The Philippines is a tropical country, known to the rest of the world as a place full of beautiful beaches. It offers plenty of options, may it be a short travel outside of Metro Manila or a posh island that racks up the attention of Hollywood stars (Amanpulo, anyone?).
Anyone you ask would recommend a great beach to go, either a touristy one or a beach less travelled to. Beaches get all the stars, yet most Filipinos forget that the Philippines is an archipelago, which means water is everywhere.
The Philippine beaches have long been given the spotlight, but now is the time to show the rising stars – the enchanting rivers.
1. Hinatuan Enchanted River
Found in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, this river flows into the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The water has different blue shades, with its centre being a darker blue hue. It is calm as it is majestic. You will definitely get lost in your thoughts by just staring at the crystal-blue water. The water is so clear that you can see schools of fish swimming!
Visitors either can’t stop staring at the water or can’t stop jumping into it. Most visitors are cautious because the depth of the river is unknown. At 12 noon, at the ring of a caretaker’s bell and a request for swimmers to get out of the water, schools of fish are fed, which is a real treat for tourists! No one is allowed to swim in the river by five in the afternoon. It is said that locals believe that this is the time that spirits use the water for themselves. The same spirits take care of the pristine water.
If stories are true, then Hinatuan River is truly enchanted.
2. Puerto Princesa Underground River
This is, by far, the most popular, if not the most visited river in the list. This subterranean river is located in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The river offers visitors front row seats to the St. Paul Underground River Cave, a 24-kilometre journey with fascinating views.
3. Loboc River
This beautiful river snakes through Bohol Province in the Visayas. It is one of the major tourist destinations in the Philippines. The source of this river is located at the centre of Bohol in a place called Carmen. The surrounding greens play between the colour of dark to light green. Visitors take a VIP seat to nature’s beautiful wonder through a river cruise with a floating restaurant.
4. Rio Grande de Mindanao
This river is the second largest river system in the Philippines. It is also the second longest river, which is why it is a very important transportation channel on the island. It is mainly used to transport agricultural products, and previously, timber.
The water sets up great scenery of coconut trees, quaint huts, and the backdrop of a majestic mountain. It’s just like looking at a postcard, except that this one cannot be mailed. Any traveller who visits this river will surely be enchanted by its serenity.
5. Davao River
On a clear day, the sky is mirrored in the calm waters of Davao River. It is a river basin – one of the eight river catchments in Mindanao and the largest. The river stretches for 143 kilometres, and the main source originates as far as the Salug River of Bukidnon. Davao River is actually the main natural reservoir of the aquifer in Davao City.
Not only is Davao River a good place to hang out and appreciate the serene waters, it is also a good location for white water rafting.
6. Villa Escudero River
This one is situated in a privately owned resort, but this does not diminish the beauty and experience it can offer to any wanderlust. It is near Manila, a few hours’ drive to San Pablo, Laguna. The resort used to be a coconut plantation and now offers accommodations for tourists wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Manila. If you are lucky enough, rooms with a river side view may be available to book. This is a courtside seat to the serene river.
Visitors are in for a special treat in this resort, as a waterfall and river dining experience is offered. For previous visitors, food is average, but the experience of eating right at the foot of a roaring waterfall and flowing river is one in a million.
7. Panguil River
Panguil River Eco-park was once called Piit Resort in Pangil, Laguna. It was developed into an eco-park with funding from the World Bank, and with the development came the maintenance of the pristine state of the river. The river is fed by the Ambon-ambon falls from upstream, and it flows out to Laguna de Bay.
Riverside cottages are available for visitors to stay in. They also get to dip in the water at their convenience. The foliage surrounding the water frames the river to make an enchanting picture. Visitors also can take pictures with the river flowing below by walking the 20-metre hanging bridge.
8. Pagsanjan Rapids
Where there is a waterfall, there is a river, and a river that is both exhilarating and enchanting. The foamy top created by the rush of the current creates a very dangerous atmosphere for a first-time visitor, yet this is what most people come for. Downstream is a picturesque river with tree-lined river beds and peaks of the rooftops of local residents. Upstream, the roar of the falls is deafening and exhilarating at the same time.