Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A December Vacation in an Island Called Samal

by Regin Reyno

Mindanao, one of the three main islands of the Philippines, and dubbed as “The Land of Promise” due to its natural resources, fertile lands, and no typhoons beyond signal no. 2, is blessed with wonderful sites worth visiting.
Babak Wharf, Samal Island
One of those is Samal Island-an island in the province of Davao Del Norte, and is located near the city of Davao-endowed with white-sand beaches, pristine waters, pearls, coconut trees, rich marine life and friendly locals.

            Samal Island is just a few kilometers from the city of Davao, and is accessible via ferry and pump boats from the ports of Davao City.

            Last December, I had the opportunity to visit this famed island in Davao Del Norte, one of the most-talked-about tourist sites in Mindanao. It was a family vacation, one of the usual things families do in the Philippines every Christmas season. My family together with my girlfriend’s was the ones who went there with me.
            We rode a jeep owned by my girlfriend’s family going to the island via the ferry. The ferry terminal going to Samal Island is located in Sasa, Km 11. Davao City.

            It was quite a long queue on a warm afternoon going to the ferry, a typical December rush.  The smell of sea water, the site of blue aquatic, and seeing the island from where we were all added up to our exhilaration. We were getting so anxious to get to the other side. Thoughts of relaxing on the cottages by the beach, water sports, and swimming were all in our mind that very moment. My 5-month old nephew began to cry, as if saying, “It’s too hot in here! I want to go to the other side!”
            Finally our turn came to board the ferry, while the vehicle was resting under, we passengers, went on top of the ferry and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and fresh wind. We can see the white-sand beaches of the island as we slowly approached it. 

            The distance between Sasa, km. 11 Ferry Terminal in Davao City to the port of Samal called Babak Wharf is approximately 2 km. It took us 7 minutes aboard the ferry to reach Samal Island.

            Samal Island is a vast island measuring 30,130 hectares. It has its own market, gas station, and convenience store. Many locals live there too, with a population of 90,291.

On January 30, 1998, it was declared a city through the Republic Act No. 8471. Combining the municipalities of Samal, Babak and Kaputian, the whole island was named Island Garden City of Samal.

Beach resorts fill the island. So before going to the island, you must have a beach resort in mind where to stay to if you don’t want to waste time in searching for one.

            We docked in the island with no specific beach resort in mind yet to spend our vacation. So we ended up driving around the island in search for a beach resort that would make our vacation worth-remembering.

 It was already 4:00 pm yet still we were searching for the perfect beach resort to accommodate our adventurous yet tired souls.
Going around the island via a jeep is a wonderful experience. We were able to see almost the whole island. We saw the islands vegetation, its locals’ lives and residences. We even witnessed one of the locals’ mode transportation called “habal-habal”-a public transportation motorcycle that can accommodate up to 5 people. - as it cruised through its cemented road. 
After an hour of earnest searching for the perfect beach resort, we finally found it. Camp Holiday Resort, a beach resort located just beside the port of Samal Island, Babak Wharf, where our ferry docked. Had we have known it before; we shouldn’t have wasted time and gas in circumnavigating the island. Anyways, we almost saw the whole of the island because of that so no regrets.

We wasted no time in checking-in in the resort. Upon seeing it, I know we’ve made the right choice.

Almost all beach resorts in the Samal Island have an entrance fee or admission fee, and a cottage rental fee; those are besides the payment of your hotel room. But here at Camp Holiday Resort, once you pay your hotel room, you can use all the cottages of your choice, and there’ll be no entrance fee.

We spent the night eating our sumptuous dinner by the beach, relaxing, bonding and story-telling while the gentle, cool December sea breeze caressed our face and hairs. Unlike the other resorts in the island which was full-packed, this resort had few visitors during that time, which allowed us to enjoy the peace, tranquility and bonding moments with each other.

The moon shone brightly as we witnessed the gentle waves while sitting in the cottages. We really experienced island life at its best.

As the older folks went to bed to relax, we younger ones, with energy yet to use, jumped in the resort’s swimming pool, night swimming, that is. It was a relaxing treat after the day’s activities. Some enjoyed the night by playing billiards, one of the resort’s amenities.

Being in this island is a respite from the busy life in Davao City, a getaway that doesn’t take much time to travel to.
Camp Holiday Resort. Samal Island 
The next day, we were greeted by the wonderful site of the sea with its calm waves gently hitting the white sand, a view from the balcony of our hotel room. 

 That view prompted me to prepare a cup of hot chocolate, sipping it while sitting on the balcony’s chair while enjoying the view. I can even spot the port of Davao City with all its ferries and ships on that balcony. That tells me how Samal Island is near Davao City.

     That morning, the plan was to swim in the beach the whole day, as the bluish waters and white sand kept on inviting us. So before swimming, my parents and I checked the market for our breakfast. The market is a 5-8 minutes away from our resort. We took a tricycle in going there.

Tricycle is one of the public transportations in the island other than the ‘habal-habal”. It’s a good way to explore the island. The minimum fare is Php 10.

As we rode the tricycle that early morning, I really felt the ambiance of being in an island. There were few cars and the surrounding was peaceful.

The market, located in Penaplata, one of the districts in Samal Island, abounded fresh sea foods, vegetables and some other things that you will basically need. Since our plan was to have freshly-catch broiled fish for breakfast, we headed to the fish section of the market where we found lots of freshly catch fish from the island’s own waters.

There were lots of options to choose from. And finally we’ve made our choice, yellow fin tuna, perfect for broiling. That’s one of the good things I love in staying in an island. It’s the availability of fresh fish for broiling.

The resort has grills all over wherein you have the opportunity to broil, grill, and barbecue whatever you want, for free. Just provide your own coals.

The sight of bluish-green waters and white sand, gentle sea breeze, plus the aroma of yellow fin tuna over hot coals, o what a beautiful morning, a truly relaxing break from my daily routine in the city of Bangkok.

After feasting on the broiled tuna for breakfast, we wasted no time in immersing ourselves in the pristine waters of the island. It was a relaxing feeling. We swam, dived, jumped, and played. There was a raft in the sea provided by the resort where you can ride on it. And that added the fun. 

As the cool waters caressed my skin as I dive underwater, my stress from work was quickly forgotten. As if nature all collaborated in healing my stress. There’s the cool water, the gentle wind, the swaying coconut trees, white sand, and the rays of the sun, a truly relaxing experience.
We frolicked under the sun for many hours. The relaxing water made us forget the time. It’s as if time stood still and all I wanted to do was immerse myself in that pristine, clear waters, complimented by its white sand. 

Most of the coastline of the island is white-sand making it popular among tourists, both foreign and local. It’s also a top destination for scuba diving, snorkeling and island hopping, as there are islets surrounding the island. If you have lots of time, which we didn’t have, it’s great to rent a pump boat and go to the nearby islets, island hopping, so they say.

As I gazed on the sky witnessing the sun on top of me, I realized it’s already almost noon and time for lunch before heading back to Davao City. As what have mentioned, our time was limited due to hectic schedule, so even if we want to stay more in the island, we couldn't.

After devouring our mouth-watering lunch of freshly-catch fish cooked in tamarind soup with fresh vegetables, tropical fruits and grilled tuna, we headed back to the city of Davao.

As my eyes were looking at the island we left behind while on the ferry, thoughts of a wonderful vacation lingered in my mind, an island paradise in Mindanao indeed. We promised to dock again in that port called Babak Wharf someday.

Travel Notes

How to Get There

International Visitors
You can fly straight to Davao City from Singapore via SilkAir.
If your port of entry is Manila, you can take domestic flights from Manila to Davao. Airlines such as      Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, AirphilExpress, and Zest Air have flights to Davao City.

From Cagayan De Oro.
Take a bus from Cagayan de Oro Agora terminal going to Davao City. Rural Transit has direct trips from Cagayan de Oro to Davao City
You can also take the plane. Cebu Pacific has flights from Cagayan De Oro to Davao City

From General Santos City
Take a bus from General Santos City going to Davao City. Buses such as Yellow Bus lines and Holiday Bus have direct trips to Davao city from GenSan.

In going to the Island from Davao City, there are three established entry points:

Sta Ana Wharf
It is located near Magsaysay Park. Motorboats are available to ferry passengers directly to Kaputian and Talikud Island.
You can also arrange an Island Hopping tour in this port.

Sasa, Km. 11 Wharf
Motorboats are available to ferry passengers direct to Babak Wharf.

Sasa, Km. 11 Ferryboat Landing
This is where the ferry docks, where buses and private vehicles board the ferry.
 You can also ride the ferry from here even if you don’t have a vehicle. 
The ferry goes directly to Babak Wharf.


There are lots of resorts in the island. Prices of the room range from 
Php 200.00-Php4, 000.00 per night depending on which resort you will stay.

Famous resorts include Pearl Farm, Paradise Island, Blue Jazz, Camp Holiday Resort, and Mayumi Disney Resort

For Backpackers and Budget Travelers

Camping is allowed in most of the resorts. Just pay the entrance fee and you’ll be allowed to setup your tent inside the vicinity of the resort.

You can also sleep in the cottages of the resorts. Just don’t forget your sleeping bag or hammock.

Author’s recommendation: Camp Holiday Resort

Things to do in Samal Island

1.      rock climbing
2.      rappelling
3.      water sports
4.      spelunking
5.      explore bat cave
6.     joyride around the island (you can rent motorbikes at Camp Holiday Resort)
7.      scuba diving
8.      island hopping
9.      snorkeling
10.  camping

Originally published in

“Expat Travel and Lifestyle” (March 2012 issue)




  1. I seldom comment, however I read a few of
    the remarks on "A December Vacation in an Island Called Samal".
    I actually do have some questions for you if you do not mind.
    Is it only me or does it seem like a few of the remarks appear like they are written by brain dead individuals?
    :-P And, if you are writing at additional social sites, I would like to keep up with
    everything fresh you have to post. Would you
    list of the complete urls of all your social networking pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?
    Also visit my web-site ... affiliate marketing success

  2. Stunning quest there. What occurred after? Thanks!
    my web site > private krankenversicherung für selbständige

  3. Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few
    of the images aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why but I think its
    a linking issue. I've tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.
    My web page :: seo google

  4. I think that what you posted made a great deal of sense.
    But, what about this? suppose you added a little information?
    I ain't suggesting your content isn't good., however
    suppose you added something that makes people want more?
    I mean "A December Vacation in an Island Called Samal" is kinda boring.
    You should peek at Yahoo's front page and note how they create article titles to get viewers interested. You might add a related video or a picture or two to grab readers excited about what you've got to say.
    In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more
    Here is my blog :: wechsel pkv gkv

  5. That is really fascinating, You're an excessively professional blogger. I've
    joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking extra of
    your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your website in my social

    Feel free to surf to my web page: private krankenversicherung günstigste
    Stop by my website ;

  6. Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this site, as i
    want enjoyment, as this this web site conations genuinely good funny stuff too.

    Here is my blog
    My web page >

  7. Everything is very open with a really clear explanation
    of the challenges. It was definitely informative.
    Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!
    Also visit my homepage all inclusive beach vacations

  8. I enjoy what you guys are up too. Such clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the wonderful works guys I've incorporated you guys to blogroll.

    Also visit my blog post;
    My webpage ::

  9. Howdy very nice web site!! Guy .. Excellent .

    . Superb .. I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?
    I am happy to search out so many helpful information right here within the
    post, we'd like work out extra strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

    Review my webpage ... private krankenversicherung tarifrechner
    Feel free to surf my web-site : private krankenversicherung tarifrechner

  10. Very soon this website will be famous amid all blog users, due to it's nice content
    Feel free to visit my web page ; designer outlet online shops

  11. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been
    blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, as well as the content!

    Take a look at my blog post - kreditvermittler ohne schufa
    Here is my homepage -

  12. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the
    video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?
    My weblog - qualifications for home equity loan

  13. No matter if some one searches for his required thing, so he/she needs to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

    Here is my web-site
    my site:

  14. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, excellent blog!
    Feel free to visit my homepage :: Shoe Online shop

  15. There is definately a lot to learn about this subject.
    I like all of the points you've made.
    Check out my web page : cheapest caribbean island to vacation

  16. Thanks , I've just been looking for info approximately this subject for a while and yours is the best I've came upon so far.
    However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure in
    regards to the supply?
    My web page > make money from home

  17. The habal-habal image took my attention. Albeit, I wouldn't dare riding with those other 5 people on a motorcycle. Only in the Philippines! ;)

    1. Haha.. Filipinos are really creative and adaptive.

  18. You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
    The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are
    not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your
    Here is my website ... herbal supplements

  19. Whats up are using Wordpress for your site platform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying to get started and set up my own.
    Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?

    Any help would be really appreciated!
    Stop by my homepage shield Health Insurance

  20. I constantly emailed this web site post page to all my contacts, for the reason that if like to read
    it next my friends will too.
    Feel free to surf my site : www.nextgreatsoccerstar.com

  21. Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but
    I was wondering which blog platform are you using for
    this site? I'm getting fed up of Wordpress because I've
    had problems with hackers and I'm looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    My web-site - just click the up coming website
    Look at my website ; Usuario:JuniorTaw - Bibliopedia

  22. I couldn't resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!
    Also visit my webpage pointclick windows comparison shopping method

  23. I don't even understand how I finished up right here, however I believed this publish used to be great. I don't know who you're however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger if you are not already. Cheers!
    my web site > ads shown

  24. Money is incredibly important in growing companies, yet it can
    be still quite difficult to raise while still developing pay day uk making sure you know what is claimed with
    this document is important.
    Also see my page :: pay day uk

  25. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    Stop by my web blog private krankenversicherung beitragsbemessungsgrenze 2011
    my website > pkv vergleich online

  26. Post writing is also a excitement, if you know then you can write if not it is difficult to write.

    My weblog ... billig schuhe online kaufen

  27. I'm extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it's rare to
    see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

    my web blog :: private versicherungen im vergleich

  28. Excellent article. I will be experiencing some of these
    issues as well..

    Review my homepage ... coffee capital of america

  29. Hi there Dear, are you truly visiting this web site on a regular basis, if so after that you will definitely obtain fastidious knowledge.

    Look into my web page ... carrosemotos.net

  30. Hi there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to check it out.

    I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm bookmarking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Superb blog and great design.

    Feel free to visit my blog post; vertical leap exercises

  31. This post will help the internet people for setting up new web site or
    even a weblog from start to end.

    Also visit my page; exercises to improve vertical leap

  32. Hi colleagues, its fantastic piece of writing regarding tutoringand fully defined,
    keep it up all the time.

    Here is my web-site :: http://www.videochatwithfriends.com/

  33. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.

    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    Feel free to visit my blog post: It services

  34. For newest news you have to pay a quick visit the web and on internet I
    found this web page as a finest site for most recent updates.

    Take a look at my webpage: workouts to increase vertical

  35. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it's driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

    Here is my web site - http://Howtojumphigherfaster.com/

  36. Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts
    and I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once again.

    Also visit my blog post: core exercises swiss ball

  37. Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thank you for supplying this information.

    My blog: just click the next website page

  38. Fine way of describing, and pleasant post to take information regarding my presentation focus,
    which i am going to present in institution of higher education.

    Here is my web site ... workouts to improve vertical jump

  39. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the
    pictures on this blog loading? I'm trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

    Feel free to visit my web-site; http://lucas.moser.free.fr/wiki/index.php?title=Hiya_Visibility_Clothing_Should_Be_Worn_On_Undertaking_Sites

  40. Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to look it over.
    I'm definitely enjoying the information. I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Great blog and brilliant design and style.

    Also visit my homepage; vertical leap workouts

  41. I lessen Mindanao beach name but no have any detail of this Philippians beach after reading this post. Wonder to know Mindanao, is one of the three main islands of the Philippines, and dubbed as “The Land of Promise” due to its natural resources. I just thought "The Land of Promise" beach is Miami. Great full for these information.

  42. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I
    provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My website is in the exact same area of
    interest as yours and my users would really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Regards!