventure on the banks of Angat River is around two and a half hours away from Metro Manila, and accessible via a Baliuag-bound bus to Bulacan and a tricycle ride straight to the resort.

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San Rafael River Adventure offers a river cruise good for around 40 people, among other things.

Aside from river cruises with meals similar to the Loboc River Cruise, the resort offers water activities like kayaking, jet skiing, standup paddleboarding, and even land activities like ATV riding.

When it comes to relaxation (and even staycation!) and communion with nature, the resort grounds are perfect as they are lined by mango trees, and brightened up with flower fields. There is also a grassy field where geese and horses roam, and rescued animals like civets in cages around the area. The sizable pool overlooks the river, and some of the glass houses and villas have a view of the river, too. But for the best river view and experience, go with glamping on a bamboo raft, where you get prime views of the sunrise and sunset.

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Glamping on bamboo rafts by the river arguably give the best river experience.

Sleeping with nature close by

The glass house, where my friends and I slept, also has a front-row seat to nature, particularly to the trees surrounding us. Armed by years of experience in his construction business, the resort owner, Sir Rod, sought to build an accommodation that would give a perfect view of natural surroundings but would afford some privacy as well. Thus, the accommodations are built with glass all around to give an unobstructed view outside, but are made with one-way mirrors so that those outside cannot see in. At night, you can bring down the blinds as people outside can already see in. But you can also opt to keep the blinds up and just turn on the lights under the bed; the light is sufficient for you to see but not enough for people outside to see in.

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This glass house, which sleeps around four people, gives views from all angles of the grounds outside.

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The glass house at night. Just leave the lights under the bed on for your privacy and turn off the other lights. We still pulled down the blinds, though, as we used the other lights.

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Our glass house’s private shower and bath

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What our glass house looks from outside. There are just seats and swings for hanging out.

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The glass villa good for 12 people has a view of the river. Photo by Paula Anntoneth O

Though we did not experience glamping, we were able to see the tents. I made a point of going there both in the afternoon and in the morning.

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Tents for glamping are placed on bamboo rafts attached to the main resort grounds. Each tent comes with a mattress, electric fan, and a table with chairs.

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Mornings are tranquil and golden and beautifully experienced when you glamp.

Relaxing resort grounds and breathtaking views

Whether glamping or not, all you have to do is go by the river to see the sunrise and sunset reflect on the tranquil Angat River.

Good morning from Angat River! #sanrafaelriveradventure #sanrafaelriver #iamtravelinglight

A post shared by Claire Madarang (@iamtravelinglight) on

 

Sunset this time. Both the sunrise and sunset are breathtaking at #SanRafaelRiverAdventure. 🙂 #angatriver #iamtravelinglight

A post shared by Claire Madarang (@iamtravelinglight) on

The resort grounds in themselves are relaxing, with trees, flowers, and views of the river – especially a big pool with a view. Even if you just want to relax with the river view and are not too keen on outdoor activities, the resort is perfect.

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You can just enjoy the river view from the grounds…

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…and even lounge in their tree swings!

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Day or night, it is always a good idea to relax in the resort’s comfy seats also great for lying down.

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You can also just walk around the vast resort grounds.

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There are spots of interest like green houses.

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You can even sit down and have a chess game or two, or just laze on the hammock.

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Enjoy also the sight of animals around you…

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…including beautiful peacocks!

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The owner Sir Rod also rescues animals and cares for them in the resort, like this civet. One of his visions for the resort is a rescue center.

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Arguably the best way to relax and enjoy the view is to take a dip in San Rafael River Adventure’s sizable pool. Here is my friend Paula enjoying the waters…

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…and here I am just basking in the pool and the river’s beauty.

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The pool is beautiful from all angles.

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There is also a jacuzzi part of the pool which is our favorite!

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At night, the pool is breathtaking with all the lights aglow.

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The views are even more spectacular.

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And the pool changes color, too.

Adventurous outdoor activities

San Rafael River Adventure offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from the leisurely to the more challenging. The most leisurely is arguably the river cruise, which anyone of any fitness level can take part of.

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Two guests enjoying the river cruise

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My cruise companions enjoying our meal aboard!

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On the cruise boat is a steel bar “pool,” where you can get a water massage as the boat moves. Pau and Beng tried it and loved it!

Aside from the river cruise, you can also try other activities like kayaking, jet skiing, and standup paddleboarding. Kayaking or paddle boarding comes free if you book an accommodation with the resort.

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Jet skiing is fun, and the fastest way to go around the river.

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It was my first time to jet ski, and I got a little excited, and ventured a bit far, reaching this islet called Dela Fuente.

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I met the friendly owner of the island, who invited me over. He turned out to be working with San Rafael River Adventure’s owner in the construction of the resort.

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The islet had a water pump, toilet, and more. Mr. Dela Fuente rows to this island for some me-time, and sometimes, time with friends.

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The resort offers land activities, too, particularly riding with ATV. We all rode off into the sunset together.

The resort also has facilities that are great for group – and even team building – water activities.

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On the river is a water trampoline.

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There is also a floating bridge that is indeed quite a challenge to get across!

A personal wedding venue-turned-resort

Initially, the resort was a venue prepared to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Sir Rod’s parents. Once the viewing deck overlooking the river was constructed, the couple renewed their vows.

Over time, Sir Rod built a pool and eventually turned the place into a full-fledged resort last 2015.

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Sir Rod talks about he turned a personal family venue into a river adventure resort.

Sir Rod named the resort after the town and the patron saint, San Rafael. Angat River is believed to have healing powers and San Rafael used the fish from the river to heal the sick. The resort also takes part in the celebration of the town’s fiesta for its patron saint, as the resort’s floating raft is used for the festival’s fluvial parade.

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The resort is named after the town’s patron saint.

Simple Filipino comfort food

The resort serves hearty Filipino meals like sinigang, crispy pata, tilapia, and more.

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Our first meal at the resort.

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I love their very fresh tilapia!

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The best sapin-sapin I’ve ever tasted. The sweetness and texture are just right. This is actually a local specialty San Rafael is known for. After our resort visit, we went to the shop that makes it.

A truly relaxing and adventurous weekend

With the breathtaking views (the sunrise and sunset view alone was enough to make me a fan as it is rare to find a place or body of water that offers full views of both), the beautiful grounds, the promise of a close encounter with nature even while sleeping via the glass house and glamping experience, and of course, the outdoor river activities like cruising, my friends and I had a truly relaxing and adventurous weekend at San Rafael River Adventure.

You don’t need to do all activities, either. Create your own itinerary if you will – whether it be cruising leisurely along the river while enjoying a meal, speeding across the river through jet ski, or simply lounging by the pool and enjoying the river view, there are many ways to while away the weekend. You can also do all or almost all, as we did. Just enjoy the place the way you would truly want to.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Cubao Edsa, ride a bus to Baliuag and get off at the town proper. Travel time is around 1 1/2 hour – 2 hours, and fare is around P75. Then take a tricycle straight to San Rafael River Adventure Resort. Tricycle ride is around 30 minutes or more. We paid P200 for a tricycle and divided the fare among ourselves.

RATES: San Rafael River Adventure’s rates start at P750 per person for the day package and P1,750 (P3,500 for two persons) for the overnight package, inclusive of breakfast and free use of kayak or paddle board. See all the complete packages here.

CONTACT DETAILS:
San Rafael River Adventure
Address: Barangay Talacsan, San Rafael, Bulacan, Philippines
Mobile numbers: (63) 995 974 6224 (Globe) / (63) 917 924 4546 (Globe)/ (63) 977 820 1098 (Globe)
Landline:  (02) 513 1569
Email address: 
info@sanrafaelriveradventure.com, reservation@sanrafaelriveradventure.com

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