Just a few minutes away from the huge city of Davao in Mindanao, Philippines is the peaceful and quiet island of Samal. This island garden is actually composed of 7 islets and is among the most unspoilt places in the country. You’d be surprised at the beauty that this place has to offer – it’s the perfect getaway for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Check our suggestions of best things to do in Samal and start planning your grand trip now!
1. Visit Monfort Bat Cave
Bats aren’t really something to be scared about, at least not when they are just the fruit-eating kind. One of the most visited attractions on Samal Island are these bat caves made up of four holes that are connected to each other. It would take a lot of courage for one to even get close to the holes, due to the pungent smell coming from their poop. The temperatures inside the caves are also very high, and you need special equipment to get inside.
Monfort Bat Cave
Address: Sitio Dunggas, Brgy. Tambo, Babak District, Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS), Davao del Norte
Price: 100 PHP (2 USD) for adults / 40 PHP (0.80 USD) for kids 4-15 years old
Opening Hours: 8am - 5pm. Daily.
Contact: +63 822866958
Website: Monfort Bat Sanctuary
2. Take a dip at Hagimit Falls
Being a tropical country, an invitation to have a dip in the water in the Philippines is often irresistible. Experiencing the small cascades and waterfalls of Hagimit will take a lot of effort, as you will have to go down a number of steps (and climb back up later on) but I can guarantee that it will all be worth it in the end. The cool waters are extremely refreshing, you probably will not want to get out.
Address: Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte
Price: 40 PHP (0.80 USD) for adults / 20 PHP (0.40 USD) for 4-7 year olds
Facebook: Hagimit Falls and Nature Park
3. Get adventurous at Maxima Aquafun Resort
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Are you feeling adventurous? What do you think about sliding down a 40-meter (131 feet) slide before plunging yourself into a 37-meter (120-feet) deep sea? That’s just the start, of course! This awesome hotel resort on the island also offers a lot of other adventure activities, including water blobs, banana slides and canopy walks. You can also camp overnight inside!
Maxima Aquafun Resort
Address: Barangay Cawag, Peñaplata, Island Garden City of Samal
Price: from 300 PHP (6 USD) for adults / 200 PHP (4 USD) for 5-12 year olds
Contact: +63 822861054
Website: Maxima Aquafun Resort
4. Climb the island's highest peak
Going up a mountain is probably the last thing on your mind when visiting an island, right? Samal offers both beaches and mountains, although its highest peak, Mount Puting Bato, is rather low at only 534 m (1,755 feet). Still, the butt-numbing motorcycle ride and the unobstructed view of the entire island will make it a worthy adventure to add to your itinerary.
Mount Puting Bato
Access: From Peñaplata, ride a motorcycle to Sitio Tayapoc. From there, follow the trail going up to the summit of Mount Puting Bato.
Website: Mount Puting Bato
5. Camp at the public beach
If you want to laze around with the sea just a few meters away, definitely head on to the island’s famous public beach. Kaputian Beach is named so because of its white sands. It is the perfect place for budget travelers as you can pitch your tent here for a very minimal cost. There is a market nearby where you can buy your food supplies, then you can cook them and gather around the campfire before capping off the night.
6. See the Vanishing Island
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
The Vanishing Island, which you can see on your way to the island from Sasa Wharf in Davao City, is a marine protected reserve. It is full of mangrove trees and can only be seen during low tide. However, it is still possible to walk around the island during high tide but you will have to do so in ankle-deep waters. Or you can simply opt to go snorkeling or diving and explore its underwater treasures.
Website: Vanishing Island
7. Head to the neighboring Talicud Island
If you want even more peace and quiet than what Samal Island can offer and want to be lost in your thoughts, I suggest you head out to the neighboring island of Talicud. The name itself suggests that the island is located at the back of Samal. It can be slightly tricky to get there especially when you do it very late in the afternoon or early evening (the waves tend to be stronger as well) but you will fall in love with this beauty the moment you step on it. One particular resort (which still maintains a natural setup) allows you to pitch your tent and cook your own food making it perfect for budget travelers!
Website: Talicud Island
8. Islands Banca Cruises Davao
Enjoy a half-day island hopping tour or an entire day of luxury cruising in and around the Samal Islands. Expect to visit premier diving sites and snorkeling destinations like Talikud Island, Babu Santa Minwall Dive Site, Isla Reta, Coral Garden, and Angels Cove. You may choose your cruise style as they offer special tour packages and services such as sunset cruises and Lechon or barbecue picnics on-board the boat. They also design tours with themed parties and candlelit dinner for two. This activity comes with water-based adventures such as snorkeling, scuba diving, fish feeding, sea kayaking, and dolphin watching.
Islands Banca Cruises Davao
Address: Pearl Farm Marina Jetty, Lizada Drive, Lanang, 8000 Davao City
Website: Islands Banca Cruises Davao
9. Pearl Farm Beach Resort
Enjoy a luxurious escapade while experiencing the Mindanaoan inimitable hospitality at Pearl Farm Beach Resort. Relax during your staycation on air-conditioned rooms that are designed with traditional and local materials. Prepare yourself for a gastronomic feast at Maranao restaurant their in-house dining establishment and delight in their exquisite cuisines. If you want to have a 360-degree view of the resort, then you may hang out on its bar. During your staycation, indulge in a pampering massage at the spa and enjoy activities such as swimming, canoeing, and beach volleyball. Diving, fishing, and windsurfing, as well as sightseeing tours, may also be arranged for you.
Pearl Farm Beach Resort
Address: Bo. Adecor, Kaputian District, Island Garden City of Samal
Website: Pearl Farm Beach Resort
10. Balete and Mangongawong caves
Explore and be mystified as you spelunk on the caves of Samal. Some of the famous caves here are Balete and Magongawong caves which will offer you trails of excitement. Meanwhile, be amazed by the Baga cave as it resembles an undersea tunnel. The fun part in exploring these caves is that you’ll never know what you’ll find around each corner. You are only following your guide and depending on your flashlight. Also, you’ll get to walk and crawl on spaces that will reveal interesting rock formations, and encounter critters along your way. Exploring these dark caves will surely provide you an adrenaline rush.
Discover it yourself!
Whew. I could go on and on about everything else you can do on the island. But then again, wouldn’t it be better if you just went ahead with the trip and experience it all for yourself? Try some of the suggestions of places and activities in this list and discover the rest for yourself. And don’t forget to take your camera! You will come back with great memories to share.
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