I have great love for unexplored territories and little-known places. It is a penchant that brought me to a number of destinations sheltered from commercial and irresponsible tourism. And off the waters of Davao Gulf, one tranquil island – unspoiled, undisturbed – worth to be called another Island Gem of Davao Region: Kopiat Island.
Kopiat Island lies on the waters of the Municipality of Mabini in theprovince of Compostela Valley. It is an 87-hectare island that is part of Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape.
The island is covered with fruit-bearing coconut trees while different variety of mangroves are scattered on the sides. It boasts of clear and serene waters of Davao Gulf and blessed with a lengthy shoreline bathed in fine white sands. Deemed unspoiled, the island is perfect site for picnic and relaxation.
Kopiat Island, despite the roaring call for commercial tourism, has retained its old rustic tropical allure. As far as I know, the island is inhabited. There are no electricity, no establishments built, and not even daytime vendors on the island. There are quite a few tables and benches built there for day picnic and campers.
According to the locals, Kopiat Island is the breeding ground of the hawksbill and leatherback turtles, two of the five species of marine turtles than can be found in the Philippines. Such made it to the list of DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Habitat.
Aside from hawksbill and leatherback turtles, Kopiat Island teems of unspoiled coral reefs that are home to exotic marine life. Such is a perfect site for diving and snorkeling. Various colorful corals thriving underwater and the rich marine life there is will surely captivate divers and snorkelers.
The 87-hectare island can be toured around by pump boats for 15 minutes. From the boat, the crystal clear waters will give you a glimpse of what’s down there – rich marine life. On the other hand, in-land tour around the island can be done in 45 minutes. Doing so will give you the chance to marvel at seven-hectare lagoon hidden in the island.
Kopiat Island is one of those select places I admire so much because even at this era of social media and online photo-sharing, it is still kept away from destructive irresponsible tourism. It is barely visited by tourists but most favorite among locals. To this date, it has considerably retained its laid-back feel and its natural tropical beauty. Honestly, I still want to see Kopiat Island that way.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From the City of Tagum, take a jeepney bound for Mabini, Compostela Valley. Estimated fare is around Php 30.00. Tell the jeepney driver to drop you off at Barangay Pindasan. There, you need to take a tricycle or single motorcycle to bring you to the port going to Kopiat Island. Boat trip from the port to Kopiat Island is only 15 minutes. Everything there is SURPRISINGLY CHEAP!
I have literally toured and roamed around the whole of Samal Samal – both by sea and by land. Its proximity to Davao City where I live makes it a perfect destination I could run away from the hustle and bustle of city life. When I need to a quite place to loosen up from the fast paced corporate life, Samal Island always comes to mind. When I had the itch for one great island fun, Samal Island’s never fails to amuse me.
Here I listed top 10 destinations in the whole Island Garden City of Samal that made up the reasons why the island is the most preferred destination among many Dabawenyos like me. These are places that also top on my list whenever I think of Samal Island. The next time you plan of visiting Samal Island again, check out this places and make it part of your next visit.
10 DESTINATIONS, 1 ISLAND CITY
MONFORT BAT CAVE
Monfort Bat Cave is home to approximately 1.8 million Geoffrey’s Rousette Fruit Bats and is the Guinness World Record holder of the largest colony of fruit bats in the world! Also known as the Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation Park, the 24-hectare property is owned by the Monfort Family and is located in Barangay Tambo, Babak District of the Island Garden City of Samal.
THE VANISHING ISLAND
Samal Island’s best kept Island Treasure is the Vanishing Island. The name itself arouses curiosity. But yes, the island actually vanishes during high tide. Best for snorkel, diving, swimming or just plain beach combing. Vanishing Island cab be easily accessed from Barangay Tambo, Babak District of the Island Garden City of Samal.
MOUNT PUTING BATO
At 1,345 feet above the sea level, Mount Puting Bato is Samal Island’s highest point. It has become one of the favorite climbing expeditions of many adventure seekers in Davao Region. It is best for a day trek and pre-climb expedition. Mt. Puting Bato is located in Sitio Tayapoc, Brgy. Guilon, Samal District.
KAPUTIAN BEACH PARK
Located at the Kaputian District, Kaputian Beach Park is probably the most popular public beach in Samal Island. Blessed with pure white sand beaches and serene bluish waters, Kaputian Beach Park is definitely a must visit place while in the Island. Staying overnight there is incredibly cheap!
Hagimit Falls is the most famous waterfalls frequented by most visiting tourists in Samal Island. Endowed with natural swimming pools and different rock formations, Hagimit Falls is perfect for relaxation and adventure.
Located at the southeastern tip of Samal and about 45 minutes boat ride from mainland Davao, Talicud Island is home to pristine white sand beaches, excellent diving sites, beautiful palm-lined beachfronts, pristine beaches, vast coral gardens and untouched coves of the Davao Gulf. One of my favorite beaches here is Babu Santa Beach – very laidback, serene and clean. When I have the itch for the beach, this is the place that always comes to mind.
THE CORAL GARDEN
Another jewel of IGACOS is the vast CORAL GARDEN located west coast of Talicud Island. The marine protected Coral Garden is 4 kilometer sanctuary of different corals and coral formations perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling. It is famous for its sandy sea floor and base slopes. Rich marine life abounds the sanctuary and strict conservation is being observed. It is a favorite site for snorkeling enthusiasts and newbie divers because of its clear, shallow waters.
BEST RESORTS IN SAMAL
Island Garden City of Samal is home to numerous wonderful and extraordinary beach resorts to choose from. Different beach resorts and even inland resorts are now sprouting in the two major islands of IGACOS – Samal and Talicud. These resorts made Samal Island one of the best visited island in Mindanao and now the fastest growing tourist destination in the Philippines.
PEARL FARM BEACH RESORT
Nestled in the idyllic islands of Samal & Malipano, the world renowned Pearl Farm Beach Resort is a former cultivation farm for luxurious south sea pearls. Now, it carries on its essence of prime luxury as a premier destination in the country and as a perfect refuge for those in search of blissful retreat.
ISLAND HOPPING AROUND SAMAL ISLAND
Island Hopping around Samal is preferably one of the best things to do to appreciate everything Samal Island has to offer as it takes you to the scenic islands, beautiful beaches and lush marine life of the island. This is personally one of my favorites as I got to hop from one beach to another, got to snorkel from dive site to dive sites and or simply bask in the different sands of Samal Island. Whenever I have guests coming to Davao, I always recommend island hopping around Samal.
These are just 10 reasons why I love Samal Island. There are many more to discover and yet to experience in this Garden Island. And sure one day, I’ll be editing this article again adding more reasons why I always come back to the Island garden City of Samal, the jewel of the Davao Gulf.
I was stuck in the city for three weeks away from my usual weekend escapes. The busy days at work coping up with deadlines and obligations made me halt from being a weekend warrior for awhile. And so after those hard days’ work, I simply needed a place to slow down and breathe fresh air – a place where I can simply stay for the whole day, loosen up and chill out.
There’s no other place I can’t think of to give me that pleasant and relaxing stay than this resort I once passed by last summer – the Bonhomie Leisure and Resort. With the help of the resort’s Operations Manager Ms. Marietta Andrade-Gantuangco, I traveled my way back to this place to do nothing but purely unwind for two days – the most sought-after break I needed after three long weeks.
Barely three-hour drive from Metropolitan City of Davao, Bonhomie Leisure and Resort is the newest addition to the leisure destinations in the Davao Region. It is conveniently located along the national highway in Puntalinao in the Municipality of Banaybanay, Province of Davao Oriental.
I was genially welcomed by the friendly staffs as I arrived at the resort. As they ushered me going my room, the unique architectural design of the place immediately tickled my interest. The fusion of modern and Asian architectural designs abound the place. They were meticulously planned and neatly constructed complimenting each design. The structure where the rooms are situated has an Asian-country theme. As I looked at it from the outside, these rooms vary from Thai House, Bali House, Chinese House and a modern Filipino House. This fusion ingeniously made this structure so unique and appealing. At Php 2,200.00 with breakfast for two, these rooms are worth the stay.
Bonhomie Leisure and Resort takes pride being the first and the only first class beach resort in the town of Banaybanay frequented not only by locals but also from nearby towns of the provinces of Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte and Compostela Valley. It features different facilities and amenities that guarantee comfort, fun and excitement for its valued guests. It has outdoor infinity pool for kids and adults, beautifully constructed open cottages, native beach huts, sports facilities and trimly manicured lawns.
On the top of these special features and amenities, Bonhomie Leisure and Resort takes pleasure having the finest white sand beach in the area facing the Davao Gulf. Resort guests who are up for swimming are protected by a perimeter of large boulders that serve as boundary at the beach. I felt so safe and secured swimming even at night on my first day. Like I saw on https://www.globosurf.com, I will try out the beginner paddle boards tomorrow!
Talking about good food, Bonhomie features an elegant open restaurant that serves delectable dishes at affordable prices. It is a dining experience with fresh air amid a charming tropical ambience. My favorites were Mixed Seafood Salad and Alfredo. Until now I still drool thinking how delectable they were. I also have to mention that breakfast at Bonhomie is just so delightful one would crave for more.
During weekends, resort guests are entertained by Acoustic Band that plays great music. Guests are welcomed to sing and dance with them. At night, the resort turned into a romantic rendezvous as different lights charmingly light up the whole environs. I can’t help but photographed every inch of it. Just beautiful.
Not known to all, the town of Banaybanay is home to the 8-hectare marine protected area the locals called Burias Islet. Contrary to the locals’ description, Burias Islet is more of a vanishing white sand bar heaving with various virgin corals on the sides. It is also a marine sanctuary of endangered giant taklobo and budyong. Bonhomie Leisure and Resort arranges special boat trip to this sanctuary. At Php 1,000.00 good for 5 persons, guests can already enjoy the pristine waters and encounter the rich marine life of Burias Islet.
I am so used with travels packed with different day tours and adventures. But this time, I slowed down and chose to contain myself only at one place all day long. And it was really worth it. Staying for two days at Bonhomie Leisure and Resort is like savoring the privacy and the luxury of true tropical leisure destination. Indulging oneself in an atmosphere of comfort and slow travel defines the essence what I called sweet staycation away from a real home.
Thank you BONHOMIE LEISURE AND RESORT for giving me such a great time! This is a sweet weekend escape I will truly not forget.
For more information and reservation, please contact:
BONHOMIE LEISURE AND RESORT
National Highway, Puntalinao, Banay-Banay, Davao Oriental