Nature, Beaches, Orchard Tour: Eco Tourism at Lanikai Resort, Philippines

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Davao, 14 Aug 2009. You don’t have to fly to Hawaii to have fun at the Lanikai Beach. All you have to do is go to Tagum and from the heart of the city drive towards Madaum for about 15 minutes. Nestled along the coastline of the barangay is the Lanikai Resort, a virtual Garden of Eden.

Frolic in the waters of Barret Beach in Lanikai Resort, Philippines.

Lanikai takes its name from the Hawaiian word, which means “heaven by the sea.” An apt description for a place that is serene, rustic, mesmerizing, and enthralling. One writer describes it as a resort “that boasts of a pristine forest, blue waters, rich animal wildlife, a gateway for a river cruise, and a window of the banana industry.”

But that’s going ahead of the story. Well, it’s not too hard to be captivated by its charm and beauty. “This is truly an amazing place,” commented my friend, Patrick G. Taclob. “It’s spacious, classical and it brings some nostalgic feelings from the 60s and 70s.”

Once you enter the resort, the first thing that gets your attention is the two-storey old house that exudes plantation-style elegance. It was renovated into a guest house with eight air-conditioned rooms. Jojie Alcantara, Sun Star Davao columnist who has visited the place several times, rhapsodized: “(It) has a setting that I can only describe as old worldly and homey in atmosphere. It’s like I going home to my grandparents' house for a vacation.

Daily room rate is P6,000 (for two persons with an additional P700 for every extra bed) with free breakfast. Children above 12 years old are considered adults. A minimum of three rooms is required for one booking.

What’s so special about Lanikai anyway? Lanikai means fine sand at your feet, view of open seas, and breathing fresh air. The place is so quiet that you can only hear the breeze and the sound of the waves. If you want to have communion with nature, then this is the place to be.

“At Lanikai, our visitors can enjoy a private beach away from the prying eyes of the public,” says Lawrence T. Co, the resort’s leisure and tourism head. “A speedboat is at their disposal to whisk them away for a day’s picnic at any of the neighboring islands.”

For outdoor enthusiasts and sports aficionados, Lanikai is an ultimate private playground. “It is a lovely place, where you can do a lot of activities,” says television host Marc Nelson, who recently some segments for Sports Unlimited.

As Lanikai is set within the privately guarded estate of the sprawling Hijo Port Town in Davao Del Norte, its extensive playground stretches to a lush forest, the Madaum River and the Davao Gulf. Some thrills that it offers include swimming, skim boarding, sailing, kayaking, fishing, motorcycle riding and bicycling, and camping. The resort also has both a basketball and a tennis court.

Barret Beach is within minutes away if you enjoy a little cozy dip and a banca ride for a thrill. “Boasting of a flat and even seabed, Barret Beach is the most child-friendly resort in Tagum,” says Co. “Under the watchful eyes of the resort’s lifeguards, parents can rest easy knowing their precious ones can frolic on the beach away from any harm and danger.”

As the port town encompasses 760 hectares, it has its own private forest. Some 74 hectares are preserved to be home to heron, egrets and other birds; about 17 hectares are planted to bamboos. Lanikai guests can ask for a tour that includes a perimeter survey of the forest where Philippine monkeys and wild boars (about 200) live freely. “Those who are lucky might even see wild pigs and monkeys opening and eating coconuts,” Co says.

If you happen to come at 4:30 in the afternoon, you have the opportunity of feeding the monkeys or boars. Just take precautions, though. For visitors who love taking pictures, a hunting blind is setup near the feeding area for better photo opportunities.

Another way of enjoying the forest is to take the Twilight Safari, which starts at 5:30 up to 9:00 at night. “This is a unique tour that only Lanikai can offer,” Co says. Guests stay at the edge of the forest and wait for the animals to come out and forage. Children can ride on the back of the pickup truck for a better view of the animals when they appear. Talking out loudly is strictly prohibited.

Cruise among the mangroves.

While at Lanikai, there are several tours you can explore. There’s the coconut plantation tour that shows how the coconuts are processed for business. This tour begins with observing how coconuts are de-husked. After which, it is off to the coco dryer facility where the copra process begins. It ends with a visit to the Hijo Trading Post for some light snacks and a chance to buy fruits grown inside the Hijo plantation.

The Orchard Tour is exclusively designed for guests billeted at Lanikai and it is seasonal as it is depends on the fruiting season. Guests can harvest their own fruits or enjoy a quiet picnic at Hijo’s private orchard. Fruit trees at the orchard include durian, mangosteen, pomelo, bananas, and other popular fruits.

Not to be missed is the Banana Plantation Tour which has a brief stop at the Hijo port, owned by Hijo Resources Corporation, the owner of Lanikai Resort. The tour is an overview of the field, research and port operations of the Hijo plantation. The different stages of the banana plant’s growth is seen at the Research Center with its tissue culture laboratory. The tour ends at the Hijo Port where at the packing house, you can see how bananas are prepared for export.

Every week, the Hijo plantation sells 1,000 boxes of bananas to Lapanday Corporation, which is exclusively renting the 120-hectare Hijo port for its use until 2010. At a drop of 13 meters, Hijo is the deepest port in Davao Gulf.

Another exclusive thing for Lanikai guests is the River Cruise. However, only six people can be accommodated on this half-day river cruise down the 3.5- kilometer mangrove reserve from Lanikai resort to barangay San Isidro, the second longest in the country. The leisurely cruise will first pass the mangrove forests in Madaum River. Then, it goes through the “Kalagan Village,” Tagum’s cultural village, where you can have a glimpse of the different tribes living in the province.

The cruise ends at the Libuganon River where the Hijo forest can be seen from the sea and the bordering community.  The highlight is a private picnic in one of the many quiet and scenic spots within the Hijo plantation.

Enter paradise at Lanikai Resort

“With such a wide range of outdoor activities to experience, a visit to Tagum City will never be complete without a stay at Lanikai Resort,” Co concluded.

For reservations, look for Lawrence T. Co at telefax 084-4003358 or email to Visit