A Solo Quiet Weekend in Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines)

Dapitan has always intrigued me. Apart from being the place of exile of our national hero, Jose Rizal, I don't really know much about this small city in Zamboanga del Norte. So when I found some free time,  I flew to Dipolog from Manila, the closest airport to Dapitan,  followed by a 45-minute bus ride. I walked the rest of the way to Travelbee Heritage Inn (booked via Agoda), where I stayed for 2 nights. 

at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan

Since I was being spontaneous, I rented a bike at the inn (50 Pesos for 8 hours). It was the first time I'll get on one again after my accident in 2010 (I was biking downhill and crashed on a tree!) I was nervous and thrilled at the same time!  For someone getting back in biking, Dapitan is an ideal place to do it. It's a small, quiet town with tourist spots close to each other. The roads are smooth  and though there are plenty of vehicles, most of them drivers I encountered were careful so I found it easy to go around. 

My first stop was Localhost (Google map link here), a small cafe serving great coffee, with an adjoining co-working space. I enjoyed their coffee very much that I went back 2 more times over the weekend. 

From the cafe, I went to Sunset Boulevard and stopped at Punto de Dissembarco de Rizel en Dapitan, a historical monument depicting Jose Rizal's arrival in the city in 1892 after being exiled by the Spanish government, the colonizing regime at the time. "Rizal was exiled in Dapitan because like nearby Dipolog it was a Jesuit mission. It was hoped that the Jesuits could convince this Ateneo alumnus to turn away from his subversive and separatist ideas as well as his “shipwreck of Faith.” (From historian, Ambeth Ocampo's column, The murmur of a brook in Dapitan)

at Sunset Boulevard, Dipolog

After lunch in one of the eateries along the highway, I headed to Rizal Park and Shrine. More than just a park, it used to be owned by Jose Rizal, a purchase from winning the lottery, along with Carnicero and Francisco Equilior. 

Entrance is free. I recommend going around with a government-accredited guide so you can appreciate the place more as they provide interesting trivia about Jose Rizal's life in Dapitan. My guide, sir Gary Oros was very enthusiastic and even toured me around the special, old trees in the park, some of which were already there during our hero's time! 

It was mid afternoon, I'm dripped in sweat but the forest park is surrounded by thick foliage, that it was comfortable walking around. There's even a short hiking trail nearby which I'm reserving for a return trip when the weather is cooler. 

at Mi Retiro, a heart-shaped rock formation named after the poem
that Jose Rizal had written on the same spot. 

The next day, I headed to Dakak, the infamous beach resort  of my youth - its commercial was relentlessly played whenever Eat Bulaga, the country's top variety show then, was on. To this day, I can hear the male voiceover at the back of my head! 

There are no public transpo going to Dakak. To get here, I hired Kuya Gary who also drives a motorbike, same guide from Rizal Park. Just a note that there's limited cellphone signal at the reception of Dakak, at least for my network provider, Smart so it's best to agree with a pick-up time beforehand.  He charged 250 Pesos for the ride going in and out of Dakak which is quite reasonable for the 30 minute travel. 

Dakak's day tour rate is 1000 Pesos as of March 2023 (300 Pesos, consumable. Reservations, not required). This gave me access to pools, beach and its 5 restaurants.  

The beach is impressive!  At 7:30 AM, water was still, like a pool. The sand was clean, soft and powdery. The type you can roll-over on without any worries. 

Dakak beach
snacking on coffee and kamote fries while looking at the water

There are a lot of activities you can try, jet ski, golf tours, horse riding and more. Still feeling sore from falling off the bike the previous day,  I really just wanted to enjoy a quiet time and try the restaurants, while making a silent promise to return for a long swim. 

Before leaving Dapitan the following morning, I walked around town, passing by St. James the Greater Parish, another historical landmark in the city, where Jose Rizal heard mass during his time in Dapitan. A marker has been placed near the back of the church where he used to stand.  It's located right across the plaza where one can find another one of Jose Rizal's coolest contributions, a relief map of Mindanao that allowed ordinary people to have a geographic reference. 
a shot of St. James the Greater Parish and a section of the Relief Map 
of Mindanao that Jose Rizal has created. 

How to get to Dapitan 

From Manila, I flew via Philippine Airlines to Dipolog City (book here. Note : Be patient, the website is slow!). From Dipolog, I took a mini bus from the city terminal (Link to Google map here).  Travel time is 45+/- minutes.  Going back to Dipolog was equally easy. Just take a Dipolog bound bus from Dapitan City Bus Terminal across the public market. 

Where to Stay in Dapitan

Travelbee Heritage Inn 

Where to Eat in Dapitan

I tried Tita Norma Butcher Cafe and enjoyed their chicken inasal. 

Helpful Travel Blog  

For more tips on traveling to Dapitan, check out this post by Tracking Treasure | DAPITAN: ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE’S STUNNER

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