Samal Island: Paradise of the South

·4 min read

While there are many islands in the country with pristine beaches and exquisite sites, few are rarely as interesting as the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.

Nestled in the Davao Gulf, the island is only 15 minutes away by ferry from Davao City in mainland Mindanao. The island has both the resources of a city and a protected rural landscape that makes it one of the more comfortable getaways in the country.

Getting to Samal

Samal is easily accessed through Davao City’s Sasa Wharf. The fare is cheaper than that of a jeepney ride at only P10 for a one-way trip. The Saa Wharf is a 13-minute drive from the airport.

The waiting time for vehicles could be up to two hours on weekends, while walk-in travelers need only to wait for 15 to 30 minutes for each trip on the barge.

There are various tours that can be booked on advanced. Island hoppings are common for big groups starting at a price of P7,000. For inland tours, tricycle tourist guides are available at a starting price of P1,000 for two people.

Kaputian beach

The best public beach in Samal is definitely the Kaputian Beach Park with its long stretch of white fine sand that can rival that of Cebu’s Bantayan Island.

For the affordable entrance and environmental fees, the public beach has basic amenities such as cottages or tents, tables and chairs, comfort rooms, and showers as well.

The Kaputian beach offers a Boracay-like relaxation at a much more budget-friendly price.

Sabang Cliff Diving

For adventurous travelers, the Sabang Cliff is the place to go. The peak of the cliff is around 20 feet high, but jumping points can be found at lower levels around 13 to 15 feet. There is no entrance fee to access the Sabang cliff, but there is a caretaker who lends life vests at P50 each.

The key to enjoying a Sabang cliff dive is to shout, “I love Samal!” before plunging into the sea.

Hagimit Falls

Perhaps the crown glory of the Samal inland tour, the Hagimit Falls is one of the most scenic sites on the island with its cold river rushing through the beautiful landscape. It’s usually crystal clear except when the rain pours and the mud fogs the river. The Hagimit Falls have multiple levels from shallow to deeper areas. On one level, the water rushes rapidly on a set of rock formations causing the river to bubble like a jacuzzi.

On the lower levels, the river is deeper and the falls are higher. Diving and jumping are definitely possible and safe as lifeguards are constantly present during the tour.

An added feature to the Hagimit Falls is the tourist guides/lifeguards who are very much skilled in taking instagrammable photos for the tourists. Don’t forget to tip them as a form of gratitude.

Bat Cave

The Monfort Bat Sanctuary is home to more fruit bats than men. In fact, it is the Guinness World Record holder of the largest Rousette fruit bat colony. While the smell of the bat caves may seem like a bioweapon, it’s also a reminder to respect these bats who serve as pollinators of Mindanao. There are five bat caves showing how the colonies arrange themselves from the hunters to the nesting females to the older bats. The caves are a sight to behold, a true wonder of nature.

Vanishing Island

The final stop for a Samal inland tour is the Vanishing Island. It is a massive sandbar that serves as a station for the Philippine Coast Guard. The sandbar disappears during high tide and reappears during low tide, which is why you must schedule your trip accordingly.

The island is nestled between the mainland and Samal Island, so the view is striking especially when Mt. Apo peeks out from the clouds.

A trip worth the journey

Samal may be far from Cebu, but it’s definitely the escape busy people may need from this bustling metro. If you find yourself in Davao for some reason, visiting Samal should be part of the itinerary. After all, there may only be one chance for you to see the island in a lifetime.

Make the most of it and capture the beauty that this Island Garden City brings.