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Dahican Beach: Surfing Stories from Davao Oriental

We were up too early for Dahican Beach. It always feels good to spend mornings at the beach. There’s this certain calmness and beauty in the experience. But I realized, Dahican is quite different from the usual beaches I’ve explored in the country.

It’s clean, pristine, yet you could see people cleaning the shore that early, picking up pieces of seaweeds, not trash. There is this certain sense of community within the locals, collaborating efforts to protect the shore. It’s inspiring to watch them do their works before the break of dawn.

Kids running, meeting the waves as they perform their greatest skimboarding stunts. In a few more minutes, pastel colors emerge in the morning light as surfers and beach-goers welcome the day.

As for me, I was just sipping my coffee, enjoying the cool morning breeze from the ocean before I decided to take some photos. There is just this awesome sense of energy from the skimboarders, mostly kids who are clearly having the time of their lives, enjoying what nature brings.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

Dahican is a 7 kilometer stretch of beach with powdery white, creamy sands and crystal blue waters. Its true beauty surfaced when the sun has risen, allowing everyone to enjoy the long stretch of unspoiled and uncrowded shore.

This has been a longtime sanctuary of pawikan or sea turtles.  Dugong or sea cows also abound in the ocean’s rich marine ecosystem. Dahican actually comes from the word “dahik” which means to dock, to describe turtles arriving or docking at night to lay eggs.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

George Plaza is one of the well-known surf instructors in Dahican. He has been teaching surfing for more than a decade, not only for tourists but for local kids who wanted to learn the sport. He couldn’t even count how many kids he had coached in the past years, some of them turning into professional surfers – winning competitions and all.

He shared that one of his greatest achievements as a surf instructor is being able to help kids in the area in times when they needed a father to guide them. “Some of them don’t have parents anymore. I always advise them to be the best surfer but never quit school.” George said.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

George Plaza

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

That’s Sir George, showing off his surfing skills.

Now he is offering surfing lessons for travelers and tourists at Dahican Beach for only 500 pesos per hour. George is aware that surfing can be too exhausting for some that many customers easily give up after 30 minutes. In this case, customers can use up their remaining time to try other water activities like paddleboard or kayaking.

Our group tried these water activities, others did the kayaking, while some explored through paddleboard. I would also like to try these but I decided to stay at the beach to take more photos and listen to more stories. At that time, it was much more important to me. Besides, I was invited for this Fam Trip by the Tourism Promotions Board to cover and write about the place, right?

While some are trying the water activities, George facilitated the surfing lessons.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

That’s one of the surfers. Behind the scene is George, facilitating the instructions.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

That’s my good friend, Mice. George is waving at her, ensuring that she would do the proper “dropping” after a successful surf.

George, just like the majority of people who earn from Tourism, was also a fisherman. Starting to surf was initially triggered by the need to have a side income during the surfing season when the catch is really low. He didn’t expect that he would enjoy it. He loved it too much that it would become his primary source of income, and would finally be given a chance to share his skills for younger generations.

As we wrap up, I got the chance to ask George, about his hopes for Dahican Beach. Aside from teaching surfing as much as he could, he hoped that Dahican would stay as it is – a protected sanctuary of sea turtles and dugong.

explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental
explore, travel, dahican beach: surfing stories from davao oriental

Graduation pic for successful surfers with Sir George. HAHAHA . That’s Mice, Karen, George and Dominic.  (left to right)

In a time when an uncrowded, pristine paradise could easily turn into a tourist haven because of the influx of travelers, there is still a possibility of finding the balance through eco and sustainable tourism.

Dahican beach is still surrounded by lush coconut trees with not much fancy accommodation for tourists along the shore. It has maintained its raw beauty where dugong and pawikan continue to thrive.

It can still serve the weekend crowd from Mindanao and Manila, yet still able to preserve the 7-kilometer beach. In the end, we all hope what George would want for Dahican – to just stay as raw and protected, as it is.

How to go to Dahican Beach

  1. Fly to Davao City Airport or Francisco Bangoy International Airport. Major airlines like PAL, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia have flights to Davao.
  2. Take a bus going to Mati, Davao Oriental. There are buses going to Mati from Ecoland Transport Terminal. There are also some buses that pass through the highway outside the Davao City Airportgoing to Mati via Tagum. Fare is about 240 pesos.
  3. You can also take a van going Mati at the Gaisano Mall or Victoria Plaza.
  4. Once you reach the Mati City Bus Terminal, ride a tricycle or hire a habal-habal going to Dahican Beach.

Map of Dahican Beach

Where to Stay at Dahican Beach

There are resorts along the beach that offers cottages, rooms and tent pitching. But let me remind you that most resorts here are not for the fancy accommodation, most are for those rustic and adventurous types of travelers. That’s why camping or tents are much popular here.

If you want to stay for much comfortable rooms, there are Inns and hotels in Mati city proper which is just a tricycle and a quick habal-habal going to Dahican.

Note: Thank you so much for this trip DOT Davao Region and  Philippines Tourism Promotions Board.