Davao Oriental, located in the southeastern part of the Philippines, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The province is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking tourist spots. From pristine beaches to majestic mountain ranges, Davao Oriental has something to offer for every type of traveler. Some of the popular tourist spots in Davao Oriental include the majestic Pujada Bay, the historic Caraga Church, and the picturesque Dahican Beach.
The province is also home to the spectacular Pacific Ocean, offering breathtaking views and a variety of water-based activities for tourists. With its rich history, diverse landscapes, and abundant natural resources, Davao Oriental is a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and a taste of the Philippines’ unique culture. Let’s discover the best tourist spots in Davao Oriental.
How to get there:
• The nearest commercial airport to Davao Oriental is situated in Davao City (Francisco Bangoy International Airport). Major airlines fly every day to Davao City from Manila and Cebu along with other international destinations.
• From Davao City, you can go to Davao Oriental by bus or van. Take note that buses are more stress-free, but take longer. Vans are faster but can be overcrowded. Buses are supposed to leave hourly as early as 5:00 am, but schedules are not strictly followed. Vehicles will depart depending on the units available and the number of passengers.
• BUS: Choose the Bachelor Express bus going to Mati, Davao Oriental (via Panabo City and Tagum) from the highway outside the Davao City airport or at the Ecoland Transport Terminal, travel time is around 4-6 hours depending on the road conditions and traffic getting out of the city.
• VAN: Ride a van from Gaisano Mall. The travel period is 3 hours.
Where to go in Davao Oriental
Here are the top tourist spots in Davao Oriental:
1. Dahican Beach
In the outskirts of the Philippines lie immeasurable tourism gems that are just waiting to be explored. One of which is Dahican Beach which is located in Mati City, Davao Oriental. Dahican beach is one of the best tourist spots in Davao Oriental, offering an unspoiled long stretch of white sand beach, glittering, clear seawaters, amusing marine life, and a leading spot for adventure fanatics and numerous water sports activities such as surfing, skim-boarding, and a whole lot more.
A 7-km stretch of open beach surrounded by tall coconut trees, fine sand, and powerful waves, Mati’s best-kept top secret is not much of a secret anymore. Common with surfers, skimboarders, and plain beach enthusiasts alike, who endlessly gather at the crescent-shaped shoreline to enjoy this simple, pure slice of paradise. The local government tries to keep the area protected as it’s also a sanctuary for sea turtles (pawikan). In fact, the name “Dahican” is derived from “dahik,” the word locals use to define their act of coming in from the sea to nest.
2. Sleeping Dinosaur
While en route to Mati, visitors and tourists are greeted with a stunning sight of an island that looks like a plesiosaur-shaped dinosaur sleeping on its belly in Badas Point, Barangay Dawan.
It is named Sleeping Dinosaur Island. This natural tourist spot has a total land area of roughly 579 hectares. it is named one of the key major tourism expansion areas of Davao Oriental‘s Tourism Master Plan.
Sleeping Dinosaur is an astonishing and pleasing island in Davao Oriental that has become popular with all tourists since it resembles a sleeping dinosaur from afar. The Sleeping Dinosaur is becoming popular as one of the tourist spots in Davao Oriental. The island’s high and hilly land looks like a dinosaur’s back while the narrow flatland on the left side looks like the head.
The island’s shade is that of a healthy, glowing green, often associated with the color of nature. The island is flourishing with vegetation and is rich with life.
3. Pujada Island
Pujada Island is one of the best islands in the Philippines and one of the most visited tourist spots in Davao Oriental. Its general view is simply magnificent. Plus, it is a well-maintained island with no signs of risky development.
Sure, the local government has tried to make it commercialized in the past years, but it has achieved maintaining its beauty through sensible and sustainable tourism.
It is not congested with tourists as the local government continues to control the number of people on the island to preserve its beauty and not interrupt its rich and diverse marine biodiversity.
There are a few privately owned resorts in Pujada Island that you can try, but you can also choose to carry a tent with you, as most parts of the island can be adored for free.
Pujada Island is also the home of diverse species of green sea turtles. sharks, whale sharks, Philippine dugongs, hawksbills, and green sea turtles.
4. Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
Mount Hamiguitan is a mountain situated in the province of Davao Oriental, Philippines. It has an altitude of 1,620 meters (5,315 ft). The mountain and its area have one of the most diverse wildlife inhabitants in the country. Among the wildlife that can be found in the area are Philippine Eagles and numerous species of Nepenthes such as the Nepenthes peltata, which are endemic to the area.
The mountain has a protected forest range of around 2,000 hectares. This woodland is well-known for its unique pygmy forest of century-old trees in ultramafic soil, with many endangered, endemic, and rare species of flora and fauna. The Mount Hamiguitan range, with an area of 6,834 hectares (68.34 km2), was acknowledged as a national park and a wildlife sanctuary in 2003. In 2014, Mount Hamiguitan was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Aliwagwag Falls
Aliwagwag Falls, also recognized as one of Davao Oriental’s most visited natural attractions, consists of more or less a hundred flowing falls. Just like a staircase with various heights in between steps, reaching from 2 meters to 33 meters tall and the highest cascades are around 20 meters to 22 meters tall. This beautiful waterfall has a combined total height of 335 meters. Namely, it’s the Philippines’ highest waterfall in the country.
Located in the Eastern Mindanao. Aliwagwag contains one of the largest remaining blocks of tropical lowland forest in the Philippines. The waterfalls can be seen just along the national highway and just 30 minutes ride from Cateel Proper.
You can certainly take photos of this beauty from the bridge.
6. Lake Carolina
Lake Carolina is situated at Baganga, a first-class municipality on the east coast of Davao Oriental. It is surrounded by the Davao Gulf and is one of the towns in the Philippines directly facing the Pacific Ocean. Also Known for its untouched white sand beaches and thriving agricultural industry, Baganga is now being gradually put on the current tourist map, thanks to Lake Carolina.
Lake Carolina also boasts crystal pure and clean freshwater and saltwater. It is also lush in vegetation and rich in tall grasses and trees, making it a perfect haven for travelers who want a more laid-back and relaxing excursion.
7. Pusan Point
On January 1, 2000, this exact spot along the coast of Davao Oriental fronting the Pacific Ocean was the location of a grand display. Hundreds of local and even foreign tourists are said to have assembled here to have a sight of the first sunrise of the new millennium.
Almost two decades later, many people visiting the province are still not aware that in the town of Caraga, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, the sun rises first in the Philippines at Pusan Point.
Pusan Point is around 9 kilometers or about a 15-minute drive from the national highway going east near the coast. It is part of Barangay Santiago of the Municipality of Caraga which is also considered one of the oldest settlements in the whole of Mindanao. Due to its geographical position, Pusan Point is truly the easternmost inland point of the Philippines.
8. Caraga Church
also called San Salvador del Mundo Church (Christ, the Saviour of the World), is one of the main attractions in the municipality of Caraga in Davao Oriental because of its historical reputation and significance not only for the province and the island of Mindanao but for the whole country, as San Salvador del Mundo Church is where Christianity began in the eastern part of the Philippines.
It is located at the heart of Poblacion of Caraga, about 229 feet from the edge of a high point overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is the oldest stone church and one of Mindanao’s remaining Spanish colonial-era churches. It was built in 1884 by a priest named Fr. Pablo Pastells when the Jesuits took custody of the spiritual administration of the town in 1871 from the Augustinian Recollects.
The Caraga Church is a humble structure made of coral and limestone blocks positioned on top of each other, while the upper half is built mainly of wood. Upon the church’s main door is a writing that bears a symbol of Christ which dates to the structure’s foundation in 1884. The interior has experienced renovation since the church’s centennial in 1996.
9. Curtain Falls
The Curtain Falls originates its name after the formation of the waterfalls itself. The cool dropping waters come from the river above and the bulky flat rock causes it to drift in a curtain-like form. Curtain Falls is thought to be the broadest curtain falls in the whole Davao Region. The waters fall from a distance of around 7 meters in height and its width is maybe around 15 to 18 meters.
It falls into a shallow basin of water underneath where you may take a dip or a plunge. You can climb on the rocks near the waterfall if you want to reach the spot overhead. Once you’re on top, you can see another fall from view. These are quite far from the Curtain Falls and will take nearly an hour to trek. The place is kept in its natural form and is not that truly developed even if it is already open for tourism. You don’t have to pay the entrance fee. Makeshift cottages are made accessible by the locals for rent.
Davao Oriental is a beautiful and vibrant province located in the southeastern part of the Philippines. It boasts a diverse landscape, from pristine beaches and lush forests to majestic mountains and awe-inspiring waterfalls. Its rich culture and history, as well as its warm and hospitable people, make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. Davao Oriental tourist spots offer a range of exciting activities, such as hiking, island hopping, and bird watching, as well as mouth-watering delicacies that are unique to the region. With its many natural wonders and unforgettable experiences, Davao Oriental truly has something to offer everyone.
Written by: George Jr C. Galera