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Three-Day Samal Itinerary: Exploring the Best Places on the Island

My close friend, Agnes and her hubby, Jun booked a plane ticket for Davao City last March, and she asked me to come up with a three-day Samal itinerary. With my interest in travel management, I agreed provided that we: 
  • explore the island as backpackers
  • spend enough time for every place we visit 
  • sleep in our tents
  • make the trip as economical as possible

Since they happily agreed, I did some research, consulted a few people, and used Google maps for the geographical location of the best places in the island. Fortunately, the Samal itinerary below turned out to be just what we wanted. The weather was also on our side, so we could follow the schedule as planned. 

Samal Itinerary 

I'm sharing our adventurous Samal itinerary with you (with minor edits). Hope you'll get an idea on how to spend your holidays in the island.

(as of March 2013)
Day 1
7:00 - 7:15 p.m. Take the barge from Sasa Wharf, Sasa, Davao City to Babak District, Samal. P10.00 / head 
7:15 - 7:20 p.m. Take the habal-habal from Babak Wharf to Marex Beach Resort. P50.00 / head
7:20 onwards Pitch tent, have dinner and explore the resort at night. (Note: if you want to order dinner at the resort, get there earlier).

P60.00 / head for overnight entrance fee
P100.00 / tent
Day 2
5:30 - 6:30 a.m. Dip in the water during moonset.

6:30 - 7:45 a.m. Have breakfast, wash up and pack up. (Note: if you want to order breakfast at the resort, do it the night before.) -
7:45 - 8:00 a.m. Walk to the Monfort Bat Colony, about 250 meters away from the resort. -
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Observe more than 2 million bats in their natural habitat.

P100.00 / head
9:00 - 9:15 a.m. Walk back to the resort and prepare for the trip to the vanishing island. (Note: it's much better to visit the vanishing island at low tide. Switch schedule with Monfort Bat Colony if necessary.) -
9:15 - 9:30 a.m. Take the ferry from Marex to the vanishing island. P500.00 / boat (back and forth), max capacity is 10.
9:30 - 11:45 a.m. Explore vanishing island; snorkel.

11:45 - 12:00 noon Take the ferry back to Marex. -
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Have lunch.(Note: if you plan to eat your lunch at Marex, order first before you leave for the vanishing island.) -
1:00 - 1:20 p.m. Take the habal-habal from Marex to Hagimit Falls. P70 to 100.00 / head
1:20 - 3:30 p.m. Dip in the cool, invigorating water of Hagimit Falls

P40.00 / head, excluding cottages
3:30 - 4:10 p.m. Take the habal-habal from Hagimit Falls to the jump-off point of Tayapok trail for Mt Puting Bato. (Note: ask the driver to stop at Penaplata town in case you want to buy something for dinner.) P70.00 to 100.00 / head
4:10 - 4:40 p.m. Go trekking to Mt Puting Bato. (Note: you may also want to try the two-hour night trek via Guillon trail.)

P100.00 for the guide
4:40 p.m. onwards Pitch tent, have dinner, watch sunset and moonrise, and chill. P20.00 for the entrance to the summit
Day 3
5:30 to 6:00 a.m. Watch sunrise and moonset.

6:00 - 7:30 a.m. Chill, pack up, have breakfast. -
7:30 - 8:00 a.m. Trek back to the jump-off point.

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Take the habal-habal from the jump-off point to Madyaw Beach Resort in Canibad. (Note: most mountaineers would rather trek straight to the beach. It will take about two hours from the jump-off point.) P80.00 / head
8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Rest at Madyaw, snorkel and explore Canibad beach. (Note: you can choose other resorts, or you may just stay at the beach for free.) 

P40.00 / head for the entrance to Madyaw 
11:30 - 12:00 noon Take the habal-habal to Penaplata town for lunch. (Note: you can also have lunch at Madyaw Beach Resort.) P120.00 / head
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch -
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Take the habal-habal to Kaputian ferry terminal. P 50.00 to 70.00 / head
1:30 - 2:00 p.m. Take the boat and cross the strait to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talicud island.

P 50.00 to 300.00 / head (depends on the number of passengers)
2:00 p.m. onwards Snorkel, pitch tent, chill, watch moonrise,  and explore Isla Reta Beach Resort.

P150.00 / head for the overnight stay
P100.00 / tent
Day 4
5:30 - 7:00 a.m. Watch sunrise and go for a morning swim. -
7:00 - 8:00 a.m. Pack up, have breakfast and order packed lunch. -
8:00 - 9:00 a.m.  Take a privately hired boat to Coral Garden. P3,500.00 / boat, max capacity is 8. This includes the ride to Taklobo Sanctuary to Adecor community.
9:00 - 12:00 nooon Snorkel, snorkel and snorkel; eat lunch.

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Proceed to Gian Clam Sanctuary, pass by Pearl Farm Resort. -
1:00 - 2:00 noon Observe colorful, cultured giant clams.

P75.00 / head
2:00 - 2:30 p.m. Dock at Adecor community and change clothes. (Note: No public toilets are available, so bring your malong.)

2:30 - 3:00 p.m. Take the habal-habal to Babak Wharf  P50.00
3:00 - 3:15 p.m. Take the barge from Babak Wharf to Sasa, Davao City. (Note: you may also want to take the ferry from another terminal; it's just close to the wharf.) P10.00
End of Adventure

Other Things to Know

The map on the right illustrates how this island is explored with this Samal itinerary. Got the map from the Internet.

Things you must bring for this trip are the following:
  • Swimming clothes
  • Light trekking clothes
  • Sunblock
  • Mask and snorkel (and fins if you have)
  • Life vest (for those who can't swim)
  • Tent
  • Outdoor sandals (or slippers if you're used to wearing that footwear for an easy climb)
  • Shades and arm cover to protect you from the scorching heat of the sun during habal-habal rides
  • Malong

Please take note, though, that this Samal itinerary is not for people who are looking for convenience and comfort during their vacation. At the end of the trip, you may experience muscle pain all over your body, especially if you're not used to trekking and backpacking. However, I can assure you that at the end of the adventure, you'll be able to appreciate the island better. 

For habal-habal drivers, please contact the names below. We were with them during this trip, but if they have changed their numbers, just find one on the island. As far as our experience is concerned, most drivers are tourist-friendly.
  • 09282286279 - Titing
  • 09483443330 - Warren

Let me know if you're using this Samal itinerary or if you have other suggestions to make this schedule better. 


  1. Replies
    1. This itinerary is for people like you and Chong! :)

  2. hi. can i ask if you have the contact number of the habal-habal driver? thanks!

    1. Hi there, I have updated the blog post to include the names and contact numbers of the drivers we were with during our trip. I'm not sure though if they have kept the same numbers. Enjoy your trip! :)

  3. nice blog. 10 pesos? estudyante na yan! ahahahaha! :D
    Regular fare: 13 pesos
    Student/elderly: 10 pesos
    Kids (under 5): FREE

    1. Thanks, Cristiano. We paid 10 pesos last time. Siguro mukha kaming estudyante. :D

  4. Great stuff! Im from Davao and I havent really explored Samal. Will do this itinerary in the summer.

    I'll be a solo woman traveller though. Do you have an impression that it will be safe for me?

    1. I think Samal is relatively safe, but I would rather camp with someone in Puting Bato.

      By the way, if you take the night trek in Guillon trail, I wouldn't recommend going to the peak. There's a section where you have to jump or go down with a rope--something you have to bring yourself--to a huge rock. There's another camp site though, you can stay there until morning. You also need a guide, so be early. Ask if the habal-habal driver knows one.

      I've heard of theft issues in that campsite, but we didn't experience anything unfortunate during our time. Perhaps things have already changed. Just look after your things. :)

  5. Sorry kind of stupid question here. where do you put your bags while you are on tour or going to places? do you always carry it with you?

    1. Hi Greta, not stupid at all. :) Most of the time, our backpacks were with us. When we went for a dip, we took turns. When we were at the resort, we asked if there was a place to deposit our bags. I hope this helps.

  6. A detailed and a practical to follow yours except for the puting bato.... can't do it for now....thank you for sharing.....

  7. Hi Kit! May I ask how much yung bayad nyo sa habal-habal drivers? :)

    1. Hi Karizza, depende sa destination, but the fares are written on the right side of the table above. :)

  8. hi! may contact number ka ng marex? thank you! :) planning to go there this december..

    1. Hi Audrey, I'm sorry I don't have their contact number. :( In case wala na silang vacant rooms, try mo rin yung nearby resorts.

  9. Hi I'm planning to trek puting bato alone. Is it safe for a solo goer?

    1. Sorry medyo late ang reply. For solo trekking, I'd opt for the easier trail (Tayapok), but I can't remember I saw signs to the peak. You might get lost if it's your first time. Not sure though kung may mga signs na ngayon. Hope this helps.

  10. Hi kit Good day, most of my travels were so expensive, i wanted to try this idea this coming October in the same place. since this is backpackers tour, obviously your backpack is always with you during the tour, but how about the Comfort Rooms/dressing rooms? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi there, sorry medyo late ang reply. Sa resorts, may mga dressing rooms naman. Sa Puting Bato, we changed clothes in our tent. I suggest you bring a malong just in case. :)


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