Ignore the official name, the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos): this island just across the bay from Davao is simply referred to as Samal. Much like New Yorkers heading to the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore on weekends, Davaoeños make the quick commute to this island’s 116km of beaches. Of course, not all of this beachfront is picture perfect – in fact, the majority of the resorts on the west coast face unsightly refineries and shipping terminals just across the busy channel. The east side of the island is quieter and more unspoiled.
The island's idyll and reputation were rocked by the 2015 kidnapping of four tourists from a resort by Abu Sayyaf militants. The two Canadians were later killed, a Norwegian man freed after a large ransom was paid, and the Filipino woman released. Security has since been tightened, but foreign tourist numbers have yet to rebound.