We decided to pack our bags and plan another month long trip visiting Samal Island as first leg of the trip and from Davao City going up to Cebu. Philippines is definitely an island gem, or should we say, a gem filled with thousands of amazing islands. It is sometimes surprising how not everyone knows about this amazing country. If you are traveling from the the US, Europe or other Western Countries, the Philippines is definitely a great place to spend your money in, as the country is extremely cheap, and have a variety of places you can explore. Since we are currently based in the north Philippines, as digital nomads. We do travel bringing our work with us a lot, but to build a solid base for our blog and online work, we stay in the Philippines the longest, currently our 6th month here.
Today, we give you a view of our first stop: Samal Island.
How to get to Samal Island
Our chosen route: We flew from Manila with Air Asia to Davao City, which two hours flight. From Davao International Airport, you can ride 2 jeepneys to reach the Pier where you can ride a boat to go to Samal. There should be boats from as early as 4am. But since we weren’t in a hurry, we stayed in the airport for the night, and traveled around 10am.
Option 1: Take 2 jeepneys to Sta. Ana Wharf and from there, ride the Palboros boat to go to Kaputian, Samal. This is the cheapest option and it will cost 16 pesos for the jeepneys and 60 pesos one round boat trip.
Option 2: Take 2 jeepneys to Sasa Wharf and from there, take the bus. The bus will ride the ship to go to Samal (we love these local experiences). From Penaplata, you can ride the shared triycle to Kaputian for P75 each (around 20 kilometers). This can be an option if the weather is bad since the ferry takes only 5 minutes to cross to Samal Island.
We had to choose the second option (we definitely wanted the first), as there were some locals who informed us that the boats from Sta. Ana Wharf were not sailing that day we came due to some typhoon complications.
From Kaputian, we walked a few minutes to Purok Cacao, where we are staying with Russian friends doing Couchsurfing. Turns out, there was a small Russian community in his area, which made our trip much more interesting visiting Samal Island.
Things to do visiting Samal Island
If you are very new to the Philippines, you will know that the locals have a very different diet. Mostly meat, especially in the cities. We live in Northern Philippines (the country has 3 main divisions). And in the city, people really like to focus with their meat dishes. It’s definitely different in the South. Just looking at their regular local carinderias (Filipino term for canteens) and you will see various vegetable options. We definitely needed a much more balanced diet and this has been refreshing. Seafood, fruits, and vegetables, and vegetables definitely affordable compared to the city. Prices are similar in South and in the North.
The waters in Samal is definitely super clear, even in the Port area! We are in Kaputian, and instead of swimming directly in the resort (where there is an entrance fee). We walked more towards where the local boats were parking, and start to swim there. In The Philippines you need to pay for every local beach that you visit. So we swim and snorkel, and you can easily see fishes, corals and even star fishes.
Of course, if you are near the beach, it will be a crime not to swim. (Mind you, there were a couple of beaches in Asia we didn’t swim.) With accessible, very beautiful waters, we made sure we swim all the time.
If you want more island vibes you can visit Talikud Island. It´just a few minutes far from Samal Island and from Davao almost an hour. Talikud is perfect place for the sunset, relaxing in the beach and do some snorkeling.
Our favorite time of the day watching a sunset with a beer in our hands. It´s a special moment that you feel at home wherever you are in the world.
Meeting New People visiting Samal Island
Can you believe that the locals we met in Samal were actually Russians? We stayed in a small Russian community, 6 adults and 3 children and they were all raw vegan eaters. It’s actually a challenge to do that in the Philippines, but since they are in the islands, they have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Also they home-grow a lot and helps them keep their food fresh and delicious.
Samal is definitely an amazing island, highly recommended to visit in the South of the Philippines.