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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The resort also has facilities that are great for group – and even team building – water activities.
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.
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.
Simple Filipino comfort food
The resort serves hearty Filipino meals like sinigang, crispy pata, tilapia, and more.
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.
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: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org