Samal Island Philippines – Better than Boracay

I visited this place sometime ago to assist in a project for the Department of Tourism. My boss, a “veteran” project Samal Island Philippinest manager of tourism projects told me that he has seen all the famous beaches in the Philippines and by far, Samal has more to offer – minus the cost. Don’t get intimidated by its loooong descriptive name – Island Garden City of Samal

Samal can provide you the same – and more at a much lower cost. The sand is powdery white, the air cool and fresh, clean seawater. You probably won’t see any celebrities though…

For foreign visitors, you can fly directly to Davao City, Philippines, an international airport,via Cebu Pacific Airlines or SilkAir from Singapore. If your entry point to the Philippines is Manila, take a domestic flight to Davao City. The domestic flight to Davao City from Manila is serviced by four(4) major airlines Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and SEAIR, with a combined frequency of fourteen (14) flights daily.

There are 3 easy routes from Davao City to Samal Island.
  1. go to Sta Ana Wharf – this is located near Magsaysay Park, downtown area) where motorboats are available to ferry passengers directly to Kaputian and Talikud Island, some of the islands of Samal.
  2. go to Sasa, Km. 11 wharf - where you can ride in motorboats available to ferry passengers direct to Babak wharf.
  3. Sasa, Km. 11 Ferryboat Landing - Here, passengers will be riding the Island City Express Bus from R. Castillo and Cabaguio St. (satellite terminal) and be transported by a ferryboat to the Brgy. Caliclic, Babak District.

Beach resorts and hotels abound in the western coast of Samal Island. Some islands have been bought by foreigners married to Filipinas. Some resorts are still rustic, so the amenities are basic, which also means cheap. This is ideal for samalbackpackers, and there are many! Just put up your tent, buy fresh fish from locals and just find any small store (sari-sari for locals) and ask the person minding the store if she knows anyone who can cook for you, for a very minimal fee. For those that are on a tight budget or backpackers, you can save a lot by opting to camp out instead of renting a cottage house.

Some resorts and hotels have complete amenities. The rates are reasonable.

What to do in Samal
  1. Laze around, relax, and enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and the sea. For sun-loving people, Samal Island is a real paradise.
  2. According to divers, the true garden of Samal Island lies under water. The dive spots are not too far, a maximum of 1 hour travel time by speed boat to diving spots. You have the option to buy or rent diving gear. The diving spots are in the back of Samal near Big Ligid Island and in the south by Talicud Island.
  3. island hopping – the boats are for hire, mimimal fee and you can go to several islands. Bring your food if you want to eat in the middle of the sea, isn’t that great!


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