Compostela Valley is a province on Southeast Mindanao that is made up of 11 municipalities. It was only founded in 1998, making it one of the youngest provinces in the Philippines. Compostela Valley is blessed with gold mines, striking landscapes, and native forests. The province is also an important agricultural province. Rice, corn, coconut, and coffee are some of its top products.
Maragusan is a municipality in Compostela Valley that experiences cold temperatures throughout the year, and this is best enjoyed in Haven's Peak Highland Resort. Located on top of a hill, the resort provides a relaxing view of the town as well as its cloudy mountains. The onsite restaurant serves dishes made from the produce of the resort's very own organic garden.
Compostela Valley also provides habitat for one of the most bizarre flowers in the planet. The Rafflesia mira belongs to the family of the biggest flowers in the world. About 10 species of this magnificent plant have been found in Compostela Valley. The flower, however, is also known for its very unpleasant smell, similar to rotting flesh.
Kopiat Island, meanwhile, is a lost paradise in Compostela Valley. The island is 87 hectares, and its fine white sands and clear waters have barely been touched. The island, surrounded by rustling coconut trees and the mangroves that grow on the beach, is also the breeding ground for species of marine turtles only found in the Philippines. Snorkeling and diving is a must in the island because of the diverse marine life found underwater.
Compostela Valley does not have an airport, but you can fly to Davao City's Francisco Bangoy International Airport. The travel time takes about two hours. From there, you can drive or ride a taxi or bus to Nabunturan, the provincial capital. The land travel will take about two hours as well.
By Land and Sea
Philtranco Bus offers nightly trips to Nabunturan. The route is a combination of land travel and ferry transfers, which will take about 32 hours.
How to Get Around
By Bus and Van
Buses and vans are the usual means of getting to the different towns of Compostela Valley.
Jeepneys are more ideal for getting around the neighboring towns of Compostela Valley.
For destinations that are off the beaten path, you can ride a Skylab or Mindanao's version of the habal-habal, which can accommodate up to thirteen people. But if you don't want to take public transport, you can opt to hire a motorcycle with a driver for a day.
What to See
Compostela Valley province is blessed when it comes to natural wonders. Each of its municipalities is a treasure trove of natural attractions that will entice tourists to commune with nature.
The cool climate of the town of Maragusan makes it the ideal place in Mindanao to cool off, especially during summer. Not only does this rustic town boast of chilly weather, it also has amazing landscape filled with lush greeneries and various flora and fauna. Maragusan's abundant nature sceneries is best appreciated with a hike up Mt. Candalaga. Get to see many species of plants and flowers, including the rafflesia mira—the world's biggest flower and known for its pungent smell. The Marangig and Tagbibinta Waterfalls are also must-see attractions in Maragusan.
The Awao Waterfalls of the Monkayo town should also be included in your itinerary. This series of three cascading waterfalls can be reached after a bit of a trek so make sure to don the proper clothing and footwear.
One of the Philippines' active stratovolcanoes can be found in the town of Maco. Mt. Leonard Kniaseff stands almost 4,000 ft. above sea level. It has a freshwater crater lake named Lake Leonard. The Mainit Sulfuric Hot Spring is another attraction in Maco. Because of its proximity to a volcano, this natural spring has cascading warm waters ideal for a soothing hot shower.
The capital town of Nabunsuran is the perfect destination for adventurers. In Barangay San Vicente alone, there are four caves tourists can explore. These wonders house stunning limestone rock formations and some species of bats.
If you have something more extreme in mind, try conquering Mt. Pandadagsaan in New Bataan. It is one of the hardest mountains to climb in the country, which is why it is not open to neophyte climbers. It is also considered as the highest peak in Compostela Valley.
Meanwhile, the town of Mabini boasts a tropical paradise where tourists can relax and unwind from the city's hustle and bustle. The unspoiled Kopiat Island has stunning white sand shores and clear waters. This 87-hectare paradise is part of the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape which also serves as a sanctuary for some local species of turtles. Because of its bustling marine life, the island is also a great place for snorkeling and diving.
While you're in Maragusan, make it a point to visit the Mansaka village. The Mansakas are just one of the many ethnic groups in Mindanao and are said to be one of the oldest tribes. Get to know their culture and way of life when you pay them a visit.
Events and Festivals
Bulawan Festival, also known as the Festival of Gold, is a province-wide thanksgiving celebration for the bountiful harvest. It is held every March to coincide with the province's foundation anniversary. For this festival, street dancing participants don colorful costumes for their performances.
There are other notable town festivals, such as Maragusan's P'yagsawitan Festival held every November and Nabunturan's Simballay Festival held every December.
Where to Eat
Compostela Valley may only have a few restaurants, but tourists are still sure to enjoy delicious meals from these establishments for their visit.
In the town of Compostela, there's Atlantis Pool and Bistro for some delicious Filipino meals. Nanay Elay's Batchoy also serves local cuisine, including exotic food like goat dishes. But as its name implies, its batchoy remains its specialty. You can follow your sumptuous meal with a cupcake and a cup of coffee at Krave Coffee for dessert.
In Nabunturan, Cafe Noventa and Vinabai are two popular Filipino restaurants where tourists can enjoy delicious local fare. Meanwhile, those craving for pizza and pasta can head to RNFS. Lastly, Creativitea serves various cuisines as well as cakes and drinks to satisfy varied tastes.
When in Nabunturan, make sure to swing by Bibingka Country for some delicious hot-off-the-pan bibingka for snacks.
Where to Shop
NCCC Mall and Gaisano Mall, both in Nabunturan, have plenty of shopping options.
Since gold mining is one of the top industries in Compostela Valley, you can snag great deals on jewelry at some of the shops in the province.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are a few banks and ATMs in Compostela Valley. Remittance shops and pawnshops are more common.
Fare: PHP 1,800.00 to PHP 2,200.00 (Bus fare); PHP 3,500.00++ (Airfare)
Fares for ordinary buses start at PHP 1,800.00, while fares for air conditioned buses start at PHP 2,200.00. Meanwhile, airfare for Manila-Davao City flights is around PHP 3,500.00. The bus transfer from Davao to Compostela Valley costs around PHP 200.00.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
There are many cheap dining options in Compostela Valley for backpackers. A budget of PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00 per meal would be advisable.
Shopping: PHP 20.00++
Bibingka from Bibingka Country sells for PHP 10.00 apiece.
Accommodation: PHP 900.00++
For only PHP 860.00, seven guests can already share a dormitory room at Haven's Peak Highland Resort in Maragusan.
Activities: PHP 15.00 to PHP 100.00
Tourists are required to pay the PHP 5.00 entrance fee to Mainit Sulfuric Hot Spring and the PHP 15.00 entrance fee to Tagbibinta Waterfalls.
Pump boats bound for Kopiat Island that can fit several people can be rented for more or less PHP 1,000.00. Once you get there, you will be charged PHP 20.00 as entrance fee.
One-day Itinerary for Maragusan and Nabunturan
||Arrive at Maragusan via bus from Davao City.
||Have breakfast at the restaurant of Haven's Peak Highland Resort. Buy some food for your trek.
||Check in at Peak Highland Resort.
||Hire a habal-habal to take you to the Tagbibinta Falls.
||Start trek to see the seven-tier Tagbibinta Falls.
||Break for lunch. Afterwards, head back to the resort.
||Arrive back at Haven's Peak Highland Resort. Catch a bus to Nabunturan.
||Arrive in Nabunturan. Do a walking tour of the provincial capital. Afterwards, have some bibingka for merienda at Bibingka Country.
||Arrive back at Haven's Peak Highland Resort. Take advantage of the amenities such as the swimming pool. Marvel at the amazing hilltop view.
||Enjoy the meals at the restaurant for dinner.
One-day Itinerary for Kopiat Island in Mabini
||From Davao City, ride a Tagum-bound bus which will pass through the town of Mabini.
||Arrive at Brgy. Pindasan in Mabini. Have breakfast at a carinderia and afterwards, buy some food and drinks as well as supplies at a local store or at the market.
||Ride a habal-habal to the port where pump boats are waiting to take passengers to Kopiat Island.
||Arrive in Kopiat Island. There are no accommodations or cottages around but there are picnic tables where you can leave your belongings and food.
||Enjoy swimming and snorkeling at the island. Don't forget to take lots of photos.
||Feast on your packed lunch.
||Continue beach bumming.
||Head back to Mabini.
Compostela Valley has no pronounced wet and dry seasons. However, the town of Maragusan enjoys a cool climate all year long because of its location in the highlands. Make sure to bring a light jacket or scarf to keep you warm.
Don't forget to bring some medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent for your trip to Compostela Valley, especially if you'll be roughing it up in the wilderness. Should you be in need of any medical assistance, the province has some hospitals and clinics that you can visit.
Safety and Security
For those who will be trekking or spelunking, be sure to hire a guide and to wear the appropriate clothing and footwear to avoid accidents.