Off the beaten path, a trip to Dahican will score you quality waves for beginners and experienced surfers alike. You can take lessons, rent surfboards and skimboards, sleep in a tent under the stars or a 5 star room, party on the beach, and contemplate the beauty of life with the serene coast. I spent a week here surfing and mingling with the locals. Suffice it to say, I left the place completely stoked, knowing I’d be back again.
From Manila, I flew into Davao last month then went to the Ecoland Bus Terminal to catch a noontime bus to Mati, which took around 5 and a half hours. I then took a 15 minute motorcycle to my resort in Dahican. I recommend you try to leave Davao City by bus before noon, so that you arrive in Dahican before sundown. Some resorts close their gates to all traffic after 6pm for safety. As I didn’t book anything beforehand, I ended up in my resort by chance, not by choice.
If you can get your hands on a surfboard and a tent, bring it to save some cash. I ended up spending P400 a day there with my own board and tent, including 3-4 liters of drinking water and 2 simple meals a day, including some snacks like local rice cakes, nuts and crackers.
The long stretch of beach is sparse of people except the few fishermen, surfers, Davao beach goers and local beach dogs, that never showed any signs of aggression – they were probably never tied up or maltreated.
Dahican is a great place to visit, surfer or not, and regardless of what your budget is and what sort of luxuries you’re used to.
There are simple surf resorts like the Dahican Surf Resort where I pitched my tent for P200 a night. It’s smack in the middle of the cove, a few minutes walk from the beach break. The locals and guests like to drink, party and play loud music so bring a good pair of earphones or earplugs if you want to skip on the festivities, as I usually did.
I had 2 other choices but I settled on the DSR (as the locals call it) because they had the best ambience and amenities for my tastes. They were well lit even at night and had many common areas, benches and hammocks to lounge at 24/7.
There are also places like the Dahican Cove Resort which I would rate similarly to a 5 star resort in facilities, rooms and lounge areas. A boutique resort, they have only 4 rooms for rent, each at P4000 per room, and able to accommodate up to 4 people each. They have no website or any social media account that I know of; if interested in reserving a room for a quick weekend getaway, send me a message or leave a comment.
Dahican is generally free of garbage, algae and pollution. During my time there, I was never bothered by sand mites, sea lice or jellyfish. For meals, you have the option to take a tricycle from the main road to the palengke (market), buy food and cook it back at your resort’s kitchen, or look for small tindahans (stores) where you can buy cooked rice, some vegetables, canned food, snacks and instant noodles from. I chose the latter for the convenience. Some resorts serve overpriced food, as usual.
Two breaks the local surfers frequented: a beach break right in front of Amihan sa Dahican, which is very close to the DSR, and a reef break about a 10 minute walk further south. The water, at least at this time of the year, was very clear, so visibility was good.
The beach break works best at high tide and gives mid-length, easy sloping right handers and some short lefts. There are several take-off points, with the easier ones being more on the south side. In the general area of the beach break there are several rocks jutting up at random points. When surfing, ask the locals to point them out to you and have a look yourself, before surfing. They gave me quite the scare and caused me to bail out of a wave several times.
The reef break is a little more tricky. It works best at low tide and has a very small take-off point which gives a quick right-hand wave. The locals’ marker for the take-off point is a strangely squat-sized coconut tree, dwarfed by its neighbors by a dozen meters or so. The reef is sharp, and there is a huge slab of rock right in front of the take-off point so have a look and be aware of it before taking any drops.
Best time to surf in Dahican (and in most of the country) is during what is known as the North Swell, when groundswells comes from the Pacific North. These are between the months of October and March, give or take 1 month – due to our changing world and her weather patterns. Aside from surfing, which is seasonal, lots of locals skim board, which can be done all-year round. There was one high-flying skim boarder I was able to capture on camera.
Aside from the surf and serenity, I was lucky enough to be there when they released new-born turtles, it was a heart-warming occasion I would love to see again and again. More importantly, the help we can give to turtles has come to my attention… so maybe I can replicate similar efforts in the future, after some research and more hands-on experience.
The locals were tremendously friendly, lots of kids playing around, lots of silence and unending nature. If you want a simple, clean, quiet and affordable beach with not much people around, and uncrowded surf spots to boot, Dahican, Mati is the place for you.
Have you been to Mati? Do you want to go? Let me know if you have any comments or questions in the form below! If you liked this piece, sign up for my mailing list on the sidebar to the right to get notified of all my next posts! It only gets better!