Discovering Samal under the water-A A +A
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
ALTHOUGH located in the Davao Gulf, the Island Garden City of Samal is a distant away from the shores of Davao City. Being physically unattached to mainland Mindanao, this beautiful virgin island has been protected from commercialization.
Actually, the city is a group of islands with Samal Island as the largest – with an estimated length of 34 kilometers and 15 kilometers wide. Several commercial resorts and private beaches spread along the 118-kilometer beach line.
Perhaps the most famous is the Pearl Beach Resort, which former tourism secretary Joseph Durano called as “paradise on earth.” For the scuba diver, the resort is more than a paradise: excellent diving can be had right in front of the resort.
The natural haven, which has been declared a marine sanctuary, offers spectacular diving amongst the huge shoals of fish and giant taklobo clams, without the need for tedious boat rides. Just 60 meters away from the resort are two sunken Japanese World War II ships that await discovery.
“If you ever get the chance to dive at the Pearl Farm Resort, you will see what the best of the Davao Gulf has to offer,” says Darrel Blatchley, who once plunged at the diving site of the resort. “Fishing is strictly prohibited so the fish are plentiful and big. The fish are not afraid of you so they come in close as if they want to say hi!”
Among those that he saw while diving were the parrot fish, trigger fish, barracuda, and the poisonous but impressive lion fish. Blatchley had been fortunate to dive on the resort’s newest attraction: a small airplane that was towed out and sunk to create an artificial reef.
“You don’t have to be a scuba diver to enjoy it as it is located 16-20 feet below,” Blatchley says. “Even though it has not been there long, fish and corals are starting to make it a shelter from larger fish.”
However, Samal City has a multitude of dive sites to suit all tastes. The Ligid Caves in Big Ligid Island has marvelous underwater marine life. Fine golden sea cucumbers are densely littering the reef amid a rainbow of soft corals, hydroids and basket stars. In the caves, divers get to see small tropical small reefs black corals, soft corals and sponge crabs. Outside the caves, they will encounter several marine creatures such as crabs, tunicates, scorpion, rabbit fishes, morays and razorfishes hovering vertically in a harp gorgonian.
The Pinnancle Point, in the southeastern tip of Big Ligid, has a variety of corals with different colors. In the protected areas, large gorgonians, black corals, lots of anthias and tubastrea, angelfishes, scorpionfishes, lionfishes and many invertebrates can be found.
At the east of Small Ligid is a dive site named “Buenavista” after a resort. This beautiful dive spot features a dense coral reef where colored coral trout fish abound, and a large rock formation full of nudi branches and soft corals where sea snakes sometimes roam and disappear in the sandy portions. There are also jack fish and rainbow runners in the area.
Along the coast of Talicud Island is the Dapia Reef. The pristine waters in the area serve as a sanctuary for the fascinating marine life around and beneath it. Examples are tropical fish, morays, barracuda, fusiliers, sea urchins, sea horses, and even jack fish and tunas.
Another Talicud wonder is the Babu Santa Minwall Dive Site. For a clearer dive sightseeing, you have to go down about 60 feet for fantastic deep-sea highlights. Just follow the rocky wall and descend further at 30 meters to enjoy the various coral formations protruding from the wall. Then come across a hidden cove, which is a haven of tunicates. In shallower areas divers can take pleasure observing soft corals.
Protected by a small bay west of Samal Island is San Jose, a quiet yet interesting dive site. Due to the protective bay the water current is generally calm and conducive for snorkeling and even diving for first-timers. The dive spot is popular for the abundance of sea life found in the area mostly suitable as seafood to lure tourists starving for grilled seafood dishes.
Adjacent to the San Jose dive site is the Punta Del Sol. Turtles abound in the area, coral and reef beds are spectacular at a depth of 20 to 30 feet, and tropical fish roam leisurely in schools. Aside from diving and snorkeling, tourists find a lot of other sea activities like kayaking and surfing.
“Diving is one of the few things in life that once you plunge into the water you seem to leave the rest of the world behind,” Blatchley claims. “It has been said we know more about the moon then we do under the sea. I would have to agree with that.”
For safety and better enjoyment of the beautiful dive spots in Samal, all divers are advised to seek assistance from a nearby Davao dive shop. The Davao Scuba Dive Center, for instance, provide world-class diving gears and training according to rules of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It is located in Monteverde Street near the Wharf at Sta. Ana.
Davao City is the jump-off point for Samal Island. Davao is accessible via air or land/water travel from major cities in the country. From Davao City, boats and ferries are available at Sta. Ana Wharf and Km. 11 Wharf in Sasa. Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific and Zest Air fly to Davao regularly. It is an hour and half flight from Manila and fifty minutes flight from Cebu. Davao can also be accessed by plane from Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo City. From Singapore, Silk Air and Cebu Pacific service the route.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 02, 2012.