Samal island (officially known as IGACOS or Island Garden City of Samal) is a small island (although its the largest there) in the gulf of Davao in southern Mindanao. The island is surrounded with fine white sand beaches and pristine waters, and great dive spots and fish sanctuaries.
I prefer the western side of the island (the one facing Davao city) when ever my family is with me. My kids particularly like Paradise resort because of its shallow waters and a teeming marine life just a few meters from shore. We often go there whenever we are in Davao.
The resort is just a 10 minute boat ride (yes that short!) from their dock in Davao City. They have a parking lot so its OK to leave your cars there.
The place has all the bells and whistles of great resort: well staffed, fine accommodation, clean facilities, sports and playground areas, and great food. Plus a great avairy. I don't really care much for all of these, give me a tent on nice beach and I'd be contented. But the kids love it, they buy ice cream and run into an air-conditioned room when it gets too hot. My kids have ingenious ways of leading me to the ice cream stand and souvenir shops.
Low tide was just after sunrise when we were there, its perfect timing for a dip while the sun not yet scorching hot. You won't need to go far to snorkel, just a few feet from the end of their pier and you get to see a whole lot of fishes. If you want to go further and deeper, they have dive equipment for rent and PADI certified dive instructors.
What you'll see in Paradise resort is just the "tip of the iceberg", so to speak, when we talk about the Samal island experience. There's a whole lot more in Samal: sea turle sancturies, bat caves, and waterfalls. I'm planning a trip there again sometime in August, this time without the kids in tow.
If you want details on Paradise island resort, you may visit their website here.