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48 Hours in Samal Island

by Gaby Flores

Make room in your journal of travel plans, because this tropical hideaway needs to be one of your dream destinations.

INSTAGRAM: warrencamitan

Samal Island may not be on everyone’s radar when they think of the Philippines’ tourist spots, but as the largest island in the Davao Gulf, it has a plethora of sites that can satisfy your craving for adventure, rest, and recreation under the sun. Make your two-day stay in this paradise short but sweet with this handy itinerary.

DAY 1

8 AM: Land at Davao International Airport

10 AM: Make your way to Samal Island and check in to your hotel

LUXURY: PEARL FARM RESORT

INSTAGRAM: ninjarod

For a five-star experience of redefined luxury, go to Pearl Farm Marina in Lanang Davao Beach Club, then board a boat to Samal Island (expect 45 minutes of travel time). Take note that this is one of only two trips going from Davao to Pearl Farm daily, so make sure to be there at least 30 minutes before the estimated departure time.

To get to the Marina, ride a taxi to:
Lizada Village, Lanang, Davao City
(082) 234 6987
www.pearlfarmresort.com/Resort/Davao

MID-LEVEL: CHEMA’S BY THE SEA

INSTAGRAM: wendyumpa

To enjoy this Balinese and Filipino-Spanish inspired resort, make prior reservations to board their shuttle which runs from 7 AM - 5 PM daily. Start by making your way to Waterfront Insular Hotel where you’ll find the exclusive shuttle boat that will take you to Chema’s.

To get to the hotel shuttle, ride a taxi to:
Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao
Lanang, Davao City
(082) 233 2881
www.chemasbythesea.com

BUDGET: PARADISE ISLAND

INSTAGRAM: jerrlami

For a fun-filled but budget-friendly stay, Paradise Island is a popular choice among locals and tourists alike. Simply ride a boat from the resort’s private boat terminal at Sasa Wharf, and you’ll find yourselves a mere 15 minutes away from Paradise.

To get to the wharf, ride a taxi to:
Km. 9, 1181 Sasa Wharf
Davao City
www.paradiseislanddavao.com

After resting and unpacking at your resort of choice, it’s time to explore the island. DG Tip: Samal Island can be difficult to navigate, so to effectively get around the island, you should either rent a van for around ₱3,000-3,500, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, ride the habal-habal that are omnipresent on the island and bargain with the drivers for a fair price.

12 NN: Have late lunch at Precious Garden of Samal

INSTAGRAM: mederlss

After a day of swimming and working up an appetite, you can head to Precious Garden of Samal for their wood-fire pizzas, most notably the award-winning Mango Pizza. Enjoy freshly-pressed fruit juices, biodynamic rice, and homemade pasta in the breezy restaurant.

Precious Garden of Samal
Sitio Libudan, Brgy. Miranda
Babak District
(082) 303 2818

2 PM: Hagimit Falls

INSTAGRAM: hendraxu

While not as immense as other popular waterfalls in the country, the small, gentle cascades found in Hagimit Falls provide a gentle sanctuary to rest and rejuvenate. What it may lack in height, it makes up for in its understated beauty. There is a ₱50-peso entrance fee, and you can rent tables for ₱200 and cottages for ₱350.

DG Tip: Bring afternoon snacks with you when you go to Hagimit Falls Nature Park because there aren’t many restaurants or food stores in the area.

6 PM: Monfort Bat Cave

INSTAGRAM: iancapistrano

Monfort Bat Cave holds the Guiness World Record for the largest population of Geoffrey’s Rousette fruit bats. In 2006, the population of bats was at 1.6 million, but as the only remaining protected roost-site for bats on the island, the population has grown over the years. The Bat Sanctuary offers a limited, once-in-a lifetime experience: The Bat Emergence Night Tour, where you can witness millions of bats emerge from the cave for their circadian flight for ₱100.

DG Tip: Cameras are not allowed! Flash photography can blind the bats. Instead, you can use this time to live in the moment and watch all the bats take flight.

Monfort Bat Cave
Sitio Dunggas, Brgy. Tambo
Babak District
(0917) 705 4295
admin@monfortbatsanctuary.org
www.monfortbatsanctuary.org

7:30 PM: Go back to your resort for dinner, a night swim, and peaceful rest.


DAY 2

8 AM: Rise and shine

Wake up bright and early to enjoy a leisurely beachfront breakfast at your resort of choice. Take this opportunity to go around the grounds, take photos, and go on a morning swim.

9 AM: Talicud Island

INSTAGRAM: jhoiye

As its name would suggest, Talicud Island is a small haven hidden behind the main Samal Island. Said to have turquoise waters that can rival other popular beaches in the Philippines, Talicud Island is perfect for getting a tan on the talc-like sand or snorkeling in the waters with family and friends. To fully enjoy the island, you can book a day tour at Isla Reta Beach Resort for ₱100 and rent a tent or a cottage for ₱400. To get there, you can ask the van or your habal-habal to bring you to Kaputian Beach, and from there, get a 30-peso boat ride to Talicud Island.

Isla Reta Beach Resort
Brgy. Sta Cruz, Talicud Island
(0998) 991 6690
facebook.com/IslaReta.Beach

11 AM: Dive or snorkel at the Coral Garden & Marine Reservation Park

INSTAGRAM: jbrians

This 150-hectare park at Talicud Island has a wide array of colorful, live corals and fascinatingly rich biodiversity. The Carabao Dive Center in Davao City offers diving opportunities at the Coral Garden appropriate for even first-timers and beginners. An intro dive is ₱850, inclusive of equipment and your very own dive master.

DG Tip: Bring an underwater camera to commemorate your first dive!

Carabao Dive Center
F. Hermanos Bldg., Sta. Ana Pier
Monteverde St., Davao City
(0928) 504 7642
carabao@divedavao.com
https://divedavao.com

2 PM: Take a dip in the Kawa Hot Bath at Samal Mango Haven

INSTAGRAM: iamhazelmd

At Samal Mango Haven, they believe there’s no better way to detoxify than to soak in the Kawa Hot Bath—the first in Mindanao. For ₱299, visitors can enjoy a 30-minute dip in a large, clay pot steaming over a log fire while being soothed by the sounds of rustling leaves and chirping birds. Take your sweet time at Samal Mango Haven and explore their other spa amenities, like the full body massage (₱400/hr), or venture into the Japanese caves (₱75/head). After you’ve been soaked and pampered to your heart’s content, you can head to their restaurant for a hearty buffet lunch worth ₱450.

DG Tip: Bring your camera because this place is truly insta-worthy, and keep an eye out for their heavenly Mango Humba.

Samal Mango Haven
Babak, Island Garden City of Samal
(0945) 107 8474
facebook.com/SamalMangoHaven

4:30 PM: Preserve the memory of your trip at the Blue Bird View Deck

INSTAGRAM: crissslyn

For only ₱10, commemorate your trip with a photo set against the beautiful Samal Island at the Blue Bird View Deck.

6 PM: Grab dinner and drinks at The Bahay Kubo Bar and Restaurant

INSTAGRAM: pingdayo

Contrary to what its name might suggest, The Bahay Kubo is a bijou restaurant run by Swiss national, Chef Alphonse. Here, you can dine al fresco in the little bahay kubos while enjoying tuna tartare, quiche Lorraine, or beef stroganoff. Enjoy the menu that changes based on the freshest seasonal ingredients available, and wash it all down with a glass of wine from their selection.

Bahay Kubo Bar and Restaurant
Penaplata, Samal Island
(next to Fernandez Beach)
(0999) 663 4703

Want to explore more of Davao? Discover the 12 Davao Sights You Definitely Need to See.

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About Gaby
Gaby is a 21-year-old medical student with an insatiable desire to travel the world. Follow her on Instagram @gabrielleflores.

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