We were six in the group: Four (4) of us took the Cebu Pacific flight to Davao at 4:00am and (2) two of my officemates took the Philippine Airlines flight with the same time as ours. We had a contest on which flight would arrive ahead in Davao and surprisingly, Cebu Pacific arrived earlier than expected. Upon landing at Davao International Airport, 4 of us had to wait for 2 of our companions which arrived on time.
From the airport, I asked the guard on how to go to Samal Island and I was referred to a van for hire and quoted an amount which I found exuberant. Our alternative was to take the jeepney; so from the highway, we asked around and we took the jeepney going to Panacan. From there, we took another jeepney going to Sassa wharf. Then, we boarded a bus found inside the RORO ship. The fare was only twenty pesos. It was my first time and I didn’t feel dizzy considering the bus was on the ship. The trip took less than 30 minutes.
The good thing was the bus conductor assisted us in getting two tricycles for our Samal Island tour. We decided to go first to the Monfort Bat Sanctuary, which is now a record holder of Guinness Book of World Records for the number of bats in a cave, estimated to be more than one million. We paid for the conservation fee of twenty pesos (PhP20.00). Thousands of fruit bats are living in the underground cave of the private property. It was like a scene from the Batman movie. The number of fruit bats and their contribution to the Samal Island’s forests truly amazed me. Though I must admit whenever winds passed by the cave, stinking guano smell came out and it was strong enough to make you throw up.
We then decided to go to Vanishing Island for our next destination. We rented a boat for four hundred pesos (PhP400.00) and since it was high tide, only a house structure was visible but the view was just splendid. Then, we had a very simple lunch at Bastasa’s Kitchenette before proceeding to Hagimit falls (entrance fee PhP40.00). The water falls was very simple and has very clean water; enhanced a little bit by the man-made structures added in the area. A little reminder though to the would-be travelers: going down to the falls requires strong knees as there are a lot of steps in going down and back to the entrance gate.
Having enjoyed two (2) different spots of the Samal Island and bent on experiencing more, we then headed to Maxima Resort for scuba diving. I convinced three of my companions to take the intro dive. It was even more exciting for me as I haven’t dived for almost a year. Our dives were in pairs with the dive master. Even though the water was a bit murky, we managed to see the corals and admire its astounding beauty. Since I was with the intro dive group, our depth was only around 40 feet and we saw lots of big fish and not to mention, the famous animation character, Nemo – the clown fish. After the dive, everyone was excited to share their experiences and blunders underwater.
From the wonderful dive, we went to Pearl Farm (750.1896 / 750.1898) to check in. We had a grand entrance since we arrived in three (3) habal-habal (a type of motorcycle that can carry up to five passengers). One of the habal-habal carried three of us including the driver plus our bags. It was a bumpy road going to the resort and it was the only way to go there by land since the road leading to Pearl Farm is very narrow. Upon arrival at the resort, we were all exhausted because of the heat, the bumpy road, and the dusts. The staff warmly greeted us and offered us with drinks. We were then escorted to our respective rooms and in the afternoon, we swam in front of the resort. I even enjoyed arranging the starfishes underwater, which was truly a relaxing experience for me. In the evening, we watched the cultural presentation while having dinner. It was indeed an enjoyable presentation especially when the guests started to join in the dancing. After dinner, some of my companions treated themselves for a spa while I chose to go around the resort to take photos. I even saw a school of fish encircling the Parola.
The following day, the group did a bit of snorkeling before having a sumptuous buffet breakfast. We ate so much that it took a while before we decided to hop to the nearby island resort that is still owned by Pearl Farm. We had some photo ops and later on, just basked ourselves under the sun. By mid-day, we went back to the main resort and packed up our things. The boat going back to the mainland Davao left at exactly 1:00pm. It took practically almost an hour to reach the docking port. Again, we had a grand exit since six of us including our bags rode a single tricycle in going to the ‘Patok sa Manok’ restaurant for our late lunch. We had a few laughs since most of the guests took a van while we merely rode a tricycle that passed through the national highway. It was difficult to leave such beautiful place with breath-taking sceneries but we promised ourselves that we will definitely go back and stay longer in at Pearl Farm.
Our lunch at the Patok sa Manok restaurant (which served very affordable and delicious food) was a treat by one of our female friends who promised to do such a month ago. After that hefty lunch, we proceeded to My Hotel (082.2222021 / 3004040 / 3211112) for our accommodations.
The hotel was very simple with basic amenities. The only thing I like about the hotel was free wi-fi in all the rooms and accessibility to downtown. We rushed ourselves up to go to Outland Adventure (082.2716067), which operates the longest, fastest and tallest zipline in Asia. We paid PhP300.00 each and had the basic orientation before starting the 20-minute trekking. It was tiring but when it was time to go up the platform for the zip, I had to see for myself if the zipline personnel were really placing the harness and locks properly. I admit that I was very nervous since I was the first person to try among our group. When it was time to go, I enjoyed it and wanted to try it again. But since it would mean trekking back for another 20 minutes, I opted instead to just wait for my companions as they slide through the wires and enjoyed myself taking snapshots of them. After all of us were done with the zipline, we bought our photos from their booth and compared one another’s photos.
As if we were not yet tired, we went to the Aldevinco Center for our souvenirs. Most of us bought so many items in just one store. I for instance bought a local instrument called gong for nine hundred pesos (PhP900.00). I had to buy the item since I wanted to buy that in Zamboanga but I didn’t find one. I learned from our Aldevinco shopping experience that we should have checked out other stores as they offered cheaper price for the same items compared to the first store we went to.
Around seven in the evening, we decided to take our dinner at Jack’s Ridge. The view of the city from our table was totally spectacular! Our dinner was just excellent that we had no leftovers on our plates. There was also a trio of in-house singers who serenaded us with two really classic songs. One observation though in their menu: all the prices have centavos in it and not the usual rounded off to hundreds.
After dinner, we decided to try Blugre’s Coffee to have a taste of their famous Durian de Leche Frappe (Php160). I am not a coffee drinker but I love their local frappe and I reckon it would interesting if they offer a little competition to cafes here in Manila by opening a coffee shop.
On the last day of our trip, we immediately went to their Crocodile Park where we saw just a few crocodiles and some bird species. The place was not as I expected it to be. It was very simple that one can go around the park in just a few minutes. Afterwards, we rented a taxi going to Eden Garden about an hour away from the city. We were six and boarded an ordinary taxi with four people sitting at the back while two occupied the front seat beside the driver. We had to contend ourselves with just one taxi because we had to pay PhP1,500.00 for the rental. Upon arrival at the place, we immediately arranged for the tour around the garden. We again boarded another vehicle without doors for the tour. The tour guide explained the different areas of the garden including their plantations. The tour lasted for almost an hour and paid for PhP255.00 each including light snack.
For the final stop, some of us went to Gaisano Mall for the last minute souvenir shopping. Two of my companions proceeded to the airport for their 4pm PAL flight while the four of us still went to Aldevinco before proceeding to the airport for our 7pm flight.
It was truly an amazing trip because in a span of three days, we visited so many places in Davao and Samal.
Visited last March 6, 2010