This summer, visit Samal Island!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012


WANT to spend your summer this year in something worthwhile and unforgettable? In your list are places like Boracay, Cebu, El Nido, Bohol, or Camiguin. Well, you don’t need to spend too much – all you have to do is go to those unheard yet destinations.

If you’re already in Davao City and it seems you have already been to those places stated in the travel brochures, it’s time for you to go to the Island Garden City of Samal. It is a world-class destination for those who want to get a taste of its unspoiled beaches, rich marine life and fascinating culture.

The regional office of the Department of Tourism has been propping up Samal as the “island summer capital” of Davao Region. It has a stretch of over 118 kilometers of continuous coastline and with a total land area of 30,130 hectares. Davao City serves as its gateway.

“Davao and Samal should be promoted together as a tourist destination,” points out Arturo P. Boncato, Jr., the tourism regional director. If Davao can offer those highland destinations, Samal can share its jewels of islands.

“From islands to highlands” is how the tourism department promotes the four provinces of Davao: Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley. “We have everything when it comes to tourist destinations,” Boncato says.

Last year, the local government of Samal initiated the “Visit Samal Island” to boost tourist arrivals in the city not only during the summer season but for the entire year. Because of the success of the campaign, it has recently launched the same scheme.

The objective remains similar: to position the island as the tourist destination of choice in the Philippines – if not only in Asia but also throughout the world. “With last year’s resounding success, we are inspired to make our services much better and develop our tourism products more enhanced,” says Vice-Mayor David T. Uy.

Samal has about 70 resorts and tourism establishments. Most of them will participate in the program. Aside from offering discounts and promotional packages, some selected establishments will also be giving away freebies to guests and visitors.

There are about seven islands and the smaller islands are charming in their own ways. “The main island of Samal has beaches, dive spots, caves, waterfalls, sunken wreck and offshore islets,” wrote David King in his book, Philippines Travel Companion.

There are several things you can do while in Samal. Mountain climbers can scale Puting Bato, so named because of the sheer limestone wall with a towering height of 1,362 feet above sea level. Rappelling can be done at the Bito Depression, whose staggering depth is about 273 feet.

More than seventy caves have been identified in Samal. Spelunking tests the limits of trekkers’ endurance as they negotiate caves of varying sizes, features, and wonders. Discovery is the name of the game.

Samal offers excellent snorkeling sites, where one can float in its crystal blue water and watch a multitude of colorful tropical fishes. For scuba diving enthusiasts, Talikud and Liguid Islands are excellent dive spots with dazzling coral gardens.

Environmental advocates will have a grand time at the Monfort Bat Cave, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest colony of fruit bats. The cave has five openings with an estimated bat population of 1.8 million.

Inside the main island, guests can marvel at its two waterfalls. One of the most visited is the Hamigit Falls at barangay Cawag in Samal District while the other one is the Tagbaobo Falls located at Kaputian District.

Samal is home to various resorts, some of them world class while others offer budget accommodations for backpackers. Leading the list is the famous Pearl Farm Beach Resort in Kaputian District. The resort, which was featured in Miss Universe and Miss Earth pageants, is about 45-minutes by boat from Davao City.

Those who want to do some extreme adventures can go to the Maxima Resort and Aquafun, where two tarpaulin slides await visitors, in Samal District. At the upper portion of the resort, you can do the canopy walk.

At the Kaputian District, visitors can have fun at the Bluejaz Beach Resort and Water Park. It has two giant water slides for adults and three small slides for children. Plus there’s an infinity pool and a café bar near the beach.

Beach resorts abound in Samal. In Kaputian District, other resorts one can visit are Hof Gorei, Isla Betita, Captain Hook, Rosario, Samal Camp, Island Garden, Dayang, Letecia by the Sea, and Isla Reta.

The following resorts (both beach and inland) are located in Samal District: Costa Marina, Bluewaters Village, Chema’s by the Sea, La Familia, Golden Bay, Coracay Baywalk, Florenda, Punta del Sol, Bali Bali, Rocky’s, Mayumi Disney, McTell, La Vida, Sea Grass, Fernandez, Crystal Peak, Canibad Secret, Hillside, Island Hills, Kathleen’s Place, and Hidden Paradise.

Babak District has the following beach and inland resorts: Villa Amparo, Green House, Club Asiano, Island Ridge, Marex, Precious Garden, Camp Holiday, Alohamoana, Mahan Garden, Dencious Camp, Coco Caliclic, El Magic, Rainbow, Sonrisa, Paradise Island, Hi-5 Princess Tropical, Anamarina, Island Buenavista, Sunset, and L’Amora Family.

To see the whole city, visitors may opt to cruise around the island through the Libot sa Isla (Island Tour). By doing so, they can take a close look at the commercial resorts and private beaches spread along the 118-kilometer stretch of sand.

There are three entry points to Samal Island. Take a 30- to 45-minute motorize banca (outrigger) ride going to Kaputian or Talicud Island, from Sta. Ana Wharf, which is adjacent to the Magsaysay Park in the downtown area. You can also proceed to Sasa Wharf Km. 11 going to Babak by 10-minute motorboat cruise. You may also proceed to the Island City Express Bus satellite terminal infront of Magsaysay Park to take the bus and the almost 15-minute barge ride from the ferry boat landing in Sasa, Km. 11. The last option is through the private motorboats which guests can charter from Pearl Farm Wharf, Petron Wharf, Sta. Ana Wharf, or the Lanang Beach Club Wharf.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 29, 2012.

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