Davao is one of the country’s top destinations when it comes to white sand beaches. Foremost are the pristine beach waters offered by Samal Island – a 15-minute boat ride away from the busy districts of Davao City. (READ: Davao City: Your complete weekend itinerary)
Situated right in the middle of the Davao Gulf, Samal provides a tranquil and magnificent view of the gulf at all points and directions.
Here’s the list of must-see resorts in the island and surrounding places in Davao region.
1. Pearl Farm Beach
The 14-hectare Pearl Farm Resort is one of the most luxurious beach resorts in Davao region. It is situated in the coastal area of Samal Island. It is one of the most expensive resorts on the island, but you’ll get what you pay for.
It’s also known for chic Parola Bar, a two-storey bar that is also used as a welcome area where guests are greeted by the staff upon arriving at the resort.
The resort’s day tour rate is pegged at P1,850.00 (US $41.30) on weekdays and P2,500.00 (US $55.82) on weekends. Accommodations for an overnight stay starts at around P7,000/room (about US$156.22) during off-peak season.
How to get there: Visitors to the resort must proceed to the Pearl Farm Beach Resort’s Davao Marina where they will take a 45-minute boat ride to Samal Island. Boat transfer is already included in the rates.
2. Isla Reta
Located at Talicud Island, City of Samal, Isla Reta is one of the most popular beach getaways in the Davao region. “Talicud” name was coined after the word “likod” which means “the back” as the island is literally located at the back of the mainland Samal Island.
Isla Reta is all fine white sand and crystal blue waters. Its shoreline is dotted with Talisay trees, which provide visitors with shade. Tables, chairs and hammocks are placed under the trees so guest can have a relaxing experience without worrying about the scorching heat of the sun.
Entrance fee to the resort is P75.00 (US $1.67) for day tours. Corkage fee only applies to beverages so you can bring your own food with no additional charge.
A restaurant is also available in case you want a hassle-free meal.
How to get there: Isla Reta is about 45 minutes by boat from Sta. Ana Wharf near Magsaysay Park. The boat departs as early as 9am and last trip is at 4:30pm from Davao City.
The first boat trip from Isla Reta going back to Davao is at 6:15am and the last trip at 3pm. Fare is P80 (US $1.79) for a one-way trip. Alternatively, if you are already in mainland Samal, take a bus or habal-habal to Kaputian District and ride a boat from there to Isla Reta.
3. Costa Marina Resort
Located in the coastal district of Babak in Samal Island, Costa Marina Beach Resort is one of the closest white sand beaches to Davao City.
It is only about 15-minute boat trip from Davao to the resort.
Day tour rate to Costa Marina Resort is P120 (US $2.68) and overnight rate is P220 (US $4.91). Accommodations are available for overnight guests for as low as P2,500 (US $55.77). The resort also offers guest with several water activities such as kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling and more.
How to get there: Take a taxi or a Sasa-bound jeepney and tell the driver to drop you at the boat terminal going to Costa Marina near One Network Bank’s main office. From there, take a boat to Costa Marina, fare is P15.00/head (US $.33) and travel time is about 15 minutes.
4. Maxima Aquafun Resort
Maxima Resort, having no shoreline, boasts its only “One in the World” Tarpaulin slide that drops you into the sea. Guests can choose from entertaining activities such as jet skiing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking and more. Or simply chill out and enjoy the sun.
Day tour rate is P300 (around US $6.70).
How to get there: From downtown area, take a jeepney going to Sasa and alight at the entrance of Sta. Ana Wharf. Take a short walk and board the MV Maxima IV boat to Maxima Aquafun Resort.
Fare is P150 (US $3.35) and travel time is around 30 minutes. The schedule of the boat is only every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It departs Sta. Ana Wharf to Maxima at 9AM and leaves Maxima back to Davao at 4PM. Alternatively, if you happen to go there on weekdays, you may take a bus to Peñaplata from Magsaysay Park. Fare is P40 (US $.89) and travel time is a little more than an hour.
From Peñaplata bus terminal, take a habal-habal to Maxima Aquafun Resort. Fare is P30 (US $.67) each (P60 or US $1.34 if you’re alone) and travel time is around 15 minutes.
5. Kaputian Beach Park Resort
Kaputian Beach Park Resort is a government-owned facility located in the southernmost part of Samal Island.
It is one of the most popular beach resorts in the Island and is known for its white sand shoreline. The entrance fee to the resort is only P10.00 (US $.22). Cottages and rooms are also available at very affordable rental rates.
How to get there: There are no direct buses from Davao to Kaputian so guests from Davao City will have to take two bus trips. First, go to Magsaysay Park and take an Island City Express bus going to Peñaplata. From Peñaplata, take the same bus to Kaputian District. From the bus terminal, ride a habal-habal going to Kaputian Beach.
6. Samalan Camp & Sea
Samalan Camp and Sea is a beach resort located at Barangay San Remigio, Kaputian District, Samal City. It’s a 300-meter stretch of white sand beach ideal for group of friends or families who want to have a relaxing vacation. It is a secluded piece of paradise so you will have a good time spending an enjoyable day or weekend at the resort.
How to get there: From Kaputian bus terminal, hire a habal-habal and inform the driver you are going to Samalan Camp & Sea in San Remigio.
7. Dahican Beach
Dahican Beach is a 7-km stretch of white sand beach in Mati City, Davao Oriental. It is situated on the eastern coast of Davao Oriental facing the Pacific Ocean, thus, it became a surfing and skimboarding destination in the region due to the massive waves.
How to get there: From Davao International Airport, you can walk to the main highway and wait for Bachelor Express bus going to Mati. The bus schedule is frequent so you don’t have to worry waiting for a long period.
Alternatively, you can proceed to Davao Overland Bus terminal, take the same bus and choose a comfortable seat. Vans are also available if you’re on a tight schedule.
8. Little Boracay Beach Resort
Located in the new province of Davao Occidental, Little Boracay Beach Resort is known for its white sand beach. It is situated in the coastal barangay of Sto. Niño in the town of Sta. Maria. It has approximately two kilometers of white sand shoreline with clear water. Day tour rate is only P20.00 (US $.45) for adults and P10.00 (US $.22) for children.
How to get there: From Davao City, proceed to Ecoland bus terminal and take a Metro Shuttle bus bound to Malita. Alight at Sta. Maria bus terminal and take a habal-habal going to the beach. Travel time is approximately less than 3 hours.
Note: Aside from the 8 recommended by the writer, the Department of Tourism has also recommended 3 other beaches for travelers. Here they are:
Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort
According to its website, the shoreline is about 800 meters long and is meticulously maintained. The site also says that it’s about 7 minutes away from Davao City, so you can enjoy a short trip here if you don’t have a lot of time.
Visitors are transferred via 10 boats operated by the management from 5am to 5pm daily. After 5, one can take a very boat that operates until 11pm.
You can opt for a day tour (P200 or US $4.64) or go for a beach overnight (P300 or US $6.69) – or you can rent a room, P3500 or US $78.13 for deluxe rooms and P3900 or US $87.06 for premiere rooms.
About 87 hectares, Kopiat Island is one beautiful option for travelers and is said to be a nesting site of the hawksbill and leatherback marine turtles, which are among the world’s most endangered types of marine turtles.
The island is part of the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape that covers about 3,433 hectares. To get here, ride any bus bound for Mati City at the Ecoland Overland Transport Terminal. Get down at a road crossing near the barangay hall of Barangay Pindasan in Mabini, Compostela Valley. The bus ride should cost about P100 (about US $2.23). Take a motorcycle to the port (a 10-minute) ride, then take the pump boat ride to Kopiat Island.
The defining thing about Island Buenavista is that you can, according to its website, “own the island for a day.” The beach resort is only rented out to a group at any given time.
Island Buenavista is located in Davao Gulf, near the Island Garden City of Samal. Transfers are included in the package. From the airport, it will be an hour’s ride to the Sasa Wharf. From there, you’ll take a ferry to Buenavista.
Remember, you need to make reservations 1 week in advance, so call ahead to book. You’ll also need to let the staff know ahead of time if you’ll be going diving.
Have you been to Davao? What are some of your favorite spots? Let us know in the comments below! – Rappler.com