Friday, December 26, 2014

Tour of Zamboanga Peninsula: Zamboanga City, Dipolog, Dapitan, Pagadian

For years now I have been spending the Holidays, either Christmas or New Year in Zamboanga.
This year is made special because of vacationing siblings and first timer to the province.  To make it worth the trip, they have planned an adventure that will take us around the Zamboanga Peninsula.  

We arrived in Zamboanga City the morning of December 20, 2014.  Ofcourse, Zamboanga City has attractions on its own.

Fort Pilar and Museum

Paseo del Mar

Vista del Mar

Yakan Weaving Village
Zamboanga City Hall

Lutong Pinoy

My yet to be visited attraction is the Merloquet Falls.

The next day, our adventure begins as we start the journey to Dakak in Zamboanga del Norte.

Dakak is approximately 360 kilometre north of Zamboanga City.  Driving time would be from 5hrs on a clear road to 8 hours depending on your speed.

Our first stop is at Ipil where the road divides into that leading to Dipolog and that of Pagadian.


It was lunch time when we reach the town of Sindangan famous for their SUTUKIL.  SUTUKIL means SUgba or grilled, TUla or soup boiled, and KIlaw or ceviche.  We made a stop at the many seaside establishments and choose from the fresh catch of the day.

Our meal for 6 persons costs us a little more than 500 pesos.   After the filling lunch, we were on the road again passing through Dipolog City straight to Dapitan City.

Dapitan City

Our 1st stop in Dapitan was the landmark that first made it famous, the Rizal Shrine.
Currently, a much needed renovation is being done to the many structures inside.  The museum and the main house was being rebuilt during our visit.

Where to stay in Dapitan?

Accommodations are available along the Sunset Blvd. with price ranging from 600pesos from pension houses to 1800 from hotels.  We stayed at Madzvie along Sunset Boulevard.

For complete listing of Dapitan City Hotels, click here.
Prices may change depending on the season.

We got 2 rooms that are good for 3 persons with adjoining Toilet and Bath for 2000 pesos. We were so tired after the long drive that all we did with what remains of that afternoon was took a nap and re-charge.

For dinner, we went to DAMPA hoping to catch the river cruise, but they're only open from 11:00 AM up to 4PM.  DAMPA in Dapitan stands for Dapitan City Aquamarine Park and is different from the Dampa Restaurants in Manila. Good thing, Inato Lang was open.  Its a restaurant run by the same group that operates the river cruise perched at the bank of the river.

Apart from the food, I loved the overall concept of the restaurant with its Filipino inspired interiors of thatch, wood and bamboo.  Utensils are encased in woven casing and banana chips as  appetisers were served on Bunot (coconut shell with husk).  Also, their wash basin is made from a giant clam, with water from the clay pot beside it.  It takes you back to the time when running water was not available.

Diners were serenaded by their in house musician nightly.

After dinner, we past by the imposing City Building and Gloria's Fantasy Land.  Fantasy Land is the only theme park in the Visayas and Mindanao and is becoming popular with people from the region.  For this season, they are charging 1000pesos per person.  Having learned that, we decided to postpone the visit the next day as part of the package with an overnight accommodation at Dakak Adventure Park and Beach Resort.

The package good for 4 person is 8,300php.  
It includes the ff:
De Luxe Room Accommodation in one of their Villa
Free use of resort amenities and access to the beach
Free Buffet Breakfast
Free transfer to any destination within Dapitan 
Free entrance to Fantasy Land

We only made the arrangements that evening, and luckily, they were still able to accommodate us.
Their booking office is open until 10:00PM


Reservations & Booking: OIC:Ms. Jennilyn A. Jauculan
Area(s):Zamboanga del Norte
Contact Nos.:09176277991
Telefax :(065) 213-6247
PLDT Line:(065) 906-0054
Office Address:Left Wing, Fantasyland Arcade,
Gloria de Dapitan, Dapitan City

To maximise our stay at the resort, we checked in right after breakfast.  Dakak, is about 30 minutes away from the City Proper.  They welcomed us with drinks and allowed us to tour the area.  The beach has white sand and calm waters, bordered by coves on both ends.  Swimming pools in different sizes are located along the beach as well as the many themed restaurants.  For lunch, we booked the river cruise from the hotel and availed their transport service.

Dapitan River Cruise

For 350 pesos, passengers will board a boat from Burgos to DAMPA, but during rainy days similar to what we had, we were only taken a few meters from the dock inward and back.  The cruise comes with lunch and music similar to that in Bohol.

After the ride, our van going back to the hotel was waiting for us.

We did not waste time when we got back to check in to our rooms.  We were given a side by side rooms in one villa.  Both rooms have a queen size bed and a single bed, but since our package is good for 4 and 2, we requested an extra bed for the other one.

That afternoon, we explored the resort amenities.  We tried the banana boat for a tour of the cove as well as the Jetski!

We also tried the slides on one of their pools!

For Dinner, we went to the Bamboo Restaurant Beside the Beach for some seafood.  

Right after dinner, we went to avail our free pass at Gloria's Fantasyland.

Gloria's Fantasy Land

The rides were ok, and the Zimerman Roller Coaster Ride is something that would rival that of Enchanted Kingdom.  The rest of the park rides are common to the more popular theme parks in Luzon, but its their horror house that they boast about.  

The journey inside the Horror House coincides with a story narrated by the guide complimented by acting and animatronics to scare those that would risk to enter.

After our buffet breakfast at the Bamboo Restaurant, we went to the Adventure Zone to try their Zipline and Horseback riding package for 500 pesos.

Dakak Adventure Zone

Traversing at 1.3 Kilometers, Dakak claims that its the longest Zipline in Asia.  The drop off is on top of a hill, where one can ride horses as well as rent an ATV to explore the reserve.  The Zipline ends at the resort just behind the chapel.

We are entitled to stay up to 5PM at the resort as long as we leave the room at 12, and we would have wanted to stay, but since we have another resort to explore, we left around noon.

Dipolog City

Although we're only passing through the city, we made sure that we get to bring home products that made Dipolog popular, the Montano's Sardines straight from their factory outlet.  Since their store is closed during lunch breaks, we tried Mooon Cafe on the same street.

This is where the second part of our adventure begins.  We travelled again by land to Lakewood in Zamboanga del Sur passing through Pagadian City.  The ride took us about 4 hours making a stop at the Gaisano Mall in Downtown Pagadian.  The passenger car of the tricycles here tilts upwards to adapt to the sloping roads.

It was already dark when we arrived at the Alindahaw Lakeside Resort.

The rooms at Alindahaw costs us 2500 for 2 persons plus 350 for the additional mattress.  That includes the use of a Kayak for 2 persons for an hour and access to all their swimming pools including the infinity pool that's only exclusive to check-in guests and free breakfast for 2.

We were so tired from the ride that after dinner, we just slept.  It was only in the morning that we were able to appreciate the beauty of the lake that surrounds us.

We decide to leave before noon to get back to Zamboanga City in time for Dinner.

On our way back, we made a stop at Kabasalan Food Court for lunch.

Kabasalan Food Court (KFC)

Here, we found the freshest and cheapest seafood being sold on food stands.  A plateful of large shrimp only cost 50 pesos.

The stall owners directed us to the buyers of these giant prawns not far from the food court.  We made sure we got plenty for our Christmas Feast.

When we reached Zamboanga City that afternoon, we also made sure we have Curacha on the table.  We went to the Guiwan market to get ourselves a few kilos.

We just stayed at the house for Noche Buena, and come Christmas Day, we were off again this time to the Zambo Ecozone Nature Park.

Zamboanga Ecozone Nature Park

Its a government operated park that has swimming pools and accommodations and recreation facilities.  Zamboanga's tourism and the park was greatly affected by the surge last year that its showing signs of deterioration due to lack of business and maintenance.  Our lakeside villa is still very promising.  Its a loft type, boat inspired structure that comes with beds, kitchen and jacuzzi for less than 2000 pesos.

This is where I'll be spending the night until my flight back to Manila tomorrow morning.  We were constantly on the road for the last 5 days.  It was tiring, yet its one of my best Christmas celebration ever.  After all, Christmas is not really about the place, but also strengthening ties and relationship between loved ones.  I think, this 5 day adventure around Zamboanga Peninsula did just that.

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