Sunday, January 12, 2014

Enchanted River of Surigao del Sur - Enchanting Indeed!

I first heard about this place when I saw Drew Arellano's feature for GMA News TV. I was really at awe, I couldn't believe that a pristine beauty like that could exist in Mindanao! The color was just surreal, I had to see it with my own eyes to believe that it was real and not edited. I made it a goal last year to book a flight to Butuan to be able to see this wonder, and thank goodness for piso sales that this trip was able to finally materialize.

Enchanted River
Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur

Our second day at Surigao was a bit jam-packed, though I wasn't really optimistic that we would be able to do everything planned for our the day. After our lovely tour at the Britania Group of Islands of San Agustin, we left early the next day to still be able to reach Enchated River by morning. We were required to take two bus transfers: from San Agustin-Barobo, then Barobo-Hinatuan. Locals were interested to where we were headed and gave some friendly advices. After three hours, we were directed by our driver at the crossings and not at Hinatuan Terminal, which was closer to the river proper. We took the courage to ask some locals living in the area if we could keep our bags at their house and return for it later after we came back from Enchanted River and she said yes. Something I can never do in Manila.

habal habal
jampacked with our driver, the most efficient habal habal ever that I have tried in Mindanao! may bubong, may patungan pa ng bags (may tali pa!) super recommended! (credits to Z for the picture)

Enchanted river is located at Barangay Talisay, Hinatuan and is now one of Surigao del Sur's most popular tourist destination. Not suprising, because this body of water really is one of a kind with its pure crystalline blue-green water, the local legends that surround it, and the actual exploration on how exactly deep the river is are reasons enough to make tourists flock the place. There are quite a number of stories as to why it got its name but the one that made sense to me was it was called "enchanted" because of the air of mystery the area gives out, local legend has it that spirits are guarding this river.

Entrance to the river is 30 pesos per head. Want to swim? There are available restrooms so you can change clothes and life jackets are also available for rental. Fish feeding is also a popular activity but since we were there too early, we weren't able to witness it since it is scheduled during 12 noon and 4:00 pm. One can also go island hopping at Port Lamon with the rate of 160 pesos per hour, from here, you can also go to Sibadan Fish Cage.

It was really perfect timing when we arrived 30 minutes past 9 AM. Enchanted River was deserted! After paying the entrance fee, we hurriedly went in and appreciated the river in its full glory. I was just speechless with its beauty. If there was a term such as "river-struck" then that could probably describe the moment of gazing upon Enchanted River's beauty. The gorgeous blue and green hues were relaxing to the eyes and seeing the school of fishes playing on its waters gave us a joy and amazement, it was like being inside Mother Nature's aquarium! We opted not to swim as we wanted to enjoy the serenity of the river, it's not like everyday that you could chance upon this beauty and not take time to appreciate how blessed of a country we are to be given such wonders of nature.

surigao travel

One of the unique features of the Enchanted River is its unfathomable depth. There have been a number of diving expeditions which aimed to uncover this mystery, but have unfortunately failed. It was said that these professional divers experienced different roadblocks such as strong current and blocked passageways. I have read that the farthest they were able to go was 200 feet.

Enchanted River surigao

We were very curious why the water tasted salty when in fact rivers are supposed to be composed of fresh water. Upon doing some readings online, I came to know that the water here is actually brackish, a mixture of fresh and salt water. It is a fact that the water from the river flows to the nearby Pacific ocean, but as to why the water in the river itself is salty is still being studied.

surigao del sur travel
lots of fishes in the area!

There are only certain areas in the river that tourists are allowed to swim, because of its depth, locals would often hush hush about stories of people getting drowned and never floating back because the spirits will take them. Creepy!

Enchanted River surigao del sur

it looks shallow, but the water in this part is almost waist deep

there are boats that can take you around Port Lamon

I have always been a fan of the supernatural and loved knowing about the different Philippine folklore and legends. Learning about the mystery that surrounds the Enchanted River was not a surprise. Locals have told us that engkantos that reside among the tall treas around the area, they would also tell us that these spirits are responsible on maintaining the cleanliness and pristine color of the river. 

surigao del sur travel

mindanao blog

Though there are a number of unexplainable mystery that surrounds the area, I was more than contented with the feeling of joy and wonder upon seeing lovely place. It was really mesmerizing and captivated my heart! (big words!) I really pray that come hundreds of years, Enchanted River will still remain to be as clean and beautiful as I first saw it.

Enchanted River tinuyan falls

How to go to Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur:
From Butuan Bancasi Airport
From Langihan Terminal, ride a bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig), you can either alight at Hinatuan Terminal or at San Francisco crossing (which is closer to the river). (approx. 5 hour trip)

From Surigao del Norte
Take a bus bound for Butuan and take bus bound for Mangagoy. Alight at Hinatuan/San Francisco Crossing.

From Britania, San Agustin
Ride bus going to Butuan and alight at Barobo terminal. From there, take another bus bound for Mangagoy (Bislig) and ask the driver to drop you off at San Francisco crossing or Hinatuan Terminal.

From Davao
From Davao Ecoland, take buses bound for Mangagoy (Bislig). You can then take bus, jeep or habal habal going to Hinatuan.

With above steps mentioned, one needs to take habal-habal ride going to Enchanted River. From crossing, it's still 12 kilometers of a bumpy ride.

Breakdown of Expenses for Day 2 (Enchanted River + Tinuy-an Falls)

Habal habal contacts:
Kuya Rene (recommended! no cellphone though, look for him around crossing/Hinatuan terminal) Rate from crossing to river one way is 50 pesos. He resides at Hinatuan.)

Kuya Loloy (09485750496 resides at Bislig, rate from crossing to Tinuyan round trip incl. waiting time is 250 pesos)

* Drivers also accept tours combining Enchanted River + Tinuy-an Falls for a standard rate of 1,500 pesos

Day 1
Britania Group of Islands (San Agustin)

Day 2
Enchanted River (Hinatuan)

Tinuy-an Falls (Bislig)

International Doll Museum/Ocean View Park Restaurant (Bislig)
Itinerary and Expenses
2-Day Itinerary, Guide and Travel Expenses for Surigao del Sur

More of Mindanao here


  1. The river is so blue! May I ask which month you went? Thanks!

  2. We went last December '13. Be sure to be there pag open nila para wala pang tao :)

  3. Wow! I'll put this one in my list. Thanks! :)

  4. do you need to trek/climb/go down stairs to get to the river?

  5. Oh my goodness! Ang ganda!!! And your pictures are amazing. I'm now including this in my "places to visit in the Philippines" list.

    1. Agree! While there, also visit Tinuy-an falls, surely one of the must-go to places in the country :)

  6. Hello, pwd ko po bang malaman ang amount na maggastos per person po? Tsaka anong month po kaya magandang pumnta doon? Maraming salamat po! :)

    1. You may view budget details dito sa post
      Around 2-3k gastos for 2 days sa Surigao
      i think ok na month around Dec-Feb though december kami pumunta maulan everyday e :(

  7. hi just want to know where to stay when you go to enchanted river?how much is per night we are 10 person?we are stay there for 2 nights and 3 days..also how much is the seafoods if you will order in restaurant in enchanted river outside?
    thank you very much we have a book on october 2014 via butuan city

    1. i am not sure as we haven't stayed overnight i think they still don't have rooms available sa Enchated River because night swimming is prohibited, you can try at Sibadan fish cage, they offer accommodations po though you still have to ride a boat going there, you can also catch fresh seafood there and have it cooked for you

  8. May kainan na ba sa enchanted mismo? I mean may mga foods na binibenta at pati na rin sa tinuy an at brittanni@?

    1. Sorry for the late reply. Yup meron po kainan dun mga seafoods yata mostly, though di kami nagtry.

  9. may room or lodge na marerenthan

    1. When we went there I remember there were lodges/cottages that you can rent for a quick stay

  10. Thanks for sharing. I heard about the river from my officemate a year ago and time for me to experience it

  11. How far is this from Hinatuan town proper? We can just ask any habal-habal in Hinatuan to drive us to the river? November kaya is an ideal month to visit? Thanks for sharing this guide and lovely, lovely photos!

    1. I don't really remember how long it was but probably around 15-25 minutes via habal habal. I think the weather is really unpredictable during Ber Months especially in Mindanao, during these months they usually experience typhoon/strong rainfall, I suggest to keep yourself updated with weather updates na lang

  12. Hi Permission to repost this on our facebook page


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