Of all the places in the Philippines, Why Davao? This was one of the many questions that my friends asked me when I booked this trip. Okay, so here are my answers that will convince you to book a ticket right away=D! Firstly, because I like to experience how it feels to be in the 3rd safest city in the world. Secondly, because it is the hometown of our President. Lastly, because I want to go beaching in Samal, surf at Dahican beach, and ride an ultralight plane in Mati. Davao is a huge place. You will surely never run out of activities and places to experience.
We (with Joemar and his sister Joey) arrived at Davao International airport equipped with confidence and a little knowledge about the place. We discussed our itinerary on the spot and agreed to spend the night in Davao City, go to Mati on the next day, Samal island on the 3rd day and go back to the city on our last day.
We rode a jeepney heading to Claveria where most of the affordable hotels are located. We stayed at Aveflor Inn (750/night) situated few meters away from the night market where we had our dinner and bought some important things to bring for the next big day.
The next morning, we woke up at 4am and traveled 20minutes to Ecoland terminal. This is the terminal going to Mati, Butuan, Gen San, Cotabato and other cities of Mindanao. Travel time from Davao to Mati is 5 hours by bus and 2-3 hours by van.
You know you reached Mindanao when you see a huge plantation of bananas and coconuts. No tall buildings, just fresh air, and a lush green mountain scenery. My eyes were busy exploring the beautiful countryside when a huge signage says “Welcome to Mati”. Finally, I Mati You.:)
From Mati bus terminal, there are tricycles/habal2x that will take you to Dahican Beach. Travel time is 20-30 minutes. There are many resorts to choose from depending on your budget. In our case, we stayed at Amihan sa Dahican, a public beach where you can pitch your own tent or rent one for 300 pesos. The beach has 2 comfort rooms as of this writing. And don’t worry about getting starved because there are kids that will take care of your food as soon as you arrived. (Forgot to take a photo of the kids though.) They are selling pastel for 15php each. Never heard about pastel before? Yeah, me too! =D Pastel is actually a local food- rice topped with meat, some soy sauce and wrapped in banana leaves. They do this to fund their studies and help their parents. By the way, these kids are not just business minded, they are good surfers and skimboarders too. Awwww! I’m so jealous. If you happen to see these kids in Mati, you know what to do.:)
Here are the must-do activities and must-see places in Mati City.
1. Ultralight plane ride (2,500php with video for 15mins.) (2,300 w/o)
I know you like the beach so much, but first things first- the ultralight plane ride is waiting. We call this the highlight of our trip, so this should come first before anything else. Here’s what you need to know about the ultralight schedule. Operating time starts as early as 6am-10am and will resume at 4pm until sunset. Unfortunately, it was already past 10 when we arrived, so we had to wait until 4pm. I was worried about the weather condition. It was gloomy but I prayed that Mr. Sun will soon come out from the thick dark clouds. Joey was the first one to fly, but after her turn, it rained a little bit. The flight was canceled for safety purposes and was rescheduled on the next day. Again, I prayed for a sunny day. The next morning came, the Mindanao Saga flying club team texted us and we were so happy to finally check ultralight plane ride off our bucket list.
From above, you will see the breathtaking view of Dahican beach and a coconut plantation. I was so happy to see the city from a different perspective. The whole Mati City is such a beauty.
2. Skim and Surf at Dahican Beach-( Surfboard Rental-1500) (Skimboard-100)
Dahican beach is the main attraction of Mati and a paradise for every beach bummer, surfer, and skimboarder. Whenever you heard about surfing, Siargao will usually the first place to come up in your mind. Only a few people outside Mindanao knew about Dahican Beach. The long stretch of white sand and the crystal blue water is like heaven on earth. This is just my second surfing experience (the first one was in Siargao), but I must say that Surfing is my current addiction. I can’t explain the happiness I get every time I see the waves, it’s like they are calling me to ride on them.
My goal is to become a badass surfer, so 3-6 months of stay in Dahican would really help me become one. How I wish.
3. Pangyan Falls (Entrance Fee: 10php)
When I was going around Mati, I had no idea there was Pangyan Falls. Thanks to our driver/tour guide who recommended us to visit this place. Growing up in Moalboal with countless waterfalls nearby, I have to admit that I am not a fan of waterfalls. But this Lupon’s hidden gem is a must try adventure. It’s far different from the crowded waterfalls I’ve been to before. Both sides are full of trees making a dramatic scene. The main falls were gorgeous and a great place to explore during summer months. Honestly, I only climb up here to take some photos for my blog but forget about me being not a fan of waterfalls because seriously, I’m a fan now! The water was tempting, so I hurried to the waters and took a quick dip.
4. Subangan Museum– (Entrance Fee: 50Php)
I thought we would only spend a minute or two in this museum but ended up staying for too long because the history and culture of Davao Oriental are quite interesting particularly the Mandaya and Kaagan tribe. At the first floor, I met Davor the Whale. A 53ft. fossilized remains of a 20-ton sperm whale that is considered the 7th largest whale exhibit in the world and 1st in the Philippines. Davor was named after the province Dav…Or..iental.
There’s also a small room with videos of relief operation and photos of before and after typhoon Pablo’s devastation a couple of years ago. It clearly shows how strong the people of Davao Oriental are. It’s good to see that today, the city has recovered and with some developments.
5. Sleeping Dinosaur- (Free)This is another tourist attraction in Mati that is visible along the road. Before going back to the city, we had a quick stop at Badas point in barangay Dawan. At the viewing deck, you will see this overlooking land formation that looks like a sleeping dinosaur. Wakey, Wakey sleeping dinosaur! If you plan on adding this place on your itinerary, here’s a tip: From Davao City, you will see this view on the right side, get off the bus and wait for another bus going to Mati terminal for 10-15php. In our case, we paid 400 for our trip going here.
How to get to Mati?
From Davao City International airport, ride a jeepney or a cab and tell the driver to drop you off near Gaisano Mall or Victoria Plaza. This is where the van terminal going to Mati is located. The fare is 220 pesos as of this writing. If you wish to travel by bus, head over to Ecoland terminal. The fare is 210 pesos. By the way, while most cities have white color taxi cabs, Davao has all the colors. Black, pink, yellow etc. They just look so cute.:)
Sample Breakdown of Expenses:
|Jeepney Fare to ecoland||24|
|Bus fare to Mati||630|
|Fare to Dahican Beach||200|
|Surfboard rent with instructor||500|
|Ultralight plane ride(2,500 each)||7500|
|Entrance to Pangyan&Subangan||210|
|Fare to sleeping dino||400|
|Motor fare for whole day with guide||1500|
|Van fare to Davao City||660|
|Good for 3 persons||12605|
If you want to add something on this list or you have questions, feel free to leave your message in the comment box below. 🙂 Also, I would be very happy if you share this article to help our kababayans in Mati, Davao Oriental promote their amazing place.
Check out our video on youtube. ⇒ Mati, Davao Oriental © Joemar Intas