Davao is definitely a beach country. In the city alone, the shoreline of Matina Aplaya at the back of SM Mall has a lot different beaches from raw to themed, developed or not.
However, the best beaches in Davao and probably some of them can rival the best in the country like the “rent the whole island for a day” Buenavista Island Resort or Pearl Farm are found in Samal Island[a.k.a IGACOS, short for” Island Garden City of Samal” That’s long! Why not stick to just Samal!
White Sand Beach of Isla Reta
There are a lot of beach resorts in Samal and there are more resorts being developed. From high-end to budget beaches, they are all in Samal! [Here’s a website of Samal Beaches]. For my first beachy trip outside Davao City, I wanted to have a Samal experience and who doesn’t when in Davao? For quite sometime, I cannot decide which beach to go for two reasons: either the resorts I wanted are expensive, or it may be affordable but either crowded [like Paradise] or severely face-lifted [like Bluejaz] – not my type.
Serene View of Isla Reta
I was looking for beach resort with tranquility and silence. Pure, unassuming, laidback, unpretentious. It took me a while surfing the internet before I came across a resort located in Talicud Island at the back of Samal Island. Talicud from the root word “likod” which means “at the back.” The resort is called Isla Reta.
Isla Reta’s Charm – Talisay Trees
Some facts I gathered in my search that made me decide to spend a weekend at Isla Reta:
The 1.5 – hours trip by boat it not only an indication of the distance but the nature of the resort; it may just be the one that I’m looking for;
The resort allows and even encourages bringing your own food. Otherwise you may buy in the “talipapa,” have it cooked in the barbecue grills provided or have it done by the resort. The canteen sells basic beverages with minimal mark-up;
Cottages are affordable but you may choose to bring your own tent, rent a “papag” or simply stay in picnic tables even for overnight;
No problem going to and from the island; the resort has an exclusive ferry-boat to carry guests with one-trip a day. It leaves 9AM at Sta. Ana Wharf and leaves the resort at 3pm;
No electricity between 9am and 3pm and it’s something I like, to make the stay more intimate with the island. From 3pm to 9am, you have the opportunity to charge your electronics like cellphones and laptops. Don’t expect wifi but having your wireless broadband is a great idea;
Lastly, the “talisay” trees grown low on purpose along the beach. Branches graciously and generously hovering and extending to an ample portion of the shoreline [I never felt the heat of the beach the whole time!] Upon gathering all these facts, it was ready to go!
Isla Reta’s covered beach during the day
I never felt the long boat ride, thanks to the landscape and seascape along the way: the Davao City skyline with Marco Polo Hotel as the lone imposing building from afar, a view majestic Mt. Apo, the terrain of Samal Island on one side and Talicud Island on the other, fishing boats and cool morning sea wind!
View of Isla Reta from the Hut Cottages
We reached the resort before lunch. Except for few cup noodles and junk foods, we did not bring any food that we can cook. We hit the “talipapa” and bought 1-kilo of fresh fish then grilled for lunch. Bought cups of rice from the canteen, a bottle of water from the drinking water tank of the resort, a bottle of alcohol, then we’re ready to eat!
Shaded clear waters of Isla Reta
The water in the beach is clear, you can see the bottom even at a further distance from the shore. The sand is fine white sand comparable to Boracay. Yes, it’s true!. The downside is on low-tide when the shore becomes quite “corally.” Slippers may become your best friend in such case. Further left to where our table is [right, facing the waters] is the best spot to have a dip at noon time because of the trees that shade the waters. Huge boulder-like corals as backdrop is good for taking photos for FB upload!
View of Isla Reta from a Talisay Tree
At 6pm, it was time to prepare for dinner. Time to be at “talipapa” again. Bought 1.5-kilos of fresh fish and had it cooked by the resort this time. Half was grilled, half with soup! Ahhh, nothing beats hot soup of fresh fish!
Before dinner, a group arrived and occupied the table next to us. One of them was just sooooo noisy and tooooo loud! She was the “bangkera” of the group and she always wanted to talk as if she’ll die if she can’t join the others’ conversation! Ok, she was enjoying, I know, but may be it was just me who cannot contend with her for the night! We retreated to our cottage at about 9pm and thanks to the electricity, we were able to do some internet and charge batteries. Hit the bed at 10pm and had a straight 6-hours of sleep!
Rented Paddle Boat at Isla Reta
By sunrise, I was already out taking photos of the beach, people and the calm serene waters shining in brilliance as reflected by the rays of the morning sun. We rented a paddle boat which is one of the better things to do. You can see how clear the water really is!
Morning at Isla Reta
Before lunch, we were asked of our time preference to leave the island. On ordinary days, there is only one trip to and from the island. The boat leaves the island at 3pm but on the day we are suppose to leave which is Sunday, there were more guests who arrived in the morning. The boat cannot accommodate us all in one trip so the resort decided to make an earlier trip at 12NN. We got the 3pm in order to stay longer.
Reflection of the Morning Sun in Isla Reta
Here are some thoughts for first timers just as I was:
Accommodation is not a problem. Concrete cottages with no aircon [not needed anyway] is at P1.5K. Bamboo Huts at P700 [though I do not recommend if you want privacy] The huts are “duplex-type” separated only by walls made of weaved bamboo. In our case, there was a radio playing 2-doors away which was quite annoying especially when you wanted to sleep already. Add 2-videoke’s outside, one to our right and another to our left. If you are not in the concrete cottages which are quite far from where the videoke’s are, you may better have your own tent and place it somewhere far from the noise. Tent, I think is the best – it will not hurt your wallet and you can choose a site most comfortable to you!;
Bring your own food and beverage. There are beverages ready for sale at the canteen but with a little mark-up. You can cook your own food in the barbecue grill found around the resort. If you have it cooked by the people of the resort, they charged P70 per kilo, whatever it may be, rice or otherwise. Cooked rice are sold for P15 per cup – expensive!;
The CR is not the best and the tidiest but it has privacy. It’s fine, you’re not there to take shower all the time anyway!:
The beach itself is great but because you’re not the only one in the island you may find the noise from videoke’s at night or loud-screaming-enjoying large group quite annoying, unless it does not matter to you. There are other venues in the resort where you may transfer just in case;
Ferry boat costs P70 one way. Entrance to the resort is at P150 overnight, 70 for day tour only, all with discount for children below 6-yrs old. The entrance fee includes free use of picnic tables and set-up of tent/s. If you rent a cottage, it’s inclusive of the entrance fee.
Fine White Sand of Isla Reta
To close, I want to go back to Isla Reta because of the beach itself! Like, like! As for the other facilities, it’s fine but don’t expect it to be better. If ever I go back, I want it to be on a weekday to avoid large groups on weekends and see if I can already have the complete package of an island get-away that I always wanted!