Rivers play an important role in the lives of people who live close to them. In Tagum City, Davao del Norte, rivers don’t just support livelihood but the local tourism as well.
Banana Beach Resort is a luxury special interest resort located inside a banana plantation. The sprawling property is located at the heart of the Davao Gulf, with the Madaum River slicing through it as it empties into the sea. As guests approach the resort, it is hard not to notice the serene river; one has to pass through the only bridge that links the resort to the mainland.
I noticed the Madaum River and its peaceful aura on our way to Banana Beach Resort. We had to stop in the middle of the bridge so I can drink in its beauty and take a few photos. But the stop was cut short by another vehicle that needed to cross the one-way bridge. Disappointed, I vowed to stop by again on our way out.
My disappointment was soon replaced by elation as I learned that we would be taking the Banana Beach Resort River Tour later that day. It was to be a hectic Monday, but an adventurous one nonetheless. I started my exploration of Banana Beach Resort with an educational tour through Hijo’s banana plantation. Shortly after, we took the Forest Tour which brought us close to monkeys, wild boars, and a Hunger Games-like forest with Temple Run-ish trees. The Banana Beach Resort River Tour was the perfect end to an action-packed day.
I was expecting the river tour to be much like the typical river tour: cramped in an outrigger banca with water spraying on our faces and the wind messing up my hair. So I was surprised and thoroughly pleased to find out that we were doing it in style. On a first-class pontoon with plush seats and a butler serving drinks!
We were a party of six adults and a toddler, seated comfortably with much room to spare. With the relaxing hum of the motor as background music, we started our journey through the serene Madaum River lined with mangrove trees on both sides. It was such a sight to behold, the bluish green river water looked so peaceful that thoughts of crocs will never cross your mind. There are in fact, no crocs in this river so there’s really nothing to fear.
Our knowledgeable guide Jake pointed out the different mangrove species growing along the banks of the river and how much they contribute to the local ecosystem. This much I know thanks to hours of watching nature channels and reading encyclopedias (nerd alert!) But if truth be told, I was much too distracted with the utter beauty that was before me. There was something about the river that’s so relaxing I was tempted to close my eyes and just listen to the engine, the water and the unseen birds.
The Banana Beach Resort River Tour goes into a distance inland before circling back and following the river until it meets the Davao Gulf. Aside from the different species of mangrove trees (you can tell by the shape of their leaves), we also passed by homes of Kalagans, the local tribe who make a living by catching freshwater fish, crabs and prawns in the river. There were traps set in some places, and every now and then, we passed by two-seater bancas by the riverbanks. The tribe is supported by the provincial and local government, providing them with livelihood programs and equipment.
As we approached the mouth of the river where Lanikai Resort is located, the friendly butler started serving snacks (nachos with homemade salsa) and fresh buko juice which is also a product of their plantation. The snacks are part of the regular tour package which costs P500 per person for a minimum of 4 persons.
The Banana Beach Resort River Tour (or any activity within the resort for that matter) is supervised by well-trained staff. I noticed that we were followed by a small banca the entire time; as it turns out, they were our security detail. Banana Beach Resort’s staff are nothing but thorough when it comes to treating their guests!
After about an hour, our relaxing tour of the Madaum River came to a close. We stopped by The Spot, the property’s fishing area which also has a restaurant of the same name. We would have loved to do some fishing but it was starting to drizzle. The rain was in fact just a prelude to the heavy downpour we experienced the next day.
Needless to say, we never got the chance to catch some lapu-lapu before we left Tagum City. But I’m glad I was able to experience the Banana Beach Resort River Tour. I loved all the tours and appreciated everything I learned from each but the River Tour gave me something else.
The tour gave me the chance to commune with nature in its purest form again. It was truly a relaxing experience, something you should have too. And very soon, I hope!
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Have you ever gone on a river cruise? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!