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8 Attractions You Must See in Davao Oriental, Philippines

Davao Oriental has recently caught the attention of local travelers due to its untouched beauty – particularly its splendid virgin beaches. The province is still off the beaten path and it would be quite an adventure to jump from one beach to another and visit the exciting Davao Oriental attractions.

People come to this province for its breathtaking beaches, fresh seafood, wide-open skies, and exotic fruits. If you are planning an adventure and are willing to endure the 4-hour drive, here’s a list of must-visit Davao Oriental attractions.

DAHICAN BEACH

© I Travel Philippines on Flickr

Surfing has become a popular sport in the Philippines and enthusiasts from this neck of the woods gravitate to Dahican — a long stretch of white sand beach facing Mayo Bay. When swells are not apt for surfing, skimming is the second-best pastime in this seven-kilometer beach. The laid-back resorts and restaurants dotting the shoreline are also excellent places to enjoy a sumptuous meal of the freshest catch from the sea. Dahican hosts the annual SummerFrolic Music Festival.

ALIWAGWAG FALLS

© Andre Lloyd Torres

Local travelers consider Aliwagwag Falls’s multi-tiered cascades some of best Davao Oriental attractions. With over a thousand feet of cascades divided into a little over a hundred smaller cascades, Aliwagwag is indeed a sight to take in. The roaring of the water is enough to enchant (and deafen) you. The government has now protected the area surrounding the falls and called it the Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park. Visitors may picnic in selected areas around the park. You can also hike in hanging bridges flanking the waterfalls and swim in small pools of cold freshwater.

THE SLEEPING DINOSAUR ISLAND

Quite hard to miss en-route to Mati City, the Sleeping Dinosaur island is an intriguing landform. It resembles – you guessed it right – a long-necked ancient animal that seems to have fallen asleep and turned into sand and stone in Pujada Bay. The island has become a popular hiking spot and even a site for dramatic prenuptial photoshoots. For those who can’t make the trip down, the lookouts along the highway should still afford a breathtaking experience.

CAPE SAN AGUSTIN

Tucked away in a little town called Governor Generoso, this generally untouched stretch of pinkish white sand beach is one of Davao Oriental’s must visit attractions. The mystic lighthouses of Parola will bring you right back to the Spanish colonial era and the underwater landscape of the great Celebes Sea will make you wish you were Aquaman. Also a must-see is “The Altar”, a massive rock formation with strong waves perpetually crashing into it.

MANAY BEACHES

This sleepy town in Davao Oriental is home to undiscovered white sand and rocky beaches, vast coconut plantations, and mango orchards. San Ignacio, in particular, is becoming a secret hideaway of avid beach goers who want to do away with the crowds of Dahican. While surfing is not safe in this rocky side of the province, the pocket beaches are perfect for sunbathing, fishing and taking thousands of Instagammable photos. You can easily find sustenance by flagging down the local fishermen for their catch of the day. If you’re lucky, they might even offer to cook it for you. There are quite a few resorts in the area but expect only basic amenities.

SIGABOY ISLAND

If you’re big on sand bars and snorkeling, the small island of Sigaboy will not disappoint. This island is so small that an hour would be too long to explore the entire place.  When the tide is low, you can sun bathe on the sand bar and if you’re up to it, explore the wonderful sights underwater. Keep in mind that there are no commercial establishments around so it is best to arrange lunch with your guide. Otherwise, your best hope is a vendor on a boat coming along with fresh seafood and refreshment.

LAKE CAROLINA

If you’ve heard of the Enchanted River of Surigao, you’ll be happy to know that a similar wonder can be found in Davao Oriental. Lake Carolina boasts of greenish blue brackish water, very uncharacteristic of a lake. Just as well because it is actually not a lake but rather a lagoon abundant with marine life. Expect to find a random local selling freshly-caught mud crabs in the area. My advice? Take advantage! These delicacies are way cheaper in Davao Oriental than in most parts of Davao Region.

BONSAI FOREST

Bonsai cultivation is an ancient art. It requires patience and skill to trim and train an otherwise great tree to stunt its growth and still thrive. Mt. Hamiguitan, for some reason, has created an entire forest of bonsai trees without human intervention. The place is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Still relatively untouched by commerce, Davao Oriental is slowly becoming a tourism gem in this part of the Philippines. Its location is perfect – far away enough to keep flocks of tourists away but also far away enough to attract those who are looking for a real adventure.