Located just off the coast of Davao, Samal is often regarded as a suburb of the city. Due to its vast size, however, alongside the great range of attractions available across the island, we believe it should be a destination in its own right! Samal can be used as a quiet hub to travel into Davao from, but it has so much more to offer.
Unfortunately, because it is usually classed as a suburb there aren’t many travel guides about the island itself. This can make figuring out where to stay and how to get around the island difficult – despite various locations offering different kinds of attractions.
Which is why we have created this guide! We’ve figured out the seven best neighborhoods across Sambal Island, and categorised them based on who they are best for. We’ve consulted travel experts, bloggers and locals to find out the best bars, beaches and beyond.
So let’s just get started!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Samal
- Where to stay in Samal for the first time – Adecor
- Where to stay in Samal on a budget – Catagman
- Best neighborhood in Samal for families – Kaputian
- Where to stay in Samal for nightlife – Moncado Poblacion
- Coolest place to stay in Samal – Alorro Beach
Where to Stay in Samal
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Samal.
Best Hostel in Samal: La Vida Hostel
As the only hostel on the island, it’s no wonder that La Vida takes our top spot for backpacker accommodation in Samal! They offer dorms, privates and group privates, and even include a complimentary breakfast with the rate. It is only a stone’s throw from Catagman.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel in Samal: Pearl Farm Beach Resort
As the only five star resort on the island, this had to take our top pick for hotels in Samal! It is, of course, easily the priciest option on this list but it is worth every penny for those that have the budget to splurge. With a pool right on the coast and a boardwalk, this truly is the pinnacle of luxury in Samal.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Samal: Seaview Studio
One of the biggest attractions in Samal is the Davao skyline – so it’s no wonder this apartment is one of the most popular AirBnBs in the area! It comes with an infinity style pool that lights up in the evenings so you can truly admire the view any way you want to.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Samal Neighborhood Guide
Samal is a large island just off the coast of Davao. It is reached by ferry from the city, and many of the resorts along the northeast coast provide gorgeous views of the city’s skyline – making it a popular day trip with locals and tourists alike. Beyond these resorts, however, there’s a wide array of fantastic attractions waiting to be uncovered.
Moncado Poblacion is where most visitors to the island base themselves, as this is where the ferry terminates and where you can enjoy views of Davao! As a result of this, the only real nightlife options on the island are available here. They offer a more laid-back alternative to the bustling bars in the neighbouring city, with more opportunities to mingle with others.
Just south of Moncado Poblacion is Catagman. Away from the main tourist areas, it offers a budget friendly alternative to its busier neighbour! Catagman also has great transport links with other areas of the island, allowing you to travel further afield with ease. This is another great option for first time visitors.
Heading further south along the west coast you will eventually hit Adecor! This area is growing in popularity with tourists – not for its connections with Davao, but as a destination in its own right. Adecor has a great beach area, as well as ferries to smaller islands nearby and a wide range of restaurants.
Kaputian is even further south, though it has a calmer atmosphere than Adecor. This makes it the ideal getaway for families that just need some peace and quiet! Like Catagman, it is also well connected to other areas of the island giving you freedom to explore at will.
Finally, we have Alorro Beach on the south coast! Though this is the main resort area, the entire south coast is a hidden gem with gorgeous natural attractions, locally owned restaurants and unbeatable viewpoints.
Still undecided? Check out our more in-depth guides of each neighborhood below!
Samal 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in Samal. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
About halfway down the east coast, Adecor might not currently be the largest destination in Samal but it is growing in popularity by the day! This is a great place for first time visitors to learn about the island’s unique culture away from the influences of its larger city neighbour.
It’s location in the middle of the island also makes it a great starting point for tours around Samal! Most major destinations can be easily reached from Adecor within an hour or so – and there are also plenty of public transport links. If you want to truly discover this vast and varied island, Adecor is an excellent starting point.
More awesome things to see and do in Adecor
- Take a tour out to Malipano Island – the vast, unspoiled beach on this island is only accessible to guests on the private tours
- Taklobo Tours also do an excellent excursion out to the giant clam sanctuary where you can learn about why there are major conservation efforts for the animal
- Head north to Hagimit Falls – this natural attraction is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the entire country
- Sip a beer at Parola Bar – located right on the beach, this is a great place to kick back and relax
- EPD Anonang Inland Resort have a huge restaurant that is open to the public offering a great selection of local delicacies
Best Hotel for Backpackers Adecor: Chema’s by the Sea
Chema’s by the Sea is only a two star resort, which means low prices. Thankfully, however, the service and facilities on offer exceed this two star rating giving you more for your money! This makes it a great pick for backpackers staying on the west coast of the island. Breakfast is included.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel in Adecor: Pearl Farm Beach Resort
This five star hotel is absolutely a must for anyone willing to splurge on a luxury stay on Samal! It comes with a private white sand beach for guests only, as well as luscious forest areas. The bar has a 360 degree view across the coast and the island, and a buffet breakfast is provided every morning.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Adecor: Anonang Cloud Nine
This charming one bedroom apartment comes with a balcony overlooking the coast and forest lands, with an inviting hammock that just begs you to sit back, relax and enjoy the view! As part of a larger apartment complex, guests can self cater with the on-site kitchen or enjoy chef prepared meals.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Just south of Moncado Poblacion, Catagman is a great choice for those on a tight budget that want to be close to the action! Catagman has some excellent resorts dotted along its stretch of coast – and many of these are offered at lower rates than in the larger neighborhoods. There are also plenty of great restaurants with budget friendly offerings.
Price aside, Catagman has some hidden gems that are well worth discovering! The town has a unique history, with some dark turns that have since been turned into major tourist attractions. It is also well connected with the rest of the island, acting as a gateway for guests arriving from Davao.
More awesome things to see and do in Catagman
- Head east to Maxima Aqua Fun – famous for their giant water slide, it is a major attraction in Samal and there are great links from Catagman
- General Moncado White House is a unique, if somewhat chilling, attraction based in the grounds of a former cult from the area
- Playa Azalea Pool is a public pool located right on the coast – a great way to cool off on those scorching summer days
- Peñaplata Public Market offers a great selection of local handicrafts as well as fresh fruit, fish and baked goods
- For those that want to unwind but need some time away from the beach, Samal Island Park is a secluded dream
- The Bahay Kubo Restaurant is a stunning contemporary restaurant offering modern takes on classic Filipino and European dishes
Best Hostel Catagman: La Vida Hostel
Though a fairly basic hostel, La Vida comes with excellent reviews. Whilst they don’t have much competition on the island, La Vida Hostel still offers fantastic service and has spacious communal areas where you can mingle with other guests. Unlike many other hostels, they provide a complimentary breakfast.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel in Catagman: Bali Bali Beach Resort
This 3.5 star hotel strikes a good balance between budget friendly and luxury finishings! There is a small stretch of private beach for guests only, as well as a large heated pool with a sunbathing area. With only six rooms, it has an intimate atmosphere – perfect for some peace and quiet.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Catagman: OMG’s Private Apartment
There aren’t many AirBnB apartments in Catagman, though this fairly basic option is perfect if you want to stay in an apartment without breaking the bank! The main bedroom can sleep up to four people – making it good for solo travellers, couples and families. A continental breakfast is provided.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Just south of Adecor, Kaputian is largely unspoiled by tourism despite the gorgeous beaches and unique attractions! The gateway to Talikud Island, Kaputian is an important neighborhood for locals – and you are likely to make a few friends whilst there. The calm and friendly atmosphere makes it a great option for families.
As it is further south, it is a little more secluded than other neighborhoods on the island! This can be a positive for those wanting to avoid the tourists, but it does mean that goods can be a little pricier. Nevertheless, if you want a calm seaside resort with some local flavour then it is absolutely worth it.
More awesome things to see and do in Kaputian
- Take a trip out to Talikud Island – this small island is mostly walkable and has the longest white sand beach in the region
- For those that simply want to kick back and relax, Kaputian has its own excellent white sand beach with a secluded atmosphere
- Take a trip to Sabang Cliff, a beautiful natural landmark with sweeping vistas overlooking the sea and towards Talikud Island
- Kaputian Public Market is smaller than others on the island, but nevertheless a great spot to pick up fresh produce and mingle with the friendly locals
- Acantilado Aqua Farm & Resort offer a variety of boat excursions, as well as hire facilities for experienced sailors
- Pop into Gravitas Coffee – this casual dining venue has a great brunch menu and is popular with local families
Best Hotel for Backpackers in Kaputian: Isla Betita Resort
Despite only having a three star rating, this coastal resort is packed with great facilities! Backpackers won’t just love the budget friendly rates, but also the huge communal area that comes equipped with barbecue facilities and steps down to the beach. WiFi is also available throughout the property.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel Kaputian: Hof Gorei Beach Resort
For a more typical resort experience, Hof Gorei Beach Resort is a great choice and is not that much more expensive! Alongside the massive outdoor pool and tropical garden, the hotel also provides fishing facilities. A complimentary American style breakfast is included with the room rate.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Kaputian: Tower Farmhouse
One of the most unique AirBnB offerings on the island, this towering house can sleep up to five guests across two bedrooms! You will be given the entire house, with each room situated on a different level. The top level, of course, comes with great views across the forest and towards the coast.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Moncado Poblacion, alongside Kinawiton, acts as the main gateway to the island from Davao! This means it is one of the busiest neighborhoods in Samal – and the only place where there is any sort of nightlife. As the sun sets over Davao, the skyline lights up and can be seen clearly from Moncado Poblacion.
The nightlife in Samal is much more laid back than in the big city, however it is still incredibly popular with both tourists visiting for a night and locals! During the day, there are some great restaurants and cafés dotted along the coast, plus some basic tourist attractions and facilities.
More awesome things to see and do in Moncado Poblacion
- Most of the nightlife in the area is based in the resorts – though open to the general public – with Supladoz being one of our top picks
- Sunset Beach Park is a great place to admire the scenery and maybe even try to catch some starfish
- Head inland to San Agustin Botanical Park where you can enjoy views across the entire island, as well as the native plantlife
- BlueJaz Water Park is smaller than others in the area, but has a good set of slides and large pools to cool off in
- Precious Garden Restaurant and Coffee House operates mostly as a café during the day, with an excellent local menu in the evenings
- If you want a great brunch to help beat the hangover, Hacienda have an excellent menu throughout the week
Best Hotel for Backpackers Moncado Poblacion: Lankenua Lodgings
This simple homestay is a budget friendly option with a private pool! You can opt for an entire studio, or a room located right next to the pool. There is also a small bar on-site, as well as landscaped gardens where you can unwind after a long day of exploring Moncado Poblacion.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel in Moncado Poblacion: Club Samal Resorts
This is one of the most popular resorts on the island and it’s easy to see why! They have a huge pool terrace, with views right across the sea towards Davao. A complimentary breakfast is included, with both American and Asian options on offer. All rooms are fully air conditioned with desk space.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Moncado Poblacion: Seaview Studio
Awesome view and pool aside, the host of this apartment has superhost status – meaning you are guaranteed only the best standards of service! As a fairly small studio, it is best for solo travellers and couples staying in the area for a few days. The kitchen and pool are shared with a neighbouring apartment.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Right on the southern coast of Samal, Alorro Beach is one of the most secluded neighborhoods on the island! Though we would only suggest it for more adventurous travellers, this can be a great way to discover what rural life is like in the Philippines. The beach itself doesn’t have many accommodation options, so for this guide, we have included the entire southern coast.
Pangubatan, in particular, is an excellent neighborhood to be based in – with multiple beaches and national parks nearby! The natural beauty on offer in the areas surrounding Alorro Beach are largely unspoiled – especially when compared to the northern resorts.
More awesome things to see and do in Alorro Beach
- Alorro Beach itself is a small white sand beach that has low tourism numbers, giving it a secluded atmosphere
- Pangubatan Forest Park stretches along the southern coast from Alorro Beach to Pangubatan town itself, and has some gorgeous photo opportunities
- Punta Pangubatan is also a great beach – it can be a little rougher round the edges, but has great sunset views
- Pangubatan, a restaurant within the town itself, offers a great selection of local delicacies at reasonable prices
- Marion’s Bakeshop is just across the road from Pangubatan Restaurant and offers a great array of pastries and breads
Best Hotel for Backpackers in Alorro Beach: Island Garden Resort
This secluded resort comes with a private beach area – and is one of the cheapest hotels with this feature on the island! Despite being a hotel, it has a very communal atmosphere that is great for backpackers wanting to stay along Samal’s southern coast.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Hotel Alorro Beach: Kalipay sa Baybay
For more of a traditional resort experience, Kalipay sa Baybay also has a private beach as well as a terrace and a small bar. There is a small games room within the hotel for those rainy days, and equipment hire available on the beach. Rooms also come fully air conditioned with WiFi access.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best AirBnB in Alorro Beach: Samal Getaway
Another pretty basic option, Samal Getaway comes with good reviews thanks to its beachside location and rural vibe! This is truly one for the more adventurous that want to experience the local way of life in this part of the island. It doesn’t come with internet access, so be prepared to switch off for a few days.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Samal
Samal is a vast and varied island that has a lot to offer in its own right! More than just a suburb of Davao, Samal is packed with white sandy beaches, interesting cultural highlights and natural beauty around every corner.
In terms of the best area, we are going to go with Adecor! Right in the heart of the island, Adecor is well connected to other major towns in Samal – and also benefits with its own excellent tourism facilities.
That being said, this incredible island hosts a variety of towns each with their own benefits. We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.
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