The Philippines is well-known for its many attractive islands but interestingly enough, despite the hundreds of islands that it has to offer, there are still a few which seem to stand above the rest. Samal Island is one of these and because of its unspoiled beauty, it has enticed countless of visitors each year.
There is absolutely nothing like Samal Island. Its beauty, serene surroundings and the wildlife treasure it has to offer is like no other. The thing is, you will not get to appreciate it until you actually experience it for yourself. And when you do, you will see paradise.
Samal Island is located in Davao del Norte and is considered to be a 2nd class city. Since it has numerous lush gardens and nature-filled sceneries, it is known as the Island Garden City of Samal, or IGaCoS.
Photo by martin_romano
Why Not Go
Samal Island, as mentioned above, is a 2nd class city which means that it does not have a lot of shops, restaurants, and most of the features of a 1st class metropolis. If you thrive and long for the city lights, this may not be the perfect place for you. Moreover, convenience is not one of its best points.
Just because it is Samal. Being one of the top tourist destinations in the country and boasting of sparkling waters, white sand beaches, private islets and caves- who could resist? It is also home to Pearl Farm Beach Resort which is one of the places Davao is most famous for. It is where you can laze around all day, frolic in the sand and simply have a good time day or night.
Photo by jokojun
One the finest things about Samal Island is that there is more to it than just great beaches. You can go spelunking, you can go island hopping, or join in the fun during its festivals. Yes, it has a lot of celebrations. So, when you go to Samal, there is no way you can be bored because there is simply so much you can do!
Best Time to Visit
This side of Mindanao is blessed to be free from typhoons all year round but it does have its share of rain showers and windy seasons. The dry months are from December to May, with March being the driest. Rains usually come in between June to November. If you want to get the most of your trip, you should go there during the sunny season.
But, you should also take into consideration that Samal Island has a lot of fiesta celebrations and is in fact even dubbed as the Island of Festivals. Hugyaw Madayaw Samal falls every 29th and 30th of August; the Kabasan Festival, which is a 7-day celebration is on every May 22nd-29th; the Caracoles Festival is held every 28th and 29th of April and is also among the famous festivals in the Philippines where the richness of marine life and the cultural heritage of the people in this island are being highlighted with street dancing, parades, sports competitions and a beauty pageant. There are also other celebrations such as the Bat Festival and the Pangapog which is a thanksgiving celebration to the Sama God held every 1st weekend of August.
There are several resorts in Samal. But the best one there is, is of course Pearl Farm Beach Resort. You can get a room for about $100 per person per night and that is already inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. The food is amazing too so you do not have to worry if you will like them or not. You get a room that is built on stilts right above the waters, so you get to listen to the waves at night plus a fantastic seaside view. There are also cheaper resorts such as the Paradise Island Resort where cabana room rates start at $45.
Photo by Maki Eduardo
Where & What to Eat
You can check out Gimmix Restobar in Babak right along the National Highway where you can savor their fried chicken, pork barbecue and some seafood delicacies. But nothing beats the buffet meals of Maranao Restaurant in Pearl Farm. For only $20 per person, you get about 8 main dish choices, 5 desserts, and a wide array of fresh fruits and salads. The only downside to that is you have to pay for your drinks separately.
There is not much you can do during the evenings here except maybe on weekends when the resorts hold their cultural shows and disco nights. In Pearl Farm, for example, they have a variety show every Saturday night showcasing Filipino songs, dances and traditions and thereafter, you can go karaoke at the Parola Bar just right by the dock. Other than that, you can simply spend a romantic dinner with your loved one in the resort’s restaurant where you can get a breathtaking view of the sea and the night sky.
My to do List
Scuba Diving: There are many wreck sites around Samal. You can go to the islets Talikud and Liguid where you will find beautiful coral reefs and an amazing marine life. In fact, there is a haven for divers in Talikud Island where you will get to experience diving at the 150 hectare Coral Garden and Marine Reservation Park.
Spelunking: Great caves abound in Samal Island and among them are: Balete, Magongawong and Baga Caves. Spelunkers will certainly have the time of their life discovering things and following the trails in any of these caves.
Mountain Climbing: While there is Mt. Apo in Davao which is the highest peak in the country at 10,300 feet, it is a bit far from Samal. The good news is you will find Mt. Putting Bato right on the island where you get to experience the thrills of climbing and be rewarded with a picturesque view of the land, sea and sky once you reach the top.
Island Tour: You can take a cruise around Samal Island and get to see the more than 20 beach resorts scattered all over the 116 kilometer-stretch of white sandy beach.
Photo by jessiefish
There are other things you can do such as fishing, biking and even taking a dip at one of its waterfalls. You can go to the Hagimit Falls which is quite lovely, surrounded with trees and grass. It is a nice place to go to when you want to cool down from the summer heat.
Stay Away From
Samal Island is filled with nice and friendly people so there isn’t really much to be afraid of. Just take precaution with your belongings to make sure nothing gets lost.
PKTan: Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection which is sometimes complicated by hemorrhage or shock. There is no vaccine. Travelers to Samal Island should protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying repellent and keeping themselves covered.
The launch pad is in Davao city which is about 45 minutes away by motorboat. You can go to Sta. Ana Wharf and Km 11 Wharf in Davao where there are small boats and even a ferry (if you are bringing you car). If you are staying in one of the big resorts such as Pearl Farm, they have a separate motorboat for you, which has about 3 trips daily starting at 8am.
If you are trying to get there from Manila or Cebu, you can take a plane to Davao. It has daily flights to and fro the city via Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and Philippine Airlines. You can also get there by sea via Superferry and Sulpicio Lines from Manila or Cebu. Land trip to Davao from Manila is also available via Bicol but it is going to be a very long journey.
Since Davao already has an international airport, you can also get there from Singapore, Macau and Seoul.
Roz Visarra has always been fond of travelling. As a young girl, she would travel with her parents in the Visayas and Mindanao because their relatives are from all these areas. She currently resides in Cebu, the Queen City of the South and looks forward to her next travel.
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