When I planned for our family's Davao travel, I couldn't be more honest when I said I followed a winding course. Do allow me to assert that it isn't easy to plan out a great urban escape.
Being a mom who puts the happiness and comfort of the family as the topmost priority when going out of Manila for more than a day, planning a travel to Davao can be ponderous, especially when your budget is tight.
Will tell you more of our three-day Davao tour expenses in the following blogs. In the mean time let me share you a quick day expedition at the Island Garden City of Samal.
Samal Islands, for short, is a world-class destination for the charming islands that comprises it. To those who want to get a taste of its unspoiled beaches, rich marine life and culture.
To the white sandy beaches that have seduced many including me. But it was disappointing to note that we weren't able to see them. The Vanishing Island was however suggested to us by the van driver whom we hired but it proved that a day tour is not enough for us. Well, there I guess I rested my planning schemes and trusted our Dabawenyo van-driver. We hired him for two days at P3500 per day. Not something I would be proud of as a frugal traveler.
At 9 in the morning, we were picked up from the airport and was driven all the way to Samal Islands. Well, the van was carried from the Roro port to Samal by a ferry for a P200 transpo fee plus a per head cost of P 10.
There are many, so many things you can do, see and visit in Samal, these were among the them:
After the 20 minutes of waiting in line for our van to reach the island, 15 minutes of drive along several resorts in Samal, we reached Penaplata, Igacos (a booming area of Samal due to its close parameter to the wharf).
I was practically expecting a long stretch of white sand beach and emptied my pockets to have room for sea shells and stones that I'm going to take home and to add to my collection. Instead, we were brought to a resort known for its great abyss and extreme water adventures which I'm not a huge fan of.
|The first ride according to our tour guide|
Fun began here as we slowly cascaded below. The crystal clear, blue water is evident but rocks and corals are also prominent.
|The Giant Slide|
To reach the ticketing booth and pay the entrance fee of P 200, we walked the slopes. If you are fond of well-kept, beautiful architecture, this resort may not be for you. But if you are a nature-lover and wild-heart then this trip ought to be in your must-visit list.
Whoosh and the tingling feel of hearing loud and ecstatic screams from the guests trying out the giant slide made me nervous.
It’s the uniquely constructed 40 meters giant slide (along the cliff) which drops anyone who fearless try it to the (more or less) 30-meter deep sea water.
Plunging into the sea water will mesmerize you with the enchanted coral kingdom that resides just beneath the waters.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw my youngest daughter dropped into the water, without even hearing a scream. She emerged happily and swam towards her brother who went ahead of her, with the strength she have left and the adrenaline rush, she run across the wooden bridge towards the cliff where we resided to experience the vastness of the coast and asked if I saw her on the slide. Reporting as well how exciting the jaunt was.
My 10 yr-old daughter and my son, have encouraged their sister to join them on their second try, but my son had to use a different life vest, as the first one gave up on him.
Though the life vest is free of use, you need to make sure that the vest you are using is sturdy enough to carry you, one that fits snuggly and does not irritate you in any case.
We brought our own kids-size life vest and I had them wear googles not to hurt their eyes when they hit the water.
If you don't know how to swim, think otherwise, don't try this, they don't have any waiver or do they check your health condition before you hit the slide.
Lastly, the life guard is situated 10 meters away from the drop.
We reached this resort at 10:30 so there was no choice but to have our lunch here, the menu is Filipino-based with the prices the same as that of mid-ranged restaurants in the city, hesitant of the serving size and the taste, we opted to get the plated meal of fried chicken and rice P 175++ (with a glass of iced tea). The fried rice was ok and so are the two slices of crunchy fried chicken that goes with it.
Since there isn't a sandy sea shore in the area, you can swim with the fish, or feed them, check out the enchanted coral garden, use the trampoline, ride the banana boat or jump in the giant inflatable.
We took off after our lunch and decided to continue on our next route, I asked our driver to take us to Hagimit Falls.
HAGIMIT FALLS and Nature Park
Hagimit Falls is only 2 KMs away from Maxima or Penaplata area, which is about 15 minutes of drive. With the unspoiled nature and lush greens in the Garden City of Samal, is a stretch of good roads and not too many automobiles.
To see the falls, you need to trek downhill on a cemented stairway, and at the bottom, following the signs that leads to the refreshing sound and sight of the falls. The falls is named as such from the hagimit trees that surround the falls and the river.
It's a hard trek to reach the falls, I guess all you need is to follow the river which leads to the bigger and wider river mouth. Don't be disappointed when you see how small the falls is, it's still as refreshing as any falls would be.
My kids loved going up and down the falls and swimming in it as opposed to Hulugan Falls in Luisiana, Laguna.
Don't be confused, there are several sections in the whole Hagimit area - the natural falls and the one with man made pool with the spring water running over another river mount.
The facilities in the pool area can only be used if you are going to rent a hut or cottage, we didn't bring anything except for some towels and our cameras and phones in a water-proof bag so we didn't rent anything.
Adult( Day Tour )- Php 40.00
Kids ( Day Tour )- Php 20.00
Open Cottage – Php 500.00
Close Cottage – Php 1000.00
Tables with Chair – Php 150.00
Address: Poblacion Peñaplata,
Island Garden City of Samal
Contact Numbers: Smart - 09997055330
Sun - 09234384689
MONFORT BATCAVE SANCTUARY
The Monfort Bat Cave in Samal Island was accorded by Guinness as the world’s largest colony of Geoffrey’s Rousette Fruit Bats or Rousetteus amplexicaudatus.
With an entrance fee of P 100.00 (US $2.50) you get to see the bats in their nesting place through several cavities that have naturally opened over time and a guided tour around the area, letting you in on some important facts about bats. Need I also mention the P5 environmental fee per head, where ever you go.
An underground cave is situated at the land where the owners land property is without the knowledge of the bats. Now, they are the ones tending to these Eco-friendly super friends of Davao.
We do know that bats are less appreciated and most of the times misunderstood creatures but they are a big help as good pollinators and source of organic fertilizer known as guano (bat droppings according to Pet Detective). Bats significantly reduce insect damage to plants, the reason of Davao City’s abundance in durian.
Monfort bat cave has 5 cave-like openings and all of them protected by bamboo rails, all you need to do is to peek in to see the bats.
WARNING! Breathe freely at the enclosure at your own risk.
The first opening is the entrance of the cave where a mixed of female and male bats can be found.
The second cave opening is the maternity and nursery ward containing pregnant female bats. The third cave opening is the training ward where baby bats can be found. The younger bats are considered the most active among other bats.
The fourth opening contains the male bats. You can notice a really foul smell near the area especially at the back of the opening. There are actually more male than female bats.
The last cave opening is the smallest among the five openings and houses the old bats. These bats have a lifespan of 30 – 40 years.
What’s interesting during night viewing is the circadian flight where bats make a wonderful formation. Circadian flight happens after sunset where millions of bats fly out of the cave to find food. They usually return to the cave around 2AM. Night fees apply though.
MONFORT BAT CAVE SANCTUARY
Address: Circumferencial Rd,
Island Garden City of Samal,
Davao del Norte
Suggested Samal island Itinerary:
8:00 AM - Sasa Wharf
8:30 AM - ETA to Babak Wharf, Samal Island
8:45 AM - ETA to Maxima Aquafun Resort
11:00 AM - Lunch
12:00 PM - to Hagimit Falls
2:00 PM - To Monfort Bat Cave
3:30 PM - Samal Island hopping (Vanishing Island, Talikud Islands)
5:30 PM - ETD to Babak Wharf
6:00PM - ETA to Sasa Wharf
6:30 PM - Rest and dinner at our hotel, Pinnacle Suites Hotel