Samal Island is one of the most visited tourist destination in Mindanao and it is located near Davao city. Well to do travellers can rent a small boat going to Samal but for budget travellers it is best to take the “Roro boat”. At first we thought Samal Island was far but we were surprised because the island was just 10 minutes away from the Davao port. The Roro Boat entrance fee was very minimal at P10/head.
At the Samal port, your bags will be inspected for Mangoes. Because Samal produces one of sweetest and best tasting mangoes in the world. Mangoes coming from other areas are not allowed inside the Island as it may cause some changes to the native Samal Mangoes. After the inspection, you will see many motorcycles waiting for passengers. They have a fix rate in this Island and seemed organized. Just be sure to log-in the name of the driver in their association attendance book. A motorcycle can accommodate one or two passengers depending on the volume of your baggage.
After some initial talks, we rode towards Fernandez Beach Resort which was located on the “quiet” side of the island. There are many beach resorts in Samal and you can choose where to go. If you are into party and glamour, there are over-crowded beaches on the main front. But if you are into peace and quiet, there are resorts located not so far from the party beaches. We went to Samal Island for relaxation and to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the beach and Fernandez Beach Resort seemed a good option at that time. After paying the P50/each entrance fee, cottage table and food, it was time to sit back, stretch, enjoy the sun and sand.
Since we didn’t have any food with us, we had to order from the mini snack bar. It took around 30 minutes before meal was served. It was not as expected. As usual, pictures of food on the menu can be deceiving. But hey! There was no room for complaints since we were all hungry. While waiting, I saw a tiny fisherman’s boat docked. I asked the owner if I can try it and he said go ahead. It was a fun morning!
Fernandez Beach is good for family outings. Aside from being peaceful, it is also safe because the resort has placed a net barricade in their beachfront so that the kids will not wander far away from the shore. After experiencing the beach, we texted the motorcycle drivers to fetch us and have a tour of the Island.
In Samal, the fastest mode of transportation were motorcycles. In our case, one motorcycle is P500 regardless if there are one or two passengers. It’s a fixed price agreement. We get to visit the best tourist spots of the island for P500/motorcycle. To lessen the cost, we decided to have two passengers in one motorcycle. But before the joy ride, we asked the drivers to bring us to a place where we can buy and taste the Samal mangoes. After a few minutes ride, we reached a small store on the side of the road. There was a pile of mangoes being sold outside the store. We were allowed to taste the mangoes. It was sweeter than the regular mango being sold at the supermarket and since it is fresh, the juice came running on our cheeks.
Our first destination was called Highest peak. It was actually a makeshift view area of the island which was overlooking the famous pearl farm resort and a few more smaller islands. There was a catch, however, because we had to pay “entrance fee” to the man in charge of the area since according to him, it is a private land. We paid P20/head.
Our second tour was at Hagimit Falls and Nature Park which is a 10 minute ride after the view point area. Here we had to pay P40/each entrance fee. We felt that everything should be paid in Samal, nothing is free. But since we were already there, we went in and saw the beautiful natural swimming pool created by Hagimit Falls. The water was cold but refreshing. We took a dip and enjoyed the flowing water. Again, we had to pay for cottage fee which is I think was P150 regardless how short our stay was. After enjoying the natural swimming pool, it was time to go to the bat cave.
From Hagimit Falls, the bat cave was located on the other side of the island and it took us 30 minutes ride to get there. It was a good finale for the tour. The place was called Monfort Bat Sanctuary and it was listed in the Guinness world records as the largest colony of Geoffroys Roussette Fruit bats estimated at around 2,500,000,00 with two albino bats. Again we had to pay P100/head entrance fee but to me it was worth it.
The bat sanctuary is home to the largest colony of fruit eating bats in the country. Going near the caves was already a challenge because of the strong smell of bat poop. There were five caves in that area and we enjoyed watching the bats fly and interact with each other. They looked like small rats with sharp teeth and wings. Aside from the bat cave, the resort also has a bat museum, a workshop area and information booth.
It was time to go back to the port area. Luckily, it was just 15 minutes away from the bat sanctuary. After saying our goodbyes to the kind motorcycle drivers, we rode the Roro boat and 10 minutes after, we were back in Davao city port. It was already dark. We were all tired but each had something in mind to do. Franz, Jun and Rj went to buy fruits. Dom and Risa went to the Mall and I went to see my Fraternal brods. It was a crazy night.
Although we had to leave the city in the evening our Davao escapade was far from over. In the morning we went to buy dried fish, squid etc at Davao’s China town. Went to eat at the Park. Got the boxes of fruits and went back to the hotel since check out time was 12:00N. After talking to the hotel to accommodate our bags and pasalubong for a few more hours, we went to find good food and ended up at an eat all you can lunch buffet. Oh men it was a great meal and P149 only!
By 8:00 in the evening, we were back in Manila.
It was a good adventure. Samal Island Style!