Sunrise over Canibad

Canibad Beach — for a long spell, it was a secret paradise for a handful of in-the-know Dabawenyos. But after word spread, many have since found their way to the lovely strand and clear waters of this secluded slice of Samal Island.

It should be said right away, Canibad isn’t for resort-goers. It’s more for the adventure-seeking types, because the “beach resorts” there offer little more than basic accommodations with the barest of facilities. But that’s the charm of the place, in my view. (When I decided to go, it was actually to field-test my new Coleman tent.) There’s no electricity, and only some of the properties have working generators — which means, however, that you’ll have a fantastic view of the stars at night. And a bit of good news: there’s a strong source of spring water, and they’ve been able to draw the sweet water into a rudimentary waterworks system.

My timing was almost perfect when I got to the beach Friday night, because the moon had just been full the previous day. When the large, golden, near-perfect orb began to rise from behind a picturesque outcropping of reefs, the sight was breathtaking. (Too bad I wasn’t able to take pictures of it, as I didn’t have the proper equipment for a night shot.)

The following day, I rose very early and took my first pictures of sunrise. And how glorious it was! You see, the most beautiful few minutes of sunrise cannot be seen from Davao City, because Samal Island blocks the view. But on Canibad Beach, which faces the east, you can witness the morning sun’s first peek above the low horizon.

Canibad sunrise

I needed a brief respite to recharge, and Canibad was, for me, the perfect place to do just that. It’s very far from the hustle and bustle of city life, and it’s not easy to get there. The remoteness allowed me to temporarily break connection from everything, even just for a little while. So, on this idyllic tropical getaway, you can chill out to your heart’s content, soak up the sun, do a little boating… And don’t forget to jump off of the reef cliff!

Cliff jumpThey say that, if you didn’t jump from that reef into the azure waters, you weren’t able to experience Canibad at all. So, after mustering enough courage — and successfully quelling all fears — I did finally take the plunge! But only once, because the second time I went back up the cliff, I found my knees knocking even harder.

What got me to jump? A school of fish. That’s right: a very large school of very small fish (which locals call bolinao) that intermittently jumped in and out of the water a few times. It was like they were cheering me on. Of course, there were the other people on the cliff, too.

New friendsI find it quite refreshing how you can, somehow, easily meet and get to know other weekend warriors in far-off getaways. In Canibad, I chanced upon a big group of youngsters who also came from Davao. They were on the cliff when I met them, and while they were teasing each other, they happily and encouragingly urged me on — to jump a cliff that’s 3 or 4 storeys high!

The rest of my stay on Samal was spent listening to soothing music and chatting with my new friends. They “adopted” me there, so I didn’t have to worry about food or entertainment. Thanks, guys!!

It’s not very easy to get to Canibad Beach, though. From Davao City, you can take the ferry or a banca to Babak, or one of the regular inter-island routes to Peñaplata. From any of the points on Samal, hire a motorbike (with driver) to Canibad Beach, which is in Barangay Aundanao, Peñaplata District of the Island Garden City of Samal. The land trip will set you back around ₱150 and will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Most of the way is rough dirt roads, so be prepared for an unpleasant and bumpy ride. All in all, the trip from Davao City to Canibad will take more or less two hours.

Upon arrival, one more hurdle: a steep climb down a long stairway (which will be hell when you have to climb back up on your way home!). But once you step onto the beach, all your aches and pains will melt away. The off-white sand underfoot is very fine and cool (even at noon). There are lots of pebbles and smooth coral and shells strewn all over the strand. The sea… what can I say? It’s no wonder many call it the source of life. The sea in Canibad is what you’ve always imagined its perfection to be.

Fishy lunchDon’t expect much, though, when it comes to dining. You have to bring your own food, otherwise you’ll have to settle for locally-caught fish. You can ask your hosts to cook the food for you, but it won’t be much of a gourmet experience. Like I said, it’s still mostly unspoilt and bare — a state in which I wish Canibad would remain for a few more years.

But–alas!–developers and prospective buyers have already found this tropical retreat. It won’t be long before we see more honest-to-goodness beach resorts out there, which will mean more visitors and a flourishing tourism industry in the near future. Whether that’s good or bad will depend on how you feel about nature, about the environment…

I’m glad I was able to see Canibad while it was still relatively untouched. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit again very soon!

Here are more pictures of my Canibad trip. And to get an idea of the location, here’s a terrain map, courtesy of Google Maps.

View Samal Island in a larger map

Another way to get to Canibad, especially if you’re a big group, is by motorized banca. There are a number of these boats that can accommodate 30 to 50 people in Sta. Ana Wharf, beside Magsaysay Park. Since Canibad is pretty far off, these boat operators will most probably charge a whole-day rate — something in the vicinity of ₱3,500 to 4,500, if I’m not mistaken.

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22 Responses to “Sunrise over Canibad”

  1. Leonard Pe says:

    sama ako next time be

    • Blogie says:

      Leonard! I was thinking of you when I was taking those sunrise shots. Dapat talaga sama tayo doon very soon. Just say when! Woot!

      • Susan B. Nordeide says:

        Just today (Aug.1,2010), I have seen these beautiful picture of sunrise at Canibad Beach. 3 years ago I had been there together with my classmates in Nursing at the Ateneo de Davao. It was 7pm when we get to drove there with our rented small jeep. Yes, its true that it's not that easy to go there especially if you only take passanger jeep, rough and dustry road, you name it. But I always been proud to tell these experiences with my family and my friends here in Norway. My husband also are excited to go there when I show your pictures. Thank you for sharing it. Im hoping for someday, I can buy even a small property, so my family could spend their weekend there.

        • Blogie says:

          I’m glad you liked my post, Susan! Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you and your family enjoy the rest of your stay in Davao & Samal!

  2. rj says:

    nc blog .! blogie .! ahehe .big grin

  3. isay says:

    i was in deep awe!indeed it is a paradise.I’m looking forward to spend my 1st sunrise of 2010 there! Thanks for the blog, Blog!

  4. bariles says:

    I love virgin beaches!

    This will be one of my “must visit” places from now on.

    Thanks for this Blogie. It’s great to find out that there are still more exciting places to discover out here in Mindanao.

  5. becky says:

    hi blogie…greetings from manila…i miss davao na! advance meri xmas!

  6. Bone Doc says:

    You’re right blogs, this beach is paradise for outdoor lovers. It was this outlier, seclusion and simplicity of amenities that attract us most.I’ve been into this place twice the first one I wrote here:
    and the second here:

    If you are a bit more exploring you’ll find another outdoor haven near this place called Kalinawan. Enjoy!

    • Blogie says:

      Hey Doc! Thanks for the links!

      Yeah, I’ve heard of Kalinawan, as well as San Remigio. It’s amazing how many wonderful places there are in Samal. Woot!

  7. Pedroiho says:


    Glad you visited the place while it’s still “raw”. Indeed a wonderful place.

    Here’s my experience on that part of Awesome Samal Island.

    Have fun!

  8. Eirven says:

    wow…now i wanna go there

  9. otoy says:

    Blog whats the best time to visit Canibad? I really wanna go there…

  10. Fedge says:

    Try to visit some where on talikod island, Dahyang Beach resort . . . its a private Beach resort

    Check the picture on my facebook account

    Fedge Shacks

  11. ann says:

    hi, great post! I love the way you describe your experience with the place – the way it should always be – like communing with the earth, the way it was… along, long time ago n nthere's a great place too that i discovered in one of my travels around the country – where the mountains and the sees meet in one breathtaking view – it's in dinadiawan, aurora province n na picturesque little village in boljoon, cebu is worth a visit too. it's a charming town at the edge of a hill


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