The Island Garden City of Samal, or Samal Island, was one of the most famous destinations in Davao del Norte. The very smooth and very affordable transfer from Davao City eased the way to the various destinations and activities all across the island. Which was why, backpacking Samal Island was never a bad idea – even when preparations were rushed.

I arrived at Samal Island Saturday night. Having no reservations beforehand, I turned right as soon as I walked off Samal Ferry Wharf and walked towards the lined resorts in that direction. As expected, all the resorts were fully booked. Then, having contacted a BnB and them confirming a vacancy, I took out dinner and headed to the accommodation.

La Vida Orchard Bed and Breakfast

This BnB was a 15-minute ride from Samal Ferry Wharf for 50 pesos. I generally liked my stay in this BnB that I highly recommend them. If you would go to Samal Island for loud parties and crazy nights then this was not your place. The silence in La Vida Orchard was deafeningly good. At that moment, it was what I came for.

The staffs were professional and accommodating. They were hospitable without overdoing it. The place, although small, was never crowded. It was complete with kitchen utensils you could take advantage of provided you wash or clean them afterwards.

A map of Samal Island plotted with destinations hung openly to the corner of the wall of the dining area. I happened to talk about my plans the next day to a staff and she hooked me up with a habal-habal driver should I be okay with it. Without second thoughts, I contacted the driver.

There were other friendly guests in the place. After chatting with them, I went to my room and took the nap I so badly needed to conclude that tiring day.

Samal Island La Vida Orchard

They served this corn coffee in their free breakfast. If the kettle wouldn’t convince you to try to stay I didn’t know what else would.

I woke up early the following morning. The receptionist informed me last night that there was a nearby public beach in the area. Hoping for a sunrise, I visited the beach and was not disappointed.

Samal Island Sunrise ii

Samal Island Sunrise

Samal Island Habal-habal Tour

Last night, the driver agreed to take me touring even before knowing my destinations. After breakfast, he went to La Vida and I finally told him where I wanted to go. I pretty much put my desired destinations across the island. The common charge for the said whole-day tour was 700-800 pesos. We agreed to a 900-peso tour because of the proximity of Canibad Beach.

Canibad Beach

The winding road to this beautiful beach had proven to be difficult. However, after rough roads and indeed long drive, we arrived to the scorching shore of Canibad Beach. It was an unfortunate day to not have a sunscreen!

The pebbled shore of Canibad Beach contrasted its bluish clear water. Multiple resorts cramped the small cove. On one end of the cove was a diving site where people generally went. Climbable limestone rocks served as diving platform to anyone who wished to dive or jump. It was the liveliest part of the beach!

Samal Island Canibad Beach back

Samal Island Canibad Beach Cliff
Hagimit Falls Nature’s Park

I went to Hagimit Falls two years ago. Nothing changed in that area. Like the previous resort, they did not give me any receipt for my entrance fee nor let me log my name in their record book. What was up with that?

Nevertheless, the falls was likewise filled with people having fun in their weekend. Going solo made you less alone when you were in a place with people having fun; provided, you can relate to their fun. I stayed longer than I intended and on my way up, I bumped into the amazing people I met at La Vida the other night.

Samal Island Hagimit Falls back

Samal Island Hagimit Falls Umbrella
Kaputian Beach Park Resort   

Perhaps the most renowned white-sand beach in the Island, Kaputian Beach was a long drive down the island. What I admired the most in this resort was that I paid 15-pesos, 10-peso entrance fee and 5-peso environmental fee, and got very decent receipt and stub. I hoped the other resorts in the area would follow suit.

The fine white sand in the shore was searing under the burning sun. As if they all reflected the heat they had absorbed then burning the soles of barefoot beach goers. Only few people braved the heat and took a dip to the likewise clear blue water of Kaputian Beach.

Talikud Island could be seen from the resort. Having been to that Island last year, I could only rewind the fun memories and raw beauty of nature that that Island also has had.

Samal Island Kaputian Beach iii

Samal Island Kaputian Beach overlooking Talikud

As I prepared to go to the next destination, drizzles came. Nevertheless we continued driving to the nearby view deck overlooking Malipano Islet.

Samal Island Viewdeck back
Monfort Bat Sanctuary

My last destination was the Monfort Bat Sanctuary. The bat sanctuary housed the largest population of Rousette fruit bats. We could see potentially thousands of fruit bats dangling from the cave opening alone. But who was counting? We saw one, two, three, four, five cave openings.

Like the rookiest bat observer, if such existed, we observed the bats noisily flying from one wall of the cave to the other. The guide later explained that while majority were soundly sleeping, some were noisily participating in their mating ritual as it was mating season. We realized we were actually observing those fruit bats flirting! Yikes!

Up in the air, as expected, floated the abhorrent smell of bat excrements. According to the guide, the stronger smell was due to the rain which drenched the guano. “Prolong exposure to the smell could have health hazards”, the guide answering our questions.

Samal Island Bat Cave ii

Samal Island Bat Cave

Sample Itinerary

SM City Davao to Sasa Wharf 25.00 Jeepney ride
Sasa Wharf to Samal Ferry Terminal 10.00
Dinner 60.00 There were carenderias alongside the Ferry Terminal.
Habal-habal ride to La Vida Orchard 50.00
La Vida Orchard Overnight Stay 500.00 They had free breakfast.
Samal Island Habal-habal Tour 900.00 Negotiable depending on your tour destination.
*Canibad Beach Entrance 50.00
*Hagimit Falls Entrance 50.00
*Kaputian Beach Entrance 15.00
*View deck 10.00
*Monfort Bat Sanctuary Entrance 100.00
Lunch 70.00 There were carenderias outside Kaputian Beach resort.
Samal Fery Termimal to Sasa Wharf 10.00
Sasa Wharf to Ecoland Terminal 25.00 Jeepney ride
Total 1,875.00

There are a lot more things to do in Samal Island than staying in a resort. For instance, shall I have another stolen chance to go, I very much like to go to Vanishing Island, Mt. Puting Bato, and Giant Clam Sanctuary. By then, I sure will not be forgetting my sunscreen and suffer burnt shoulders.

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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