Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Now that people are already traveling and some tourist spots are open, people are starting to venture out of their homes.
People in Davao City who are longing to swim on the beach can always go to the Island Garden City of Samal of Davao del Norte. In just a matter of a few minutes, you can have fun in the water already.
Last March 1, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease granted the local government of Samal authority for tourism to operate. Since then, the island has been deluged with guests and visitors. So much so that it may take an hour or so waiting for your turn to go into the island through the Sasa ferry wharf.
If you don’t want that kind of hassle, why don’t you go to the Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort, located in Caliclic, Babak? If you have a car, you can always leave it in its private parking area for free. Aside from being secured and accessible, a reservation for parking is not needed. It is located on Paradise Road, Km. 9 in Sasa.
From the parking area, you have to walk about 500 meters going to its private boat terminal. It is open from 5:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. The trip is about 10 minutes or so. Once you get to the resort, you have to show your identification card and pay the entrance fee.
“We are still following the health protocols recommended by the Department of Health (DOH),” says Julian “Julie” Rodriguez III, the resort’s administrative officer.
Although wearing a face shield is no longer recommended, visitors and guests are still required to wear face masks whenever they roam around the resort. Face masks can only be taken from your face if you are eating or swimming at the beach.
“We are not very strict,” Rodriguez explained. “What we are implementing is what the Department of Tourism tells us what to do. All our staff are also required to wear face masks.”
Signage of health protocols is scattered all over the resort. There are also areas where you can wash your hands. There are also alcohol sprays in some areas. If you don’t have a face mask, someone can provide it for you.
If you want to stay for a night or so at the resort, you can always do so. It has 82 air-conditioned rooms. It also has several function rooms, where people can have meetings or conferences.
One guest who had stayed at the resort commented: “Worth every penny. You get your own hut/room containing a king size bed and a large bathroom with hot/cold water. Rooms are very spacious and very clean.”
The resort’s layout includes gardens, covered cemented walkways, footbaths before entering your room, and sports facilities. There is also an aviary where people can enjoy looking at birds of various colors and shapes.
With a 24-hour front desk, you can always rely on some staff who can assist with your baggage, currency exchange, and laundry services. WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.
You don’t need to bring your food and beverages. Everything is available there. Kananan Restaurant, located by the beach, serves Asian, American, European, and local cuisines. For those who are staying at the resort, room service is available for them.
During our brief tour around the resort, Rodriguez shared some stories about how the resort came to be. For the uninformed, the resort was named after Spanish friends who called the place “isla paraiso.”
But that’s going ahead of the story. It was in the 1970s when the Rodriguez family started using the place as a weekend destination. Some friends and relatives and their families would also come to join the fun.
And it came to pass that the beachfront of Davao Insular Hotel (now Waterfront) was destroyed as a result of a typhoon that hit the city. The hotel decided to rent the resort as an alternative for its visitors.
That was for a year. When the hotel returned the resort to the Rodriguez family, they decided to open it to the public and continue what the hotel had already started. Before they knew it, people started coming to the resort.
What started out as a weekend picnic hideaway is now an all-year-round destination for locals and tourists alike seeking white sand beaches and great food.
Unlike other beach resorts in Samal, Paradise’s beach is clean with crystal clear waters. However, the beach gets really shallow in mid-day so if you visit the resort and plan to do real swimming, do it in the early morning and late afternoon (swimming in mid-day will take you farther from the beachfront).
“Lifeguards are tasked to check and clean the swimming area of plastics, bottles, cans, sharp objects, and floating debris, among others,” Rodriquez said. Sea maintenance personnel are responsible for monitoring and cleaning the swimming area from 5 in the morning until 10 in the evening.
And the foods – they’re super delicious. If you like seafood, you can order jumbo prawns, Lapu-Lapu, pompano, and/or hito – which can be prepared either grilled or steamed. It also has other choices: kinilaw na isda, grilled tuna, shrimp tempura, hilabos na hipon, calamares a la Roman, and grilled squid. For our lunch, we ordered a seafood basket which is good for 3-4 persons; it is composed of malasugui, shrimp, and squid.
Aside from seafood, there are also several other choices: pork, beef, chicken, pasta/noodles, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and soups.
You can also try its fresh buko juice and eat the very delicious sweet pomelo.
What we really liked during our brief stay was eating the buko halo-halo after we toured the resort. “Its halo-halo is one of a kind,” said James Delfinado, who accompanied me during my visit. I couldn’t help but agree with his comment.
“Foods served to diners are always assured to be from fresh ingredients sourced from credible suppliers,” Rodriguez assured. “Quality, not price, is the main consideration in marketing raw materials.”
While eating your lunch, you can also listen to acoustic music. In the past, some visitors were serenaded while eating their lunch. The all-male singing group, which sang a variety of songs, transferred from one area to another to entertain the guests.
Another good thing about the resort is its courteous and well-disciplined staff. Take the case of the waiters. “The waiter assigned to us was very patient and very helpful,” one guest said. “He even helped us with some things that we were doing. He made it a point to talk to us and ask us how we were doing during the day.”
Now, if it’s not a taste of paradise, I don’t know what it is!
Finally, here’s what another foreign visitor said of the resort: “We have been to Samal so many times and we loved Paradise Island very much. The people and staff are very friendly, well-guarded places to stay overnight, the beach is so wonderful and the weather is excellent! The prices are very much affordable. We will be in this place as soon as I retire and make it our retirement home someday!”