Samal Island: What to Do, Where to Go and How to Keep Costs Low

Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) is a fourth class island city ten to twenty minutes away from Davao City. It boasts its unspoiled beaches and natural resources. Getting around the island is definitely not practical for solo travelers. Cost is high especially for transportation.

How to get there:

  • What I did, I took a multicab going to Sasa Km. 11 Ferryboat Landing and took a ferry going to the island for Php 10. This is the cheapest way getting there. You’d be dropped off at the Samal port. You may also take the bus from R. Castillo and Cabaguio St. satellite terminal. You’ll be dropped off at Brgy. Caliclic, Babac District. Ferries operate 24/7 with 15 minutes interval.
  • Sasa Km. 11 Wharf. There are ferryboats going directly to Babac Wharf.
  • Sta. Ana Wharf near Magsaysay Park. There are motorboats going to Kaputian and Talicud Island.
  • Water Taxi. Refer to my other post for more details.
  • You may hire a cab from Davao City and arrange cost with the driver. Discuss the locations you’re going and for how long you’ll be needing his service.
  • You may contact your hotel for arrangements regarding your transportation from Davao City. Most hotel accommodations include this in their package.
The ferry that will take you to Samal.
The ferry that will take you to Samal.
This is the water taxi
This is the water taxi

Note: If you are going solo, it is not advisable to take a cab or water taxi. Hotel arrangement is the best option for a hassle free trip. You may also take the bus and drop at Caliclic but I heard this is too far from tourist destinations.

Where to Go?

Monfort Bat Cave

Around 15 minutes from Babac Port, you can reach Monfort Bat Cave. This 57 acre land is owned by Norma Monfort and is home to a large colony of 1.8 million Geoffrey Rousette fruit bats. Pay Php 5 upon entry to the property and another Php 100 before going to the bat caves. You will be given a tour guide who will tell you everything about the bats-behavior, habitat, etc. It is best to go at dusk to see the bats fly out for food. Due to the increasing number of inhabitants, it was decided to create three more caves to house all of them. When I visited, one cave was filled with pups, the other for a few weeks older pups and the rest for adult bats. The smell was really intoxicating. It was raining that morning before I arrived. The soil was wet and sticky. Aside from learning a lot about bats, you can also enjoy the breath taking view of the Davao Gulf. Bats stay in the their caves the whole day so there was nothing much to look at.These guys are nocturnal like most bats and prey on fruits and nectar. They also have a mini shop where you can buy souvenirs and food preserves.

bat cave opening and bats, lots of 'em.
bat cave opening and bats, lots of ’em.
a lot more bats
a lot more bats
types of bats
types of bats

The White House

From the Monfort Bat Cave, we drove more or less thirty minutes before we reached Barangay Limao. We passed through jagged roads uphill like forever. Rocks were literally embedded on the road telling me we’re really going to a peak of something somewhere.

Alas! Sitting on top of a hill is an old, two-story white house made of concrete and wood. Outside is a bust monument of Hilario Camino (Moncado) del Prado (1898-1956), the founder and supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Filipino Crusaders World Army. Based on reviews, it is believed that Gen. Moncado founded a cult and they call the members Moncadistas. They were vegans and followed the teachings based on Man’s Moral concept by the general himself.

the white house
the white house
the house and the bust of the commander
the house and the bust of the commander
the view of Davao gulf and the distant city.
the view of Davao gulf and the distant city.
inside the house. Broken furnitures due to poor maintenance.
inside the house. Broken furnitures due to poor maintenance.
A shot at the back. Care takers live at the back of this house.
A shot at the back. Care takers live at the back of this house.
Kuya preppin luch for the family. He is a masseuse in Davao City.
Kuya preppin luch for the family. He is a masseuse in Davao City.

The newly watered flowers and plants seemed to be planted a few days ago during my visit. A few steps to the side of the house is a stunning of view of Davao Gulf and the Davao cityscape. It was indeed very refreshing and relaxing after the stench in the bat cave. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go inside. The caretaker said it was dangerous due to the current condition of the house. It must be poorly maintained. the outside appearance of it tells me the same. Someone should do something about this.

Hagimit Falls

We tracked our way back to Circumferential Road and off we went to Hagimit Falls, a very famous tourist destination in the island especially during summer. Hagimit Falls derived its name from Hagimit trees planted all over the place. It is a collection of small waterfalls that streams into a catch basin of water. You should be aware that there’s quite a bit of descending stairs (which means ascending when going back) before you can reach the falls.

a small waterfall
a small waterfall

How to get there:

From Davao City, ride a bus going to Peñaplata and the driver will drop you to the entry point of the falls. Take a habal-habal going to the falls. You may also take habal-habal from any point. Fare is Php 100 one way.

Entrance fee is Php 20 for kids and Php 40 for adults. Price range for cottages varies from Php 200-500.

You cannot see all the waterfalls at the same time. This one needs a little descending before you spot it.
You cannot see all the waterfalls at the same time. This one needs a little descending before you spot it.
on the other side, upper part
on the other side, upper part

It’s quite a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy the cool water and nature’s serendipity. On the other hand, this place gets crowded during weekends, holidays and especially summer. There’s a store where you can buy food but it’s still better to bring your own.

locals enjoying the cool water
locals enjoying the cool water

We then went to a resort on the other side of the island. I forgot its name. Thought of staying for a while, chill and take a boat from there back to the city but due to high costs and schedule of boat trips, I decided to go back to the port and take the ferry again.

I wasn’t able to explore the beauty of the beaches as well as water adventures. I am thinking of going back.

It cost me Php 18.50 to reach Samal. However, upon arrival, there’s no way but to ride a habal-habal. “Regular” fare according to the drivers is Php 100 one way. I had to make arrangements before we left. We agreed to Php 500 but then after the tour, he asked for more than double. Haggling, I made him agree to Php 900. I got ripped, right? But then again, if you’re traveling with a friend or a group, you can keep transportation costs really low. Bring your own food and water. There’s a mini grocery store beside the gasoline station in Samal port but choices are few and costs are high.

You may also try Maxima Aqua Fun. They have giant tarpaulin slide that lead to the sea. You can see the list of resorts in Samal Island in my other article. Click here.

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