Of all the travels that I had, this I can say the most affordable so far. The reason behind was because I explored these beautiful cities in the southern Philippines with my former college classmates. After we graduated, I began exploring the Philippines and I always encourage them to do the same. Traveling lets you widen your horizons and reach new heights in your life. It also allows you to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation while learning new things and at the same time making new friends.

Kam had expressed her intention in joining me in one of my travels. She actually suggested Davao City. I have never been to Davao City and I wish to visit it someday. So when she suggested that, I immediately agree with her. When Cebu Pacific Air had their seat sale 9 months ago, I immediately posted an invitation to our private Facebook group to join us in our Davao City travel adventure. At least six (6) of my former college classmates and one (1) school mate had responded to my invitation. I booked a flight to each of them and have them paid it through accredited payment centers the next day. This way, I do not need to use my credit card to pay the ticket on their behalf.

As with any other groups who plan their adventure months ahead of time, there are things that will happen along the way. At least three (3) of my former college classmate cannot join the group as they had moved to another company. Taking vacation leaves with the new company is not the best time for them. We managed to get two (2) people who are colleagues of my former college classmates to join us.

I finished our itinerary at least three (3) weeks ahead of the “big” day. They had requested me to make it more budget-friendly. They allotted Php4,000.00 to Php5,000.00 for the adventure. I set a Php60.00 budget for each meal and pitch a tent in beach resorts to squeeze our budget to Php3,000.00 each. Well, this budget is really super tight and unless you are ok with having a simple meal, then you may need to allot a higher budget than this.

When we arrived in Davao International Airport, we took our breakfast in one of the eateries near the Durian Sculpture and then we headed to the Sasa Wharf by taxi. I did not notice any passenger jeeps or multicab outside the airport so I can’t suggest if taking a jeepney outside the airport is possible. I told the driver to bring us to the port where we can take a motor vanca and not a barge. I told him that there are (2) ports to reach Samal Island in the area. One is the Sasa Wharf and the other one is at the back of a public market. Apparently, he was not aware with the latter. When we are about to pay for our tickets, I told the attendant that we will go to Monfort Bat Cave first, then to Vanishing Island and finally to Mt. Puting Bato. We were told to take the lantsa instead of the barge because of the distance of the port in Samal Island and the Monfort Bat Cave. We took her advice and we walk our way toward the port at the back of the public market. It is about 700 meters away. In Google Map, it is known as the Onse Ferry Terminal.

As we are coming from different locations, we waited each other just outside the NAIA Terminal 3. We took a group photo just before we enter the airport to undergo the initial security check.

As we are coming from different locations, we waited each other just outside the NAIA Terminal 3. We took a group photo just before we enter the airport to undergo the initial security check.

Posing with the giant durian sculpture within the compound of Davao International Airport.

Posing with the giant durian sculpture within the compound of Davao International Airport.

We had our breakfast within the compound of Davao International Airport. This eatery is located just beside the giant durian sculpture.

We had our breakfast within the compound of Davao International Airport. This eatery is located just beside the giant durian sculpture.

We took a taxi from Davao International Airport to reach Sasa Wharf. We specifically asked the driver to drop us at the port where we can reach Babak Wharf. I told him it is located at the back of a public market. However, he seems that he is not aware of this so he dropped us at Sasa Wharf where you can take a barge to reach the Samal Island. Try asking the driver to drop you at Onse Ferry Terminal or the port where you can take a lantsa (motor vanca) instead of a barge. You can show this photo to the taxi driver for reference. Looking at the photo, the right side of the road is where you will be coming from if you originated from the Davao International Airport.

We took a taxi from Davao International Airport to reach Sasa Wharf. We specifically asked the driver to drop us at the port where we can reach Babak Wharf. I told him it is located at the back of a public market. However, he seems that he is not aware of this so he dropped us at Sasa Wharf where you can take a barge to reach the Samal Island. Try asking the driver to drop you at Onse Ferry Terminal or the port where you can take a lantsa (motor vanca) instead of a barge. You can show this photo to the taxi driver for reference. Looking at the photo, the right side of the road is where you will be coming from if you originated from the Davao International Airport.

This Onse Ferry Terminal is located at the back of a public market. It is few hundred meters away from Sasa Wharf.

This Onse Ferry Terminal is located at the back of a public market. It is few hundred meters away from Sasa Wharf.

When we reached the Babak port, we were approached by habal-habal (motorbike) drivers. Habal-habal is the primary transportation in the island. It can take a maximum of three (3) passengers but for convenience, I suggest to limit it to two (2) passengers. We took four (4) habal-habal on our way to Monfort Bat Cave. We pay for Php100.00 entrance fee for the Monfort Bat Cave.

Monfort Bat Cave was our first destination. Upon payment of environmental and entrance fees, we were asked to proceed to a hall for orientation.

Monfort Bat Cave was our first destination. Upon payment of environmental and entrance fees, we were asked to proceed to a hall for orientation.

One of the many caves in Monfort Bat Cave. I initially thought that you need to enter a cave to see the bats. It turns out that most caves are like this one. Although, we have been told that there a cave where you can enter but they decided to closed it for security reason.

One of the many caves in Monfort Bat Cave. I initially thought that you need to enter a cave to see the bats. It turns out that most caves are like this one. Although, we have been told that there a cave where you can enter but they decided to closed it for security reason.

A photo opportunity with one the bat caves in Monfort Bat Cave.

A photo opportunity with one the bat caves in Monfort Bat Cave.

After checking the fruit bats and the caves, the habal-habal drivers talked to us and offered us a package pricing. They said, it would be best for us to hire them as a package to all our destination for the day– Monfort Bat Cave, Vanishing Island jump-off point and Mt. Puting Bato jump-off point. They initially quote us Php1,000.00 per motorbike. I told them that it is too much because we it will only cost us about Php250.00 to reach all our destinations. Then, I asked them if they can give it to Php600.00 per motorbike. Then asked us to close it to Php700.00 per motorbike, which we agreed considering the convenience that comes with it. Otherwise, it will take us a long walk and long wait just to get another habal-habal in each destination that we go to.

One of the habal-habal driver talked to an owner of a motor boat to take us to Vanishing Island while we were enjoying checking out the fruit bats. I doubt that there is a single motor boat owner in the area who is accredited of the Department of Tourism. The reason why I said this because, when I asked one of the habal-habal drivers where we can take a motor boat for Vanishing Island, he said, we will look one near the area. Also, when I talked to the owner of the motor boat and asked if he provides life vests, he do not have. He assured me that we are safe. I checked the water and found it very calm so I decided to proceed for the Vanishing Island. I suggest that you do the same, make sure to check the sea first. The water must be calmed and no signs of waves even small ones. Or better yet, bring something to help you float in case something wrong happens.

One thing that I did not like with our habal-habal drivers is they took a commission from renting the motor boat. The reason why I said this is when I am giving our payment for the boat to the motor boat owner, he said to give it to one of the habal-habal drivers, then the habal-habal driver who received our payment approached the motor boat owner to give the payment. I understand that they need to earn for a living but I guest my disgust lies with my intent to recommend them to travelers that will visit the island.

A groupie-- on our way to Vanishing Island.

A groupie– on our way to Vanishing Island.

Jen, a former college classmate, is having a good time with a starfish that can be found in Vanishing Island.

Jen, a former college classmate, is having a good time with a starfish that can be found in Vanishing Island.

Joe, a former college classmate, poses with the starfishes. You can find a lot of starfishes in Vanishing Island.

Joe, a former college classmate, poses with the starfishes on both hands. You can find a lot of starfishes in Vanishing Island.

April and Kam are checking the starfish on their hands. Notice a small white starfish on the of the orange starfish; another specie of a starfish.

April and Kam are checking the starfish on their hands. Notice a small white starfish on the of the orange starfish; another specie of a starfish.

A jump shot in Vanishing Island.

A jump shot in Vanishing Island.

A typical way of bathing in provinces in the Philippines. Bathing after we swam in Vanishing Island.

A typical way of bathing in provinces in the Philippines. Bathing after we swam in Vanishing Island.

After our Vanishing Island visit, we headed to Mt. Puting Bato jump-off point. One of our habal-habal drivers, took someone he know in the area to be our guide. I recommend getting a guide if no one in your group knows the trail to the summit. Honestly, I was a bit worried hiking the mountain but I felt a little secured after reaching the summit. There is a house situated at the summit and our guide said, the owner of the land lives there. Still, when I woke up past 12 midnight, I couldn’t help and think someone taking us from the mountain. There was a power interruption in the Davao City that night. The whole city was covered by darkness–laughs! Well, from the summit, you can see the entire city of Davao.

Rest time--on our way to the summit of Mt. Puting Bato. The mountain's trail is not so difficult to hike. What made it difficult is the fact that we're carry heavy baggage that consist of stuffs good for 5 days and 4 nights.

Rest time–on our way to the summit of Mt. Puting Bato. The mountain’s trail is not so difficult to hike. What made it difficult is the fact that we’re carry heavy baggage that consist of stuffs good for 5 days and 4 nights.

Our accommodation for the night in Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

Our accommodation for the night in Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

I encourage everyone to get up from bed and enjoy the scenery. Before we descend to the same trail, we took some group photos and selfies. We did not ask our guide to come the next morning. We just trusted our instinct of going down the trail. Funny thing is, we somehow got lost. The track that we took to reach the summit was a different track when we descend. One of the members of the group got the feeling that we are just doing fine. He thought that the track that we took to descend will connect to the track that we took to reach the summit. Well, his feeling was right. We found ourselves getting back to the original track that we supposed to take.

Joe poses in a cold wet morning on Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

Joe poses in a cold wet morning on Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

Exploring and enjoying the nature in Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

Exploring and enjoying the nature in Mt. Puting Bato, Samal Island.

A groupie on Mt. Puting Bato summit.

A groupie on Mt. Puting Bato summit.

Since we were all dismayed with the habal-habal drivers that we hired in Babak port, the group decided to take the chance of getting habal-habal at the jump-off point. Well, it wasn’t easy. Though there were motorbikes that pass the road, they seem to be for private use. Good thing there is someone in our group who knows how to speak Bisaya. When we get a chance to meet an elderly man, I asked him to ask the man where we can get habal-habal. We were told to go down the road until we reach a store. From there we can ask the store owner to get us habal-habal.

Since we need four (4) habal-habal, it will take them to arrange for it. The group decided to take lunch at the store. They have a small area where one can enjoy videoke. We ask the lady store owner to cook a kilo of rice and open canned goods for us.  While waiting for lunch to be served, we killed time by showcasing our talent in singing–laughs! After lunch, we headed to Hagimit Falls and asked our habal-habal drivers to bring us to Rainbow Breeze Resort to spend a night.

The sari-sari (variety) store located near the jump-off point of Mt. Puting Bato.

The sari-sari (variety) store located near the jump-off point of Mt. Puting Bato.

Videoke (Video Karaoke) time while waiting for lunch to be served and the 4 habal-habal that will bring us to Hagimit Falls.

Videoke (Video Karaoke) time while waiting for lunch to be served and the 4 habal-habal that will bring us to Hagimit Falls.

Buying some foods in Poblacion (city proper or city center), Island Garden City of Samal.

Buying some foods in Poblacion (city proper or city center), Island Garden City of Samal.

One of the many mini falls in Hagimit Falls and Natures Park.

One of the many mini falls in Hagimit Falls and Natures Park.

Joe, Jen and Francis are ready for one of the activities that you can avail in Mahal Forest Resort in Hagimit Falls and Natures Park.

Joe, Jen and Francis are ready for one of the activities that you can avail in Mahal Forest Resort in Hagimit Falls and Natures Park.

The City Hall of Island Garden City of Samal. ATMs are very limited in the area. We only found two (2) ATMs and both were not working at the time of our visit. We suggest to bring enough cash with you.

The City Hall of Island Garden City of Samal. ATMs are very limited in the area. We only found two (2) ATMs and both were not working at the time of our visit. We suggest to bring enough cash with you.

Tent pitching at Rainbow Breeze Beach Resort. Resorts in the area allows tent pitching for a fee. This includes the El Paril Caliclic Beach Resort and Isla Beach Resort. You may contact Rainbow Breeze Beach Resort at +639472204736.

Tent pitching at Rainbow Breeze Beach Resort. Resorts in the area allows tent pitching for a fee. This includes the El Paril Caliclic Beach Resort and Isla Beach Resort. You may contact Rainbow Breeze Beach Resort at +639472204736.

The next day, we headed to Sta. Ana Wharf in Davao City for Talicud Island. Majority of the members of the group wanted to spend a night in a nice accommodation and Isla Reta Beach Resort is fully booked that time, we decided to spend the night in Dayang Beach Resort. It’s about 20 minutes travel by habal-habal. The current rate for the habal-habal is Php70.00 per head but since I read online that you can lower it down to Php50.00, I asked the group of habal-habal drivers who is willing to bring us there for Php50.00 per head. Well, it turns out that all of them wanted to. I just picked those habal-habal drivers who did not price us Php70.00 per head initially.

Motor Vanca going directly to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talicud Island.

Motor Vanca going directly to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talicud Island.

The road going to Dayang Beach Resort is not very good– rough and steep roads at times. I then realized why they were asking for that amount. I felt guilty inside. So when they asked me if they can ask Php70.00 per head going back the Talicud port, I did not think twice and said sure to them. And to make it up to them, when they offered a land tour, I encourage the group to take it.

Our accommodation in Dayang Beach Resort. We were told that this can accommodate up to 10 pax but we were just 7 in the group and we barely fit the 3 beds. If you plan to spend a night in Dayang Beach Resort, be sure to bring everything you need except for fresh water for bathing as they mark up too high--almost 400%. For example, they sell 1 sachet of shampoo for Php20.00. I also suggest to bring your own tent to save a lot from your travel fund.

Our accommodation in Dayang Beach Resort. We were told that this can accommodate up to 10 pax but we were just 7 in the group and we barely fit the 3 beds. If you plan to spend a night in Dayang Beach Resort, be sure to bring everything you need except for fresh water for bathing as they mark up too high–almost 400%. For example, they sell 1 sachet of shampoo for Php20.00. I also suggest to bring your own tent to save a lot from your travel fund.

Our next day activity was land tour and swimming. After the land tour, we headed to Isla Reta Beach Resort. We spend the night there with the only available accommodation. There was no electric fan in our accommodation and it felt very warm and uncomfortable, so some members of the group decided to pitch a tent and spend the night near the beach.

Friendship Road. One of the attraction in inland package tour. A best place to do a group jump shot.

Friendship Road. One of the attraction in inland package tour. A best place to do a group jump shot.

Long Beach in Talicud Island. Part of the inland tour package. I suggest that you take this inland tour package to fully enjoy your stay in Talicud Island. You may contact Kuya Gaga at +639079838338 for Talicud Island inland tour.

Long Beach in Talicud Island. Part of the inland tour package. I suggest that you take this inland tour package to fully enjoy your stay in Talicud Island. You may contact Kuya Gaga at +639079838338 for Talicud Island inland tour.

Isla Bonita Beach Resort. This is part of the inland tour package. There is no entrance fee to take pictures in the resort.

Isla Bonita Beach Resort. This is part of the inland tour package. There is no entrance fee to take pictures in the resort.

Faith Healer Camp. This is part of the inland tour package. There is an entrance fee for this attraction. We just took photos and proceed to our next destination.

Faith Healer Camp. This is part of the inland tour package. There is an entrance fee for this attraction. We just took photos and proceed to our next destination.

We did not take our breakfast when we left Dayang Beach Resort. We were so hungry while doing the inland tour so we asked our habal-habal drivers to make a stop over and get something to eat. There were no eateries in the island other than the eateries that can be found in Talicud Port.

We did not take our breakfast when we left Dayang Beach Resort. We were so hungry while doing the inland tour so we asked our habal-habal drivers to make a stop over and get something to eat. There were no eateries in the island other than the eateries that can be found in Talicud Port.

Giant Balete Tree. One of the attractions in Talicud Island.

Giant Balete Tree. One of the attractions in Talicud Island.

Baga Cave. This is part of the inland tour package. There is an entrance fee to explore the cave. Along these attractions, Dadatan Bat Conservation Park and Dadatan Mangrove Garden and Marine Sanctuary are also included in the inland tour.

Baga Cave. This is part of the inland tour package. There is an entrance fee to explore the cave. Along these attractions, Dadatan Bat Conservation Park and Dadatan Mangrove Garden and Marine Sanctuary are also included in the inland tour.

After the Talicud Inland Tour, we took our lunch in an eatery found in the Talicud Port, which Isla Reta Beach Resort is just a walking distance. As we need to wait for the check-in time, we stayed in the eatery. To beat the heat, we found this Alog-alog seller. It is actually a cold drink made from powdered flavor like buko pandan or melon. You need to shake (alog-alog) before adding ice. Hence, the name.

After the Talicud Inland Tour, we took our lunch in an eatery found in the Talicud Port, which Isla Reta Beach Resort is just a walking distance. As we need to wait for the check-in time, we stayed in the eatery. To beat the heat, we found this Alog-alog seller. It is actually a cold drink made from powdered flavor like buko pandan or melon. You need to shake (alog-alog) before adding ice. Hence, the name.

This is our accommodation in Isla Reta Beach Resort. It is very spacious as it sits in the corner. You may ask for this accommodation specifically. There is no electric fan in the room and no power outlets. However, you can bring a two outlet bulb socket adapter and an extension cord. Be sure not to overload circuit though to avoid problems. This way, you do not need to go to the common area of the resort to charge your mobile phones.

This is our accommodation in Isla Reta Beach Resort. It is very spacious as it sits in the corner. You may ask for this accommodation specifically. There is no electric fan in the room and no power outlets. However, you can bring a two outlet bulb socket adapter and an extension cord. Be sure not to overload circuit though to avoid problems. This way, you do not need to go to the common area of the resort to charge your mobile phones.

Isla Reta Beach Resort. This is the most accessible beach resort in Talicud Island because it is located about 500 meters away from the Talicud Port and other motor vanca dock on this resort directly. The beach itself is well maintain. The only problem I that they do not have fresh water for bathing. They have deep well but the water is still salty. You can buy 5-gallon purified water outside the resort but it costs Php60.00 and you need to make a Php300.00 deposit for the container. Plus, you need to carry it yourself to the resort. They do not offer delivery.

Isla Reta Beach Resort. This is the most accessible beach resort in Talicud Island because it is located about 500 meters away from the Talicud Port and other motor vanca dock on this resort directly. The beach itself is well maintain. The only problem I that they do not have fresh water for bathing. They have deep well but the water is still salty. You can buy 5-gallon purified water outside the resort but it costs Php60.00 and you need to make a Php300.00 deposit for the container. Plus, you need to carry it yourself to the resort. They do not offer delivery.

We were hoping to have a heavy breakfast meal but it seems that there were no eateries open yet other that this. An elderly couple sells rice-toasted coffee and puto maya. I costs me Php22.00 for two cups of rice-toasted coffee and two puto maya.

We were hoping to have a heavy breakfast meal but it seems that there were no eateries open yet other that this. An elderly couple sells rice-toasted coffee and puto maya. I costs me Php22.00 for two cups of rice-toasted coffee and two puto maya.

Groupie before boarding the motor vanca in Isla Reta Beach Resort.

Groupie before boarding the motor vanca in Isla Reta Beach Resort.

The boarding time for the ferry is 08:30 AM, though there is still enough time to take a dip in the beach, we just decided to spend the time taking photos. When we reached Sta. Ana Wharf in Davao City, we took our lunch in one of the eateries there. Then we walked our way to Ramon Magsaysay Park. We also bought durian fruit. It was my first time eating durian fruit. Though I can buy it Manila and I got a chance to taste it when I went to Cagayan de Oro City, I told myself that I will only eat durian fruit from the place where it is famous–Davao City. The fruit tastes good and I think I will enjoy it more if it is chilled but I get tired of eating it (umay) because of the after taste and the fruit if very creamy. Well, I will give it another try and I’ll make sure it is chilled and with a bottle of ice-cold cola.

My first time to taste Durian. I promised myself that I will only taste or eat an actual durian fruit in Davao City, which the city was known for.

My first time to taste Durian. I promised myself that I will only taste or eat an actual durian fruit in Davao City, which the city was known for.

We took a multi cab going to the town proper. Some members of the group decided to check-in to take a good rest before heading back to Manila that night, I decided to proceed with my plan in visiting other places in Davao City. We visited Davao City Hall, People’s Park and of course, the residence of President Duterte.

Selfie with Davao City Hall.

Selfie with Davao City Hall.

Davao City People's Park. The park is closed during lunch time but you can kindly ask the guard on-duty. Tell him/her that your flight is scheduled in the afternoon and you do not have enough time to visit the park again. This is a must place to visit in Davao City.

Davao City People’s Park. The park is closed during lunch time but you can kindly ask the guard on-duty. Tell him/her that your flight is scheduled in the afternoon and you do not have enough time to visit the park again. This is a must place to visit in Davao City.

Pasalubong Center in Davao City. What I observed in Davao City is that they have a standardized pricing for their pasalubong. I think it is worth it to purchase your pasalubong here. The quality, especially the t-shirts, is different from other places or stores.

Pasalubong Center in Davao City. What I observed in Davao City is that they have a standardized pricing for their pasalubong. I think it is worth it to purchase your pasalubong here. The quality, especially the t-shirts, is different from other places or stores.

Photo Opportunity with President Duterte in his residence in Davao City.

Photo Opportunity with President Duterte in his residence in Davao City.

Here is a quick look of Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talicud Island, Island Garden City of Samal.

For travel itinerary, please click here.

For travel expenses, please click here.

This is my Davao City & Island Garden City of Samal trip with travel dates from 04th of August, 2016 to 08th of August, 2016.