Davao! Home of our current President and a place where life is. Made to feel as safe and as clean as Singapore, Davao City is one of the most urbanized cities of the Philippines and the capital city of the South. Despite being a commercial city, one of the best things about it is that it is a perfect mix of culture, city life, and nature at its best. Here are some of the awesome places we went to, and we recommend you visit when you go to Davao.
Davao has tons of nature resort parks, and this is one of the best that we visited. It is a beautiful garden with parks that surround the area. The lodges are surrounded by great views and tropical plants and even pine trees. This area is beautiful, and I'm planning on probably staying here if we do plan for another Davao visit. The lunch buffet is fantastic, and it's a must to dine in their in-house restaurant.
This famous mountain resort and restaurant is not only known for their good food and great view, but it is also mostly known because of its historical value. It's like a small community of its own with its restaurant, cafe, KTV and bar, amphitheater, playground, lodging, function rooms, pools and even tunnels dug up during the Japanese invasion. Its way up in the mountain gives you an excellent view of the City of Davao.
It is the only place where people can enjoy seeing the Philippine Eagle or the monkey-eating eagle. It is an endangered species of birds that are being kept and bred in captivity. Other than that they also have other bird species, flying lemurs—locally known as the kagwang—, crocodiles, and other animals. The enclosure is made to look like the Philippine rainforests and serves as a lecturing ground for falconry, animal conservation, animal captivity and more. It's famous for school trips and also as a must-go place for tourists to visit.
Another nature-hugging place to visit. If you want to be one with nature and just have this city life escape, you can detoxify your stress in this garden resort. It has a butterfly garden, adventure park, restaurant, lounge, Swimming pool, lodging, horseback riding, and much more. Malagos Garden Resort is a massive park to visit in one day. Since we only went for a day tour, we had to go to one place. We saw one area where they had a construction that I felt bummed. It had a big label that says, Philippines Chocolate Museum—oh man! If I were to come back to Davao, I would sure come back to see this.
One of the places that you must come to visit is the Crocodile farm. It is one thing I love about Davao; it has full of nature-lover's areas of interest. It's a mini zoo on its own-mini because it doesn't have much of diversity. From watching crocodiles huddling together, to watching them eat their food, this is one thing my son did love. He was pretty excited to see 'dinosaurs' lazying around. We also fed ostriches and even a creepy snake massage. I tried it and had the creeps running throughout the rest of my body. The snake was pretty heavy, and as it slithers on my back, it did give somewhat of a massage. But I felt odd having a constricting python sit on my back.
Samal Island is a beautiful place to go and visit. It's like a small town getting to know nature. It's an island off the coast of Davao, and it is called the Island Garden City of Samal.
First stop, this small but wonderful child of nature. The falls are gently flowing down to a pool of cool water. It's a beautiful night since the rock formation creates this ethereal location making it feel like a fairytale to stay here and watch the water fall and listen to the stream flow. There are other things to do around the falls. You can swim in the rivers and have a stroll in the surrounding area. I did love the way they designed the bridges though, and my favorite was the one with flowered arches.
The name says it all. This waterpark is a real delight. You can do practically every water park fun you can think of—jetskiing, banana boating, kayaking, canopy walking, tarpaulin sliding, lodging, and camping. It's a very simple resort where they bank in on more fun than building a lot of establishments. We love that it sits right by the side of the island and opens up into the forest.
For a family that loves putting on our hiking boots, our Davao trip is highlighted by our hike up Mt. Puting Bato—in translation, White Rock Mount. We took on the two-hour Guilon Trail to challenge ourselves for a great family hike. There is one easier track that reaches the top, but it only takes you through a path that passes through the lush open green lands of the mountain in less than an hour. Our hike was a bit more challenging; it had narrow trails, rocks to climb and reaching the top was the cherry on top. The view is phenomenal! I can see the view of Davao on one side, the peak of Mt. Apo—and also reminiscing that mountain years back—and the Davao Gulf on another side.
Alright, I've been to bat caves before and going to the Monfort Bat Cave sent chills down my spine. Just reaching the opening, I was stunned to see just how many bats were already huddled together and sleeping on the roof of the cave. I didn't feel disgusted or anything just that I have never seen so many bats all at once in my entire life—before now. As part of the Guinness World Records to housing 1.8 million Roussette Fruit Bats, it's amazing just how many there are in there. Just imagine a rock completely covered by slow moving ants, this is what it feels like only these are much bigger. By the way, it's not a cave that opens up on a trail; it's a huge cave on the ground, and there is no way people are allowed to go in and venture. Besides, you don't want to freak out millions of bats, would you?
Seventy-five years have passed since World War II. There are a lot of remnants of World War II around Davao, and one of them is the famous Japanese Cave House in Samal Island. I'm always excited to see something related to history, and I was super excited to see a cave dug out by Japanese Soldiers were they considered as their home until the end of the war. But I only entered an under-maintained cave with lines of slowly degrading papers and letters and even old discs. It's a shame that they did not maintain this at all. It would have been wonderful if the owners of the property took more time in keeping the historical aspect of this area.
Going to an island rich in beautiful beaches, you will also love to know just how much beauty lies underneath the surface. We didn't go far off-shore to reach the Giant Clam Sanctuary. We only needed our snorkel and our goggles, and we are already there. Actually, with the clear waters and the white sand below, we can already see the giant clams. The giant clams are scattered all over the sandy floor, and we were even allowed to pick some up. There are also starfishes and anemone and other smaller fishes in the area. My son did enjoy this very much because kids were also allowed to dive and reach out to the giant clams.
Another place that’s worth a visit in Samal is the so-called Vanishing Island. “Vanishing” because when the sea water rises, the island is totally nowhere to be found. There are boats from Marex Beach going to Vanishing Island but it costs too much. I think around PhP 1500 per boat. But, we’re lucky because the driver of habal-habal brought us to a residential area where there are also boats used by fishermen. We were able to rent a boat for only PhP 500! It’s a weekday when we went there so there aren’t much people in the island. My son loved it there especially that there’s a lot of star fish!
Davao is a real nature's treat. From travelers who love city trekking and nature-lovers in search for nature parks, Davao is a complete package. No wonder this is a place well loved by so many who lives here. I came here years back, and I would like to come again and again. There's just too much to see and not enough time to see them. Davao! I shall return!
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