escape: Samal Island

/ 28 October 2013 /
Let's make this clear right off the bat: I'm a cheapo traveler. That means you can tuck me in the corner of a jampacked jeepney and I won't complain, as long as it's much cheaper than an air-conditioned van.

But that also means I will rummage through 50 pages of Google search results just to find that perfectly priced getaway when I need it. And that, friends, is how I got to stay in the famous Samal Island for less than Php4,000.
I went with Tyril, partly because I like going places with him and partly because having a companion helps split the bill. :D Kidding aside, I planned an itinerary focusing on what this getaway should be really be about: sun, sea, and R&R. All the rest were optional.

So here's how the weekend went:

Friday, 25October
We caught the 5am bus from Cagayan de Oro to Davao City. This bus ride costs Php535 and takes 8 to 10 hours. Yes, there's a faster way -- it's called an airplane -- but no, we'd rather go cheap for this one, thanks. :D

Besides, the bus ride is an experience by itself. The picturesque gorges and farmlands of Bukidnon kept me from getting bored. The bus driver pulled over for breakfast and lunch at their favorite roadside eateries, where homecooked meals are just filling (and yes, affordable).

It was 1pm by the time we got to Davao City. We chose to get off at SM City Davao, then took a cab to our sidetrip: the Davao Crocodile Park.

This was a not-so-planned sidetrip, and we had to shell out Php200 each to get into the park. It was fun, but I'm not particularly a fan of animals being caged. And we got tired strolling around, so by 3pm, we got into a cab again, this time to head to SASA Port. (Pardon the taxi cab dependence -- this was our first time to visit Davao by ourselves and we were clueless about their jeepney routes. Besides, Davao City cabs are so colorful, we just couldn't help it! haha.)

At the very organized SASA Port, we paid Php10 each for a barge token and cooled down with yummy 10-peso soft ice cream. The barge took a mere 10 minutes (10 seems to be the magic number here) to get to Samal Island's port in Babac District. From there, we just had to take a motorcycle ride (Php20 each) to Samal Island Huts, where we were booked.

Samal Island Huts, by the way, is this really nice three-room place owned by PJ and Kim Vererfven. It's slightly up a hill, where it's secluded enough for peaceful lounging yet still at a walking distance from the lively beach resorts.
Three things to love about Samal Island Huts:
  • It's a family-owned place that's so homey and private. Kim even helped us with directions and places to go.
  • The food is amazing! Filipino, European, and American cuisine come together in their menu. (And for prices that aren't so steep.)
  • It's just Php1,200 for a night in one of their well-equipped nipa-hut rooms, good for two people. Perfect!
(Disclaimer: No one asked or paid me to write all of that. I just really like the place. :))
Saturday, 26October
The cook at Samal Island Huts, Adrian, served up our fantastic breakfast while we hung out with their resident kitty, Puss.

It was almost noon when we got ready to go to the beach. Our day resort of choice was Blue Jaz Beach and Water Park. It was just a 10-minute walk from the Huts, but we had underestimated the heat and ended up panting at the Blue Jaz gates.

It was more than worth it, though. A day trip at Blue Jaz, priced at Php120 per person, allowed us to enjoy an infinity pool, a great beach, and friendly sea waters teeming with life. Tyril had a blast swimming from coral to coral in the shallow water, spotting different sorts of fish, poking at Christmas tree worms, and baiting small lobsters with sea grass. I, on the other hand, enjoyed digging my feet on the soft white sand.

We had lunch on the shore (Buy 1, Take 1 pizza at Php350!), then a resort attendant approached us asking if we were interested in a little island-hop to "Vanishing Island" for Php200 per person. I said no, wala sa budget (actual words used), but after a while, he came back saying we could go on the tour for just Php50. What the heck, we said yes!

Vanishing Island turned out to be a small sandbar that gets slightly submerged in the tide. It's a haven for mangroves and starfish -- every step you take on this sandbar reveals about a dozen sea stars just chillin' on the sand among sea biscuits and other sea shells.

We were allowed to freely roam around and take a dip for a few minutes before we took the 30-minute boat ride back to Blue Jaz.

More swimming and coral-hopping ensued. By 6:30pm, we were starving, so we took a table and ordered a reasonably priced lechon kawali dinner. Tyril was still holding on to the bottle of Coke he had been carrying since lunch. haha.

Blue Jaz stages shows on weekends, but we were so tired, we headed back to the Huts before we got halfway through their Halloween special. This time, we took a motorcycle. :D

Sunday, 27October
After another fantabulous breakfast, it was time to check out. Adrian and another attendant (I forgot to ask for your name. Sorry! :/) offered to take us to the port on their motorcycles. Then it was another barge trip, a quick lunch at Abreeza, and a 10-hour bus ride back to CdeO (apparently, if you board the bus late in the day as opposed to early morning, it'll be a longer trip).

We got home at 10:30pm, tired and sleepy. But as most beach-trippers go, we slept with a tan and the sound of the sea still filling our dreams. That, plus we still had a little extra cash to get some after-sunburn lotion. :D


{ Tyril Bacas } on: November 9, 2013 at 12:01 AM said...

Woot. Best vacation :D

{ hyacinth } on: November 12, 2013 at 7:48 PM said...

TY! :D Glad you enjoyed it. I had so much fun, obviously. :)

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