Here’s my latest budget travel blog about Samal Island and Davao City! In this travel guide, you will get a sample 3 days itinerary, a breakdown of expenses, as well as my recommended accommodation and local tour guide.
You will also get to know what makes this place so special and why you should visit as soon as you can. Get ready to be amazed and fall in love with this naturally rich and highly urbanized city in the south. And now, let’s explore the best things to do in Davao, specifically in the part of Samal Island and Davao City!
Davao City is such an amazing place that when you experience it, you will be in awe of its beauty. The things you will experience here cannot be found in any area of the Philippines. Davao City is one of the safest first-class city in the Philippines. The police and military presence in Davao is very tight and they pride themselves on following the rules.
If it is that time when you begin to yearn for your feet in the sand, remember Davao city is just a few kilometers away by boat in the Philippines. You can pack a bag for a day or two and come enjoy this eye-catching beaches. This City will make it worth your while with their water activities.
Apart from being known as the largest city in the world at one point in time and the City for trading in the Philippines, it is also called the City of “Durian” – the nutritious fruit. Let’s not also forget the mouthwatering meal, amazing tourist spots and friendly people that comes with visiting this city.
President Duterte’s, whose original hometown is Davao, has done amazing work in developing this beautiful city.
Now you will know why visiting this popular tourist spot is so dear to my heart and why you should go visit as fast as you can. I will tell you where you should stay when you visit this amazing city in the following paragraphs. Get ready to be swept off your feet.
MORE INFO ABOUT DAVAO
Language: Most of the local tour guide can speak Tagalog but their common dialect is Bisaya.
Mode of Payment: It is best to bring cash because there are only a few ATMs in Samal Island.
Safety: There are policemen and military visibility so rest assured that it is safe to explore around. Roads are concrete, locals are friendly and accommodating.
BEST TIME TO VISIT DAVAO
If you are thinking about when to go to Davao City then go visit when the weather is favorable with the best of activities and you can make and soak in all the memorable experience without having to worry about any hassle.
Summer is simply the best time for anyone and tourists to have fun in Davao city. Summertime in Davao is known as “typhoon-free” – even though it is, let’s not forget that this period is the rainy season in Davao City. The rain is minimal and you can very much enjoy your stay here.
Have you heard about the Kadayawan Festival? It’s an annual popular Dabawenyos festival that takes one week stretch in the month of August. Come visit at this time of the year to see how the Dabawenyos celebrate life and gratitude for their harvest.
The month of August is also called the fruit season. Durian, Mangosteen, Marang, Rambutan, and other tropical fruits are abundant during this month and very cheap.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
- Samal Island: local transportation is via habal-habal and bus
- Davao City: taxi, jeepneys, and tricycles
- Davao City to Samal: pump boat and RORO, either of the following routes
a. Sasa Ferry Boat Landing – 10 mins ride from Davao Airport and 30 mins ride from downtown Davao City
b. Panacan Ferry Landing – 15 mins drive from Davao Airport and 35 mins ride from Davao City
c. Km. 11, Sasa Public Market
d. Sta. Ana Wharf, Magsaysay, Davao City
e. SamCo Building, Bangoy St., Davao City – modern aircon and non-aircon buses that will take you directly to Samal Island via Sasa Ferry Boat
WHERE TO STAY?
For this itinerary, I personally recommend you to book in one of the cheapest resort in Samal Island.
Name of Accommodation: La Vida Orchard Samal Bed and Breakfast
Rate: Native Quadruple Room: 2,092 per night/4 pax (one-time cleaning and service charge excluded)
Read our experience: Where to Stay in Samal Island: La Vida Orchard
How to book?
1. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, sign up first via bit.ly/RIZANOIA to make sure you are getting a 1,600 PHP discount on your first Airbnb experience.
2. Go to La Vida Orchard room availability and choose your dates of stay.
3. Agree with the terms and double check information.
4. Check-out using your debit or credit card. Don’t worry Airbnb is completely safe.
5. Communicate with the owner for other concerns.
1. If you don’t have a Booking.com account yet, sign up first.
2. Go to La Vida Orchard room availability and choose your dates of stay.
WHERE TO EAT?
Just tell your local guide/tricycle driver to bring you in a carinderia that offers ihaw-ihaw or home-made Filipino dishes hat cost around 60 to 100 PHP per meal on average.
Nearby restaurants and eatery from La Vida Orchard:
– The Tuna Lounge
– DM Foodhauz
– Farmers V Resto & Grill
Buy ingredients and snacks at the nearest market and cook it at La Vida Orchard (free of charge).
3D/2N SAMAL & DAVAO CITY ITINERARY
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL, TALICUD ISLAND
Supposedly our arrival time should be 9am, but due to a delayed flight, we arrived at Davao Airport at 11am. As a result, our itinerary began a little late. But before we start our journey, the first thing we did was to eat at the nearest carinderia for lunch. After an hour, we took a taxi going to Sta. Ana Wharf.
How to get to Talicud Island from Davao Airport?
1. Ride a taxi (parked outside the airport) and tell the driver to drop you off at Sta. Ana Wharf. Travel time is 20 minutes and the taxi fare is around 190 PHP.
***Please take note that before entering the gate of Sta. Ana Wharf, you need to pay 5 PHP each for an environmental fee for Monfort Bat Sanctuary.
2. At Sta. Ana Wharf, take a boat heading to Isla Reta or Sta. Cruz Wharf. Travel time is almost an hour and the boat fee is at 70 PHP for Davao-Kaputian-Talikud route.
Since our trip was on weekdays the boat didn’t leave until it was full. It took an hour waiting for more passengers before it leaves. Check HERE for Sta. Ana Wharf – Isla Reta boat schedule.
We arrived at almost 3pm at Sta. Cruz Wharf. For assurance, we asked some locals about the departure time for the last boat going to Kaputian Beach since our accommodation is at Samal Island. They answered us back that it is 4pm. So we hurried up seeing Isla Reta by riding a habal-habal. We still pay 100 PHP entrance fee even though we knew that we only have less than 1 hour of stay. No swimming happened. We just took land and aerial shots for 30 minutes to catch up the 4pm boat schedule going to Kaputian Beach. Read more: Talicud Island Travel Guide
As to my observation, Isla Reta in Talicud Island is a long stretch of fine white sand beach. Water is clean enough to be mistaken as a swimming pool, especially if you haven’t gone to the beach for a long time. Don’t hesitate to take a dip in the water, snorkel, dive and appreciate an underwater experience in its sparkling waters. Please do it for us if you’re reading this.
Everything is peaceful on this island and is perfect for a getaway after a week of work. So when you decide to visit Samal, don’t forget to include Talicud Island in your bucket list.
MORE INFO ABOUT ISLA RETA
Entrance Fee: 100 PHP
What to do: snorkeling, helmet diving, swim
Day Tour Swimming Time: 6am-5pm
Activity Rate: Helmet Diving – 400 PHP/20 minutes
How to get there: From Sta. Cruz Wharf, ride a habal-habal (10 PHP) and drop off at Isla Reta. It is also walkable for 5 minutes.
DAY 2 – SAMAL ISLAND
For our second day in Davao, we contacted Kuya Manuel ahead of time to help us on our Samal Tour. He’s partner and a friend Kuya Ricky guided us on this day since Kuya Manuel is assisting another group. We availed Package B (Inland and Island Hopping). At the end of this second day itinerary, you will see his contact number, tour rate and other details.
Located at the southwest, facing the northern tip of Talikud Island, Kaputian Beach considers itself as the most popular beach in Samal. A welcoming preserved remains of a Dugong (Manatee) at the entrance gate reminds visitors how sufficient the waters of this island used to be. You should get space under the shade of trees and start beach bumming.
CORAL GARDEN MARINE PARK
There are some reasons why tourists visit the beautiful Coral Garden Marine Park. First of all, it’s a great place for beautiful diving spots for scuba diving. Secondly, Coral Garden Marine Park is blessed with natural attractions, abundant marine life, fauna, and flourishing flora. In fact, this area is home to 53 out of 73 genera of corals and 9 species out of 13 species of seagrasses and to about 250 species of aquarium fish. Read more: Coral Garden Marine Park Travel Guide
SIGHTSEEING PEARL FARM BEACH
Pearl Farm Beach is a very popular beach that is among the top list of tourist destinations in the Philippines.
If you want to enjoy some peace and quiet away from your regular surroundings, this beautiful resort has the serene and unique beach atmosphere to die for. You will find yourself coming back again and again.
You will also enjoy its 5-star hotel with a breathtaking view, swimming pool, healthy food restaurant, and bar. Pearl farm beach resort in Davao is the place to go. Read more: Sightseeing in Pearl Farm Beach Resort
TAKLOBO GIANT CLAM SANCTUARY
The Taklobo Giant Clam Sanctuary is currently under the protection of Davao del Norte State College. Spanning across the 14-hectare sea of Barangay Acedor, is a marine sanctuary with more than 3,700 giant clams. It is one of the exciting spots for you to visit in the Island Garden City of Samal. Read more: Giant Clam Sanctuary Travel Guide
Wishing Island is owned by the Joaquin family. It is one of the magnificent tourist destinations in Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte, Philippines. Read more: Wishing Island Travel Guide
It got its name as the locals describe the island as an abode of enchanted beings. But over the years Christianity has taken root in the island, in 1976 visiting nuns planted a cross in the island. In 2014 a statue of Our Lady of Holy Rosary was consecrated making the island a sacred ground.
For a boat fee of 200 pesos, one can explore the small island and also dip in
the water but be careful as spiny sea urchins abound.
The Island of Malipano is found inside Pearl Farm Beach and it is also part of the Samal Garden City. You will experience that tranquility in this breathtaking island. If you have enough budget to fill up your beach hunger, just remember there is just that absolute destination, which is Malipano Island.
There are lots of water activities here. You will be treated with the utmost comfort with their private accommodations and you will not find so many interlopers by the sea so you can enjoy yourself however you like. There is also a beautiful lawn for you to relax and loosen up. You will enjoy your stay here and thank me later.
This cliff diving is definitely not for the faint-hearted. This 30 feet rocky edged cliff invites brave hearts to plunge into the sapphire waters of Davao Gulf.
You have to take a leap of faith. This is exactly what you are going to need when you take that jump in Sabang cliff.
It has been getting a lot of attention from tourists, visitors, locals, etc. For marine life lovers and thrill seekers, this place is the place for you to visit. It is great for anyone who wants to go scuba diving and those who want to just experience cliff jumping. But the very exciting experience is to take that jump in at least one of its three jumping spots.
The best thing about it is that Sabang Cliff is free. Yes, no entrance fee needed. All you need is the guts to really take that jump.
BLUEBIRD VIEW DECK
This is another awesome place to witness an overlooking view of Samal Island in Davao. There is an entrance fee of only Php 10 per person. There also have cottages here where you can eat lunch while enjoying the view. Bluebird View Deck is an observatory in Samal overlooking the Pearl Farm Beach Resort that resides in an island called Malipano – a high-end, exclusive resort with a golf course, pools, and villas. From the deck, you can even see the Wishing Island, Taklobo Giant Clam Sanctuary, and the South Malipano island within sight.
You can find Hagimit Falls in the City of Samal within the province of Davao Del Norte. Tourists mostly come through Davao City.
Hagimit Falls is an unusual waterfall. There are several levels of waterfalls – about 5 or 6 levels of waterfalls so far. You can get a life vest for the deep ends.
You can rent a room or cottage. Cottages have different prices. The cheapest they have is Php150. This is where they cook pinaypay and banana cue.
There are stores here selling snacks, food, bottled water, cigarettes, soft drinks, etc. We buy from the locals rather than bring/carry heavy items like food and water because communities like this survive through tourism. And they don’t have exorbitant prices so it’s not really that much of a burden to the budget.
The stores here only sell packaged food and drinks. You won’t be able to buy fresh meat or fresh fish. So if you want a barbecue or grill some fish you should bring your own or they can cook for you for a fee. Read more: Hagimit Falls Travel Guide
Dip into the cold cascades of Hagimit Falls. It is an alternative swimming spot for those who want to get rid of the scorching hot beaches of Samal.
Our host in La Vida Orchard recommends to us Kuya Manuel as the local tour guide in Samal Island. What’s good is Kuya Manuel’s place is just near La Vida Orchard. He’s one message away if we need his service to tour us in the island. Below are his contact details and tour rate for 4 pax. The rate varies depending on how many you are in the group.
Manuel Jan Sagario
0955 513 6976
SAMAL TOUR RATE FOR 4 PAX (Inland and Island Hopping)
1575 PHP/pax (car)
1300 PHP/pax (tricycle)
Bluebird View Deck
Coral Garden Marine Park
Giant Clam Sanctuary
Sightseeing Pearl Farm Beach Resort
Pick-up Point: Samal Wharf or La Vida Orchard
Table falls (optional)
Guide falls (optional)
“Kung may wala na gusto nyo puntahan, pwede natin isali just add lang ng entrance fee”, as Kuya Manuel said.
DAY 3 – DAVAO CITY, DEPARTURE
DAVAO CROCODILE PARK & ZOO
One of the most prominent tourist destinations in Davao City is the Crocodile Park & Zoo, which is home to thousands of crocodiles. Yes, thousands of crocodiles! They have both freshwater and saltwater crocs that are bred and conceived on site. You can also visit the incubator room where you’ll see hundreds of crocodile eggs growing baby crocs.
ROXAS NIGHT MARKET
Roxas Night Market is a market that happens every night of every day of the week. This started about a year ago with just a few stalls and now the entire Roxas Avenue is packed with stalls selling all kinds. From food to shoes, even massage stations.
One of the most popular features of the Roxas Night Market Is Mang Danny’s Ice Cream which has gained super popularity in the past few months. They say it’s very good, just like Italian gelato. Though I haven’t really had the time to taste it because there’s always a very long queue to get just a scoop of Mang Danny’s Ice Cream.
There is a lot of street food for sale here. If you are a lover of street food and you don’t have the stomach sensitivities, this would be a heaven for you. I really enjoyed the street food, from Grilled, barbecued, seafood, deep-fried, steamed, potato curls, balut, dimsum, whatever it is you want. If you’re up for all these goodies, then Roxas Night Market is the place. The ukay-ukay part of the night market is a plus.
So now you might ask, is it safe to come here? Yes, it is very safe. There are a lot of officers roaming around in an outpost and patrol cars right in the middle of the night market to keep people safe. So yes it is very safe.
SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Here’s the suggested 3D2N Samal and Davao City itinerary and assumes that you will arrive Davao by 8am so you can have enough time to enjoy Talicud Island as the first destination.
Day 1 – Talicud Island
6:00 AM: ETD Manila Airport
8:00 AM: ETA Davao Airport, breakfast
9:00 AM: take a taxi
9:30 AM: ETD Sta. Ana Wharf
10:30 AM: Isla Reta Talicud Island; enjoy the beach
12:00 PM: Lunch
3:00 PM: Ride a boat going to Kaputian Beach
3:30 PM: Ride a habal-habal going to La Vida Orchard
4:00 PM: ETA La Vida Orchard, late check-in
7:00 PM: Dinner
Day 2 – Samal Island
6:30 AM: Breakfast, prepare for Island Hopping and Land Tour
8:00 AM: Meet your local tour guide
8:30 AM: ETA Kaputian beach
START OF ISLAND HOPPING
– Coral Garden Marine Park
– Sightseeing Pearl Farm Beach Resort
– Giant Clam Sanctuary
– Wishing Island
– Malipano Island
– Sabang Cliff
12:00 PM: Lunch
START OF INLAND TOUR
– Bluebird View Deck
– Balete tree
– Hagimit falls
5:00 PM: End of tour
7:00 PM: Dinner
Day 3 – Davao City
7:00 AM: Breakfast
8:00 AM: Visit nearby beach
12:00 PM: Check-out, lunch
1:00 PM: ETD Central Warehouse Terminal
2:30 PM: ETA Davao City, take a taxi
3:00 PM: Davao Crocodile Park & Zoo
5:30 PM: Take a taxi
6:00 PM: Dinner at Roxas Night Market, shopping
8:00 PM: Take a taxi
9:30 PM: ETD Davao Airport
11:30 PM: ETA Manila Airport
Here’s an estimated breakdown of expenses for 3 days and 2 nights and assumes the following:
– You’re a party of 4, splitting some expenses.
– Your accommodation budget for 2 nights is 5,020 PHP that will be divided by 4 pax, so prepare to shell out 1,255 PHP for 2 nights.
- Taxi from Davao Airport to Sta. Ana Wharf: 50 PHP (200 PHP/4 pax)
- Boat from Sta. Ana Wharf to Sta. Cruz Wharf: 70 PHP
- Habal-habal from Sta. Cruz Wharf to Isla Reta: 20 PHP (2-way ride)
- Boat from Sta. Cruz Wharf to Kaputian Beach: 30 PHP
- Habal-habal from Sta. Cruz Wharf to La Vida Orchard: 100 PHP
- Tricycle from LVO to a carinderia for dinner: 80 PHP (2 nights back and forth)
- Tricycle from LVO to Central Warehouse Terminal: 20 PHP
- Non-aircon bus from Terminal to Davao City: 60 PHP
- Taxi to Davao Crocodile Park: 50 PHP (200 PHP/4 pax)
- Taxi to Roxas Night Market: 50 PHP (200 PHP/4 pax)
- Taxi to Davao Airport: 50 PHP (200 PHP/4 pax)
- Entrance Fees, Activities, etc.:
- Environmental Fee: 5 PHP
- Samal Island Tour via Tricycle: 1,300 PHP
- Entrance Fees:
– Isla Reta: 100 PHP
– Davao Crocodile Park: 300 PHP
- Accommodation: 1255 PHP for 2 nights (5020 PHP/4 pax)
- Food: 700 PHP (estimated 100 PHP/meal)
TOTAL: 4,240 PHP
To sum up, I can’t believe that I’ve visited different islands and beaches and also tried different activities for a total budget of 4,240 PHP. Samal Island should be in your bucket list when visiting Davao! Hope to visit again and explore more of Davao City tourist attractions and other provinces of Davao Region.