The Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) or simply Samal is a popular beach destination in the Philippines. Visitors to Davao City most likely spend some time in Samal to explore its white sand beaches. Aside from the white sand beaches, Samal is also known for Monfort Bat Cave – the largest bat colony in the world and Hagimit Falls. But wait, aside from these popular tourist destinations, Samal has actually a lot more to offer. The community-based ecotourism site of Tagbaobo is an interesting place to explore while in Samal.

Tagbaobo’s ecotourism site was initiated by the Tagbaobo Tourism council, headed by its president Ms. Gene Rose Tecson. It is an initiative to make it easier for the visitors to explore Tagbaobo and at the same time help the local community earn a sustainable income.

During our recent familiarization tour in Tagbaobo, we were able to explore its community-based ecotourism site. There were different activities lined up for us to experience. It was indeed a worthwhile activity.

We started our adventure with breakfast at Island Kopi which is situated across Peñaplata Bus Terminal. We were served with Filipino breakfast and a local coffee made of corn. It was a perfect pair.

The Journey Begins

Instead of riding a van going to our first stop, we took the habal-habal instead to experience what it’s like to be a local of the community. It was around 30 minutes ride from Penaplata to the Cawa Cawa Rice Farm Demo Site in Purok Azucena, Kaputian District.

The site demonstrates how the locals are cultivating their farms. Visitors have an option to experience how the locals of Tagbaobo farm. I tried along with other friends from the media and it wasn’t really easy. The water buffalo is kinda difficult to control. Patience is required in this type of activity. 

Chasing Waterfalls at Mangongawong Falls

Mangongawong Falls also popularly known as Tagbaobo Falls is one of the natural attractions of the community. The falls is very accessible from the main road. It’s just a few minutes of trekking from the registration area. Entrance fee to the falls is P40.00. 

Horseback Riding

A visitor to the waterfall has an option to either take a habal-habal, a private car or an interesting horseback riding to their next destination. As for our group, we only tried it for photo ops as we did not have much time to do it.

Visiting the Tribal Village

One of the activities of the Tagbaobo community-based initiative is a visit to the tribal village of the Sama Tribe. Not known to many, the word Samal was derived from the word Sama, the first inhabitants of the island. 

The village people showcased a traditional dance number, prepared their traditional food called amik, and served us their local coffee made from corn. They also showed us their traditional tools back then.

Lunch and Siesta

After a half-day of adventure, we were served with sumptuous lunch prepared by the local women of Tagbaobo. We all ate the food with gusto. The native chicken was really delectable and the fresh buko dessert was so yummy. 

After the heavy lunch, most of us have found our own spot for a much needed siesta :). 

Guided Snorkeling Tour

Our last activity for the familiarization tour was snorkeling at Tagbaobo beach. We were able to see the beaty underneath the clear water of Tagbaobo. It was an amazing experience. One of the most interesting part was to wear a makeshift floating vest made from empty soft drink bottles.

How to get there?

A visitor has two options to get to Tagbaobo. One is DIY tour and another one is by a guided tour. If you want the former, you may take a bus from Davao City, alight in Penaplata Bus Terminal, take another bus to Kaputian and take a habal-habal from the terminal to your chosen destination. If you prefer the latter below are the rates of guided tours from Luce del Sole Inland Tours and Travel.

Package 1- Tagbaoan Beach Farm (COMMUNITY BASE TOURISM)
Min.4 person (s)
Rate: Php 1, 855/person

– 1 night homestay accommodation (B/L/D)
– Tagbaobo tours via habal-habal (Cawa-Cawa rice field, Mangongawong Falls, Snorkeling at Tagbaobo Beach & Sama Tribal Village Tour)
– Tour Guide

Min.4 person (s)
Rare: Php 2, 000/person

-Round trip Aircon transportation
– Tours (Visit to Cawa-Cawa Rice field, Mangongawong Falls, Snorkeling at Tagbaobo Beach & Sama Tribe)
– Tour Guide


Min. 4 person (s)
Rate: Php 3, 771/person

– Round trip Aircon transportation
– 1 night homestay accommodation (B/L/D)
– Tagbaobo Tours
– Tour Guide


* HORSEBACK RIDING Php 200/person/way
(Falls – Tagbaobo Beach or vice vera)

You may contact Ms. Ella at 0947-319-6412/0927-476-9220 or email her at

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