Davao del Norte used to be merged with its nearby areas, forming a single Davao province. Over the years, it became one of the most progressive provinces in the region. The city of Panabo is the "Banana Capital of the Philippines," contributing heavily to the banana industry of the country (the Philippines is the second largest exporter in the world). Thriving on its agricultural, mining, and tourism industries, Davao del Norte also boasts dramatic landscapes, stunning coastal areas, and fast growing cities.
Among the most-visited places in Davao del Norte is Pearl Farm Beach Resort. The 11-hectare resort was once an actual pearl farm. Its charming beach can entice anyone to take a walk on the glittering white sand or swim in its blue waters. There are other various activities available in the resort—diving, snorkeling, playing billiards and volleyball, sightseeing, and relaxing in the spa.
Samal Island is said to be the largest resort city in the Philippines, its beaches stretching 116 kilometers. It is also where one of the most amazing caves in the world can be found. The Monfort Bat Cave is the home of an estimated 2.5 million Geoffroy's Reosette bats, the largest colony of its kind according to the 2010 edition of the Guinness Book of World Record. These marvelous fruit bats feed on ripe bananas and mangoes.
Another attraction in Samal Island is the Hagimit Falls, a group of short waterfalls flowing into a huge pool. The cold water is great for swimming. Cottages are all around the area while visitors can also set up their tents for an outdoor camping.
Davao del Norte does not have its own airport, so your point of entry would have to be Davao City's Francisco Bangoy International Airport. Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia offer direct flights from Metro Manila to Davao City daily. There are buses and vans at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal that can take you to Davao del Norte.
From Davao City, you can also get to Samal Island in Davao del Norte via the pump boats of Sasa Wharf in just 15 minutes. You can also catch a ride with an Island City Express bus which will board a RORO vessel at Sasa Wharf to get to Samal Island.
Philtranco Bus Company offers direct bus trips from Manila to some destinations in Davao del Norte like Tagum City and Carmen. Travel time usually takes more than 30 hours.
How to Get Around
You can take a jeepney to get around the different towns of Davao Del Norte.
The skylab is Mindanao's version of the habal-habal or motorcycle. It can fit more than ten people and can get you to far-flung attractions such as waterfalls and some natural attractions.
What to See
Founded in 1993, Tagum City's Christ the King Cathedral features a polished, modern facade and is considered as the biggest church in Mindanao. However, the size and unique design of this church are not the only things it is famous for. Just behind the church is a rosary garden where an 85.5-meter long wooden rosary is displayed. It weighs close to 3,000 kilograms and claimed by Tagum City as the largest in the world.
Meanwhile, the Japanese cave in Samal Island gives tourists a glimpse of World War II in the country. It also served as a sanctuary for Japanese soldiers during the occupation of the Philippines.
Another World War II landmark can be found in the town of Carmen. The Veterans Memorial Shrine is dedicated to the memory of the famous "Battle of Ising" where Filipino and American forces fought and drove away the Japanese.
Davao del Norte is blessed with an impressive coastline, and Samal Island is proof of that. This tropical paradise is home to white sand shores and pristine waters. With its many beach resorts, guests are given plenty of options when it comes to accommodations. Some of the most popular include the luxurious Pearl Farm Beach Resort and the affordable Punta del Sol Beach Resort.
Talikud Island, on the other hand, is located southwest of Samal Island and is also part of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS). Just like Samal Island, its shores are dotted with fine white sand and clear waters. Isla Reta and Babu Santa are just two of its well-known beach resorts.
The beauty of Samal is not only limited to its beaches. Go on a short trek to see the Hagimit Falls and take a dip in its refreshing waters. Meanwhile, the Monfort Bat Cave is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being home to the world's largest colony of fruit bats. More than two million bats are said to be inside the cave. Adventurers will also love a day hike to Mt. Puting Bato.
The municipality of New Corella is known as the “Water Basin of Davao del Norte” because of its numerous bodies of water. But for most tourists, its beautiful waterfalls take the spotlight. Soak in the clear waters of Panas Falls and Casilac Falls.
The Banana Beach Resort in Tagum City is a must-see attraction. Said to be the only beach resort within a banana plantation, it is a haven for tourists who seek relaxation and recreation in Tagum. The resort has various amenities like a swimming pool and offers plenty of activities such as ATV rides, river cruises, lake fishing, and water sports like water skiing, kayaking, and banana boating.
Events and Festivals
Each of Davao del Norte's towns has its own distinct festival. Tagum City celebrates the Musikahan Festival every March 7, while Panabo holds the Banana Festival every March 31. Carmen also has its Palay Festival every June 18. No matter which event you experience, you are sure to witness colorful parades, lively street dances, and lots of fun activities that both locals and tourists can participate in.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Popular fast food chains like Jollibee, McDonald's, KFC, and Greenwich have branches in some parts of Davao del Norte.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the dishes offered at the restaurants of Samal Island. Some of the highly recommended establishments include Aznebo Grill and Restaurant, Venus Restobar, and the restaurant at the Chema's by the Sea resort. Of course, they also serve other dishes for those who are allergic or don't prefer seafood. But for those who want something a bit different, head to The Bahay Kubo Restaurant, a fine dining resto, where guests are served international dishes in a rustic setting.
There is also a variety of cuisines for all kinds of tourists in Tagum City. Punong Restaurant stands in the middle of a fish pond, so guests can enjoy Filipino dishes while looking out into an amazing view. For diners fond of grilled dishes, Pick and Grill serves different kinds of affordable barbecued meat dishes. Meanwhile, Fabulous Burger not only serves sumptuous juicy burgers but some rice meals as well.
Where to Shop
Tagum City and the towns of Carmen and Panabo each have a Gaisano Mall branch. In addition, you'll also find Robinsons Mall and NCCC Mall in Tagum City.
DavNor Pasalubong Shop in Tagum City has plenty of souvenirs and pasalubong for sale. Some of the things tourists can buy include handicrafts such as wood carvings and home decor, food products like fruit jams and durian candy, and merchandise like T-shirts.
Davao del Norte is also the largest exporter of bananas in the country, which is why it is known as the "Banana Capital of the Philippines.” Tourists can buy Cavendish bananas at Banana Beach Resort's plantation and some food products like banana chips.
Tagum City's famous night market features ukay-ukay and clothing stalls. There is also a long stretch of ihaw-ihaw stalls where shoppers can enjoy barbecue, isaw, and other grilled offerings at very affordable prices.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are some banks and ATMs in Davao del Norte, particularly in the commercial centers, if you need to withdraw some cash.
Fare: PHP 2000.00 to PHP 2,300.00 (By bus); PHP 3,000.00++ (By plane)
The bus fare from Metro Manila to Davao del Norte via Philtranco costs approximately PHP 2,000.00. Meanwhile, a one-way flight to Davao City starts at PHP 3,000.00, and the bus ride to Davao del Norte costs more or less PHP 100.00. Ferry rides from Davao City to Samal Island cost about PHP 50.00 or less.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
There are many affordable dining options in Davao del Norte for tourists with a limited budget. PHP 100.00 is already enough for a meal at a carinderia or fast food chain. Meanwhile, a budget of PHP 150.00 to PHP 300.00 is recommended in most restaurants.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
A pack of durian candy or banana chips are around the PHP 50.00 to PHP 100.00 price range. Meanwhile, souvenir shirts range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00, depending on the design. Fruit jams start at PHP 200.00 per jar.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 5,000.00
Davao del Norte has a good variety of accommodations ranging from the pocket-friendly (PHP 500.00 per night) to upscale types (up to PHP 5,000.00 per night) to suit the varying tastes and needs of its visitors.
Activities: PHP 40.00++
Some of the attractions have entrance fees. Entrance to the Japanese cave is PHP 40.00, while the Monfort Bat Cave is PHP 100.00. Hagimit Falls also has a PHP 40.00 entrance fee as well as a PHP 5.00 environmental fee. Meanwhile, a day pass at the Banana Beach Resort costs PHP 1,200.00 for weekday tours and PHP 1,500.00 for weekend tours.
One-day Itinerary for Samal Island
||Arrive in Samal Island via a motorboat from Sasa Wharf in Davao City.
||Check in at any of the accommodations available. Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Punta del Sol Beach Resort are two of the most popular resorts with accommodations.
||See the world-famous Monfort Bat Cave and its millions of fruit bats.
||Feast on seafood dishes at Aznebo Grill & Restaurant.
||Explore the Japanese Cave.
||Hire a habal-habal to take you to Hagimit Falls. Once you get there, soak in the refreshing waters of its natural spring basin.
||Spend the rest of the day beach bumming. Frolic on the sands and take a dip in Samal Island's clear waters. Don't forget to take lots of pictures. If you want to try out some watersports, you can head to the Maxima Aquafun resort.
||Have dinner and a few drinks at Venus Restobar.
One-day Itinerary for Tagum City
||Arrive at Tagum City via bus from Davao City.
||Have breakfast at a fast food chain like Jollibee.
||Have a walking tour of the city proper. See the provincial capitol building and take photos of the busy streets and the locals.
||Avail of a Banana Beach Resort day tour.
||Grab some lunch at the resort's restaurant.
||Enjoy all the amenities and activities offered at the resort. Take a dip in its infinity pool, try some of the watersports, explore the banana plantation, and take home packs of banana chips from their pasalubong store.
||Admire the architecture of Christ the King Cathedral and see the world's largest rosary located at the church's rosary garden.
||Go to Robinsons Place Tagum for dinner. The mall has plenty of dining options you can choose from.
||Visit the DavNor Pasalubong Shop within the mall and buy more pasalubong.
Davao del Norte, just like the rest of the country, experiences two seasons: the dry season which runs from December until May and the wet season which runs from June to November.
Don't forget to bring some medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent with you when you travel. In case you need any medical assistance during your trip, the province has some hospitals and clinics you can visit.
Safety and Security
While Davao del Norte may be a generally safe place, there's no harm in being extra cautious whenever you visit a new destination. Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables in a safe place.