Exploring Talikud Island, Davao's newest island getaway
|Isla Bonita beach|
Talikud Island (Spanish spelling Talicud) is the second largest island in the Davao Gulf second only to Samal Island. At 2,900 hectares it is home to picturesque stretches of white sand beaches, limestone caves and pristine coral gardens.
Relatively unexplored by the tourist crowd compared to the neighboring Samal Island, Talikud is a gem waiting to be discovered. Recognizing the island's potentials, businesswoman Araceli Ayuste of Punta del Sol Group of Companies and who is also one of Davao Region's tourism primemovers, has invested in developing the island as a major tourism destination initially putting up the Talikud Island Tours.
Talikud Island Tours helps develop the island's major tourism sites, creating a tour package for visitors. The company has drawn up a tourism circuit utilizing major attractions located along the island's 17-kilometer circumferential road which will be soon be upgraded as an all-weather concrete road.
Still underdeveloped for tourists, Talikud currently has 8 resorts which can accommodate about 60 persons in one given time.
|Aboard the MV Stingray, a motor boat which can hold up|
to 40 persons.
|Araceli's son, Francis Pe Benito, our tour guide.|
|one of the meals prepared by the chefs at MV Stingray|
Ms. Ayuste and her son Francis along with an entourage of local media mostly journalists and photographers met at the Sta. Ana wharf in Davao City, our jump-off point for the day-long tour. Talikud is about 15 kilometers away from Davao City and 1 kilometer away from the larger island of Samal. Our vessel is the 45-seater MV Stingray and aboard the vessel is a retinue of chefs which prepared sumptuous breakfast for the group.
We would be docking at Mansud wharf which is near the Mansud Wall a popular spot for scuba divers. Normally for tourists and visitors, the official entry point to Talikud is the Sta Cruz pier where accredited habal-habal (motorcycle) drivers will take visitors to the tour.
|Sta. Cruz wharf|
|For P350 per person, accredited Habal-Habal drivers can take visitors to the tour.|
|The tourism circuit map|
|The 4x4 Kia 2700 vehicle which can transport visitors to the different parts|
of the island.
Our first destination was Baga Cave in Barangay Linosutan, still largely underdeveloped, the cave is located inside a coconut farm. According to local lore the cave is a long subterranean chamber that leads to Davao mainland. We were not equipped for a spelunking expedition nor had the time to explore the cave, which has a waterfalls inside. This stop is recommended for the more adventurous explorers.
The underground chamber is likened to be the lungs or baga of the island. hence the name of the cave.
|Cutting a trail towards the cave|
|At the mouth of Baga Cave.|
After Baga we proceeded to the giant Balite Tree (Ficus Indica) along the roadside at Barangay Cogon. Folklore has it that the tree is the home of the giant snake Bakunawa who is said to swallow the sun and the moon. During lunar and solar eclipses, the residents of Barangay Cogon would make a noise barrage around the tree imploring Bakunawa to release the sun (solar eclipse) or the moon (lunar eclipse).
Locals believe that the tree is the doorway of the engkantos (spirit beings), an old tale is of the mischievous kid named Jolito who would climb the Balite Tree and prank unsuspecting passers-by. One day while climbing the Balite Jolito was ushered into the world of the engkantos and it took a known island healer named Mang Ete to bring back Jolito using age-old rituals to appease the engkantos.
3rd Stop: The Faithhealers Camp
Mang Ete, the healer who helped rescue Jolito from the engkantos, had his cave also in barangay Cogon, the place is now known as the Faith Healers camp.
Talikud then had no access to western medical facilities and Mang Ete's cave served as the island's de facto hospital. People flocked to Mang Ete so that they can be cured of various ailments. Surrounding the cave, Mang Ete planted herbal plants like Lagundi, Panyawan, Katchubong and TawaTawa. Mang Ete died in the 1970s and another healer took his place, he died just a month ago. According to Ms. Ayuste another healer is expected to reside in the camp and continue what Mang Ete has done decades ago.
|Mang Ete's cave|
|Inside the cave is a cauldron where the healers mix, cook and prepare their healing oils|
|The Faith Healers Camp is a two-hectare property owned by the Talikud Island Tours. The area was rehabilitated with added facilities such as comfort rooms, foot path and a herbal garden .|
|Some of the stops in the island tour like the Faith Healers' Camp has clean and decent comfort rooms for visitors.|
4th Stop Lupa Surga
|The coast of Lupah Surga|
A strip of coast located in the southern part of the island. Lupa Surga in Indonesian means Forgotten Paradise. It is said that shipwrecked Indonesian seafarers from Marore Island settled in the place and married some locals. A camalig or storehouse for fishing implements are among the remnants of the Indonesian presence.
Ms. Ayuste is planning to rebuild the camalig which would serve as a museum that will showcase the culture and the traditions of seaside communities prevalent in the region. Among items to be shown include fishing gears, sea craft such as the baroto.
A hut once owned by an Indonesian mestizo lies inside the property, the lay-out of the house is distinct from regular huts nearby, perhaps the only standing monument to the old Indonesian presence in the island.
|The hut once owned by an Indonesian mestizo|
|A typical Indonesian Moslem house, the ground floor serves as a storehouse or camalig, where animals are also kept. The upper portion of the house serves as the living quarters.|
The coves of Lupa Surga are dotted with caves, one of the caves is named the wellness cave as visitors can stay inside the cave for a spa-like experience.
|The Wellness Cave|
If you want sea and sand, then this is your stop adjacent to Lupa Surga. Perhaps one of the most picturesque beaches in Davao. La Isla Bonita Resort is sometimes placed in the latter part of the tour since most visitors will just stay and bask in its beach. The pictures will tell you why
|The beach is also a nesting ground for sea turtles|
|The frontage of La Isla Bonita|
|La Isla Bonita serves island delicacies to its visitors (from left) coconut crabs, kinilaw and grilled native chicken|
Las Isla Bonita has a cottage which can comfortably accommodate about eight persons, the company is currently expanding the resort to cater to a growing clientele. Along the shores are cabanas. The 160-meter white sand beach and its clear turquoise waters is an alluring site to visitors.
6th Stop Dadatan Bat Conservation Park
To preserve the bats living in the cave which are being hunted by the residents for food, the Talikud Island Tours company purchased 18 hectares of land surrounding the bat Cave in Barangay Dadatan, conservation measures were put in place to protect the two species of fruit bats inhabiting the caves (Geoffroy Rousette and Spelaea) which numbers to hundreds of thousands.
The place is slowly being developed with the construction of restrooms, a visitors' pavilion and a view deck. However unlike the Monfort Bat Cave in Samal, visitors in Dadatan will have to trek a winding forest trail to view the bat cave which resembles Bruce Wayne's bat cave.
|The start of the forest trail to the bat cave|
7th Stop: Dadatan Mangrove Garden and White Sand Bar Beach Resort
Along the shores of Barangay Dadatan is a mangrove area which is home to the century old Black Mangrove which is also found in Malacca Malaysia and in Florida in the United States.
The Bat Park and the mangrove ecosystem are interrelated as the nocturnal bats are the best known pollinators of mangroves whose flowers bloom only on night-time.
There is a visitors' pavilion which juts out to the mangrove swamp plus clean, decent shower and comfort rooms are available in the area. This is often called the merienda stop as visitors are served with native delicacies as afternoon snacks. The mangrove swamp is a perfect place for landscape photographers particularly during low-tide when you can loiter around the swamp.
You can go boating in the area and if you have time available a few meters offshore is a sand-bar perfect for taking a dip and swimming. Boat ride is pegged at P100 per two persons good for one hour, P50 is charge for every excess hour. Sadly the group didn't have the time to explore the sand bar.
|The Dadatan Mangrove sand bar (photo taken from the Talikud Island Tours Facebook Page).|
Other stops in the tour being developed is the Rock Shelter Village which contains the remains of shell middens or ancient deposits of shells and animal bones which indicates sites of early human settlements. Archeological findings from the shell middens found in Talikud Island dates the settlement to 2,930 B.C.
Another tourist attraction being eyed is Long Beach located at the left side of Sta Cruz Wharf. If developed, Long Beach can attract tourists to its beach similar to Babu Santa which is a pit stop for Island Hopping tours.
|Long Beach just beside Sta Cruz Wharf|
How To Reach Talikud:
From Davao City, commercial passenger boats that ply Davao to Talikud route are docked at Santa Ana Wharf. Upon disembarking at Talikud's Sta. Cruz Wharf looked for Talikud Island Tours accredited habal-habal (motorcycle) drivers. Tour package is pegged at P350 per person. Tour policy is for two persons per motorcycle.
For other specialize tour packages, you can inquire with the company (Talikud Island Tours) you can reach them through their facebook account Talikud Island Tours (email address firstname.lastname@example.org), you may call them at 286-8621 or at 09257212754. The office address is at 186 Tinikling corner Sakuting Streets, New Lanzona Village, Matina, Davao City.