Sunday, October 14, 2012

Discovering Davao: Isla Reta Paradise

While having dinner at Penong’s, I wasn’t really crazy about doing the day trip in Samal Island and exploring the bat caves and waterfalls. I was craving for some solid white sand paradise beach. I also traveled to Baler, Donsol and Guimaras this year, but their beaches are not exactly not at par with Calaguas (ang taas naman kasi ng peg no?). I needed my dose of white sand.

I whipped out my mobile phone and searched "White beaches in Davao". I encountered Isla Reta in my pre-trip research but I promptly dumped the idea because 1) I was uncertain that I would enjoy a solo beachbumming experience and 2) there’s not a lot of info about it. I found bits and pieces about how to go there and where to stay.

How to go to Isla Reta:
  • Proceed to Sta. Ana Wharf. I did this by taking a cab. I asked the reception how to commute but they didn’t really know (!?!?!). Cab from Sampaguita Inn to the wharf costs around Php 71.00. 
  • Find the boat going to Talicud Island. One way fare costs Php 70.00. The Isla Reta boat leaves at around 09:00 am. Research says this is just a one hour boat ride. Wrong! The actual boat ride was around 1 hour and 30 minutes. I don’t get seasick or anything, but, it was a SLOW boat ride. Make sure you are armed with a fully-charged mp3 player with a nice or fresh playlist. The boat leaves Isla Reta at 3:00pm going back to Sta. Ana wharf. You can do a daytrip tour.

I didn’t have any reservations, because I had no solid plans of staying the night in the island. I wanted to check the beach first. My heart was pounding when I saw the white sand! 

When I landed in this beach, I was in paradise

Having no reservations, I walked fast and asked the first staff I saw if there are any vacant concrete rooms – Php 800/night. There are cheaper rooms available but I wanted my own bathroom. Lucky enough, there’s a free room! Yahooooo! They allowed me to check-in before lunch.

One cottage, all mine! Mwahahahaha!

Now it is time to do some serious beach camwhoring.

White sand, blue waters, clear skies. Perfect.

There's some other peeps in the beach, but not a lot to completely crowd the paradise. I nodded my way and smiled to some of them. I whipped out my tripod that I bought from Japan home (for Php 88) and went trigger-happy. 

The dress is a product of my haggling skills in Bangkok

Since I read that the island serves limited food, I brought my own water and food. What was my food? High-fiber bread (naks, pa-healthy effect daw) and tuna and cheese spread budget packs. Hindi naman ako masyadong nagtitipid no? :P But I had no plans of going to the market or cooking my own meal during this vacation. Pero parang hindi naman maganda sa beach setting ang sandwich. So I ordered their pork sinigang (Php 180) and one cup of rice (Php 15). A hot dish, but I didn’t have a lot of choices.

Staff: Mam, ilan po sila?
Me: Isa lang po.
Staff: Kayo lang po mam?
Me: Yes po.
Staff: Wala po kayong kasama?
Me: Wala po.

Eating solo

The piping hot dish was served after 30 minutes. Ummm, pampamilya naman pala kasi ang size ng servings. I requested that the leftover dish be kept in the fridge, then I’ll just eat the rest at dinner. :D

Where did everyone go?

Someone took the starfish out of the water.

By mid-afternoon, I walked around town looking for a ride going to Dayang beach. A local referred me to a habal habal. We agreed at Php 150 for a roundtrip rate. It was kind of a crazy ride going there, around 20-30 minutes.

Had to walk in some parts
Kuya driver and I chatted for a bit. Again, I was asked if I was really alone.
Habal habal driver: Mam, mag-isa lang po kayo?
Me: Hindi.
Habal habal: Ah, may kasama po kayo?
Me: Opo. Ayaw lang mainitan.

I just felt like taking a new identity. And for personal ka-praningan safety reasons, I decided to say that I was not traveling alone.

Dayang Beach

Paid the Php 50 fee and chatted with the nice security guard there. Stayed for prolly around 30 minutes.

Staff: Ma'am, mag-isa lang po kayo?
Me: Yes kuya!
Staff: Bisita po?
Me: Bakasyon lang kuya.
Staff: Are you connected with the local government?
Me: *?!?!?!?!?!?!?!* Hindi po*!?!?!?!?!?!*

I guess people aren’t used to fellow Pinoys traveling alone? When I first tried solo backpacking, there are not a lot of follow-up questions. When I said I was alone, they left it at that, no further questions. Here, there are a lot of "talaga?" questions. It kinda irked me at first, but eventually, I got amused.

Dayang beach didn't have a lot of guests, unlike Isla Reta. Didn't go to the next resort, they share the same beach anyway. Went back to Isla Reta around 4pm and waited for sunset. No sunset. Sunset was on the other side.

You can also set-up your own tent

Come morning, I was waiting for my sunrise. 

Chillin under the Talisay trees
Now in pink.

Day#2 in Isla Reta involved getting darker and just bumming under a Talisay tree. I took a wonderful refreshing nap on a picnic table. 

I ate my bread and cheese spread because I didn't want to order one whole serving of food for myself - won't be able to finish it anyway.

I’m so glad I made the detour to Isla Reta. I satisfied my white sand beach craving for 2012.
Some takeaway thoughts & tips:
  • Be sure to be at the wharf before 9:00am. I was at the boat at around 8:10am and the boat was already 1/3 full.
  • There are no airconditioned rooms in the island. The island has a scheduled brownout – like Biri Island and El Nido.
  • Bring your own snacks.
  • There’s a sari-sari store just outside the resort. You can sneak in your food discreetly.
  • The cottage room is clean and quite huge. No hot water in the shower.
  • There are crazy ants in the room. They can sniff your food and they move pretty fast. Seal your food before taking the shower or going to the beach.
  • The Isla Reta boat is scheduled to leave at 3pm but this gets delayed at times. It was around 4pm when the boat arrived and left for Davao City. The boat landed in Sta. Ana whaft around 5:30pm.
  • Set your camera to "Vivid Colors" setting


  1. waaah! i planned to go here kaso naiwan ako ng plane to davao. tontakels!!! ^_^

    i like the dress! gold ba yung belt?

  2. This is a very nice beach Chyng! It might even dislodge some of the beaches in your top beaches list. :)
    The belt of the dress is made up of gold stitches.

  3. glad u enjoyed davao-isla home for 12 yrs...

    been there too...10 yrs ago...

    -missing the beach... ^_^


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