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Travel Guide to Davao del Norte: Oh That Perfect Pearly Island Vacay Edit

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Michelle Tobias  • Contributor
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Cover photo by Anton Magallanes. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

At a Glance

Davao del Norte is at the frontline of pulling travelers into Mindanao. The sunny Samal and Talicud Islands are unrivaled in their leisure and nature destinations. Other memorable activities include immersing with the Ata-Manobo Tribe and kayaking in Nabintad River. Don’t miss the Musikahan sa Tagum Festival every February!

Overview

Mindanao has its own local charm and Davao del Norte is at the top of its list! Davao del Norte’s tourism magnets are the island group of Samal and the city capital of Tagum. Samal is composed of two larger islands, Samal Island and Talicud Island, and seven islets. These are home to vibrant diving sites, lovely white beaches, and luxury resorts such as Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Playa Azalea Beach Resort.


Striking experiences in Samal include gazing at the sunset from the summit of Mt. Puting Bato, having a dip in the multi-tiered Hagimit Waterfalls, and watching a spectacular torrent of bats come out at dusk. With 2.3 million fruit bats, Monfort Bat Sanctuary holds the largest colony of these nocturnal mammals in the world. You can also enjoy refreshing forest views and sea views by touring the island on a motorbike.


Tagum City, meanwhile, is home to the largest cathedral in the country, the Christ the King Cathedral. Within this place is also the world’s largest rosary. Each rosary bead is made of magcono or iron wood, weighing 35 kilograms! Like Samal, Tagum has a number of leisure resorts such as Banana Beach Resort and Hijo Real Estate Resort.


While there are other exciting places to see and things to do in Davao del Norte, some of the more memorable ones are immersing in the culture of the Ata-Manobo Tribe, kayaking or boating alongside century-old, towering mangrove trees in Nabintad River, and sitting back to watch the live local bands and traditional performances at Musikahan sa Tagum Festival every February.

8 Serene Escapes to soothe your mind, body, and soul in Davao del Norte

Words by Colleen Cabili

Hagimit Falls

This quaint cascade in Samal is an equally breathtaking inland alternative to the white sand beaches that abound the island.

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Photo from Wilson Etrata.

Samal Island

The Island Garden City of Samal is more than just a white sand paradise. It is also teeming with animal sanctuaries that aim to promote biodiversity conservation and livelihood.

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Photo from instagram.com/tipntrips.

Energy Park

The residents of Tagum can often be seen relaxing in this 25-hectare oasis located in the heart of the city. There are bike lanes where regular cyclists and beginners alike can get their daily dose of exercise. Don't have your own bicycle? Rentals are offered all over the park!

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Photo from tagumcity.gov.ph.

Vanishing Island

Despite its name, this jewel of an island can also be enjoyed during the high tide. Its crystal clear waters is home to a community of sea grasses, corals, and fishes that makes it a top diving destination in Davao City, apart from being renowned as a must-visit white sand beach.

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Photo by Joseph Gumia.

Banana Beach Resort

This hidden upscale getaway can be found in the middle of a 760-hectare banana plantation. Apart from its sprawling beachfront and spacious infinity pool, the resort also offers activities such as ATV rides, horseback riding, fishing, and river cruise.

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Photo by Bryan Uy.

Talicud Island

Touted as the white sand beach with the bluest waters, this quaint island hiding behind Samal is also home to Coral Garden Marine Park, a renowned diving and snorkeling destination where various species of corals, sea grasses, and aquarium fish thrive.

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Photo by Chamee Pecson.
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Photo from www.instagram.com/jo_bern68

San Agustin Botanical Park

This 31-hectare man-made project was spearheaded by the local government of Tagum City. The botanical park is expected to be completed by 2020, once the wide assortment of tropical trees and plants in the area reaches their full bloom.

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Photo from lakwatserangparuparo.blogspot.com

Mt. Puting Bato

Much has been said about Samal’s immaculate beaches, but what about its towering landforms? At 535 MASL, Mt. Puting Bato is a relatively easy climb with a stunning view of Samal Island, Davao City, Davao del Sur, and Davao Occidental.

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Photo by Aira Lor.

Where is Davao del Norte

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Davao del Norte is part of Region XI located in the southernmost portion of the Philippines. Graphics by Manel Solsoloy.

How to get to Davao del Norte

From Manila or Cebu, the fastest way to get to Davao del Norte is by plane. Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia have daily flights to Davao. Once at Davao International Airport, you can get to Samal by taking a taxi or tricycle to Sasa Wharf, where you can ride a ferry to the island. Tagum City, meanwhile, is reachable by taxi or bus in about an hour from the airport.


From Manila, a longer and yet more scenic travel is by bus. Just go to Pasay and board a Philtranco bus marked Tagum City. The bus will pass through Bicol and down to Leyte, where it will board a ferry and pass by Visayas islands to Tagum. This takes 3 days.


Once in Davao del Norte, you can take a tricycle or rent a motorcycle to get around a town or island, and take the bus or jeepney to travel to another town.


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