Most Filipinos learned about Dapitan through Philippine history. Though more regarded as the place where Gat Jose Rizal—the Philippine National Hero—was exiled, it now secured a special role in the colorful tapestry of the Filipino culture and tourism.
Its name, Dapitan (which means “to invite”), signifies the welcoming vibe of the azure sea, mountain peaks, countryside, and cultural heritages. Moreover, its people are ever so warm and loving. Because of this, the city is marked to be one of the best places to visit in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao.
How to Get to Dapitan City
There are six airports in Mindanao, but the closest to Dapitan is Dipolog Airport (DPL). It is only 12 kilometers far from the city center and will take about 13 to 15 minutes trip. From there, you may ride a tricycle lined just outside the terminal exit to Dipolog Bus Terminal. Then, ride an Evergood Transit bus which passes Dapitan. Fare starts at Php 20, and is the cheapest.
Where to Stay in Dapitan
Dapitan has so much to offer, but to both relax and have fun, stay at Dakak Beach Resort. The resort has a variety of rooms that highlights the serene life by the beach of Dapitanons. Its room are designed from local crafts such as the “banig”, rattan, and bamboo. The most luxurious is the Villa Angelina Luxury Suites.
We stayed there for several nights just to see if it’s worth the hype. The tropical ambiance is amazing but still ensuring the deluxe treatment from its amenities and services. On top of that, the views are breathtaking. You can learn more of our experiences by reading this article: (link)
Things to Do in Dapitan
There are a lot to see and things to do in Dapitan. To get the most of your experience, we have listed 5 exciting things you should probably try when in the City.
1.Rizal Park and Shrine
It will never be a Dapitan trip without paying a visit to Rizal Park and Shrine, commonly known as the Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape. The park was well-preserved and turned into a museum as a tribute to the exemplary works and influences of Rizal to Dapitanons. It features four galleries that portray the Exile to Dapitan, Rizal’s Scientific and Artistic Pursuits, Memories of Dapitan, and Road to Martyrdom. On top of that, it highlights the Casa Redonda, the very hut where Rizal was kept for four years of banishment.
Admission is free, and trip only takes about a 13-minute drive from the city center. There are also tour guides at the entrance, and are paid with tips. If planning to buy gifts as souvenirs, shops are also available and everything can be bought at an affordable price.
2.Dapitan River Cruise
We have seen amazing sunset views, such as in our trip to Istanbul; but it cannot be comparable to the experience Dapitan can give. Unfamiliar to many, Dapitan sunsets are known to bring shimmering waters and bright amber skies, particularly if on a river cruise. This can be experienced by booking a tour at the Fantasyland Tours located at Gloria De Dapitan, Sunset Boulevard. Price per person is Php600 for a minimum of four (4) people on board with a buffet-styled meal. Aside from the Filipino food, we also enjoyed the live music and the breathtaking forest views. It also deepened our appreciation to Dapitanons since we witnessed some of their basic activities through the cruise.
There are two trip schedules, the 11AM and 4PM. We booked for the 4PM schedule just to see the serene sunset. The tour takes an hour. With that, we already captured the golden moments of our Dapitan river cruise.
3.Dakak Beach Resort
Aside from the national hero’s heritage in the city, Dapitan is also famous due to its beach resorts. One that lives up to that fame is Dakak.
As seen on TV, Dakak is a beach resort that will give you a luxurious treat. They showcase a generous portion of the beach that connotes the white sand beaches of Zamboanga del Norte. They also have cozy and high-class rooms to stay in, but still gives you the seaside vibe. They also have their own pools and a variety of water activities can be done there, especially if you visit the Dakak Adventure Zone. To give you further information about the variety of amazing things to do in Dakak, read the separate article we made to feature the beach resort.
4.St. James Church, Relief Map of Mindanao and Ilihan Hill
This church stood bare, but holds a lot of stories to the Dapitanons. It is said to be made by the locals from 1871, but was fully constructed in 1964. Though not the first Dapitan church, it was deemed significant in the faith and history of the City. The unique ceiling is spiraled and the walls are marked with engravings, a detail, even Jose Rizal loves. Speaking of the national hero, Rizal also pays a visit to see the relief map situated just outside the church. It showcases the places in Mindanao, and is covered with green grasses.
Behind the church is the Ilihan Hill. Though not as famous as the church and the relief map, we recommend you to have a small hike to enjoy the view. It showcases a bird’s eye view of the Dapitan city center and the vast sea. Entrance fee is only Php5, and you can visit there at any time of the day. To get there, take a walk along Maria Ulay Street, just from the St. James Church.
Dapitan has a perfect laid-back atmosphere due to the historic houses. Most of these are preserved from the original homes that stood still in the city. The streets were these houses are situated are mostly clean and calm. Because of that, it is almost like a town, rather than a metropolitan. The most renowned houses are the Adasa House and the Corazon de Dapitan. Do not forget to take shots at different angles, and enhance your social media feed through your posts from these ancestral homes.
6.Rizal’s Landing Site
Another way to enjoy the sunset is through visiting Rizal’s Landing Site. This is a perfect place for those who have high regard of the national hero, or with travelers following a strict budget. The site is located in Sunset Boulevard and is iconic because it is where Rizal first set his footsteps. It is also called Punto de Dissembarco De Rizal en Dapitan. Most people visit this during sunset hours, but sunrise is also spectacular in this place. We recommend to visit this first if planning to go to the Rizal Park and Shrine.
Also located in Sunset Boulevard is the Gloria Fantasyland. It might not be as famous as Enchanted Kingdom and Star City, but there are activities that uniquely portray Filipino culture which became their instant edge. Our favorite are the is the breathtaking show “The Whale Shark Tale”, which are original Filipino musical with Nia and Anwar.
Admission for unlimited rides costs Php 1,000. But for those who are on a budget, they also offer Php 500 for basic rides and Php 300 for sightseeing (5D Cinema included).
Suggested DIY 2-Day Itinerary for Dapitan City
Day 1 – Morning
- From Dipolog Airport to Dakak (Villa Angelina Luxury Suites)
- Enjoy the beach and the pool at Dakak Park and Beach Resort
- Eat the finest food at Dakak’s on-site restaurants (with Chinese, Italian, and Filipino menu)
Day 1 – Afternoon
- Try activities offered in Dakak Adventure Park (such as horseback riding, bungee jumping, zipline, rock and wall climbing, ATV, and airsoft)
- Relax at their on-site spa
- Nightlife and bar by the beach
Day 2 – Morning
- Breakfast in Dakak
- Go to Rizal Shrine
- Visit the historic houses (Adasa House and the Corazon de Dapitan)
- Visit the St. James Church and Relief Map
- Enjoy a meal at Kamayan ni Manay
Day 2 – Afternoon
- Visit Rizal’s Landing Place
- Watch the sunset with a fine meal at the Dapitan River Cruise at (4pm)
- Drop by Gloria’s Fantasyland