Samal, An Island Paradise

After our thrilling experience in Lake Cebu, the gang went back to Davao. Search for the best hotels in Davao City. We stayed at Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel, dubbed as the "unconventional hotel". The hotel is located in a residential area and is very accessible, it is just walking distance from the city's central business district and is surrounded by restos, malls, banks, etc.

To me, what makes the hotel unconventional are the sculptures, painting,s and other artworks that decorate the hotel from the facade up to the rooms, courtesy of Mr. Kublai Ponce Millan an artist who happens to be the son of the hotel's manager.


Joy with the artworks along the stairs of the Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel.

The next day, the group split. Ting and I plan to go to Samal, while Doods and Joy decided to stay put and scour the city for good buys. Look for great accommodation on Samal Island.

After taking a quick breakfast, we jump-start our little adventure by riding a jeepney towards Sasa Wharf. There, we boarded a ferry boat that will bring us to Babak Whark on the opposite side. It was a pleasant boat ride and we enjoyed the view. Davao City is a sprawling metropolis but the waters surrounding it are very clean, very much unlike Manila where garbage dots the seaside.

Upon landing, we looked lost. Frankly, Ting and I have no idea what specific places to visit. We approached the guard at the gate and asked for some advice. I'm not surprised at all when he said he knows somebody who can provide us a tour. After waiting for a few minutes, our guide arrived with his "habal-habal" or motorcycle and we started discussing some of the possible destinations. Having settled on the places and accompanying price, we are on our way to explore the island paradise. The guide gave us a lot of options but we settled for only three as we have to be back in Davao by 2 PM.

First, on the list is Blue Jaz Beach Resort and Waterpark located at Brgy. Caliclic, Babak district. Aside from the crystal clear blue water and powdery white sand, the other main attraction is the giant water slide and a mini zip line. The resort must be very popular as the place is jam-packed.


Ting sitting on the side of the giant water slide in Bluejaz Resort.

Next is the Hagimit Falls and Nature Park in PeƱaplata District. It is of considerable distance from Babak but the trip provided us with a good view of Samal. The district is hilly, covered by tropical forest, very rural and some parts are sparsely populated. Finally, we arrived at the park's gate, which is about 150 meters above the falls and we have to go down via a flight of stairs. There are so many I wasn't able to count the number of steps. As we descended, we noticed that the area is full of trees locally known as "hagimit". Now I know where the place got its name. The trees provide shade that makes the area cool, making it a popular summer destination.

We can hear the flow of water and the sounds of "happiness" getting louder in every step while going down. At the end of the stairs, we followed a rough trail towards the falls, along the way we have to hurdle several swaths of water and found ourselves tiptoeing on rocks and jumping from one side to the other, it is fun. Except for some man-made structures like sheds, cottages, and bridges, the "nature" aspect of the park is not disturbed, it is almost pristine.


Us crossing the bridge in Hagimit Falls.

Look and behold, the cascading waterfalls of Hagimit! It is a group of small waterfalls releasing plentiful water into catch basins which act as natural pools. The thing that immediately caught my eye is the color of the water, it is bluish. A very apt color giving the place a coolness and refreshing feeling. No wonder it is full of people, young and old just wantonly diving and splashing all over the pools. The water is very enticing, but we didn't really see this particular trip coming so we didn't bring any extra clothes.


Two of us cooling down on one of the cascading waterfalls of Hagimit.

Last but not least is Maxima Resort. As in Hagimit Falls, the gate is on the higher side of the hill and we have to go down a long way to explore the place. The resort is more known for its variety of water sports activities. Some of the things you can do here are island hopping, water bobbing, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, riding the banana boat, jet skiing, and scuba diving. But popular among visitors is the super slide. It is a slide made of tarpaulin, 40 meters long, and drops you off, right into the sea. Sounds exciting but we didn't try.


Me and Ting resting on the path going down to the beach of Maxima AquaFun.

Before we knew it, time's up and we have to go back to meet up with the other guys. I have always associated Samal with the white sand beaches and resorts, but Hagimit Falls is the one that will stick to my memory the most. Our long and tiring island trip is well rewarded.

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