Paradise Island, Samal – a cool escape from busy Davao, Philippines
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Paradise Island is a perfect getaway option from Davao City, Mindanao, for a day in the sun.
While there are much prettier options to experience Samal Island, they all involve much more time driving or spending much more money (e.g. the $70 day tour for the Pearl Farm Beach Resort).
Davao City is separated from Samal Island by just a small bay. I would have loved the chance to swim across the channel. There are some really big boats around, though, so you would need a boat tailing you to do that.
The easiest way to get to Paradise Island (which is not actually an island - it's a place on Samal Island!) is to use the Paradise Island wharf and pay 15 pesos (40 cents) for the quick ferry ride. I found the boats to be very safe and they even tooksafety almost too seriously. There was a strict system to avoid overloading and almost all passengers put on huge life vests the moment the boat departed.
The beach is an artificial one, but has a good amount of living coral left. I went on a public holiday and while there were literally hundreds of people in the shaded picnic area of the resort, I was the only person swimming in the 'restaurant' section of the beach. It's the area where you pay for food (there's a delicious and cheap barbecue there).
It would have felt a bit like a private beach, if it had not been for the blaring smooth jazz.
Lunch, transportation (incl. taxis) and park entrance fee came out to $11 - superb value!
If you want to splurge a bit, book the trip to Pearl Farm Beach Resort ahead of timeby callingthe resort sales outlets. For my stay dates, all trips were booked in advance. The resort allows only 50 guests at any time incl. day trippers.
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