I believe that ultimately, the only things we regret in life are the things we did not do. And was I very grateful that I did not let my ambivalence take over when it came to whitewater river tubing during my trip in Davao. I had imagined that river tubing would be more or less a very chill activity based on a couple of images I’d seen with people holding cocktails while doing it. So, it was a real surprise when I found out that river tubing is one adrenaline-pumped activity. And definitely one of the best things to do in Davao!
River Tubing Preparations
After some online research, we determined that the river tubing in Davao City that we are looking for is operated by Layak Paanod. We were able to secure a slot for our second day in Davao via text message. We were advised to don protective clothing like rash guards, leggings and aqua shoes. Unfortunately for me, I did not bring any leggings so I ended up wearing some board shorts. Good thing Jam brought her aqua shoes and I was able to borrow them.
On the day itself, we made sure to eat a heavy breakfast because we were expecting that the river tubing activity would last for 3 hours (and it did!). Since we rented out a car for our stay in Davao, we just searched for “Layak Paanod” in Waze and we were off to an hour-long ride.
When we arrived at the Layak Outdoor Shop, we found out that we will be boarding a multicab in order to get to the river. A short hike was also involved. Once we were at the river banks, orientation began. Team Layak Paanod was a bit worried for us because it had rained a lot the previous day and the water on the river was significantly higher than usual. We were lectured on the various positions and techniques that would guarantee our safe passage. We also did some minor stretching exercises to minimize any next-day aches and pains. Then after some river blessing, we were off.
Here are some videos of us while river tubing (please select HD for better resolution):
When I say “Jump!” you jump
There was a total of 8 rapids and we were able to do four different types of rides: solo, double, triple and caterpillar. At one of the stops, we had the chance to do a bit of canyoneering (or something like that). We climbed up one of the river banks and we jumped from there. I haven’t had the chance to do this in Cebu but I’ve been looking forward to doing it. Weirdly enough, while I was there, I was terrified. I mean, I’m no stranger to diving since I like diving into swimming pools, but jumping off a cliff (no matter how low) seemed like an entirely different matter. Hahaha! Of course, we had life vests and someone was waiting at the bottom of the jump but I was quite worried about catching my back on the rock outcropping. Take a look at my photos and see me jump incorrectly (face-slamming-water-type). I’m so glad I did not fracture my nose).
Tips on River Tubing in Davao City
- The recommended attire of rash guard, leggings and aqua shoes is really best for this activity.
- Note however that the sharp rocks at the hiking part will poke through your aqua shoes.
- Listen to the guides during orientation. They only want you to be safe and also to have the most fun.
- For GoPro users, spit on your camera to avoid water drops from ruining your photos. Half of mine are useless because I refused to do this.
- No need to worry about taking photos because Layak Paanod has its official photographer. You can bring a memory card for them to use, or you can bring a USB so you can transfer the photos there at the computer shop beside Layak Outdoors.
- Do not forget to apply sunblock.
- Bring snacks and water. You can put these on the pocket of the life vests.
- Relax, don’t overthink and have fun!
Commuting to Layak Outdoor Shop
- From the Davao City downtown area, take a taxi to Bangkerohan then alight at the Phoenix Gas Station.
- Beside Phoenix is the L300 Van terminal going to Calinan. Pay for your P45 fare at the terminal’s cashier.
- Inside the van, advise the driver that your stop is at the Layak Outdoor Shop, across the Calinan Elementary School. Travel time is estimated to be at least 40 minutes to Calinan.
- The Layak Outdoor Shop is on the right side of the road.
Datu Ubing St., Calinan, Davao City
Rate: P600 per head, minimum of 6 pax
March 12, 2016