There is something in Davao city that you won’t experience often in other areas of the Philippines, and that is a local experience. As Davao isn’t the #1 rated tourist spot in the Philippines, you won’t bump into as many resorts, western restaurants, or high-priced tours, but what you will get is real Filipino food, experiences, prices, and interactions.
Go to a museum and learn about the city’s cultural heritage, walk down a market to taste dishes from family recipes, or walk through acres of wildlife sanctuaries to create lifelong memories.
If you start getting that craving for white sand, Davao is only a boat ride away from some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines where you can enjoy spectacular beaches with plenty of water activities for a day or two.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Davao:
1. Crocodile Park
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Davao city is the Crocodile Park, which is home to thousands of crocodiles. Yes, thousands!
They’ve got both freshwater and saltwater crocs that are bred and born on site. You can visit the incubator room where you’ll see hundreds of crocodile eggs growing baby crocs!
Beyond the crocodiles, you’ll also have the chance to see monkeys, snakes, birds, and other reptiles. The Crocodile Park offers educational tours, lectures, and offers public awareness of wildlife conservation efforts. All around, a great place.
2. Jack’s Ridge
If you want full eagle-eye views of the city, you’ll want to make your way to Jack’s Ridge.
In addition to marvelous views, there are two restaurants to choose from when you make your way up here: Karlo’s Gourmet which serves coffee and baked treats, and Taklobo where you can sit in an open-air dining area sharing big portions of beautifully plated Filipino food.
If you decide to stay the night, there are cottages, a pool, and lovely views for sunrise.
There is also quite a bit of history on Jack’s Ridge as this land was previously used as the headquarters for retreating Japanese forces during World War II. You can read all about it at the Jack’s Ridge monument. Just goes to show that you’re never too far from a history lesson in the Philippines.
3. Dahican Beach
The most beautiful beach on the mainland is hands down Dahican Beach where 7 kilometers of gorgeous sand and turquoise water awaits. Rent a lounge chair for a day or bring your towel so soak up the sun for as long as you’d like.
If you’d like a more adventurous beach experience, there are shacks along the beach renting boogie boards and surfboards perfect for catching some waves. Some of the resorts here offer activities such as island hopping tours that leave from Dahican Beach.
Bring a tent and you can pitch it on the beach overnight for a small fee. Fall asleep to the sounds of waves crashing, wake up to fresh morning air then go take a bath in the sea!
4. Kopiat Island
Take a day trip to Kopiat Island off the coast of Davao. This desolate little island is home to heaps of wildlife and beautiful nature. You can go with tour group, which transports you via an exhilarating speedboat ride from the mainland. You’ll set foot ashore within a half an hour. These tours include a visit to the Lubi (coconut) plantation, some incredible food, coffee and desert. And you will of course have time to frolic on the beach as well.
If you’d like a more carefree day, hire a private boat from Davao and have them take you on a 1-2 hour tour where you can come ashore and explore the white sand beaches lined with overhanging coconut trees.
5. China Town
I bet you didn’t expect to find such a huge China Town in Davao. The Mindanao China Town is a collection of Chinese restaurants, shops, business, and malls spread out over 44 Hectares. Many of the businesses here are actually run by Chinese Filipinos who hold on strong to their Chinese roots.
You’ll enter China town under a traditional bright red Chinese archway with a shingled roof and be transported to a different universe- or at least it feels that way.
Visit the Long Hua Temple that is home to Kung Fu monks or the Mindanao Taoist Temple with beautiful Chinese architecture. Stop in some malls where you can buy electronics and makeup. And of course, eat everything!
6. Island Buenavista
Gather 10 of your favorite people and plan the most incredible overnight stay on your very own private island off the coast of Davao! Island Buenavista is a small, pristine island with white sand beaches, clear water, full staff, comfortable accommodation, delicious meals, and water activities, if you please.
For just PhP 105,000, your crew gets all of that to themselves! The island is yours, which means complete privacy and total security with no day trips from random tourists. This is your chance to live like a celebrity!
7. People’s Park
People’s Park is a nice place to come where you can breath in some fresh air, stretch your legs without, be one with nature, and ponder the meaning behind some interesting art.
Created by then mayor President Duerte in 2007, this park is 4 acres of sprawling tropical rainforest, ponds, waterfalls, shady trees, and even some wild eagles.
Sit in the park and feed the pigeons, exercise with a run around the colorfully paved paths, or even take a public Zumba class with literally hundreds of locals (every Sunday at 6am).
8. Isla Reta
The entrance fee for Isla Reta Beach Resort will grant you a day pass that includes the use of the pavilion, picnic tables, Volley Ball court, open function hall, and an outdoor grill.
Take a quick pump boat from Davao city along with your picnic goods and enjoy a day on this beautiful little island grilling and relaxing with friends. The scenery offers that classic Philippines combination of white sand and turquoise water, but instead of coconut trees, you have big billowy trees that provide some much-needed shade.
If you choose to stay overnight, you can rent a tent and bedding or stay in one of the accommodation choices including dorms.
9. Maxima Aquafun Resort
Set your inner child free at Maxima Aquafun Resort on Samal Island, just a quick boat ride away from Davao city.
For PhP 300, adults can enjoy a 40-meter super slide that spits you out into the sea, and a water blob that catapults your into the air.
This resort also offers water activities such as banana boat rides, snorkeling, jet skiing, and kayaking. Dry off on the canopy walk with a suspended bridge that you can rappel down. It will be an adrenaline-filled day!
10. Philippine Eagle Centre
Every dollar that comes through the Philippine Eagle Center is put towards Eagle conservation and education. This incredible center dedicates time and efforts toward protecting endangered eagle species while opening up an interesting platform for the public.
During your visit, you will watch eagles feeding on raw meat as they cut into it with their sharp claws and beak, watch eagles soar around the property with huge wingspans, and take some up-close and personal photos!
There are also huge snakes, monkeys, and an assortment of endangered plant species to see.
11. Museo Dabawenyo
What used to be the city court, Museo Dabawenyo now stands to represent the rich history of the people of Davao. The aim is to teach people about the diverse cultural heritage on this island via beautiful artwork, historic photos, and informational monuments.
Within the Museo Dabawenyo, there is the Indigenous People’s Gallery with replicas of stilt houses, musical instruments, and weapons, the Moro People’s Gallery full of antiques such as crowns, armors, chairs, and lamps, the Contemporary Gallery where you can see traditional Filipino clothing, and the Memorabilia Gallery that is home to Filipino bills, clothes, musical notes, and more.
Admission is free!
12. Davao Museum
If culturally-inspired artwork and vintage maps are your thing, the Davao Museum is for you. This two-story building located inside Insular Village in Lanang is quite bigger than Museo Dabawenyo so dedicate at least an hour to touring this amazing space. Focusing on cultural minorities within the Philippines, you’ll get a glimpse into their cultures with a large collection of artwork and memorabilia.
You’ll find rare maps of Mindanao, centuries-old artifacts, modern paintings, and hand-carved artifacts that all tell a story. This museum is a bit more upscale and is to be respected with no photography and your best behavior!
13. Roxas Avenue Night Market
Live like a local by perusing this Filipino night market that is widely popular with native Davao residents. Roxas Avenue has stall after stall of fresh and cooked seafood, meats, veggies, and more for you to pick and choose. Sit down for a flavorful soup or take some grilled pork on a stick to go.
Located between Aldevenco shopping center and the ADD University, you could easily do some sightseeing and shopping during the day and then stop by the night market after you’ve worked up an appetite.
14. Civet Coffee
Coffee freaks will be excited to try a weird and wild coffee brew called Civet Coffee. A civet is a cat-like wild animal native to the Philippines who helps out with the harvesting process by eating sweet coffee cherries and then pooping out the beans. Apparently, this organic process gives the beans a deep flavor that is out of this world delicious and has no bitter taste.
Trying buying Civet Coffee in the United States and you’ll pay a fortune for these beans, but the closer you go to the source, the less expensive it gets. Mt. Apo has a shop and café where you can buy a cup of Civet Coffee or a bag to take home for cheap!
15. Mount Apo
“King of Philippine Peaks”, as it’s called, Mount Apo is one of South East Asia’s highest mountains and it’s right here in Davao. The mountain’s peak reaches an elevation of 10,311 feet which is 3,144 meters above sea level. Towards the top, there is a 500-meter wide crater lake created by volcanic activity. The mountain is home to rubber plantations, a 150-meter tall waterfall called Tudaya Falls, along with wild boar and deer.
During the moths of March, April, and October, experienced climbers can climb the summit during a two-day hike organized by various tour groups around the area.
16. Eden Nature Park
In the District of Tril in Davao City, you’ll find Eden Nature Park cozily tucked at the foot of Mount Talomo. Across 80 hectares, you’ll have a chance to explore a wildlife sanctuary full of exotic birds, plants, flowers, and insects.
95% manmade, this nature park has some jaw-dropping scenery including 100,000 tall forest trees and 100,000 pine trees. It smells so fresh!
If you’re feet are too tired, hop aboard a 45-minute shuttle tour of the park which ensures that you see the very best that this park has to offer.
17. D’Bone Collector Museum
Just like it sounds, this Davao museum is a comprehensive collection of skeletal bones from animals of all kinds, including the skeleton of a 41-foot Sperm Whale.
There are over 200 preserved skeletal remains that represent species from every walk of life and every environment you could imagine.
The museum was opened in 2012 by an American missionary with a fascination for more than just the religious world beyond. The collection keeps growing year after year- you never know what will turn up next!
18. Davao Butterfly House
Curving brick paths surrounded by lush green trees, grass, and flowers is only the beginning of your experience at Davao Butterfly House!
A protected refuge for butterflies, plants, flowers, as well as exotic animal and insect species like scorpions, birds, fish and more- this place is not to be skipped during your visit to Davao!
Butterflies are the most active during the morning while it’s not too hot. This is the best time to see them mating, dating, and dancing! Photographers will love this place!
19. BlueJaz Water Park
Cool off from the heat at BlueJaz Water Park, a place that is great for both kids and adults. On land, there are two long, winding water slides that spit you out into a cool pool. You can go down these slides as many times as you’d like. There is also a water slide built on stilts about 100 meters from the shore which gives you a nice view of the scenery before you fly into the sea.
Enjoy the beach where you can lounge or sign up for some water activities such as jet skiing or banana boat riding.
Tip: Avoid the weekends and holidays when the waterpark gets crowded.
20. Visit Magsaysay Park
This outdoor park is more than just a place to sit on a park bench and watch the day go by.
Famous for it’s long row of fruit stands featuring mostly Durian, Magsaysay Park is a wonderful place to work on your haggling skills.
Stop in the Fishcado, an open-air seafood restaurant who serves dishes with fresh seafood collected from the local market. Davao is famous for tuna and swordfish dishes so be on the lookout!
As the sun sets, more and more food stalls and snack carts will start rolling in, creating an unofficial night market where you can sample plenty of small treats!
21. Balut Island
There is a relatively underrated volcanic island at the southern tip of Davao Oriental that should be explored if you’ve got the chance.
Balut Island is home to a super interesting mixture of cultures including Muslims, Bilaans, and Sangils, who are native to Indonesia. Most of the locals here are farmers who export coconuts to surrounding areas. The mix of cultures means that you can find an international display of restaurants here.
While you’re on the island, you can take a dip in the Sabung Hot Spring overlooking the sea, stroll the undisturbed white sand beach, watch for Pygmy Sperm Whales in the water, and check out the ruins of Fort Villa from WWI.
22. Philippine-Japanese Historical Museum
World War II has left its imprint on different islands in different ways- including Davao. Come to the Philippine-Japanese Historical Museum where you’ll learn how Davao served as an island of retreat for the Japanese during the war and how some 20,000 Japanese remained on the island after the war to work on abaca plantations.
In this museum, you’ll witness how the Japanese lived via replicas of their living quarters from the time spent living on the plantation. You’ll see bunk beds, camera, trinkets, and more. You’ll also see relics from the war such as weapons and clothing. This museum offers unique Japanese perspective of war times that you don’t often see.
23. Blue Post’s Boiling Crab and Seafood
Don’t be afraid to get messy at this eat-with-your-hands seafood spot in Davao.
Put on some plastic gloves, a bib, and get ready to dig in like a seaside caveman. You can order a seafood boil with tuna belly, muscles, clams, shrimp, crab and more, tossed in a big plastic bag with incredible sauces and hunks of corn on the cob. The feast is then dumped on a big pan in front of your table to share.
With such close proximity to the waters, it would be a shame to pass up a seafood feast in the Philippines. It’s a fun and delicious experience!
24. Davao Zorb Park
Let loose and be silly at Davao Zorb Park. If you’ve never heard of a Zorb before, it’s basically one humongous plastic ball that you climb inside to be tossed around. Experience a day of weightlessness with two Zorbing activities at this park.
The first activity is where you climb inside the Zorb and it is then pushed down a giant hill, which sends you flying and rolling inside.
The second activity is where you take the floating Zorb on water as you try to walk around and bump into your friends.
You’ll be laughing all day.
25. Eat Davao Dishes
Filipino food isn’t all just sisig and lechon. Each island offers their own spin. While you’re on Davao, go to some local restaurants to try dishes like Sinuagbang Bihod (grilled tuna fish roe), Inato (grilled chicken with Davao spices), Pasayan (deep-fried shrimp), or Imbaw (clam soup).
Go to restaurants such as Bistro Selera, Ahfat Sea Foods Plaza, Filipino Comfort Food (FCF), or stop by a local street stall for cheap eats to find the most authentic foodie experience possible.
26. Marina Tuna Seafood Restaurant
Love tuna? Well, you’re in luck as Davao is popular for their tuna dishes. It’s only fitting, then, that Marina Tuna Seafood Restaurant boasts a menu where they offer tuna cooked 10 different ways. To say they are the experts of tuna is an understatement.
Step outside of your comfort zone and try some parts of the fish that you normally wouldn’t find in a western restaurant such as the crispy tail, eye soup, grilled jaw, and more.
If you aren’t super adventurous when it comes to eating, no worries. Marina Tuna makes some impressive grilled tuna belly and to die for tuna sashimi. Oh, and they have beer!