Promo fares are like manna from heaven to backpackers. Book early and you get more chances of landing a roundtrip airline ticket at very low cost. I booked one for Davao City August of 2015 for just P 750.00 and flew in middle of June 2016.
It was a restful trip to the airport at dawn without the usual Metro Manila traffic and an uneventful one hour and 45 minute plane ride to Davao’s international airport. I had time to check out the 11th World Food Expo (WOFEX) at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang, Davao City before heading out to Sasa, Km. 11 wharf where I took a ten minute ferry boat ride to cross into Samal Island for a minimal fee of P 10.00.
Popular modes of transportation on the island are motorbikes (P50.00 per head) or tricycles (P250.00 one trip for five pax) and there are more than a dozen thrifty but comfortable bed and breakfast lodgings to choose from.
I was able to book at La Vida Orchard Bed & Breakfast Samal online for a single aircon room with private toilet for just P 700.00 inclusive of Continental breakfast of toasted bread with homemade mango and pineapple jam partnered with a steaming cup of roasted corn coffee.
The compound had well tended gardens and rooms that had a “country” ambiance. There were also a couple of “dorm” type rooms that could accommodate 8-10 guests at any given time.
Nino Sepulveda, La Vida Orchard’s owner, manages the place together with his parents who are hands on in operations. He quickly shares that thanks to the internet, business is brisk and bookings come in succession. Having shifted to a bed & breakfast from a catering business, he has no regrets stating that he still finds time to travel overseas despite the full bookings.
He is quick to point out though that as a bed & breakfast, guests are encouraged to explore the local market and do their own cooking. Their kitchen and dining areas are made available to the guests and mealtime often turns into an enjoyable cookfest and bonding time. Otherwise, there are several dining establishments all throughout the island offering a la carte meals.
For a day’s worth of sightseeing, first stop was at Kaputian Beach accessed via a one hour trip from the wharf on the main road. A dozen or so native huts spread across a vast expanse of white beach beckons the visitor to linger and relax. There is a minimal fee for use of the huts. Several enterprising locals hawking the day’s fresh catch of seafood are positioned near the entrance. A cooking area for grilling is conveniently located to one side and shaded by chestnut trees. Mainland Davao looks like a mere stone’s throw from Kaputian Beach.
Walking distance from Kaputian Beach is a quaint art shop named Samal Art Legacy. According to Mr. Sepulveda, the owner is an architect now working in the Middle East so he is not sure if the shop still opens everyday. He has already purchased several sculptures and mixed media installations in the past, now adorning some nooks and crannies of La Vida Orchard.
Last stop for the day was at Hagimit Falls, accessed via a thirty minute ride from the wharf through the town center and up some hills. Entrance fee is at P 20.00 per head.
You go down a flight of concrete steps that lead to four clusters of the falls, each cluster managed by a separate private establishment. Huts and cottages may be rented at minimal fees. Ambulant vendors inconspicuously selling pancakes, shredded cassava cakes, steamed yellow corn, and coconut juice, as well as some neighborhood variety stores are strategically located all throughout the area. An afternoon at Hagimit Falls is a perfect way to wind up your day, especially if the weather is hot and humid.
LA VIDA ORCHARD BED & BREAKFAST SAMAL
Brgy. Catagman, Island Garden City of Samal
Davao Del Norte, Philippines
Mobile: 0917-7700330/(082) 221-7601
Facebook: La Vida Orchard Samal