When I found myself booking a plane ticket to Davao City, I immediately contacted Sam and told him he had free rein to basically craft an itinerary for me. I was pretty much open to anything, and he indulged. So here’s part and parcel of what happened and where we went. We had our private driver (of Sam’s choosing) who could take us from Davao City to  Occidental and back. While it was tiring, it was such a great experience to see how expansive and beautiful Davao is. I hope you enjoy this little blog post about my Davao adventure which took place October 2017. 

Are you all set for your next getaway? If you’re headed down South to Mindanao, then I’m pretty sure Davao is one of the places you’ve considered. I’ve written several posts on this wonderful city:

But, let’s explore the other parts of the Davao Region as there is undoubtedly so much to see and experience. We were not permitted to enter Compostela Valley for security reasons, but we hope to rectify that as soon as we get the go signal. In the meantime, read on and try to include these wonderulf places in your itinerary this summer.

DAVAO CITY

The gateway to the region is Davao City itself and while I’ve been around before (click here for Davao City articles), one thing introduced to me recently is the Cleanergy Park. Last October, I flew back for an Environmental Summit and learned valuable insight on the environment, as well as received an invite to take a look at this park within the city.

Cleanergy Park (Hawksbill Turtle nesting grounds)

Located in Sitio Punta Dumalag, Cleanergy Park by Aboitiz is a biodiversity park, as well as a bird and sea turtle sanctuary. I was toured by Sir Fermin (Davao Light Corporate Relations Manager) around the 8-acre property where he showed me the Hawksbill Turtle nesting sites. Cleanergy is one of the few identified nesting grounds in the Philippines.

Repurposed steel, wood, and tarpaulins

Cleanergy is made entirely out of repurposed materials. Sadly, Sir Fermin shared that they encounter 30 sacks of trash per day that’s washed in by the tide. They hope to be able to participate in the Ecobrick Movement so they can repurpose them and create useful pieces out of these discarded non-biodegradables.

Turtle egg shells

There are also 2 turtles that are [temporarily] being rehabilitated here. This is Coaco 2, siezed due to illegal pet ownership. Raised in captivity, she was treated as a dog and as such is used to receiving pats on the head. She was hand-fed most of her life and her previous owner even fed her lechon (roast pig), as such she has to weaned off of red meat before she could eat seafood again. Blind in one eye, she won’t be released into the wild since she will be unable to hunt and find food on her own.

Birdwatching is also popular here and I met two bird watchers from Europe that day. Both regularly come at 8:00 AM to watch and identify the birds. Currently, they have classified about 37 species.

If you wish to visit, please get in touch via (+63-32) 411-1800 and ask about the next pawikan hatchling releases. Who knows, you might get lucky and see the baby sea turtles as they scoot out to sea.

DAVAO DEL NORTE

Sama Tribe in Samal Island

Samal Island is a popular beach destination which is only 5-7 minutes via boat from the city proper. But if you go explore the other less modern side of this island in Bgy. Tagbaobo, you can interact with the Sama Tribe.

It was perfect timing that they were preparing for the death anniversary of one of their members, and the community was buzzing with activity. That afternoon they taught us how to make their local rice snack called Amik. I’d recommend spending 3-5 hours (10am-3pm) as there is lots to learn and observe. Thank you, Ms. Generose Tecson, for letting us spend the night in your rest house on Samal Island.

Tip: You can also trek up to see the falls and go horseback riding in Bgy. Tagbaobo.

DAVAO ORIENTAL

Dahican Beach, Mati

Of course, everyone has heard of Mati — the famous skimboarding and surfing beach. We arrived at 2:00 AM after a long drive from Tagum, the fairy lights and relaxing sounds of ocean waves crashing welcomed us.

And then I woke up to this — have you ever seen such a magical place?

The water is so pristine, so blue, so…flat? Apparently surf season is November-April (we arrived in October) so skimboarding for now was in order. But regardless of the lack of swell, this is heaven. Dahican wasn’t teeming with tourists, it was quiet to a fault (and I loved it! Baler is too crowded now) and as a bonus I met and interviewed Skimboarding Champ, Sonny Boy Aporbo (aka Bayogyog), who happens to be a friend of my personal tour guide, Sam.

With limited food options available, we bought from the market (or buy from the fishermen if you wake up early enough) and asked the staff to cook for us. Simple, easy, cheap.

This is Squid Adobo. Davao has the freshest seafood there is.

Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that you must visit is Mt. Hamiguitan, great for nature lovers and trekkers. Its diverse flora and fauna include our Philippine Eagle and Pitcher Plants. An inscribed UNESCO Heritage Site since 2014, Mt. Hamiguitan is the only mountain range heritage site in the country.

Inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014,the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary boasts of a unique pygmy forest of century old trees in ultramafic soil considered by many as one of the very few all over the world and hosts a rich biodiversity of endangered, endemic and rare species of flora and fauna. Among the residents of this wildlife sanctuary is the country’s national bird, the endangered Philippine Eagle. (source)

Traveling as a family? Take your kids to the Natural Science Museum for an interactive experience. Entrance fee is only Php 50 per person.

Mt. Hamiguitan is home to 1,380 plant and animal species, 341 are endemic to the Philippines.

A two-storey log cabin is situated at the back, ideal for groups for retreats, team building activities and the like. Overnight accommodations are accepted.

Subangan Museum

Say hello to “DavOr,” the 53-foot Sperm Whale that washed up on the shores of Gov. Generoso, a municipality in the province of Davao Oriental. The displayed skeletal remains is ranked #7 in terms of size worldwide, the largest on record is 59 feet.

Sadly there was a power outage and the museum did not permit us inside the other exhibit rooms.

DAVAO OCCIDENTAL

The last but certainly not the least is Davao Occidental which was a 3- hour drive from Davao City. We spent one night back in the city to rest and to get my bearings. While the road trip was fun, it was also so tiring to be on our toes moving from one place to another.

Thanks to the assistance of Mayor Michael Maruya for housing us and taking us around the municipality. I met his darling pet Beagle, Frodo, too. This was shot at 6am while waiting for the boat to arrive.

Bulata White Sand Beach

The locals have been telling me it’s considered as their “mini Boracay,” so we definitely had to check it out. We only needed narrow boat for the trip which took about 10-15 mins.

Tip: Make sure to bring a dry bag, the waves can be strong and my camera got wet after this snap.

The best time to go is 8am til lunch time. Bulata Beach has no tours as of yet (and is delightfully empty) since it’s a relatively newer attraction. There is no store on the island so bring snacks when you visit but please don’t litter. You can also enjoy fresh coconuts which the owner/inhabitant picked from the trees on the island.

Adlai Farm

Adlai, a gluten-free grain, is so popular in Manila right now. Davao Occidental caught wind and is starting to plant them here, beginning with a small section of the farm to test. I’ve heard of Adlai but have not tried it, however I was really interested in learning more.

I’m with Kuya Andres Panay, 100% Manobo, 46-year old farmer. Some people refer to Adlai as the Pinoy quinoa, a healthier alternative to white rice.

I got a bag for free (first batch of that season’s harvest) which I can make into a delicious chocolate-y champorado.

Kepiya Falls

Not really a waterfalls kind of girl but I was willing to take a short trek up the mountain in Bgy. Lawa. One of our goals for this trip was to also check out new local attractions for future tours. It was also a way for me to check the trash situation in the province.

True enough, there is trash everywhere which is a sad byproduct of our reliance on convenience. Shampoo sachets, single use plastics, foil packs, etc, were littered as we trekked uphill. We hope to address this through awareness and education, so we need your help on this! Shoot me a message if you’re interested or if you have any ideas.

Anyway, after that very hot trip a dip in cool freshwater was much welcome. Kepiya Falls was the refreshing ending to our very jampacked day. The trek took us about 40 minutes total (city folk standards).

See you again soon, Davao!

So that’s about it! I have another trip to Davao this year, with hopefully more beach visits (snorkeling) plus a quick return to Dahican Beach. Stay tuned for those in my next Davao post.

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If you need someone to help you craft your Davao itinerary or have some questions about where to go and what to do, please get in touch with accredited Tour Guide Samuel L. Libre, Jr. at 0917-1497130.