Nestled right along the vast Pacific Ocean, Baganga is a progressive coastal town in Davao Oriental. In 2012, Baganga along with adjacent Cateel headlined in the news as the center of typhoon Pablo’s onslaught, an unprecedented disaster that both towns in disarray and destruction. Four years on, it has regained its footing as one of the more booming towns in the province. Recent developments in terms of infrastructure has also made Baganga more accessible to tourists.
The town is host to a variety of natural attractions, from white sand island beaches, waterfalls, and a lake, which are easily accessible from the town center. Coming from our quick visit to Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, we went down south to Baganga town proper but made an unplanned stop in Barangay Lambajon since it turned out that this barangay is nearer to our target destination which is San Victor Island. So we alighted the bus and took a tricycle to the Poblacion. Since we are already far from our supposed accommodation in the town proper, the tricycle driver suggested to check in at HCCB Hotel ni Pidro located along the national high way of Lambajon. With a window of about three hours, we hailed the driver to bring us to the jump-off of San Victor Island.
This lonely island off the coast of Baganga Bay is a private property owned by the Diocese of Mati but is open to the public. San Victor Island is about a 10-minute short boat ride from the coast. The jump-off point is right beside the national road where an entrance fee of Php 20.oo is collected. There are commuter boats that ply this exclusive route. Payments by guests are made upon arrival at Php 70.00 per pax. A receipt is provided to be shown upon return to the boatman. Overnight fee is Php 135.00. Limited rooms and even tents are available for rent. There are no reservations so take note that this is a first come, first serve basis.
It is a must to bring your own food and drinks since there are no stores or food establishment on the island. A staff member said this is intended to allow the community near the island to make a profit by selling food and other travel and picnic essentials to tourists. Despite the gloomy weather, we still braved the relatively strong waves and enjoyed the clear, emerald waters of San Victor and captured its scenic points. Not far from the island, one can stop by the newly built Baganga Sunrise Boulevard Park for a quick dip or start your day with a morning jog along its paved walkway.
After a tiresome itinerary, we called it a day and decided to save the other nearby attractions such as the Carolina Lake and Curtain Falls for next time. The former is a 15-minute drive from where we stayed while the latter is about an hour’s drive up the mountains via habal-habal. We took a quick walk around the barangay center and took some bite of local carinderia selections and skewers before we retired for the day. Catch the Pacific sunrise and have a quick photo along the stretch of the Baganga’s Sunrise Boulevard.
(Courtesy of Province of Davao Oriental)
Baganga is accessible via Mati City or Cateel from Davao City through commuter vans and buses (Bachelor Express and Mallen Bus). Van travel from Davao City is about 5-6 hours, while bus takes longer at about 7-8 hours. Vans are also now plying the Davao-Cateel route via Compostela Valley which takes about 4 hours to reach Baganga with one transfer. Another possible way is from Butuan or Bislig City (Mangagoy) via Lingig or Boston towns before reaching Cateel and Baganga through bus. Please note the trips are limited to one or two trips daily.
When visiting Baganga’s tourist attractions, you can hire a tricycle to bring you to Carolina Lake, San Victor Island or Baganga Boulevard. To reach the Curtain Falls, habal-habal is the preferred transport option. You can ask the hotel or the locals for suggestions.
WHERE TO STAY
HCCB Hotel ni Pidro. Brgy. Lambajon, Baganga, Davao Oriental. There are small town eateries, groceries, bakeries and seaside ihaw-ihaw near the hostel for your basic needs. Contact #: 09173298269. Rate: Php 800/room with toilet, TV and AC.
The other option is to proceed to Baganga town center for more options including Trellis Lodge and Resto Bar.
*Thanks to The Travel Teller for the helpful guide. Check out Sir Olan’s blog for a detailed information about Davao Oriental and Mindanao.
*Special thanks to the Province of Davao Oriental for the videos, visit their page here.