Saturday, April 4, 2015

Samal Island in Three Awesome Days

The airfare to Davao is always expensive and it's very rare that you get to catch it in a really low rate, so when I did it's a no-brainer. Another impromptu lucky seat sale booking led us to the paradise of Davao.

We spent 4 days and 3 nights in Davao - 2 nights in Samal Island and the last night in Davao City.
In this post, I will walk you through our Samal Island escapade which Yan and I really enjoyed.


1. Fly from Manila to Davao International Airport
2. From airport, take a cab to Sasa Wharf (because we stayed in that part of Samal). It's near the airport and will only cost you less than Php 100 cab fare.
3. From Sasa Wharf, board a RORO to cross to Samal Island. Fare is only Php 10 each. It's a quick 15-minute ride.
4. We just walked our way to Camp Holiday Resort from the port. One reason why I chose the resort was the location is very convenient. You can also hire a tricycle or single motorcycle or more popularly known locally as habal-habal to take you to your chosen resort.


Habal-habal (single motorcycles) and tricycles are the only means of getting around, if you did not bring a private vehicle with you. Fares can be pretty steep for tourists, so try to haggle. Outside our resort, there's sort of a terminal of motorcycles so there's no problem getting one. The resort was also helpful and they preferred to get one for us so they can record the plate number of the vehicle who will take us. No cabs available.


I've researched a lot, and considered a few resorts to stay in Samal Island. My short list were: Island Garden Resort in Pangubatan, Ilihan Resort, Island French Resort and Camp Holiday Resort. Island Garden has beautiful tree houses and cottages by the beach and was ideal for a total beach experience. It's also not expensive. But unfortunately, it's way too faaar. Also, only a habal-habal can make its way to the resort because of the rough and uneven road. Among the remaining choices, Camp Holiday was the cheapest, and it's just beside the port. The downside was the beach wasn't that nice, and being beside the port made me question the water's safety for swimming. There are people still swimming though. And since it is very accessible and the rates are affordable, it's a go-to place for local day tourists which can make it crowded (though it wasn't at the time we came).  But that's fine because we did not intend to stay at their beach. We went to Paradise Island Resort for a day tour on our second day in Samal, which rooms were almost triple the price of what we paid in Camp Holiday. I'm such an expert when it comes to budget travels. :p

I just booked our room through their Facebook page.  The room we booked was the Deluxe Room at Php 1,800 per night. Cottage rooms are priced the same. The Deluxe Rooms are inside the hotel, while the Cottages are in the garden area. Luckily they had an ongoing promo when we arrived, so we only paid P1,200 per night (for weekdays). It was such a good deal! We added Php 300 for a room service breakfast for two.

Breakfast al fresco in our room's balcony

The room was okay, not bad for P1,200, considering that most of the resorts' rates in Samal have higher price range. It was big enough and comfortable. We just had to switch rooms because the TV in the first room had no cable signal. My only disappointment was the shower was lame which made it quite difficult to rinse.  Their restaurant serves reasonably priced meals.

We never stayed at their beach, but we enjoyed their infinity pool (exclusive to checked in guests) after our beach bumming day in Paradise Island Resort.


As soon as we arrive Samal, we called for a tricycle to begin our in-land tour. We just left our big bags in Camp Holiday since it's too early to check in. There are so many places to go to in Samal, and we were not able to experience all due to time constraints. We just stuck to our area, and did not transfer islands.

We paid Php 1,000 for the whole day tour (selected stops only). The driver who toured us did not have a mobile number, but you can try contacting his brother Roel at 0946 491 9040 whose tricycle he used during our tour.  We asked the driver to pass by convenience stores (more like superettes) along the way for us to buy some food, water and other necessities.

Or try contacting this mobile number which the resort receptionist gave us when I asked if she knows anyone who does tours: 0930 725 3516 - we haven't met this driver though so I cannot vouch for him.

Japanese Cave House
Entrance fee: Php 50 per head

Our first stop was the Japanese Cave House. It was a tiny underground cave where Japanese soldiers took refuge during World War II. The care taker showed us the cave, she was accommodating with all our questions and offered to take photos of us.

Monfort Bat Colony
Entrance fee: Php 100 per head

I have never seen anything like it. It was such a magnificent sight to behold! I can imagine Batman filming in these sink holes. It's truly breathtaking.

Just like you I do not like going into bat caves, first of all it's dark, you can hardly see anything, it smells awfully awful and it can be scary. But this bat sanctuary is nothing like it. You do not have to brave a hole full of bats just to witness them up close, they are kept in large and deep sink holes where you can appreciate them while you're out in the open. You can still smell them yes, but you can always cover your nose and step away if you cannot take it anymore. There was a nice girl tour guide who showed us the sink holes, and patiently explained the details.

Monfort Sanctuary also holds night tours when bats go out of their caves to eat fruits. Advance booking is required to join this tour. And according to the tour guide, the night tour guests are required to bring and use umbrellas because bats might poop on them.

Hagimit Falls
Entrance fee: Php 40 per head
Table with umbrella rental: Php 150

It is located inside the Hagimit Nature Park where several resorts/area owners can be found. There are cottage rooms for overnight stay too. Our tricycle driver brought us to this part of the park where you need to pay Php 150 to use their table. We weren't supposed to rent one, but I found the area so pleasing for lunch so we decided to buy lunch and eat there, by the falls. So refreshing. The owner was so kind and asked our driver to buy lunch for us. He said he can get Sugba (grilled fish), it's just perfect! I gave him P300. He came back with 2 big pieces of RAW bangus (milkfish) and some tomatoes, onions, calamansi, chilies and uncooked rice. I was shocked as I thought I was already waiting for a cooked lunch. The owner offered to grill it for us though, no charge.

While waiting for lunch, we swam in the refreshing river. The other owner offered to take photos of us, lots of photos. When lunch was served, we devoured it like crazy! Sans the utensils. It was a lunch serving big enough for four to five people for only Php 300. How fun! It was one of the best lunch of my life!

Hagimit Falls in Samal Island, Davao

Sugba lunch in Hagimit Falls, Samal - perfect!

Ocean View

After our refreshing tour in Hagimit Falls, we quickly passed by Ocean View, a property owned by the same owner of Camp Holiday, where yachts are parked.


Beach Bumming in Paradise Island Resort
Day tour: Php 200 per head

Whenever we go on vacations, as much as possible we allot at least one day solely for relaxation - preferably beach bumming. Let's admit it, tours can be so exhausting. And vacations are meant to be relaxing, thus the official beach bumming day.

We knew that the beach in Camp Holiday isn't good, so we went to another resort for a whole day of relaxation by the beach. Yan's been to Paradise quite a few times already and he assured me that the beach was what I expected - wide shore, white sand, swim-able. Plus the day tour rate was affordable compared to others.

We asked the tour driver to pick us up at Camp Holiday at 10AM for Paradise Island Resort day trip, but he didn't come so we went to the terminal instead. We found his brother who took us to Paradise and back for Php 200 (I was only able to bring it down from P300 because we did a tour with his brother the previous day).

The amenities in Paradise were good, the service was satisfying too. It wasn't crowded when we went and the menu items were reasonably priced. All we did was eat and drink the whole day. It was so relaxing. I felt recharged. We really enjoyed our bumming day. :)

Paradise Island Beach and Resort
Paradise has pump boats that travel to and from Davao (as locals call the other side) where they have their own port, so you can directly cross from here. Which will save you one night of room accommodation. That would be convenient too since you do not have to travel back to your resort or to the port.


On our third day in Samal, with fulfilled hearts and relaxed minds, we went board the RORO once again for the city part of our vacation which I will be telling you about in my next post.

Aboard RORO, going back to Davao City

Here's our Davao 4D-3N itinerary overview:

Day 1
8:30 AM - Arrival in Davao Aiport 
9:30 AM - SasaWharf - Board RORO to Samal Island (15-min ride)
10:00 AM - Leave things at Camp Holiday Resort in Samal
10:30 AM - In-land tour
5:00 PM - Back at resort to Camp Holiday to check in

Day 2
10:00 AM - Beach bumming (day tour) at Paradise Island Beach Resort (Eat. Swim. Drink. Repeat.)
4:00 PM - Back at Camp Holiday Resort

Day 3
10:00 AM - Board RORO to Sasa Wharf
10:30 AM - Cab to Davao City, Check in at Green Windows Dormitel
12:00 PM - Lunch at Penong's
1:00 PM - City tour: Museo Dabawenyo, People's Park, Crocodile Park
7:00 PM - Dinner at Jack's Ridge
9:00 PM - Shot at Huckleberry

Day 4
11:00 AM - Check out from Green Windows Domitel
12:00 PM - Lunch at Glamour Crab Buffet
2:00 PM - Visited some friends
3:00 PM - Buy Durian in Magsaysay

Upcoming post about our Davao city tour. Stay tuned!

We would like to come back and make sure to explore the other parts of Samal. It's such a charming and relaxing island. ♥

See all TRAVEL posts.


  1. sounds like you had fun! glad you enjoyed your stay at samal :D

  2. very informative blog...this will help us a lot next month:)

    thank you!

  3. Great blog. As a way of promoting Mindanao, I featured your blog post in my blog. Cheers Maam.

    Best regards.


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