Many years ago, people were hesitant, or scared even, to go to Mindanao due to conflicts between the government and rebel forces. But as peace and order were restored coupled with the local government’s efforts to promote tourism, people have started to see the natural beauty that was once shadowed by bombings and kidnappings.
Mindanao is blessed with numerous natural formations that are breathtakingly beautiful and mostly still at its unspoilt state. Not only is it home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines, and the country’s most majestic waterfalls, Mindanao is also blessed with pristine beaches perfect for beach-bumming and relaxing since they’re usually less crowded.
Here, we listed the most popular beaches and islands in Mindanao.
1 | Great Santa Cruz Island
Location: Zamboanga City
If there is only one beach you can visit in Mindanao, make it Great Santa Cruz Island where the pink sand beach and clear water will mesmerize you. It is located less than five kilometers south of Zamboanga City downtown. The island is a protected area with dense mangrove forest and a lagoon inhabited by non-stinging jellyfish. You can take a vinta (traditional sailboat) to navigate through the mangroves and get a chance to see purple herons, egrets, and others.
The beach doesn’t have a resort or any sort of accommodation nor camping is allowed. However, you can enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling aside from swimming and bird-watching.
Approximately 2 kilometers away from Great Santa Cruz Island is Little Santa Cruz Island, a small sandbar with clear water which is also a great place for swimming.
READ MORE: Zamboanga City Visitors Guide
2 | Dako Island
Beach in Dako Island
Location: General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Among the 3 destinations for island hopping in this part of Surigao del Norte, Dako (also spelled Daku) is the biggest, hence the name as “dako” is the local term for big. The island boasts of its powdery white sand beach and bluegreen water rich in coral reefs and other marine creatures. Like most beaches in Mindanao, Dako Island is devoid of commercialism and only a few native huts can be found in the area.
Apart from its beauty, its close proximity to Cloud 9 surf spot makes Dako Island, along with Guyam Island and Naked Island, a popular destination for island hopping tours.
3 | Dahican Beach
Location: Mati City, Davao Oriental
The 7-kilometer fine white sand and pristine water attract people to visit the Dahican Beach but its powerful waves attract surfers and skimboarders, especially the beginners.
4 | Samal Island
Beach in Samal Island
Location: Davao del Norte
Officially called the Island Garden City of Samal, this island city is more developed compared to most other beaches in this list. The resorts found on this island range from budget-friendly to luxurious ones such as the Pearl Farm Beach Resort. There are also bars and restaurants as well as establishments offering various water adventures and activities such as banana boat riding, kayaking, water slide, and jet skiing.
There are at least 2 beaches found on the island – Kaputian Beach and Canibad Beach. Both beaches have white sand and crystal clear water although Kaputian Beach is more developed than Canibad Beach.
READ MORE: Samal Island Visitors Guide
5 | Gumasa Beach
Location: Glan, Sarangani
However, Gumasa Beach gets crowded during the third week of May as it is the main venue of the annual Sarangani Bay Festival, considered the biggest beach party in Mindanao.
6 | White Island
White Island Beach
White Island is actually not an island but a sandbar in the middle of clear waters. It can be reached by taking a short boat trip from the coast of Camiguin Island. There are no trees, sheds, or any kind of structure to take shelter from so best to go in the morning to avoid the excessive heat of the sun or rent a beach umbrella from the locals.
READ MORE: Camiguin Island Visitors Guide
7 | Dakak Beach Resort
Location: Dapitan City
Dakak first became popular in the 90’s due to the ad shown through Eat Bulaga, the longest-running noontime variety show in the Philippines. Dakak is a private beach with powdery white sand and clear water. The resort has swimming pools, a restaurant, and luxury accommodations. It also offers various activities such as jet skiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and many other thrilling activities at Dakak Adventure Zone.
READ MORE: Dapitan City Visitors Guide
8 | Cagwait White Beach
Location: Cagwait, Surigao del Sur
Dubbed as the “Boracay of Caraga” and “Waikiki Beach of the Philippines”, Cagwait Beach is a favorite beach by locals. It has fine white sand, clear water, and a peaceful ambience. It is the venue of Kaliguan Festival, an annual event every June to honor St. John the Baptist.
9 | Mabua Pebble Beach
Location: Surigao City
Unlike most beaches in the Philippines with sandy shores, Mabua Pebble Beach has pebbles, as the name implies. The pebbles come in different sizes and shapes but mostly have smooth texture therefore giving you a natural foot massage.
READ MORE: Surigao City Visitors Guide
10 | Malamawi Beach
Location: Isabela City, Basilan
Malamawi Beach is hidden in Malamawi Island, 20 minutes off the coast of Isabela City. Although the beach has recently been developed, it still remains tranquil and pristine.
READ MORE: Basilan Island Visitors Guide
There are many other stunning beaches in Mindanao and if you are planning to see it for yourself, any of these popular beaches is a good start.