Dahican Beach: Skimboarding Capital of the Philippines

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” – Alysha Speer

When we talk about beaches, the Philippines wouldn’t probably run out of these nature gems. The peripheries of our archipelago is peppered with tourism jewels that is in the offing to be discovered.

Dahican Beach, a crescent-shaped 7-kilometer long, white sand beach, in Mati City, Davao Oriental in Southern Mindanao, is gaining popularity for its wind-whipped waves attracting skimboarding and surfing enthusiasts. Because of this, the place has established itself as the Philippines’ skimboarding capital and has become one of Mati’s pride.

Being located on the eastern coast of Davao Oriental province, the beach faces Pacific Ocean, hence the controlling waves and high winds make it ideal for surfers and skimboarders all year round. This is also the birthplace of Amihan Boys (a group of local surfing and skimboarding team).

Dahican is not only visited for the activities it offers. It also boasts off its soft white sand and warm clear blue waters. The place even serves as a sanctuary of marine animals from dolphins, sea cows, sea turtles and even whale sharks.

It is best to stay overnight at the area. There are reasonably priced accommodations found in most of the beaches in the village. For backpackers and day tourists, you can pitch tents or spread picnic mats on the white sand or at the Amihan Skim and Surf Area. You may sook for Manong Jun who is the caretaker of the place. He only charges around 50 Pesos per night for an overnight stay. The area also offer rentals for skim boards and surf boards/ lessons for a reasonable fee.

How to get there:

From Manila: Book a flight to Davao City, which serves as the gateway to Southern Mindanao. Flight Duration is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

From Davao City: There are several options. You may take the taxi or jeepney and be dropped off at GMALL or Victoria Plaza. There are a lot of public vans in those malls bound for Mati and are supposed to be faster than those of the buses that tend to have more stopovers. However, if you like to take the bus, head to Davao City’s Ecoland Bus Terminal. Distance from Davao to Mati is 165 Kms (travelling towards Tagum City). The trip takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours but you get there quickest by private car.

From the Mati City:  Upon arriving in the city, you can hire a tricycle or single motorcycle to take you to Dahican.  It will take another 10-15 minutes to get to Dahican beach.

Where To Stay in Mati City:

HOTELS and INNS

Baywalk Hotel

Burgos Street

Tel. No. (087) 811-4060, Mati City

Casa Rosa Bed & Breakfast

Dona Rose, Madang, Mati City

Tel. No. (087) 811-4082
Chew Citi Lodge

Limente Village, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 388-3104
D’Eterna Dormitel

Don Mariano Marcos Avenue, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 811-1268
El Pueblo Hotel

Nazareno Street, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 811-4677

Honey’s Inn

Matiao, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 811-4038
Hotel Beatrice

Bonifacio Street, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 388-4655
Lane’s Katulganan

Bonifacio Street, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 388-4989

Marriet Bed & Breakfast

Madang, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 388-3791
Mati City Lodge

Madang Terminal, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 811-5155
Villa Merced Hotel

Bonifacio Street, Mati City
Tel. No. (087) 811-1476

RESORTS

Blue Bless

ADDRESS :Sitio Pitugo, Barangay Bobon, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09186816917/09093696166

Botona Beach Resort

ADDRESS : Dahican, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09185255227/09209703518/09167968054

Cinco Masao Beach Resort

ADDRESS : Brgy. Tamisan, Sitio Masao, Mati City
CONTACT NO. : 09282824304/09194755932

Golden Sunrise Resort

ADDRESS : Punta Gemilina, Badas, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09219016192

Gregorio Beach Resort

ADDRESS : Tamisan, Sitio Masao, Mati City
CONTACT NO. : 388-3213/ 09197751712

Jambay Beach Resort

ADDRESS : Dita 2, Bobon, City of Mati

CONTACT NO. : 09219541272

Kanakbai Tropical Homes

ADDRESS : Brgy. Dahican, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09177197209/388-3657

Kubo sa Dahican

ADDRESS : Dahican, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09061552094/087 3883 574

Pacific Breexe

ADDRESS: Dahican, City of Mati
CONTACT NO.: 09088636710

Pinanpanan Beach Resort

ADDRESS : Dita 2, Bobon, City of Mati
CONTACT NO. : 09298475191/09296427393

For general info about Mati City, check out http://mati.gov.ph/IT_MatiOffice/

For info about the Amihan skimboarding community, visit www.amihanteam.com

Tinago Falls (Lanao del Norte, PH)

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

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Tinago Falls, a 240-feet cascading beauty, is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines’ City of Majestic Waterfalls, Iligan City. Tinago Falls is located in the heart of the abysmal ravine between Brgy. Ditucalan in Iligan and the Municipality of Linamon, Lanao del Norte, Mindanao. Next to Maria Christina Falls, this waterfalls is also a frequently visited natural wonder.

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The moniker Tinago Falls was coined from a Tagalog word which means hidden since going to the falls requires an arduous downhill and winding trek before it can be reached. It’s as if the falls are tucked away and is meant only for adventure-spirited individuals.

Once you reach the falls, you’ll immediately be smitten by its charming waters, gushing admirably into a deep, serene catch-basin that looks like a lagoon with cerulean waters that’s very inviting for a dip. Underneath the waterfalls is a pothole where one can stay and be battered as if one is having a massage.

Way going down down down.
Way going down down down.

Being a photography enthusiast, Tinago falls is a delight to capture although I had a bit difficulty in taking photos as the mists from the waterfalls were forming droplets in front of my lens. Nonetheless, the beauty of this waterfalls made up for some of my hazy shots.

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HOW TO GET THERE

From Manila/Cebu/Davao to Cagayan de Oro (By plane via Cagayan de Oro, more appropriately Laguindingan Airport). From the airport or terminal, take a bus heading to Iligan City at Balua Integrated Bus and Jeepney Terminal. Travel time is around 2 hours with an interval of 15-20 minutes before the next bus. Fare is @85 Pesos. Once in Iligan City, you may take either of these routes:

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Buru-un Route (Iligan City) : From Iligan City, take a jeepney that leads to Buru-un. Tell the driver to drop you in an intersection to Tinago Falls. From crossing, hire a single motor or habal habal heading to the jump off point of Tinago Falls. Fare varies from P50-P80 per way (depending on your haggling skills).

Linamon Route: From Iligan City, ride a jeep that leads to Buruan. Again, tell the driver to drop you off at the border of Linamon and Buruan. From the small marke, ask the single motorcycle driver to take you to the Highland Resort, the jump off point of Tinago Falls. This route is said to be a more suitable one since the roads are entirely concreted.

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Upon arriving at the area, a 10-15 minute trek is required to reach the waterfalls. The walk requires sauntering around 500 steep steps downwards.

Rates:

  • Entrance fee – Php 25.00
  • Cottages – Php 100-300
  • Table only – Php 50.00
  • Life Jackets – Php 25.00/ person
  • Raft – Php 10.00/person
  • Guide: no standard rate for the guide

Stingless Jellyfish of Tojoman Lagoon (Philippines)

Move like a jellyfish, rhythm means nothing.You go with the flow you don’t stop.” ― Jack Johnson

Bucas Grande of Surigao del Norte is regarded as the “Home of the stingless jellyfish”.

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Situated on the far eastern part of the province of Surigao del Norte is the island town of Socorro in Surigao del Norte and in here, lies the Bucas Grande group of islands. It is also known as the Sohoton Cove National Park. (This should not be confused with the one found inDSC_3950

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Samar province in the Visayas). This island is packed with abundant caves and unspoiled, white sand beaches, inland lakes and lagoons, mangroves, iron woods, fishing grounds, and corals.

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One of the most frequented and anticipated place to visit is the Tojoman or Jellyfish Lagoon — home to millions of stingless and friendly jellyfish. The species of jellyfish on this lagoon is the so-called Spotted Jelly (Mastigias papua, Mastigiidae). Physically, it has noticeable rounded structures and thick oral arms suspended below the bell. There are those that have orange to brown color and a few white ones with scattered spots.

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Going to Tojoman Lagoon to see the stingless jellyfish, a paddler has to be hired. (No motorized boats are allowed inside the lagoon as it could disturb and destroy the habitat of the marine creatures).  One can touch the jellyfishes so long as they are submerged. They should not be lifted as they easily dry up, and may cause there death.

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Fees collected at the Sohoton Cove National Park:

Environmental fee (50 pesos/person)

Boat Docking fee (100 pesos/boat)

Life vest rental (40 pesos/person)

Table fee for lunch (50 pesos/group) – 4 to 5 persons per table

Boat fee (500 pesos/group) – maximum of 6 persons in a boat

Tour guide fee (165/guide) – we were assigned to 2 guides

Tojoman Lagoon Paddlers fee (100 pesos/person) – for the small boat going to the stingless jellyfish

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Where to Stay in Bucas Grande, Socorro, Surigao del Norte

       
Anthony’s Seaside Guesthouse Brgy. Taruc, Socorro, Surigao Del Norte +639086120983

+639474807176

Php600.00 for 2 pax (fan room)
Php1,000.00 for 2 pax (AC room) extra person: Php100.00
Php1,200.00 for 2 pax (AC room with twin bed)
Bucas Grande Balanghai Resort Socorro-Estrella-Pamosaingan Rd, Socorro, Surigao del Norte (near Socorro port) +6329078931233 Php600.00 for 3 pax (AC room)
Php150.00 per person (dormitory room good for 9 guests)
Club Tara Bucas Grande Island, Socorro
Surigao del Norte
+63 917 522 5500 Php10,000 to 15,000 or more
D&D Lodging Hauz Brgy Navarro, Socorro, Surigao Del Norte +639465697318 Php300 without AC and Php650 with AC/ night
Harkrisha Resort Brgy. Taruc, Socorro Surigao Del Norte +639283214736 Rate starts at Php1000.00/ night
LGU Training Center Near Socorro Port +639463178016 Php200.00 per pax (AC room)
Php150.00 per pax (fan room)

 

***Note: Rates may change without prior notice. Please contact them to find out the latest rate.

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I was lucky to have been spared from all these fees as I was treated as a special guest by their tourism officer when I was there. And more than lucky to have seen these awesome creatures!!!

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juanderlust”. Take it easy ebri’juan…

Tinuy-an Falls (Surigao del Sur, Philippines)

“There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Tinuy-an Falls is considered the widest waterfall in the Philippines. It is approximately 95 meters wide and 55 meters (180 ft) tall. This well-tucked gem of is situated towards the rainforest of Bislig, Surigao del Sur. It has been tagged as “The Little Niagara Falls” of the Philippines. Its white and astounding water gushes to its three different levels (the base pool is elevated at 50 meters above sea level and its largest fall drop is elevated at 70 meters above sea.) making this place as one of the most picturesque and the most visited tourist spot in this side of Mindanao, Philippines.

DSC_4336 It takes around forty-five minutes to an hour of habal-habal (motorcycle) ride from the Bislig City proper to the waterfalls located in Brgy. Borboanan. Most of the roads are not yet asphalted (so expect a dusty, long and winding ride). But once you reach the place, the natural beauty of Tiny-an will make you feel a lot better. Such majestic spot is a photography and nature-enthusiasts heavenly abode. It is perfect avenue for on-the-spot photo-shoots.

How to go to Bislig, Surigao del Sur:
From Butuan Bancasi Airport (Agusan del Norte): Go to Langihan Terminal, ride a bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig) (approx. 5 hour trip)

From Surigao del Norte: Take a bus bound for Butuan and take bus bound for Mangagoy. (This was the route I took because prior to this trip, I went to Siargao).

From Britania, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur: Ride bus going to Butuan and alight at Barobo terminal. From there, take another bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig).

From Davao City: Take buses/van that go directly to Bislig. One may also take those bound for Butuan and alight at Mangagoy (Bislig).

***Most locals refer Bislig as Mangagoy (and most buses have this signage as well).

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Once in Bislig, hire a habal-habal: Rate could range from P300-500 including waiting time (and depending on your haggling skills). Entrance fee is P20.00.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (Cotabato, Philippines)

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. — Khalil Gibran

Notwithstanding the widespread beliefs of people and their impression of Cotabato City and Maguindanao (not to mention the happenings like Maguindanao Massacres that took place in the towns of Ampatuan and recently in Mamasapano), I have always wanted to go and experience this part of Mindanao. Eversince I once read an article about this grand mosque built for our Muslim brothers and sisters, I have included it already on my bucketlist. And just last weekend, I was able to put this dream destination into fruition.

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The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid or simply known as the Grand Mosque, occupies 5,000-square-metre area within a five-hectare prime property in Timaco Hills in Barangay Kalangalan, donated by the Dilangalen family, and is about 9 kilometers away from the city proper. It is huddled beside Tamontaka River and the Moro Gulf. It is so vast that it is seen from the east by those arriving by sea from the Moro Gulf and from the south by those who are landing at the Awang Airport, eight kilometres away.DSC_0216

FYI: The golden masjid is partly funded by the Sultanate of Negara Brunei Darussalam as part of a bilateral agreement with the Philippines. It was designed by world-renowned Palafox and Associates, the mosque incorporated domes and minarets of the Arab-Islamic influence. To date, it is considered the grandest and largest mosque in the Philippines. It can occupy as much as 1,200 worshipers. The Masjid is reported to have a cost of US$48 million. The initiation of this project is in line with the quest of Peace and Development in Mindanao.

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As our multi-cab approaches the Masjid, my eyes started to enlarge and beam with joy and admiration. It really is grand and colossal and impressive! It has dawned in me that I am at long last in the city that often gets a wrong impression. The Masjid is truly distinctive. It has 14 majestic golden domes and four minarets towering at 40 metres high. Every perspective of this Masjid is so appealing. What an extraordinary Islam architectural masterpiece!!!

How To Reach the Grand Mosque: From Cotabato City, hire a habal-habal or a multi-cab (in our case, we did hire a multi-cab). Habal- habal may cost around 150Php (roundtrip),  while a multi-cab/ jeepney costs around 300Php.

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***Please do wear decent /formal clothes. Shorts and short skirts are a no-no. It is best to visit during sunrise and sunsets. Finally, be very vigilant.

SUKRAN to all our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Baras Bird Sanctuary (Sultan Kudarat)

Birds have wings; they are free; they can fly where they want they want. They have the kind if mobility many people envy. — Roger Tory Peterson

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I was on my way to Isulan (coming from Cotabato City, it will take around 2 hours to reach Sultan Kudarat’s capital), when I have learned of this avian sanctuary. So I asked around and I was told it is just around 30 minutes from Tacurong City. SO, a spur-of-the moment decision to have a date with nature’s winged creatures came about.

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The Baras Bird Sanctuary, with an estimated 1.3 hectares in land area, i shome to a number of wild migratory bird species. The park is tucked in the outskirts of the only city in Sultan Kudarat — Tacurong. This is definitely a welcome treat for nature-enthusiasts as one can have an up-close encounter with freely roaming birds of different types.

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A bit of History: The story behind Baras Bird Sanctuary can be traced in the mid-90s when four egrets were seen in this peppercorn farm owned by the family of Mr. Rey Oliver Malana. It was said that the owners allowed these creatures to seek refuge on the farm. Being a peaceful area notable increase in the number of visiting birds were observed, until eventually it became their home. The species of birds notable in the area include Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Great Egret (Ardea alba), Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus).

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Because of the increment in the bird’s population, the owners sought the help of the local government unit in order to secure property. By the year 2002, the Tacurong City government named the farm Baras Bird Sanctuary and declared it as an ecotourism destination in Sultan Kudarat.

There is an entrance fee of P20.00, but donations to help maintain this beautiful place are also accepted.

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Directions to Baras Bird Sanctuary: If you’re coming from Tacurong City, take tricycle to Baras Bird Sanctuary. It’s highly advisable to rent them during your visit since there are no regular public transportation going to the area. Chartered fare would costs around P100-P150 one way. (I did give my tryke driver Php300 because he was sooooo nice and did patiently wait for me).

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Bamboo lined walkway at the bird sanctuary…

So if you happen to be a bird lover (and maybe a bird photography enthusiast), then the Baras Bird Sanctuary will definitely be a sight to behold.

Majestic Asik-Asik Spring Falls (North Cotabato)

Asik-Asik Spring Falls is located at Sitio Dulao, Upper Dado, Alamada, North Cotabato in the island of Mindanao. This spring falls is one-of-a-kind and is majestic in every corner because there is no stream above the hill where the water comes. It is believed that the water is springing from the rocks. And this is was the highlight of my recent weekend getaway.

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How to Reach Asik-Asik Falls

From Manila, we opted to take the Cotabato City (airport) route since its is the nearest and most convenient. Flight from Manila to Awang Airport in Cotabato is around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Majestic majestic!!!
Majestic majestic!!!

From Awang, ride a jeepney going to the city proper and ask the driver to drop you off at Don Rufino Alonzo St. (Magallanes) where the Weena Express Terminal bound for Davao City is found. One can either be dropped off at the town of Libungan, which is around 30-40 minutes from Cotabato City or at the town of Midsayap, around 1 hour trip. Take a “double tire” jeep to Alamada, Cotabato (around 45 minutes). From there, hire a habal-habal that would bring you to the waterfalls.

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***While the vista is eye-gasmic, the habal-habal ride could be one of the most tiresome, butt muscle cramping ride you will ever experience, so make sure you are physically ready for it. Nonetheless, once you reach Asik-Asik, all that weary feeling will be washed away.DSC_1760

It is best to drop by Alamada’s tourism office for registration and proper assistance.

In case you arrive a little late in Cotabato City, you may opt to stay overnight in Midsayap. One can choose from the following cheap and safe accommodation: Rudy’s tavern, Hilltop Inn, Pioneer Lodge, White Hut Inn and Resort, Hotel Angelo, Ju-Eds Lodging House and Twin Cubs Haven Hotel and Coffee Shop. The following day, early in the morning, take a “double tire” jeep going to Alamada. From Alamada, hire a habal-habal to the waterfalls.

For further information, please contact Alamada Municipal Tourism Officer RJ Neville Repollo at +639496898858.

Awestruck with Asik-Asik
Awestruck with Asik-Asik