So you and your friends got lucky after you booked a 1000-peso round trip ticket to Davao City. Now what?
If you are pressed for time and you want to make sure your 3 to 4-day vacation is packed with adventures, this itinerary is for you. The activities are strategically planned considering location, distance, and of course, time.
Day 1. Around downtown
Consider this your free time. When you arrive after sunset, you can roam around downtown. Malls are very accessible, parks are jeepney rides away (don’t give me that what-am-I-going-to-do-in-the-park look), and traffic is not bad.
Or you can bar-hop and listen to live bands while having dinner!
Day 2. Philippine Eagle Center and Isla Reta in Talicod, Samal Island
Philippine Eagle Center (PEC)
In a stress-free city like Davao, I can understand how a sleep-deprived person would want to stay in bed until around lunch. But wake up early or at least try.
Philippine Eagle is in Calinan district — that’s about 1-1.5 hours from downtown Davao and Isla Reta in Samal Island is about 45 minutes via boat. You do the math, set the alarm at 5AM, and wake up at 6am. Hey you are on vacation, an hour snooze is acceptable.
No car? No problem!
Take the Bus
The Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) can be reached either by private or public transport. Buses going to Calinan depart every 15 minutes from the Annil Terminal located at corner Quirino and San Pedro Extension. Bus fare is at P30.
From Calinan, take a pedicab going to the PEC. The ride is about 10 minutes and will cost you P6.
Ride a Jeepney
Whichever location is convenient for you (by that I meant whichever is closest to your hotel), you may take a jeepney from San Pedro street, Agdao Public Market, Bankerohan Public Market, Quirino (near Central Bank), Roxas Street (near Ateneo de Davao University or Post Office), or even in Ecoland near SM City. Fare is 40 pesos.
Hail a Cab
I wouldn’t really recommend a taxi ride though. It’s convenient, but nah, the journey wouldn’t be same. Although taxi drivers in Davao are mandated not to refuse any passengers going to any point in the city, taxi rides are way too expensive. Keep your money for pasalubong.
18 years & below: 30PHP
Tour guiding and the use of kiosks are free of charge. Source
There are lectures and tours at PEC if you wish to stay longer. But remember, the beach is waiting!
Lunch at Luz Kinilaw
Arrive before lunch at downtown Davao and experience sinugbang (grilled) Tuna and kinilaw (raw like Ceviche) at Luz Kinilaw Place. The place doesn’t look appetizing but food is great! This is also situated near Sta. Ana wharf where you will take the boat to Isla Reta.
My friends were surprised to see how large the servings were that we had to take the leftover for dinner.
Do not bring rice, instead buy fruits. From Luz Kinilaw, you can go walk to Magsaysay park – it is lined with fruit vendors. But remember to NOT BRING mangoes to Samal Island. It is strictly prohibited. Samal has been mango-pest free since 2011 and as tourists, let us help their farmers keep it that way. So buy durian, pomelo, avocado, guava but mangoes.
And you are set to the beach, baby!
Isla Reta Beach Resort , Talicod, Samal Island
Check out the time table below. Several other beach resorts just about 5 or 15 minutes from Davao but we preferred Isla Reta.
Habal-habal (just motorcycles, really) are available but you can walk from the wharf when you arrive in Talicod. Ask around for directions, the people are friendly. If you happen to be there on a weekday, you are lucky, the beach is all yours. You can sing all day if you want at the videoke machine, take pictures, roll over the sand, swim, eat, or tell ghost stories. Whatever you feel like doing. When we woke up in the morning of Saturday, several groups of people were already there, families especially.
Day 3. River tubing, Eden Nature’s Park and Jack’s Ridge
Tubing at Sibulan River, Darong, Sta. Cruz Davao del Sur
We initially thought of white water rafting at The Crocodile Park but it wouldn’t fit our schedule. So we went tubing instead.
The earliest boat leaves at 6AM from Isla Reta. Take that schedule because you are bound for another looooong ride to Darong, Sta. Cruz. From Sta. Wharf, take a jeepney to Ecoland terminal. You may take any bus going Davao del Sur and ask the driver to drop you off at San Miguel Brewery. Travel time is over an hour.
When you get to the site, you may arrange for a tour guide or simply contact Kuya Tata at09212863859 so he can meet you at San Miguel. If you can’t reach him, let me know at the comments section below so I can ask my friends who know other tour guides as well.
Get a guide! They are skilled and you are helping them for only 250 pesos (the price may have changed). We gave them a tip because they were awesome!
During the activity, each will be assigned a guide. They will provide you with life vests and give you an orientation for safety. So listen!
You can ask another guide to take your pictures.
There are no proper rooms to change clothes in, no bathroom, or dining area. It smells coconut everywhere and you have to hike a kilometer to get to the starting point.
Endure the heat, the thirst (well you can bring water), and the blisters from walking. Because the sound of current from the cold river, the boulder of rocks that rub against your butt (and this is true), the meander and slope, and the splash of water are worth the excitement. Well I had my almost-drowning moment but I’m still alive. Everyone went home alive.
When all the fun is gone, you can leave Darong at 11:00AM in time for an eat-all-you can lunch at Eden Nature Park and Resort.
Eden Nature Park and Resort
Take a jeep from Darong to Toril. Ask the jeepney driver to drop you off at Mercury Drug in Toril where habal-habal and tricycles are available to take you to Eden Nature Park. Pay 100 pesos (fare may have changed) each because it’s about a 20 to 30-minute ride from your drop off point.
From Toril terminal, take a jeepney to Matina and stop at Matina Gallera (cockpit). Cross the street and take a cab to Jack’s Ridge.
The place is overlooking Davao City and Davao Memorial Park (the cemetery). There are several restaurants at Jack’s Ridge but I can’t recommend any. They’re a bit pricey compared to other restaurants downtown.
Do not stay too late if you do not have a car because commuting to and from Jack’s Ridge is difficult.
Alright! That ends day 3. Go home. Take a bath. Stay up late. Drink beer.
Day 4. Around downtown, again.
Wake up late. Pack your bags. Buy Davao-made crafts at Aldevinco Shopping Mall right across Ateneo de Davao University or go to Bankerohan public market for durian, pomelo, and otherpasalubong.
Never leave Davao without dining at Kuya Ed’s – a very affordable buffet lunch that will make you feel like you’re eating your final meal. And you’re ready to go home!
We stayed at my parents house so waking up early was important because our place is about 20-30 minutes from the city. My father was too kind to drive us around town and mother suggested some of the places like Luz Kinilaw which was really great!
I was reminded time and again that travel is always personal, and that no two people walk away from the same experience with the same memories.
– Patricia Schultz (1000 Places To See Before You Die)
There is no perfect itinerary – even the well-planned ones. It is how you make the most of your trip and the memories you make along the way.