Here are the two places within Davao City and the nearby province of Davao del Norte (Samal and Talikud Island, jump-off point via Sta Ana wharf in Davao City) which I recently visited and where I would recommend as must-visit places here in Davao.
Isla Cristina and the Wishing Island
Thanks to Kaiser Mangampo and WayPH, an online travel agency. About 22 online influencers from the Davao Digital Influencers (DDI) got to experience a whole-day island-hopping tour around Samal Island and the nearby Talikud Island.
|Underneath these waters is the famed Talikud coral garden|
|Blogger and DDI member Emjay Llerena enjoys the sights|
The usual island hopping route will take you from the jump-off point at Sta. Ana wharf in Davao City, skimming the coastline of Samal up until we reach Talikud Island which is a 45-minute ride. The highlight of the trip would be a pit stop at either Angel's Cove or at the Coral Garden where one can swim or snorkel at its pristine waters then disembarking for lunch break at Babu Santa beach.
This island tour was different, instead of having our lunch at the popular Babu Santa which would sometimes be buzzed up with the multitude of island-hoppers, we went to the smaller but less crowded Isla Cristina or Isla Costafba located in Sitio Cogon, Talikud Island.
I first visited Isla Cristina when we shot our Talikud Island segment for the Philippine Information Agency's "Like Pinas" TV magazine show, taken on a tour by Ms. Araceli Ayuste of Talikud Island Tours.
According to her Isla Cristina was formerly part of the sprawling 400-hectare Reta Estate, the family which owned the popular Isla Reta resort in the northwestern tip of Talikud. Sometimes it is called as Isla Reta 2, referring to the popular beach resort in the island owned by the Retas.
The estate was put under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and Isla Cristina was distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Thus the 'proper' name of the beach resort is Isla Costafba (Cogon, Sta Cruz Farmer Beneficiaries Association).
The agrarian reform beneficiaries put up amenities and maintained the beach which is tucked between two coves. One part of the cove is a beach cave large enough to fit about 20-30 people at its mouth and is considered as one of the attractions of the beach.
After lunch and pictorials at Isla Cristina, we proceeded back en route to Davao City mainland but first we dropped by at Wishing Island which is owned by the Joaquin family.
The islet lies a kilometer away from the shoreline of Barangay Adecor in Samal Island, near the triple- A Pearl Farm Resort and the Floirendo owned Malipano Island.
It got its name as the local folks describes the islet as an abode of enchanted beings. But over the years christianity has taken root in the islet, in the Good Friday of 1976 visiting nuns planted a cross in the island. In 2014 a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary was consecrated making the island a sacred ground.
For a boat docking fee of P200. One can explore the small islet, one can also dip in the waters surrounding it but be careful as spiny sea urchins abound.
|From Wishing Island one can see the nearby small islands of Malipano, Diaz and De La Paz|
|Our Lady of the Rosary brought to the island in 2014, once believed by locals to be an abode of enchanted beings, the small island is now a Marian shrine|
For those wanting to experience Samal Island hopping you can contact WayPH as they can give you hassle-free Samal Island tour packages which you can customize to your wants.
Chocolate Museum in Malagos
Davao City is indeed a gateway to an island-to-highland experience. After island-hopping in nearby Samal you can proceed up in the highland district of Calinan, in Barangay Malagos where the country's one and only chocolate museum can be found.
|Charito Puentespina explains some of the exhibits in the museum|
|Famed Dabawenyo chocolate-maker Rex Puentespina|
|Part of the museum with their interactive displays|
The museum celebrates the famed Malagos Single Origin chocolates and provides visitors a tree to bar experience. Thru interactive displays one can see the beginnings of chocolates from planting cacao trees, harvesting of cacao bean pods to subsequent process and refinements until it becomes the signature chocolate bar which has won several international awards.
Why is the chocolate museum set up in Davao City? the answer lies in Davao City being the chocolate capital of the country producing 80% of the country's cacao production. And one of the prime-movers of the cacao/chocolate industry in this part of the country, the Puentespinas decided to create a modern museum to spread the advocacy not just to tourists but also to other cacao farmers as well.
Aside from the very informative displays, there are kiddie interactive areas for children too young to understand the various displays around the museum.
My most favorite part of the museum is the chocolate laboratory where visitors under the guidance of chocolatiers will get to experience to make their own chocolate concoctions. For P450 you can get to work on 200 grams of chocolate and make your own sweet confection.
|The choclate laboratory|
|Davao City Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre picks out is chocolate ingredients|
|The councilor tries to mold his chocolate|
|My own confection. Chocolate with mango filling laced|
with caramel droplets
Charisse Puentespina, the managing director of the chocolate museum and an interior designer by profession says creating the museum was part of her advocacy as during her childhood Davao was bereft of museums. This is her fourth museum, she designed Subangan Museum in Mati, Davao Oriental, the Mt. Hamiguitan Museum and the Pusan Point Museum also in the same province.
|Museum designer Charisse Puentespina|
The chocolate museum is a welcome addition to the Mintal-Calinan area which has several tourism attractions including the soon to be completed sports complex in UP-Mindanao campus in Mintal, Japanese heritage sites in Mintal (known as Little Tokyo), the Japanese Museum in Calinan, the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, the Malagos Garden Resort (where the chocolate museum is located) and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's Prayer Mountain in Tamayong also in Calinan.
Your entrance fee to Malagos Garden Resort allows free entrance to the chocolate museum. Chocolate Laboratory where you can make your own chocolates there is a fee of P450 for every 200 grams of chocolate.
Special thanks to WayPH, the Davao Digital Influencers and the Puentespina Family