Desiring to do solo travel and also to challenge myself by going to a place where I have never been before, I’ve constantly told myself to do it as soon as possible. Around the summer of 2015, there happened to be a seat sale in an airline company for 2016. Not to waste the opportunity of having a cheap ticket to go somewhere, I booked a flight. As I was looking for a budget-friendly destination, I happened to pick Davao since I’ve wanted to go far from Metro Manila and I haven’t been to Mindanao before. In my mind, as a Filipino, I should go to Mindanao and learn about it like a Filipino citizen’s responsibility. XD
As my flight was nearing and almost done with my itinerary, I was having second thoughts about continuing the trip for there was fear lingering in me. Since I am going solo, negative thoughts are rushing in. What if I got kidnapped by terrorists? (Since there was a kidnapping incident in Samal in the previous months.) What if I got lost or stranded?” These almost pulled me back. Then, after a lot of thinking, I just told myself, “This is what I’ve been wanting for a long time, if not now, when? F**k it, I’ll just do it! (or in a good manner, Bahala na, tara!)
In my itinerary, I planned to go to Samal Island, Talicud Island, and Davao City.
I have 3 days to spend… ALONE. What could happen? I filed for my leave. I packed my things. The day has come. The Adventure Begins!
I arrived at Francisco Bangoy International Airport at 8:45 in the morning. Looking for the way out of the complex, I stumbled upon this monument of a Durian. It’s nicely crafted and depicts Davao’s identity and unity at the same time.
DAY 1: SAMAL ISLAND
I took a taxi to Sasa Wharf to ride the RORO going to Samal Island. The fare was 100 pesos including the tip. The RORO ride took less than 30 minutes to go to Babak Port which cost 10 pesos only. Outside of the port, habal-habals and tricycles are parked waiting for passengers to be picked up. I’ve talked to one of the habal-habal drivers (I’ve forgotten his name, so let’s call him, “Mang Pogi” :p) who approached me to bring me to these places Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Hagimit Falls and Natures Park, and Kaputian Beach Park Resort.
MONFORT BAT SANCTUARY
I told Mang Pogi, “To the bat cave!!” (Just kidding :P) Located in the northern part of Samal Island, Monfort Bat Sanctuary is home to thousands of Geoffroy’s Rousettes Fruit Bats which is the largest bat colony of its kind in the world. Once you’ve reached the area, a strong smell will welcome you. It was the smell of the bats’ poops (Guano). These may be stinky but they offer a lot to farmers since they are good fertilizers. They are the reason for Davao’s flourishing durian industry. The entrance fee is 100 pesos with a guide included.
HAGIMIT FALLS AND NATURE PARK
Located at the barangay of Peñaplata. Hagimit Falls Nature Park is a collection of small falls with pools available for swimming. Cottages are available for rent. Sadly concrete pathways were constructed to ease the access going to the resort which kind of decreases its visual appeal but still, it’s a view to see. I took my time taking pictures and splashed into the cold water of the pool. The entrance fee is 40 pesos for adults and 20 pesos for kids.
KAPUTIAN BEACH PARK
After a refreshing swim, I’ve decided to go now to the District of Kaputian, where my last destination for the day is located. The ride took a while before we reached the district. Mang Pogi dropped me off at the entrance of Kaputian Beach Park. This was my farewell to my habal-habal ride. I paid ₱400 for the whole trip (This was a lot). I’ve rented a small cottage worth ₱500 to stay in for the night. The resort is simple but remarkable. The sand is white. The sea is clear. And it was not crowded. I put my stuff inside, ate my lunch, and went swimming. The hours passed by. I took a pause and just witnessed the sunset behind Talicud Island.
DAY 2: TALICUD ISLAND
Early in the morning, I went straight to the port to ask the locals for boats going to Talicud Island. Boat rides going there are limited. I rode the boat with the name of Ronnie-1. It took a while before we left, we waited for more passengers to accommodate. The ride took less than 30 minutes. The boat fare will depend on how many passengers are there.
ISLA RETA BEACH RESORT
There are many beaches in Talicud Island but I just chose to stay in one to enjoy the moment and relax. Just 15 minutes away from the port, Isla Reta Beach Resort is the nearest one to visit. You can walk or ride a habal-habal to go there but I chose to walk to cut expenses. When I arrived at the resort, I was planning to rent a tent, but seeing the price with just a small difference from the available cottages, I chose the cottage for comfort. The rent is ₱700.
Staying there is one of the highlights of my trip. White, powdery sand, and clear waters. Despite the heat of the sun, I kept on swimming. The place is Paradise. Aquatic lifeforms will accompany you as you swim, fish, and starfish alike. My skin got darker because all I’ve done is swim and take a lot of pictures under the scorching sun. I’ve explored the outskirts of the resort and still have a great view. As I continued swimming, one group noticed me and they began asking me why am I alone and where I was from. Eventually, they became my companions as the day ended. We talked about Manila, Davao, and Tagum City (Where they’re from). Despite being alone, I’ve made friends with the locals. By the way, the resort also breeds sheep, which is kind of strange since we are a tropical country.
DAY 3: DAVAO CITY
I woke up at 5:00 in the morning to reach the 6:00 AM boat ride back to Davao City. The boat ride to Sta. Ana Wharf is limited–one at 6:00 AM and one at 9:00 A.M.
After an hour’s boat ride, I arrived in Sta. Ana Wharf. I started my city tour as soon as I got off the boat to fully enjoy the remaining time I still had in Davao.
RAMON MAGSAYSAY PARK
Just a few meters away from the port, I walked toward Ramon Magsaysay Park as the first destination of my Davao City trip. A simple park with a memorial statue of the late President Ramon Magsaysay.
SAN PEDRO CATHEDRAL
From the park, I rode a jeep going to downtown Davao. Located near the City Hall. San Pedro Cathedral is one of the Jubilee Churches in the Philippines. I took the time to kneel and pray.
DAVAO CITY HALL
Mayor Duterte’s office before being elected as President. Simple, yet you can feel its influence on its people–Davaoeños proudly sharing their experiences of Duterte’s accomplishment in the city, like the driver of the taxi I rode going to Sasa wharf. He keeps on promoting Davao City’s 911 and being one of the safest cities in the country.
An interesting place for history fans like me. There is no entrance fee but you can donate any amount of money for the development and preservation of the place. They are open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. I’ve learned of the different tribes residing in Mindanao, like the Tausugs, Maranaos, Maguindanaons, etc. Another interesting story to hear is the story of Davao being dubbed as a mini Tokyo before World War 2. One way to be part of the place is to know its culture and history. 😉
PHILIPPINE EAGLE CENTER
The home of our majestic eagles, the Philippine Eagle, or the Monkey-Eating Eagle is the Philippine Eagle Center. Located at Malagos, this is about an hour’s trip from Davao City proper. I rode a van at Bankerohan Market going to Calinan. I rode another habal-habal going to the Malagos Water District where the center is located. Pay an entrance fee of 5 pesos for the Malagos Watershed. The entrance fee for PEC is ₱150 for adults and ₱100 for kids. Aside from Philippine Eagles, the center also takes care of crocodiles, Brahminy Kite Eagles, and White Bellied-Sea Eagles.
Before I went to the airport, I bought pasalubongs in Bankerohan Market. You will find Durians, Suhas, Mangosteens, fruit-flavored candies, etc. If you want to try the infamous Durian, this is the place. Sadly, I haven’t tried one because of the time. I’ve bought the “Golden” brand suha as one of my pasalubongs, it’s quite pricey but it’s the best.
After buying the pasalubongs, I took a cab to go to the airport. As I sat there, I looked out the window and thought that 3 days was short for a wonderful place like this. I asked myself, “If ever I return here, where should I go next here in Davao?”
I know that facing your fears is one factor in achieving what you want, but this trip struck me and made me realize that it really is. When I let fear devour me, I probably would not have seen those wonderful places and experienced the joy of solo traveling. The thrill and learning experience. It happened to be one heck of an adventure. I realized that I really like to travel. It reminded me of my childhood–going to other villages and walking through creeks to get to the other side, not knowing what lies ahead. I have a thirst for adventure.
Those memories will make me miss Davao. I recommend everyone to visit Davao. There lies in Mindanao another ours that we can be proud of.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ANOTHER SOLO BACKPACKING GUIDE, CHECK OUT MY EASTERN VISAYAS TRAVEL GUIDE!
TRAVEL GUIDE & TIPS
HOW TO GET THERE:
a. Samal Island:
- From Francisco Bangoy International Airport, take a taxi going to Sasa Wharf or Sta Ana Wharf.
- Ride a ferry/RORO going to Babak Port (Northwestern part of Samal) or Kaputian Port (Southwestern part of Samal).
b. Talicud Island:
- From Francisco Bangoy International Airport, take a taxi going to Sta Ana Wharf.
- Ride ferry/RORO going to Sta Cruz Port.
- If coming from Samal, you can take the ferry from Kaputian Port to Sta. Cruz Port.
c. OR YOU CAN RENT A CAR IN DAVAO:
- Entrance Fee (Kaputian Beach Resort): ₱10
- Entrance Fee (Monfort Bat Sanctuary): ₱100
- Environmental Fee (Monfort Bat Sanctuary): ₱5
- Entrance Fee (Isla Reta Overnight): ₱150
- Entrance Fee (Hagimit Falls): ₱40
- Environmental Fee (Hagimit Falls): ₱5
- Entrance Fee (Malagos Water District): ₱5
- Entrance Fee (Philippine Eagle Center): ₱150 for Adults/₱100 for Kids
- OR AVAIL DAVAO TOURS VIA VIATOR
- ANONANG CLOUD NINE – SAMAL ISLAND
- SAMAL ISLAND KEMBALI CONDO RESORT
- VILLA PRIVE SAMAL ISLAND
- SEDA ABREEZA
- PARK INN BY RADISSON DAVAO
- WATERFRONT INSULAR HOTEL DAVAO
- DUSITD2 DAVAO HOTEL
- ACACIA HOTEL DAVAO
- SANS HOTEL AT THE LUXEBRIDGE SUITES DAVAO
- RED PLANET DAVAO
- Dry Bag
- Aqua Shoes
- Travel Backpack
- Snorkeling Gear
- 2-3L of water
- Arm Sleeves
- Sun Block
- Swim Wear
CHECK OUT THESE DISCOUNTED/PROMO RATES FROM KLOOK:
- Malagos Garden Resort
- Eden Nature Park and Resort
- Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao
- Samal Island Tour
- Davao River Rafting Adventure
- Facebook Page (Isla Reta): IslaReta.Beach
- Website (Philippine Eagle Center): Philippine Eagle Foundation
- Facebook Page (Museo Dabawenyo): museodabawenyo
- Museo Dabawenyo is open on Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
- The boat ride from Sta. Cruz (Talicud) to Sta. Ana Wharf (Davao City) is limited–one at 6:00 A.M. and one at 9:00 A.M.
- Before going to the islands, make sure you know the schedule of the ferries since they are limited.
- Other places to visit in Davao: D’Bone Collector Museum, Jack’s Ridge, Davao Crocodile Park, Davao Pearl Farm, etc.