More than seven thousand islands make up the Philippines. So, how many white, sandy, palm-fringed beaches are there? It's difficult to say, but it's certainly more than the average traveller can get to in one visit. So, for beach-lovers, any trip to the Philippines can involve some serious decision making. Luckily, some of the work has been done for you. Here's a guide to the beaches near Davao that you definitely don't want to miss.
Where to stay:
Before we get onto the joys of sand and sea, here's a quick recommendation. If you haven't yet decided on accommodation, check out the Park Inn Davao Hotel. The rooms are huge and super-comfortable; there's a gorgeous outdoor pool with a cocktail bar; and, from nearly everywhere in the hotel, you can see incredible views of the surrounding countryside - both the mountains and the beautiful Davao Gulf.
Isla Reta Beach, Island Garden of Samal, Davao del Norte:
Isla Reta is among the least-developed of beaches in proximity to Davao City. You'll find it on Talikud Island, just off the south-western coast of the Island Garden City of Samal. Whilst other resorts have been dressed up with fancy facilities, Isla Reta keeps matters simple. Think rustic huts; simple, local meals; unspoilt stretches of white sand and unbelievably clear blue water. Plenty of original vegetation remains, so you can kick back under the shady protection of a talisay tree when you need a break from the sun. To get to Isla Reta, catch a boat directly from the mainland - just head to Sta Ana Wharf on Leon Garcia Street, adjacent to Magsaysay Park.
If you're looking for a total break from the bustling streets of Davao City, Little Boracay is the place to go. It's found in Davao del Sur, which is about 58 kilometres (or one hour's drive) south of the CBD. Whereas, at many of the nearby beaches, it's not easy to escape a constant stream of activity (from tourist-driven paragliders to fishing boats) Little Boracay offers utter tranquility.
These days, there aren't many islands within 100 kilometres of a major city that remain untouched. That's why Kopiat Island's wild landscape seems something of a miracle. There are 77 hectares of exotic forest, featuring tropical fruit trees and coconut palms. Plus, it's the place where leatherback and hawksbill turtles go to have babies. You can either take a twenty-minute circular trip around the island via boat or jump on land for a 45-minute guided tour. Kopiat Island is just off Mabini - about 77 kilometres north of Davao City.
Blue Waters, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte:
If you want to get closer to nature, but also want to enjoy some high-end facilities, Bluewaters could well be the right option for you. It's a lightning quick escape from Davao City - just jump on a boat at the Davao Beach Club (Lizada Drive, Lanang) and seven minutes later, you'll find yourself relaxing in an infinity pool.
Banana, Tagum City, Davao del Norte:
Banana Beach presents another opportunity to visit a more developed resort. In fact, you'll find every coastal recreational option here, from Frisbee and beach volleyball to kayaking and skimboarding. Of course, if you just want to kick back on the sand, you can do that, too. The beach is four-and-a-half kilometres long, so there's ample space for everyone. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Banana Beach, though, is that it's located within a banana plantation. How's that for tropical paradise escape?