[Where I’ve Been] Glorious Lake Carolina in Davao Oriental

Louie Lapat
[Where I’ve Been] Glorious Lake Carolina in Davao Oriental
Feast your eyes on this unassuming natural wonder that is just glowing with laid-back charm and beauty


In Where I’ve Been, Rappler features an unforgettable destination perfectly captured in one shot – one beautiful moment forever preserved, one beautiful story told in a photograph.

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Where was this photo taken?

At first glance, this photo looks like the famed Hinatuan Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur. This is actually Lake Carolina located in the quaint town of Baganga in Davao Oriental. 

What’s it like to visit?

Because the town of Baganga is known for its rustic beaches, there’s not a wealth of information out there on Lake Carolina, an unassuming natural wonder that is teeming with the laid-back charm of a rural community. 

A popular picnic spot of locals, Lake Carolina treats its visitors to a solemn date with nature where the only sound you will hear is the soft laughter of people enjoying the lake’s cool brackish water. 

Though called by locals as lake, it is actually a tidal creek where a portion of this “lake” is affected by ocean tides which contributes to the salinity of its water.  

Devoid of any development except for the rickety cottages, Lake Carolina is undeniably a stunning addition to Davao Oriental’s long list of must-see destinations aside from its pristine beaches.

The rustic charm of Lake Carolina is a unique experience, and might force you to dread urban noise for a while.

Photo by Louie Lapat

How to get there?

Getting to Lake Carolina is a treat in itself, as you will be treated to scenic coastal scenes of what is known as “Contra Costa,” referring to the towns of Davao Oriental that are facing the Pacific Ocean. From the provincial capital city of Mati, prepare for a two-and-a-half hour land travel. Van fare costs around 150-200 pesos. 

Tell the driver ahead you’re heading to Lake Carolina so that you will be dropped in Barangay Salingcamot which is located 15 kilometers away before you will reach the town center. From the highway, you can reach the lake within a three-minute walk. There’s no entrance fee! 

Mati City is five hours away from Davao City and bus fare ranges from 400-500 pesos.

Any important tips for travelers?

Since it’s the rainy season, be careful when walking on the side of the lake as it gets slippery. Although there are shallow parts, there are also parts that are more than eight feet deep. As such, swimmers are advised to swim with caution. A rope tied from both ends of the lake will be of help to get you in the middle of the lake. The sight of children and adventure-loving people climbing up trees and then dive to the lake looks cool, but bear in mind that stones and some logs are found in the lake’s bed. Before you dive, make sure the spot is free from any of these objects.

Baganga is a backpacker’s paradise. After enjoying Lake Carolina, make sure to also visit Curtain Falls and San Victor Island, both just located few minutes away from this lake. You may also visit Pusan Point in the nearby town of Caraga. Pusan Point gained prominence for the “millennium sunrise,” the welcome pad of the Philippines for the new millennium back in 2000. Lately, the provincial government there opened the Pusan Point Science Centrum. 

What’s next on your bucket list for PH destinations?

Canyoneering in Southern Cebu is next on my list on July this year, a trip that will also take me and my friends to Dumaguete and Siquijor. Unfortunately, the Cebu provincial government suspended canyoneering activities until August. Batanes still remains a distant dream, as well as the beaches of Tawi-Tawi. Someday, someday. There’s still a lot to explore. – Rappler.com 

More [Where I’ve Been]:

Louie Lapat is a government employee in Tagum City, Davao del Norte where he writes for a local government on weekdays. On weekends, he explores his beloved Mindanao and write accounts about it on his travel blog: dsprinkles.com.

Lake Carolina is definitely a place not to be missed if you are in Davao. In fact, the entire Philippines is a great country to explore and wander. Click here to find holiday deals!

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