Davao Occidental: A Travel Guide to the Newest Province of the Philippines

Davao Occidental is the 81st and newest province in the Phillipines located in the Davao Region in Mindanao. The province is bordered by Davao del Sur to the north, Sarangani to the west, and to the east lies the Davao Gulf. It also shares a water border (Celebes Sea) with the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi to the south. Davao Occidental is approximately 1,000 km south-south-east of Manila.

Get in

The province could be reached by plane through Francisco Bangoy International Airport and then by public utility vehicles plying from Davao City.

Map of Davao Region showing the location of Davao Occidental

Map of Davao Region showing the location of Davao Occidental

Get around

The southern part of Davao Occidental’s (Jose Abad Santos) road network is mostly unpaved, traversing through high-sloped mountains with falling rocks from its tops, shores which must have its sea level subsided to be accessible and rivers with especially strong currents or at medium levels, and were considered as either adventurous or dangerous by those who intended to visit the town depending on their experience.

Where to go

Davao Occidental is famous for its numerous caves, falls, and beaches.

In Malita: Tabulan Cove, Kipanan Falls, Kabolan Falls, Lampagang Cave, Sangay Falls, Bagsak Ridge, Banate Pass, and Demoloc Caves. Malita Museo is also a popular attraction.

Where to stay

Most of the accommodations can be found at the capital municipality of Malita. SPAMAST Beach Resort, Terra Beach Resort, Boy Blue’s Hillside Resort, Pakyaw,Beach Resort, Sulaya Beach Resort, Amazole Beach Resort, and Malyab Mountain Resort.


Davao Occidental was carved out of the southern half of Davao del Sur province by virtue of Republic Act 10360 or An Act Creating the Province of Davao Occidental on January 14, 2013. The town of Malita serves as the new province’s capital. However, the official creation of this new province was decided on October 28, 2013, by means of plebiscite.



Located in the southeastern corner of the country’s southernmost island of Mindanao, the province of Davao Occidental is bounded by the province of Davao del Sur to the north; the Celebes Sea to the south; Sarangani to the west ; and Davao Gulf to the east. With a land area of 2,163.45 km2, the province is composed of sandy beaches and the outlying islands of Sarangani, agricultural plains and valleys, rainforests, swamps, rolling hills, caves, and mountains including Balut Volcano, the province’s highest peach which is at 862 meters above sea level.


Davao Occidental belongs to the fourth type of climate, that is rainfall is more or less evenly distributed throughout the year.

Maximum daytime temperature throughout the province is in the range of 23-38 degrees Celsius, falling to 23-32 degrees Celsius during the night depending on the elevation.


The main religions are mostly Roman Catholicism with small amounts of Muslims.

Based on the National Statistics Office, Davao Occidental has an overall population of 293,780 (2010 Official Census).

People and culture


The people of Davao Occidental are multilingual, able to communicate in Hiligaynon and/or Cebuano, as well as in both Tagalog and English. Other languages spoken are Ilocano and Maguindanao. The indigenous tribes, in addition, use their own tribal languages. A situation wherein several people, each speaking solely in his own language and are still able to communicate with the others, is not unheard of.


The people of Davao Occidental have diverse heritages, an ethnic mix of Mindanaoans, Visayans, Tagalogs, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish with a number of indigenous tribes.

The Maguindanao tribe is the major Muslim Filipino tribe in the province. Although many of them still wear their traditional costumes and practice their native customs, others have come to adapt the more liberal practices of their Christian neighbors such as wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts, eschewing the use of the headscarf, and attending dances/mixed gatherings. Other indigenous Filipino tribes are the Lumad, Aeta, Tagacaolo, B’laan, Manobo, Maguindanao, Sangil, and Bagobo tribes.

The people of Davao Occidental still retain many of the practices and traditions of their particular tribal heritages, although infused with a flavor that is distinctly Mindanaoan and the product of cultural interaction between the immigrants and the indigenous peoples of the area.

Political Divisions

Upon its creation as a regular province, Davao Occidental consisted of 5 municipalities, namely: Santa Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos, and Sarangani.

The table below shows the total number of barangays in the different municipalities, their respective land area, including the population and class income.

City/Municipality No. of
Pop. density
(per km²)
District Class Income
Santa Maria 22
Malita (Capital) 30
Don Marcelino 15
Jose Abad Santos 26
Sarangani 12 97.72 23,290 240 4th(Mun.)




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