Some R & R in Samal Island

That was one quite stressful trip to the bustling presidential city on a midweek in the last week of September 2016…. been to Davao many times, mostly on business, I lost count.  It is one packed schedule as my event has been moved a number of times and we were lucky that we decided to leave early morning of Wednesday as the event was finally scheduled in the afternoon.  Originally it was set on Thursday.  I am heading home Thursday evening.

My departure for Davao was scheduled at 6:40 am alone was a big back story.  I asked the taxi driver I contacted to fetch me at 4:30 am.  I woke out around 3:35 am to check time and go back to sleep to wake up at 4:00 am.  We checked in online and we just need to be in the airport an hour prior to the flight.  As I turned to sleep, I was alerted by a text message from the taxi driver saying he was in front of our house… and everything turned topsy turvy.  I called him to ask why so early and he said it’s really like that.  So I awoke finally and begrudgingly prepared to go.  In less than 30 minutes, I was ready and called our helper to let me out.  I was so early in the airport with a big headache.

We arrived in Davao, went straight to our hotel, settled down a bit and went to Park Inn by Radisson where the event was held.  After the event, we went back to our hotel and decided to have dinner.

img_3611I revisited the iconic Luz Kinilaw resto which got a facelift as it was razed by a fire.  My companion has not eaten there so I asked a friend from Davao to bring us there.  We had the usual grilled panga, grilled squid, bihod (fish eggs), kinilaw na tuna and their rice is not your usual white rice.  It’s rice that is not well-milled so it should be healthier.  Just realized, we didn’t even have soupy dish and eating all grilled food can be too satiating.

On this trip which is actually business in nature, I thought of sneaking to nearby Samal Island for some R & R while waiting for my flight in the evening.  It is a mere 15-minute boat ride to go to the nearest resort which is Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort or Costa Marina Beach Resort.  I read there are better resorts and beaches at various parts of the island but it would take so much time and I couldn’t be late for my flight back.

I noted that Davao isn’t really a touristy spot.  I guess it is more geared for business and investment.  Why?  Let me count the ways🙂

  1. Those driving public utility vehicles going to Sasa Wharf where we will catch the boat going to Samal are not helpful.
  2. Our co-passengers in the jeepney we rode going to Sasa Wharf were not helpful also compared to strangers in other tourist spots we went to.
  3. Signages are missing.
  4. Tourism information desk is barely visible in its airport.
  5. Even residents of the area do not seem very familiar with how to get to their tourist spots

I researched on how to get to these resorts:  where to get the boat ride, schedules, fees, etc.  Even if I’ve been to Samal Island in the past, I am still a stranger to the place, I still need guidance which cannot be found adequately in Davao.

We asked the front desk people of El Bajada Hotel where we stayed, (review in Use it or Ditch it),  how to get there and we were told to ride the jeepney going to Sasa which passes in front of the hotel.  We did that and told the driver our destination is Sasa Wharf.  Some passengers would point to the general location.  So we sat comfortably knowing we are in the right direction and the driver and some passengers would be helpful in guiding us.

Wrong…. not only did the driver brought us farther from our destination but the lady passenger who has been with us since we rode did not seem to be concerned that we are already way past our destination even if we kept on asking her a number of times if we are near Sasa Wharf and she always replied no.  After what seems a long time we called the driver’s attention.  He halted and realized he went too far ahead where we were going and just as quickly said we can also take our boat ride in another area, Km 11, where we alighted.  We walk to the road leading the port and there was a large boat which doesn’t seem like a passenger boat.  But the crew said that they are going to the other side.  We asked if they can drop us at Paradise Island Beach Resort or Costa Marina and they said we can take a tricycle ride to go there.  I know there is a direct route because I’ve taken that boat ride when my friends and I went to the same place many years back.  So I asked about that.  We were told, it was in Km 10 or something, and it was the straight path, directly to Paradise Island Resort or Costa Marina.

We went back the main road, flagged a jeepney and told the driver we want to go to where we can catch the boat going to Paradise Island and he nodded.  Feeling hopeful, we again went through a similar road leading to the sea.  Reaching the end, there were no boats but some factories, I think.  We asked the tricycle drivers waiting for passengers and they told us that the boat terminal has been transferred to another km something.  We were getting impatient as we asked where it is.  The tricycle driver said about 2 or 3 blocks and we need to take a ride.  We asked if he can bring us there and he said yes for P50.00.  So we rode again and told him to be sure we will get our boat ride.  He assured us.  The ride is not too far, only about a block away but it was ok as long as we can take that boat ride.

Approaching the port, it seems we’re in the right direction as there was a signage of Paradise Beach Resort.  We asked the man at the docking station where the boat with a single passenger is headed.  He said Paradise Island Beach Resort and if we want to go to Costa Marina, we have to wait for their boat.  So we decided to just go to Paradise Island Beach Resort and take a special trip so we can get going.

Finally, we’re on our way…. and in around 15 minutes we reached the other side.  The img_3618resort looked clean and there was huge development from the last time I was there.  The water is clean but not comparable to those of remote islands.  But it is good enough.  However, our timing is bad because of the low tide at the time we were there.  After paying the entrance, we went to the beach area and settled on the tables under a big shade.  We tried to enjoyed our stay even with just ankle-deep water.  After a few hours of soaking, we had lunch of steamed fish, lechon kawali and veggies.  Th food was good and reasonably priced.  After lunch, we explored their facilities a bit.  Then we cleaned up.  We took another special boat trip to go back to the city.

And that is our little R & R in a not so touristy city.  Not so bad.  I’ll probably not do it in a long time.  Cost of which can be seen below:

  • Fare to Sasa Wharf from Quezon Blvd:  P14.00
  • Boat Ride one way: P15.00/pax  or P150.00 (special)
  • Entrance fee:  P200/pax
  • Lunch:  P250.00/pax
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