Despite having a notorious reputation among the traveling circuit, Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, remains to be a beautiful and interesting place to visit. If at all, the often blown-up reputation has worked to an advantage: Mindanao’s attractions have remained far from the clutches of too much commercialism. Rainforests are still intact, cultures are very much alive and the beaches are still pristine.
With countless natural attractions on its plate, Mindanao is an outdoor lover’s dream buffet. It is also a haven for people who would go to the beach at a moment’s notice. Mindanao beaches are generally untouched. The best beaches in Mindanao sport a rustic atmosphere that most travelers pine for these days. If you’re looking for party-all-night beaches, go to Boracay Island or Puerto Galera. A peaceful beach getaway is what’s on offer in these Mindanao beaches:
Dakak Park and Beach Resort
A lot of attention is trained on Zamboanga as of late but no one can deny the beauty of this peninsula in Mindanao. At the northern half of the Zamboanga peninsula is Dapitan City, home of the famous Dakak Park and Beach Resort. This beach is a popular beach and diving destination for a lot of both local and foreign travelers. With almost perfect year-round weather, fine white sand beach, lush vegetation and amazing underwater views, Dakak is something every Philippine traveler must consider visiting while in this part of the country.
Get there: You can fly into the airport in Dipolog and take a van to Dapitan City. From the city center, you can take a tricycle to the resort.
Imagine a long stretch of white sand beach (Boracay’s White Beach, for example) that’s bordered with towering coconut trees on one side and clear blue waters with rolling waves. It’s more or less a clear mental picture of Davao Oriental’s pride, Dahican Beach. Life in Dahican is rustic: there are not many resorts around and visitors would have to sleep in huts or tents by the beach. Dahican is also a favorite destination of boarding enthusiasts as it is home to the Amihan boys, a group of young surfers and skim boarders who will be happy to entertain and give lessons.
Get there: Fly into Davao International Airport and take a van or public bus to Mati, Davao Oriental. From the city center, you can hail a tricycle or habal-habal to Dahican Beach. Get ready for a 20-minute bumpy ride!
Officially known as the Island Garden City of Samal, this cluster of islands and islets in the Davao Region is a very popular weekend destination for residents and visitors of Davao City. Situated right across the bustling Metro Davao, Samal provides an easy escape from the city life, welcoming its visitors to its white sandy shores, underwater wonders and adventure spots. Not only does Samal have some of the best beaches in Mindanao, it is also very accessible to the public. The best beaches and dive spots of Samal are located in Talicud, a small island on the other side of the main island. Resorts abound in Samal Island and there are other places to visit like bat caves and waterfalls.
Get there: Fly into Davao International Airport. Some resorts in Samal can arrange airport pick-up or you may take a cab to either Sta. Ana Wharf or Sasa Wharf. From there you can ride the ferry across to Samal Island. At the port, you can take a tricycle to your resort of choice.
A lot has been written about Camiguin Island in this website and that is because we cannot get enough of this island, especially its turquoise waters. Ask anyone about Camiguin and you can count on getting answered by “It has one of the best beaches in Mindanao.” Just off the coast of the main island, there’s a sand bar called White Island. This is where most beach goers get to enjoy the warm waters of Camiguin. The surrounding waters are also great for snorkeling and diving.
Get there: Travelers fly into the airport in Cagayan de Oro. You’d need to take a tricycle or cab to the sea port where you can catch a ferry to Camiguin Island.
Gumasa White Beach
Some call it “Boracay of the South” but we’d beg to disagree. Although this beach in Sarangani Province has beauty that can rival any other beach in the Philippines, it has its own charm that sets it apart from the rest. This long stretch of immaculate beach is faces the magnificent Sarangani Bay and provides the perfect backdrop for any kind of activity a beach lover can think of. The bay is abundant with all kinds of seafood so foodie travelers will certainly have their fill in Gumasa as well.
Get there: Fly into the airport in General Santos City and catch a bus or van to Sarangani. Once you arrive in the town of Glan, it would be easy to take a tricycle to your hotel or resort.
Perhaps the most ‘bohemian’ of all beaches in the Philippines, the beaches of General Luna, Siargao Island is the haunt of backpackers, beach bums and avid surfers from all over the world. Life is laid-back in the island; there are no extravagant establishments, only homestays, a few resorts and plenty of backpacker inns. The mighty waves of Cloud 9 are what lure most travelers to the island but the beaches in the outlying islets are very charming too. Plus, the boardwalk provides a very romantic setting and it does not hurt that surfing cups are held here each year.
Get there: Fly into the small airport in Siargao Island. You can then take a habal-habal to the beach.
Malamawi Island, Basilan
This is perhaps the best of the best beaches in Mindanao that’s often overlooked and it’s not for lack of beauty and charm. In fact, the beach of Malamawi Island is so heartbreakingly beautiful that you would ache to step on its immaculate sands. Here’s the catch though: it is located in the province of Basilan. Yes, the area that’s often mentioned in the news under headlines about strife, kidnappings and bombings. But those who look beyond the reputation and get over the fear will certainly get enchanted by the turquoise waters and cute marine creatures that can be seen just meters from the shore.
Get there: Fly to the Zamboanga City airport. Upon touchdown, hail a multicab (small jeepney) to the port located at the back of the Zamboanga City Hall. Catch a ferry to Isabela City, the capital of Basilan. At the same port where you will dock, you can ride a small outrigger boat to Malamawi Island.