The area around Davao is ripe for adventures, from climbing Mt Apo and hiking opportunities in the Compostela Valley to exploring the long coastline, both north and south of the city, not to mention several offshore islands. It sees few foreign travellers, but does get more than its fair share of weekending Davaoeños.
Cagayan de Oro
Like university towns the world over, the energy and promise of youth endows otherwise ordinary places with a jolt of joie de vivre. Anyone over the age of 18 can feel like a fuddy-duddy walking the crowded, student-laden downtown streets of Cagayan de Oro (the ‘Oro’ refers to the gold discovered by the Spanish in the river here).
Relatively unspoiled and of an ideal size for exploration, Camiguin (cah-mee-geen) can be singled out for its imposing silhouette – drop it down next to Hawaii or Maui and it wouldn’t look out of place. With over 20 cinder cones 100m-plus high, Camiguin has more volcanoes per square kilometre than any other island on earth.
Zamboanga & Around
When the sun sets in the Philippines, this city, whose otherwise banal skyline is punctuated by several minarets, is one of the last places to see it go. While Zamboanga City is geographically the end of the line, historically it’s been a first step, from Islam’s arrival to the islands in the 1400s to waves of migrants from the Sulu archipelago.
Historical and archaeological interest aside, this city sprawled along the banks of the Agusan River, 9km south of the coast, is a typical provincial city in every way – traffic-clogged, exhaust-fume-filled and growing. It is, however, a logical stop, even for a night, if you’re travelling by boat and bus between the islands of Camiguin and Siargao.
General Luna & Around
Several blocks of dirt roads, dilapidated buildings and a few eateries ending in a public beach lined with a row of sari-sari (neighbourhood) stores and barbecue shacks: that’s General Luna, and to the visitor who stays at one of the resorts on Cloud Nine, it might as well be the big city.