After exploring the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte, we headed down to the south-eastern side of the region next for some more tropical respite. I’ve always been excited about visiting Mati and I’d say, the anticipation has been well worth it. This once-quiet town has recently become a buzz in the tourism scene, and it has a lot of exciting things to discover. If you’re curious about what Mati has to offer, here’s a Mati Davao Oriental DIY Travel Guide to help you plan your trip out!
About Mati, Davao Oriental
In the southeasternmost part of the Philippines, you’ll find a hidden gem, likely ranking among the top travel destinations in the Davao Region called Mati. It is a diverse travel destination known for its stunning bay, teeming marine life, UNESCO-listed Mount Hamiguitan Range and pristine beaches, highlighted by Dahican Beach.
Recognized by the Paris-based organization Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde (The Most Beautiful Bays in the World) Club, Pujada Bay holds the distinction of being named one of the world’s most beautiful bays. It is one of just two bays in the Philippines acknowledged by the UNESCO-supported club, the other being Puerto Galera Bay in 2005.
Mati City used to be called Maa-ti, a word from the Mandayan language. The official name comes from the local term, indicating fast drying. This specifically relates to Mati Creek, which amazed the “conquistadores” when the locals told them it dries up rapidly, even after a heavy rain.
Matinians speak Cebuano or Bisaya in general but they do understand and could converse in English or Tagalog.
Best Time to Visit
In general, Mati City is a suitable travel destination throughout the year. However, if your plan involves enjoying an island hopping in Pujada Bay and checking the Ultra-Light Flying activity off your bucket list, it’s advisable to choose the dry season, typically from March to the first few weeks of May when the sea conditions are calm. Conversely, Dahican Beach offers favorable swells year-round for activities like skimming and surfing as it faces the open sea. For those interested in festivals, the ideal months to visit are June for the Pujada Bay Festival and October for the Sambuokan Festival, both of which are relatively recent additions to the region’s event calendar.
Top Things to Do in Mati
shot on Insta360 X3
- Try the Ultra Light Plane with Mindanao Saga Flying Club
- Explore Pujada Bay through an Island Hopping Activity
- Snorkel, SCUBA or Freedive in Pujada Bay
- Try skimboarding or surfing in Dahican beach
- Witness the Pawikan egg hatching and releasing in Dahican beach
- Get a relaxing dip at Buso Hot Springs
- Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Sleeping Dinosaur
Getting to, Around and Away
How to Get There
- From anywhere in Davao City, make your way to Ecoland bus terminal. From the terminal, take a bus bound for Mati. The trip may take 3 to 4 hours depending on the traffic. Fare starts at Php 309.00 for air-conditioned bus. There are trips to Mati as early as 2:00 AM at the terminal.
- Alight at Mati City Bus Terminal. You may take a bao-bao (tricycle) from there to your destination/ accommodation. Basic fare is at Php 20.00. Fare to Dahican ranges from Php 150.00 to Php 200.00 depending on your haggling skills and luggage. This may also take some 15 to 20 minutes.
You may also opt to take a van in front of Gaisano Mall, Davao City which is faster but a more expensive option. Fare starts at Php 400.00 and the trip may take some 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Bao-bao or tricycle. Basic fare is Php 20.00. Tricycle from the city center to Dahican beach, on the other hand ranges from Php 150.00 to Php 200.00.
- Boat. For as low as Php 4,000.00 (good for up to 10 persons), you may already explore Pujada Bay including Oak, Pujada and Waniban island.
Where to Stay in Mati City
- Tropical Kanakbai – Exclusive, Beach front, villa-type, away from the crowdy side of the beach
- Dahican Surf Resort – Beach-front, hippie and budget-friendly
- La-ne’s Kalapyahan Beach Resort – Beach-front with restaurant
- Sandigan by the Sea – Exclusive, mid-range beach front
- Bahay Kubo Beach Resort – Budget-friendly, beach-front
- Botona Dahican Beach Resort – Budget-friendly, beach-front
Sample Mati Davao Oriental DIY Itinerary
Day 0: Davao City to Mati City
11:00 AM – Check out at Davao City/ Lunch around the city
1:00 PM – Depart for Mati City (by bus)
4:30 PM – ETA in Mati City Bus Terminal
4:45 PM – Dahican Beach/ Skimboarding/ Surfing/ Beach bumming or Swimming
6:00 PM – Dinner around Dahican Beach
9:00 PM – Lights off
Day 1: Ultra Light Plane and Pujada Bay
5:00 AM – Rise and Shine
5:45 AM – ETA to Mati National Airport
6:00 AM – Ultra Light Plane
6:30 AM – End of Ultra Light Plane, breakfast at Dahican beach or accommodation
7:30 AM – ETD for Tamisan (Sitio Batiano) for the Pujada Bay Island Hopping Tour
8:30 AM – ETA Sitio Batiano, Tamisan
9:00 AM – Start of island-hopping Tour
4:30 PM – End of island-hopping tour/ wash up
5:30 PM – ETD for Dahican Beach
6:30 PM – ETA Dahican Beach/ Dinner
Day 2: Mati City Tour
5:30 AM – Sunrise watching at Dahican beach
6:30 AM – Breakfast
7:30 AM – Pack up and early checkout
8:00 AM – Back to Mati City to explore
– Guang-Guang Mangrove Park
– Subangan Museum
– Sleeping Dinosaur View Deck
12:00 NN – Lunch at Mati City
1:00 PM – ETD for Davao City
The suggested itinerary is flexible. You may either leave Davao city as early as 4:00 AM and execute Day 1 and just chill at Dahican beach the next day or follow it.
Sample Mati Davao Oriental DIY Budget
This suggested 2 Days – 1 Night Mati Davao Oriental DIY is an actual expense of group of 4 of travelers. Take note that this is NOT a “budgeted” travel but something that rather suggests that you see, experience and make the most out of your trip to Mati. However, you may still save if you’re going to travel in big groups or if you have good haggling skills.
Day 0: Davao City to Mati City/ Dahican Beach
|Taxi to Ecoland bus terminal
|Php 150.00/ 4 – Php 37.50
|Bus to Mati City
|Tricycle to Dahican beach
|Php 200.00/ 4 – Php 50.00
Day 1: Ultra Light Plane with Pujada Bay
|Tricycle to Mati National Airport from Dahican v.v
|Php 500.00/ 4 = Php 125.00
|Ultra Light Plane Activity
|Php 4,000.00/ head
|Tricycle to Sitio Batiano, Tamisan from Dahican Beach v. v.
|Php 700.00/ 4 = Php 175.00
|Boat rental for island hopping activity
|Php 4,000.00/ 4 = Php 1,000.00
|Pujada Island Entrance fee
Day 2: Mati City tour
|Bao-bao rental for Mati City day tour
|Php 1,000.00/4 = Php 250.00
|Guang-Guang Mangrove Park Entrance fee
|Van to Davao City
Total Mati DIY Travel Budget
|Day 0 expenses
|Day 1 expenses
|Day 2 expenses
|Total 2 Days, 1 Night Mati DIY Travel
Useful & Practical Mati Davao Oriental DIY Travel Tips
Shot on Insta360 Ace Pro
- Leave Davao City early in the morning to avoid getting caught in heavy traffic.
- See to it that you’ll have enough cash with you especially if you’re staying at the Sitios or Dahican Beach as ATMs are only available at the city proper.
- You need not to reserve your slot if you’re going to do the Ultra Light Plane Activity unless you are going there in big groups. Take note as well that this is weather-based activity. hence, they may cancel without prior notice.
- If you wish to dive in Pujada bay, bring your own snorkeling or Freediving gear. For guided [free]dive trips in Mati, contact Ocean-BX-Freediving.
- Start the Pujada Island Hopping Tour early to make the most out of it. The waves may get bigger in the afternoon making the sea travel rough especially going to Oak island.
- It is cheaper to jump off from Batiano in Tamisan for your Pujada island hopping tour as it is nearer to the islands. Among the best places to rent a boat for the activity is at Prymm Beach Resort.
- Haggle for your boat rental but not too much. We were able to get a Php 500.00 off the regular rental rate at Prymm Beach Resort for a more than decent boat.
- Haggle especially with the tricycle drivers. Some of them have the tendency to jack the price up especially if they find out that you are not a local.
- Book your accommodations in Dahican beach.
- Mati City is a DIY traveler-friendly place. You may not need a tour guide to explore around. Enough research (especially for rates) would suffice.
- Use reef-friendly sunscreen and bring dry bags for your valuables.
Other places to visit in Mindanao:
- ULTIMATE SAMAL ISLAND DIY TRAVEL GUIDE 2023 (Budget + Itinerary)
- Camiguin Island Travel Guide 2023 (Budget + Itinerary)
- Your Ultimate DIY Travel Guide to Siargao Island 2023
- SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Travel Guide 2023 for Backpackers
- Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort Travel Guide
- Mabua Pebble Beach, Surigao Del Norte Travel Guide