Nestled on the foot of the tallest peak of the Philippines, surrounded by azure waters and white sand beaches, lies a city with varied cultures. From its quaint provincial lifestyle, Davao City has grown into a center of commerce, industry, and trade. Despite this, it has preserved its rich culture, giving it a balance between progressive and traditional.
Here are things not to miss when in Davao:
The nearest white sand beach is just a ten-minute boat ride from downtown Davao. Samal Island offers a lot of choices- from premier beach resorts like Pearl Farm to the public beaches of Kaputian that are well maintained by the local government. Try snorkeling at the coral gardens of Talikud Island - you’ll see lot of Nemos, Dories, and other creatures in this region’s rich marine life.
TAKE A BUMPY RIDE
Head to Davao River for whitewater rafting. The Davao Wildwater Adventure offers packages worth Php2,000 per person, which includes round trip transportation from Crocodile Park (your jump-off point 30 minutes away from the city center), lunch, equipment rental, and a raft guide. For more water sports, try wake boarding at Decawake Davao in Brgy. Mintal, only 25 minutes away from the city center. Rates start at Php400 for two hours.
CLIMB AN ICONIC MOUNTAIN
At 9,692 feet, trekking Mount Apo, the highest peak of the Philippines, is every local mountaineer’s dream. It is home to various endemic species such as the Philippine Eagle and the Waling-waling, and to six indigenous tribes.
|Mount Apo, as seen from Lake Rosario, Brgy. Kapatagan, Davao del Sur|
There are many ways to reach Mount Apo’s summit but the most convenient route is through the Kidapawan trail. Take a two-hour bus ride to the North Cotabato Province to get there. An average hike requires three to four days, roundtrip.
Davao is home to the country’s national bird, the Philippine Eagle and the Waling-waling, the largest of the orchid family - both considered as critically endangered species. To see these, take a forty-minute ride from downtown to the Baguio District of Calinan. The Philippine Eagle Center has been breeding the eagles in captivity since the late 1980s. Pay a visit to the park to participate in their conservation efforts and see the eagle in all its majesty. A few minutes from the center is the Malagos Garden Resort, which houses the rare Waling-waling orchid. But you wouldn’t make the trip just to see a flower, right? The resort also has a bird park, butterfly sanctuary, and a petting zoo with farm animals like donkeys and miniature horses. Within the 12-hectare park are also pieces made by Philippine National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva.
|Philippine Eagle. Photo by Irving Pentecoste|
GET SOME FRESH AIR
Nature and adventure mix again in Eden Nature Park. With over 100,000 pine trees in this lot, you can simply enjoy the cool climate and nice view of the Davao City and Gulf on ground, or dare to try their Skycycle, which is smilier to the experience of a zip line, except you’re pedaling on a bicycle, 100 feet high. The ride costs Php200. The park is a little over 40 kilometers from the Philippine Eagle Center.
GET A HISTORY LESSON
Davao’s rich history is currently housed in Museo Dabawenyo, located at A. Pichon Street (formerly known as Magallanes St.). Know more about the indigenous tribes living in the city, their traditional dresses, and how they contributed to Davao’s growth. Admission is free and the museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
EXPLORE THE EXOTIC
Davao is known for their durian fruit so you’ll find varied dishes across the region infused with this ingredient. Try durian coffee at Blugre Coffee, one of Davao’s homegrown shops. Lachi’s, also a homegrown pastry restaurant offers durian sans rival (a Filipino cake with layers of meringue, buttercream, and cashews), which has a rich, and intriguing sweet milky taste.
|Sweet treats from Lachi's!|
What are you waiting for? Davao has truly a LOT to offer because in Davao, Life is Here.
This article was originally published at Mabuhay Magazine December 2014 issue, through Eastgate Publishing.