Soak in the Sun at Samal & Talicud beaches
Samal Island, a 15-minute boat ride from Davao City, is numero uno for the sea-and-sand set. The resorts on Samal and neighbouring Talicud Island offer snorkeling, sea kayaking and parasailing — and white-sand beaches, for those who prefer to soak up the sun in while lying down.
The sea around Samal and Talicud is dotted with dive sites suitable for both novices and PADI-certified vets. Sites like Dayang Beach, Coral Gardens and Angel's Cove bristle with coral reefs and marine residents. Explore Davao's World War II history by descending 60m beneath the waves off Talomo Bay to the wreck of Japan's Sagami Maru, sunk by an American submarine in 1942.
Getting there: Cross over to Samal from one of the regular boats at Santa Ana Wharf. When you cross over, look for a tricycle or habal-habal to take you to your desired destination in Samal.
Climb the Philippines’ Tallest Mountain
The four-day trip up and back is tough, but there are rewards for those who keep their eyes and ears open while ascending the Kidapawan Trail: about 272 bird species call the slopes home. Climbers spend the second night of their journey at Mount Apo’s summit, 2,954 meters (9,691 feet) above sea level, waiting for the morning and incredible views of southern Mindanao.
During the descent via the Kapatagan Trail on the other side of the mountain, the surroundings morph from grassland to barren sulphuric wasteland before giving way to forest again. The sulphur is a reminder that Mount Apo is a sleeping volcano — liable to erupt when people least expect it.
Getting there: Arrange for a Mount Apo tour through an experienced local tour guide, among them Discover Mount Apo and Edge Outdoor.
Meet the Philippines’ largest Bird at the Philippine Eagle Center
The Davao rainforest habitat of the gigantic Philippine eagle is shrinking. Formerly sitting atop the food chain of Mindanao’s once-expansive forests, its numbers have dropped to the low hundreds. Just an hour’s drive from Davao’s city center, a breeding program aimed at slowing the eagle's decline has prospered at the Philippine Eagle Center, a zoo that breeds eagles for eventual release into the wild.
Some two dozen eagles have been hatched at the Center since its establishment in the 1980s, its success spurring the growth of a nature park around the hatchery. Visitors can hire a guide to explain the captive breeding process, or just walk around the park to see Philippine Eagles and other avian specimens native to the local jungles.
Getting there: The Philippine Eagle Center is accessible by taxi.
Celebrate Davao’s Biggest Festival - Kadayawan
A week-long harvest festival brings together most Davao citizens (and many tourists) in a series of parties and parades through the month of August. Trust us, Davao has a lot to celebrate — the moderate weather, the fertile fruit-producing soil, and the growing prosperity of a regional capital — and all of these become the focus of Kadayawan’s celebrations.
The city’s ten tribes (lumad) feature prominently in the celebrations — making appearances in cultural events across the city, their arts and crafts becoming fodder for art lovers and souvenir hunters.
After taking in the different parties and cultural events throughout the city, check out the street-dancing parade and the flower-laden floats that march along Davao's main streets.