Located in the Mindanao region, Davao City is the gateway to the southern Philippines. A beautiful landscape of hills and fertile valleys surrounds this hub of commerce and industry, with Mount Apo towering above all else. The potentially active volcano is the country's highest mountain.
Many indigenous tribes still inhabit the valleys outside Davao, such as the Bilaan, Bagobo, Mandaya and Manobo. Davao is also in the centre of the country's fruit and flower-growing zone. Travellers who visit in August can enjoy the annual Kadayawan Festival, which celebrates life and gives thanks for a bountiful harvest. Otherwise, the region is home to gorgeous dive sites, remote islands and tropical beaches. Nature lovers may see the endangered Philippine Eagle and the rare Vanda Sanderiana Orchid.
Sadly, travel authorities consider the region to be unsafe, as it suffers under a high threat of piracy and terrorism. Travellers who visit Davao should plan their stays carefully to ensure maximum safety, especially in remote areas.
Camiguin © Allan Donque
CamiguinSituated on the north coast of Mindanao, the tiny island of Camiguin is renowned for the friendliness of its people. It's also distinguished for having more volcanoes than municipalities. Regarding its attractions, the destination is a relaxation seekers paradise, where hot springs and stunning beaches are the order of the day. Visitors can climb Mount Hibok-Hibok, and snorkel through a sunken cemetery too, reading gravestones that were submerged in a volcanic eruption. Culture lovers should stop at some of the island's remaining colonial homes, buildings and churches. Santa Rosario Church in Sagay, and the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Mambajao are among the island's best churches.
Website: www.camiguin.gov.ph; Transport: There is regular sea and air transportation available from Cebu
Young Divers © surnibaby
Lake SebuTravellers who seek 'off the beaten track' eco-adventures should head to Lake Sebu. Located on the island of Mindanao, the destination is surrounded by rolling hills and forested mountains, and is home to the T'boli: a highland tribe famous for their colourful costumes and intricate beadwork. Visitors will also encounter the Tasadays, who are a cave-dwelling people. The area's springs, waterfalls and natural caves are a delight. Thrill seekers should visit the Seven Falls Zipline too, as it's said to be the highest zipline in Southeast Asia. It takes travellers high above the region's thick jungle and beautiful waterfalls. Visitors who prefer to stay on the ground can choose from many wonderful hikes around the lake and to the falls. There are also many enticing boat trips, which allow travellers to explore the picturesque area and see how the locals live.
Philippine Eagle © Harrybalais
Philippine Eagle CentreThe Philippine Eagle (also known as the monkey-eating eagle) is one of the world's largest and most powerful eagles. Tragically, it's also one of the rarest and is critically endangered. The only remaining members of the subspecies soar above the mountains of eastern Luzon, and the heavily forested areas of Mindanao. Animal lovers should visit the Philippine Eagle Center. Located in Malagos, which is near Davao City, the centre is home to a fair number of eagles, as well as mammals, reptiles and other bird species. The animals live in a simulated tropical rainforest. The centre is popular with tourists and allows them to see these rare and impressive creatures in their natural environment. Visitors must pay an entrance charge, though guided tours are free. They should also call ahead and book in advance, as the centre sometimes hosts large school groups.
Samal Island © burgermac
Samal IslandA short ferry ride separates the island of Samal from Davao City. The destination is part of an archipelago of islets, which together provide a getaway from city life. Its calm waters, coral reefs and lovely beaches draw crowds of tourists, though the island has managed to retain its charm despite the influx. Visitors will long remember its sunsets, sunrises, rolling hills, mangrove swamps and tiny fishing villages. The island also has some gorgeous waterfalls and natural swimming pools. Regarding activities, hikers and spelunkers will find lots to keep them occupied. Tourists can enjoy a variety of watersports as well.