Down under in Davao, Part 2

(Haven’t read the first part? Click here)

We got up early the next morning excited to start the day, which happens to be Samal Island day. Beach day. Swimming day. Kick-of-your-shoes-feel-the-sand-between-your-toes-and-splash-around day. Yep. Excited. After a quick breakfast, we hurriedly packed up, checked out of Pacific Palm, and met Kuya, who was waiting for us at the parking lot. He suggested that we buy lunch here at the city that we could take to and fork down at the beach. So after stopping at KFC for a looot of chicken, we headed to Sasa Wharf, where barges take people, whether on foot or on wheels, to and from Samal. We were in Kuya‘s vehicle, so we paid Php250 and off we went.

Known for its white-sand beaches, Samal Island (officially the Island Garden City of Samal) is located in Davao del Norte, and is supposedly the largest resort city in the country fro housing over a thousand hotel rooms within a land area of almost 2,500 square meters. Basically, it’s the Mindanao destination for sun worshippers, and we couldn’t wait to pay our respects.

eatplaylog davao samal island ferry
We all live in a yellow submarine

Fifteen minutes later, we reached Samal’s Babak Ferry Terminal, disembarked, and headed to our first stop: Kaputian Beach Park Resort. After paying an entrance fee of Php15 each, we went in and… it wasn’t so great. Yes the water was blue, and sure the sand was white. But there was trash everywhere, and I mean everywhere. It was kind of depressing; here I was, hoping the photos I’ve seen of Kaputian Beach was true, and that’s what I find. There were people swimming, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I had my hopes up for nothing. Maybe we made it to the beach at a bad time, but still, seeing that kind of killed the mood for me. Not to mention that godawful bathroom with no light, broken stall doors, and flood everywhere. I was in desperate need to piss, but after seeing that, I didn’t even make it past the door; I didn’t even want to know what the toilets looked like and beat the hell out of there.

eatplaylog davao samal island coconut trees
Pretty much the view along any highway we took

eatplaylog davao samal island kaputian beach park shore

eatplaylog davao samal island kaputian beach park shore
Sky of blue and sea of green. And shore of crap

Before continuing on with our search for a swim-worthy beach, we felt a bit hungry, but since lunch was about a couple of hours away, we set off to find something that would tide us over until then. We found ourselves in front of a bakery called Rose Bakeshop, and they had some pretty spectacular Spanish bread. Very tasty and humongous, they were a steal for Php5 apiece.

eatplaylog davao samal island Rose Bakeshop Spanish bread
Piping hot. Lucky we caught the bakers just as they were taking the stuff out of the oven
eatplaylog davao samal island Rose Bakeshop Spanish bread
The Manileña in me can’t believe this huge thing is Php5

While munching on those gargantuan baked goods on the road, Kuya told us about a beach resort he and his coworkers once visited in Samal that might pique our interest. Seagrass Beach Resort wasn’t that far, and we were itching to finally get our feet wet, so we said yes. Seagrass looked like it was new, either that or they were constructing new accommodations because the buildings we saw when we came in were fairly new. It was huge, and had pools with slides, definitely a family-friendly resort. Since the place was deserted (Mondays are not nice to tourist hot spots), the lady at the counter let us “look around” without paying an entrance fee. Kuya then led us to this picturesque wooden walkway that stretches right over the water. The water was clear and, true to the name of the resort, had sea grass at the bottom, which means you’ll be swimming with all sorts of creepy crawlies for sure. At the end of the walkway was a sort of gazebo, where we hung out for a few minutes before heading back to the car. And no, we didn’t swim here either.

eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway

eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach

eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach
Yup, there’s the seagrass
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
“Stop right there. Look over here.”
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
Catching our breath
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
“…and this is where we lost one of our employees.”
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
Pondering
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
Tiny fish, big feet
eatplaylog davao samal island seagrass resort beach walkway
On the way to paradise

Finally, Kuya suggested we head right to one of the more popular resorts in Samal, Bluejaz. The resort is famous for having gigantic slides, outdoor activities, and various water sports, but we were really just in it for the beach, so after finally getting into that bucket of chicken at lunch time, we stripped down to our swimsuits and jumped in. A bit of warning, you’re going to want to wear your aqua shoes at the beach because of the corals. But before you get disappointed, don’t forget that where there’s coral, there are fish. A lot of them. My snorkel gear got a lot of use. By the way, if you’re squeamish when it comes to swimming with creatures other than fish, you’ll have to get used to the idea if you come here. You’re going to find a lot of sea cucumbers and sea urchins mingling with the fish.

A couple of hours later, we were back on the road to hit our next stop: Hagimit Falls. This was another spot I found online and was looking forward to seeing, and this time, I was prepared for the cold. Unfortunately, Hagimit was not prepared for us; it had rained the day before, so the water was fucking brown. Yep, gone was another idea of a picturesque natural attraction where we could enjoy ourselves. A local who offered to show us around said it normally took three days for the water to clear up, granted it wouldn’t rain again. Feeling a bit let down, we left, resolved to checking back in tomorrow just in case Mother Nature saw it fit to let us see clean water then.

eatplaylog davao samal island hagimit falls waterfalls
That’s a long way down
eatplaylog davao samal island hagimit falls waterfalls
Don’t break your necks
eatplaylog davao samal island hagimit falls waterfalls
Not exactly enticing

When 2 o’ clock rolled around, we headed to hotel number two: Camp Holiday Resort (I’m doing a separate full review for this, don’t worry). After checking in, we headed to our respective rooms, dropped our things off, changed back into our swimming clothes, and converged at the pool area for more swimming.

eatplaylog davao samal island camp holiday resort hotel room
Hotel room number two
eatplaylog davao samal island camp holiday resort hotel infinity swimming pool
But first, swimming

Later on, we were back at our rooms to shower and change, and for a quick nap before dinner. We were tired from all the driving around, so we decided to stay at the resort and have our meal there instead of going out again in search of a place. After eating, we hung out at the seashore for a bit and then decided we wanted coffee, but the restaurant informed us that they’d run out of brewed coffee. Boo. Guess we’re going out after all, but it was late so we decided to just stop at the gas station convenience store right next to the hotel, where we resorted to buying instant coffee we could make at the hotel. We hung out together at one of the rooms, had our coffee and watched some TV before deciding it was time for bed.

If there’s one thing I regret that day, it’s that we didn’t go to Talicud Island, said to have the better shoreline. But because we went to Davao during offpeak season and on weekdays, there were hardly any other tourists to share a boat with, and to rent an entire one would set each of us back about Php1,000, a big blow to our budget. Oh, well, at least I have a reason to go back. But no time to wallow; the trip’s not over yet.

Wish we could stay longer, but it’s time to go back to the city.

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