Dahican: A Weekend Warrior’s Happy Place
I’ve waited a long time to write about people who are living my dream or a part of my dream. The dream for me is to live by the ocean, just close enough to see the waves and if the conditions are right, surf just as if I decided to buy something from a sari-sari store.
That’s one part of the dream I have. The other part is to be able to live by the ocean and write everyday, hopefully making a living out of the words that come out of my brain.
I used to only know people who live this kind of life in Instagram but then again, I am reminded that Instagram can be so pretentious so it’s important to be inspired just enough that you don’t go crazy with overthinking how to live an Instagrammable life because it’s not possible at all.
Though there are a few exceptions and I have been blessed enough to know a real human that lives the part of the dream life that I have for myself. A normal morning would include watching an amazing sunrise by the shore and if the conditions are right, a quick surf session right before having breakfast.
Living exactly by the ocean on an amazing humble strip of land that’s right smack in front of a surf spot, surfer and entrepreneur Gabby Sibala calls this home.
Tracing the Roots
Having purposefully chosen to live surfing as a lifestyle, he’s the brain behind my happy place in Davao Oriental, Dahican Surf Resort (DSR). Located in the center of Dahican Beach, DSR is a laidback resort that invites you to leave behind their city worries and enter the stress-free zone that is Dahican.
DSR had a humble and organic beginning. In 2010 to 2011, there were only two resorts in Dahican, Tropical Kanakbai and Botona Beach Resort where the former catered to the high-end market while the latter for mainstream beachgoers and families.
“I was already into surfing since 2005. “ I would stay in Kanakbai and my surfer friends would also stay at the resort with me for free!” Gabby exclaims. “I then realized that there wasn’t a place here in Dahican for surfers and backpackers that would best embody their lifestyle.”
“I think it was in 2011 when the idea [DSR] came into my mind. I always paddle from Kanakbai to the beach break whenever the waves were pumping and I would always see this empty space in the middle of Dahican.” Gabby fondly recalls.
What other people saw as their garbage dump and ‘just another vacant lot’, Gabby saw potential in the property where DSR now is located. Upon further inquiries, he was able to get a lease on the property and for three months painstakingly transformed the land into what is now DSR.
“Used diapers, broken glass and all sorts of garbage filled this place when we started. Since it was ‘just another empty lot”, after drinking people would just throw the bottles here. They basically threw everything here.” He said.
Pointing to the Talisay tree where we were sitting under, Gabby goes on and tells me how painstaking the restoration process was.
“There were a lot of coconut husks and using my bare hands I would collect them for disposal. It was only after I realized why there were just so many coconut husks in this place. The locals would use it to clean up after relieving themselves! Whenever the fishermen would clean their catch, they’d automatically throw the entrails and squid ink here.”
“Before, your feet would get as black as soot every time you’d walk here. People would make fire here so you can imagine how black the sand used to be. It was really that dirty. I had to cut up a few of the tree branches just so that sun and rain could naturally disinfect the whole place.” Gabby fondly recalls.
A Vision Realized
By December 2011 the place had been transformed and by early 2012, DSR first opened to the public with a few open-air huts. It was instantly a hit to foreigners as it provided an immediate experience of the real island life.
With the intention of offering a stress-free haven to those who would enter, DSR has earned a reputation for its laidback and chill ambience that resonates from its façade, staff and loyal customers. Even to those who haven’t tried surfing, one would get a glimpse of the lifestyle with how the resort was thoughtfully conceptualized.
DSR is not for the typical tourist that looks for luxury. With very basic amenities and accommodation, one would immediately feel the laidback and chill ambience of the true island life in Dahican.
Waking up to a breathtaking sunrise, chilling under the Talisay trees and just soaking in everything from the sea breeze to the white sand – communing with nature, this is exactly what started the vision for DSR.
One thing is sure, those who have tasted the stress-free island life always keep going back to it. City dwellers turned weekend warriors flock to the shores of Dahican for their dose of seawater therapy. I was one of those weekend warriors, living for the weekend until I realized I found my happy place in Dahican. ♥♥♥
Wondering what's the ideal budget, how to get here and what to expect? Next week, I'll come out with the ultimate travel guide for Dahican. So, be sure to come back! Don't swim away! :)
*This article was first published in print and online in my column in EdgeDavao last November 29, 2016.