- History of Samal Island
- How To Get There
- Culture of Samal Island
- Getting Around
- 10 Tourist Spots to visit Samal Island
- Travel Tips
Samal Island is a beautiful and pristine island located in the Davao Gulf, off the coast of Davao City in the southern part of the Philippines. It is the largest island in the Davao del Norte province and covers an area of 301.3 square kilometers. The island is a popular tourist destination for its stunning beaches, clear waters, lush forests, and diverse marine life.
History of Samal Island
Samal Island has a rich history dating back to pre-colonial times. The island was originally settled by the indigenous Sama and Tagabawa tribes, who engaged in seafaring and trade activities with neighboring countries.
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the 16th century brought Christianity to the island, and it was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II. After the war, families who migrated from neighboring areas rehabilitated and resettled the island.
In 1948, it became an official municipality of the province of Davao, and in 1998, it was declared a separate city in the Davao region. Today, Samal Island is a popular tourist destination, known for its natural beauty, stunning beaches, and diverse marine life. Its history adds to the island’s unique character and makes it a fascinating place to visit.
How To Get There
Samal Island is located in the southern part of the Philippines, in the province of Davao del Norte. Here are some ways to get there:
- By Air – The nearest airport is the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, which is served by domestic and international airlines. From there, you can take a taxi or private car to the ferry ports in Davao City.
- By Ferry – There are two ferry ports in Davao City that offer daily trips to Samal Island: the Sasa Wharf and the Sta. Ana Wharf. The ferry ride takes about 15-30 minutes, depending on the port of origin and destination.
- By Land and Ferry – If you’re coming from other parts of Mindanao, you can take a bus or van to Davao City, and then take a taxi or private car to the ferry ports.
Culture of Samal Island
Samal Island is a unique blend of traditions from different indigenous tribes, such as the Sama and Tagabawa. These tribes have preserved their way of life and continue to practice their beliefs and customs, including seafaring, fishing, farming, and weaving.
The island also has a rich storytelling culture, with many stories and legends passed down from generation to generation. Cultural festivals, such as Hugyaw Kansamal, are held annually, showcasing the local culture through music, dance, and performances.
The island’s culture is a source of pride for its residents and adds to the unique charm and character of the island.
Samal Island offers a variety of accommodations for visitors, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to high-end resorts. Some of the popular options include beachfront resorts, eco-friendly lodges, and boutique hotels.
Many of the resorts offer a range of amenities, such as swimming pools, spas, and water sports facilities. In contrast, others focus on providing a serene and tranquil atmosphere for a relaxing getaway. There are also camping and glamping options available for those who want a more adventurous experience.
Visitors can choose from a range of accommodation options based on their budget and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay on the island.
Getting around Samal Island is relatively easy, with various transportation options available. Here are some ways to get around the island:
- Habal-habal – This is the most common mode of transportation on the island. It’s a motorcycle taxi that can take you to different parts of the island. Habal-habal drivers can be found in most main towns and tourist spots.
- Tricycle – Tricycles are also available for hire, and they can take you to nearby destinations or around the town.
- Private car – Visitors can also rent a car or hire a private vehicle with a driver to explore the island at their own pace.
- Bicycle – Bicycles can also be rented to explore the island, and it’s a great way to enjoy scenic views and get some exercise.
- Walking – Samal Island is a relatively small island, and some areas can be easily explored on foot, especially if you’re staying in a resort or hotel in a central location.
Overall, getting around Samal Island is affordable and convenient, with many options available to suit different budgets and preferences.
10 Tourist Spots to visit Samal Island
1. Hagimit Falls
Hagimit Falls is a popular tourist spot on Samal Island, located in the Barangay of Cawag in the eastern part of the island. The falls are made up of several cascading levels of fresh water, surrounded by lush vegetation and natural rock formations.
Visitors can dip in the cool and refreshing waters of the falls or explore the surrounding area, including picnic areas, nature trails, and souvenir shops. There are also small cottages available for rent, making it a great spot for a picnic or a day trip.
The falls are easily accessible, and there is a small entrance fee to help with the maintenance of the area. Hagimit Falls is a must-visit spot on Samal Island, offering a scenic and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hagimit Falls – a series of small cascading waterfalls surrounded by lush vegetation and rock formations.
2. Monfort Bat Cave
Monfort Bat Cave is one of the unique and fascinating tourist destinations on Samal Island, located in the Barangay of Tambo in the eastern part of the island. It’s considered the largest colony of Geoffrey’s Rousette fruit bats in the world, housing more than 1.8 million bats.
Visitors can witness the sight of thousands of bats taking off at sunset to go foraging for food, creating a surreal and unforgettable experience. The cave is also home to other wildlife, such as snakes and crabs, and the surrounding area is lush with tropical vegetation.
There is a small entrance fee to enter the cave, and visitors are required to follow a set of rules to protect the animals and the environment. Monfort Bat Cave is a must-visit spot for nature lovers and those interested in witnessing the wonders of the animal kingdom.
Monfort Bat Cave – the largest colony of Geoffrey’s Rousette Fruit Bats in the world, with over 2 million bats
3. Maxima Aqua Fun
Maxima Aqua Fun is a popular water park and beach resort located on Samal Island. It is a great destination for families and groups who want to enjoy a range of water activities, such as jet skiing, banana boat riding, and parasailing.
The resort also features a swimming pool, a poolside bar, and a restaurant serving local and international cuisine. One of the highlights of the resort is the Giant Water Slide, a thrilling 40-foot slide that plunges into the sea.
Maxima Aqua Fun is easily accessible by boat from Davao City, and there is a small entrance fee to enter the resort. It’s a perfect spot for a fun-filled day of sun, sea, and adventure.
Maxima Aqua Fun – an adventure park offering water activities, such as diving, snorkeling, and kayaking, with a 40-foot high diving board
4. Vanishing Island
Vanishing Island is a natural wonder on Samal Island that offers visitors a unique and magical experience. The island is actually a sandbar that emerges from the sea during low tide and disappears when the tide rises.
The sandbar is located off the coast of Samal Island, and visitors can take a boat to reach the island. The area is known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand, making it a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. There are also small stores selling snacks and souvenirs.
Visitors are advised to bring their own food and drinks and to check the tide schedule before visiting to ensure they have enough time to enjoy the island before it disappears. Vanishing Island is a must-visit spot for those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience on Samal Island.
Vanishing Island – a sandbar that appears during low tide and disappears during high tide, offering a unique island-hopping experience
5. Talicud Island
Talicud Island is a beautiful and tranquil island that is part of the Samal Island group. Located southwest of Samal Island, Talicud is known for its pristine beaches, clear waters, and abundant marine life, making it a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
The island has several white sand beaches, including the famous Isla Reta Beach, which is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. Visitors can also explore the island’s lush vegetation and hike to the peak of Mt. Puting Bato, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Talicud Island is easily accessible by boat from Samal Island, and visitors can hire boats for island hopping and snorkeling tours. The island is a perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful and idyllic retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Talicud Island – a nearby island known for its beautiful beaches, diving spots, and a marine sanctuary
6. Kaputian Beach
Kaputian Beach is one of the most popular and picturesque beaches on Samal Island, known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand. Located on the southeastern coast of Samal Island, Kaputian Beach offers stunning views of the nearby Talicud Island and the Davao Gulf.
The beach is a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing, and visitors can rent beach chairs and umbrellas to enjoy the serene ambiance. The area is also ideal for snorkeling and diving, with various marine creatures such as sea stars and colorful fish in the waters.
Visitors can enjoy a range of water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding. The beach is easily accessible by car or motorcycle and is a great destination for families and beach enthusiasts. Kaputian Beach is a must-visit spot for those seeking a tranquil and scenic retreat on Samal Island.
Kaputian Beach – a long stretch of white sand beach with crystal-clear waters and several resorts and restaurants along the shoreline
7. Giant Clam Sanctuary
The Giant Clam Sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction on Samal Island that features a vast collection of giant clams in their natural habitat. The sanctuary is a protected marine area that is home to over a thousand giant clams, some of which are over 50 years old and weigh up to 200 kilograms.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the sanctuary and learn about the conservation efforts to protect the endangered clams. The tour also includes an opportunity to snorkel and swim with the giant clams and other marine creatures such as sea turtles and colorful fish.
The sanctuary is located on the southern coast of Samal Island and is easily accessible by boat. The Giant Clam Sanctuary is a must-visit for those interested in marine life and conservation and offers a unique and unforgettable experience on Samal Island.
Giant Clam Sanctuary – a protected area that showcases the beauty of giant clams and offers a snorkeling experience
8. Coral Garden
The Coral Garden is a vibrant and diverse marine ecosystem on Samal Island, home to a wide variety of colorful coral species and marine creatures. The area is a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts who come to explore the rich and beautiful underwater world.
Located on the southeastern coast of Samal Island, the Coral Garden is easily accessible by boat and is a great spot for snorkeling and diving. The area is home to a variety of marine species such as sea turtles, clownfish, and sea stars, as well as over 200 species of hard and soft corals.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the Coral Garden and learn about the conservation efforts to protect this delicate and important ecosystem. The Coral Garden is a must-visit for those interested in marine life and nature, and it offers a unique and memorable experience on Samal Island.
Coral Garden – a secluded beach with crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling
9. Samal Island Zipline
The Samal Island Zipline is an adrenaline-pumping attraction on Samal Island that offers visitors an exhilarating experience while enjoying the breathtaking views of the island. The zipline is located on the western side of the island, near the Pearl Farm Beach Resort, and has two lines that run parallel to each other, allowing friends and family members to ride together.
The zipline spans a distance of over 1,200 feet and is 200 feet high, providing riders with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. The experience is safe and supervised by trained personnel, and safety equipment is provided.
The Samal Island Zipline is a must-visit for thrill-seekers and those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience on the island.
Samal Island Zipline – one of the longest zipline rides in Asia, offering stunning views of the island’s coastline and lush forests
10. Samal Island Heritage Museum
The Samal Island Heritage Museum is a cultural attraction on Samal Island that showcases the island’s rich history and heritage. The museum is located in the Barangay of Peñaplata and features a collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of the island’s past.
Visitors can learn about the indigenous people who lived on the island before the arrival of the Spaniards, the colonization period, and the Japanese occupation during World War II.
The museum is a great place to explore and discover the unique culture and traditions of the people of Samal Island. Admission to the museum is free, and visitors are welcome to take guided tours or explore the exhibits on their own.
The Samal Island Heritage Museum is a great way to learn about the island’s past and gain a deeper appreciation for its rich cultural heritage.
Samal Island Heritage Museum – showcases the island’s rich cultural heritage, including traditional practices, rituals, and artifacts of indigenous tribes
Here are some travel tips to help you plan your trip to Samal Island:
- Plan your trip ahead of time, including transportation, accommodations, and activities.
- Check the weather forecast before traveling to Samal Island to avoid any unexpected weather changes.
- Bring comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for warm and humid weather.
- Pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and other necessary essentials to protect your skin and avoid insect bites.
- Keep your valuables safe by using a hotel safe or a money belt.
- Use licensed transport services, especially when traveling around the island.
- Respect the local culture and customs and follow local laws and regulations.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities.
- Try local cuisine and street food, but be cautious of where and what you eat to avoid getting sick.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and follow safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
By following these travel tips, you can have a comfortable, safe, and memorable trip to Samal Island.
Samal Island is a breathtakingly beautiful island destination in the southern Philippines that offers visitors a variety of experiences, from pristine beaches to adventure sports and nature-based activities.
It is a perfect escape for those seeking a peaceful, secluded, and serene retreat with stunning views, clear waters, and picturesque landscapes. The island has a unique culture, history, and cuisine, and it is home to many tourist spots that offer a glimpse of the island’s natural wonders and rich heritage.
Visitors can enjoy activities like beach hopping, island hopping, snorkeling, diving, and exploring the lush rainforests. With its friendly locals, a wide range of accommodations, and easy accessibility from Davao City, Samal Island is a must-visit destination for anyone planning a trip to the Philippines.
Visitors to the island should be prepared to be awed by the island’s natural beauty, enchanted by its culture and history, and amazed by the hospitality of its people.
Stunning Views and Water for you to enjoy!
Written by: Honey Mae Monsanto