Going to the Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

I had heard so much about the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, especially after a local movie filmed a scene there (Spirits). My hometown is just a few hours away but I confess I haven’t had the opportunity to go there until last December when my family and I took a road trip.

Enchanted River, Hinatuan

The amazing Enchanted River © Amihan Bajade

When we arrived in Hinatuan, my first impression was the cleanliness of its roads. Where were the overflowing garbage cans that you could see everywhere in Manila? The candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the streets? The plastic bags and empty bottles scattered all around?

I couldn’t see any of those anywhere in that small town, not even in the Hinatuan River. When I asked one local, she proudly said that Hinatuan was judged the “Best Performer, Cleanest and Greenest” local government unit in the Philippines in 2010. No wonder the locals were proud!

Enchanted River

Wonderful clear water in the Enchanted River.

Our destination though, was further ahead, in Barangay Talisay where the Enchanted River is. It was indeed far from the town center; even by private car, the trip took around 30 minutes. The road is rough and uneven, so the trip back to the civilization should be taken when there’s still daylight. The view when we arrived though, was very much worth it.

The magnificent color of the water in the Enchanted River is the result of a mixture of fresh and saltwater from Hinatuan Bay. The middle part was deeper in color (they said it was 80m deep) while it was light green along the sides. Alas, we didn’t get to swim since there were a lot of people there (weekend + holidays) but when I dipped my foot, the water was quite cold.

There are a lot of fish; at certain times of the day, the management ask the swimmers to get off the water when the fish feed, and we could see them fighting for the food scraps, and then disappearing afterward.

Entrance costs only P10 per head, and there are cottages you can rent as well if you’re planning to have a picnic. You can also take a boat ride from the river to Hinatuan Bay. You can swim, snorkel, and even scuba dive there.

Enchanted River

This is over 200ft deep!

How to go to the Enchanted River: Take the bus from Butuan City and get off at Hinatuan town. From there, take the habal-habal (a public transport motorcycle). You can either wait for other passengers (P40) or hire the whole thing for P200-250. You can get to Butuan City from Manila via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines.

(For this part, thanks to Roy in the comments) Best time to come is in the morning or early afternoon, because it closes at 5pm and they don’t have any overnight accommodations available.

The following is a clear view of how it looks below the surface:

 Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!


  1. ☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ says

    i got friends who have been here and are raving about it too. hope i could go someday… dami nang nasa listahan ko! hahaha!

  2. lakwatsera de primera says

    The water is so clear! Good to know they are maintaining this place, there are very few clean rivers around the Philippines now. (Did you swim?)

  3. junk says

    i’m greatly amaze in every wonderful experience you’ve been through with all of your travels, its so euphoric if we know were doing what we love to do.. breaking our limitless boundaries “oh wow a stunning pleasures”… great shared experiences.. ” i’m inspired to dauntless spirits like you”

  4. Elde Jabonero says

    The enchanted River was the most fascinating I have ever seen. Plus the boat ride to Vanishing Island and quick swim in white sands surrounded by crystal clear waters, it makes you think of coming back-with your loved ones and friends this time. My van can take you there from Davao City.

  5. says

    @ Happy Sole: Hinatuan is around 4-5 hours from Butuan City. I didn’t take a package tour as my family lives in the same province and we took a road trip. How long will you stay in Butuan for? I suggest that if you want to go to Hinatuan, you take the public transport (bus going to Mangagoy/Davao will pass through Hinatuan), then when you reach Hinatuan, take the habal-habal. You can spend the night in Bislig; there are inns there, just ask directions from drivers. Haven’t been there for years so I can’t really remember the name of the inn where I stayed before.
    Aleah recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—Beautiful Bodies in Pattaya, Thailand

  6. says

    this is the place Aleah na dapat ko pinuntahan pero di ko nagawa. Grabe ang disappointments ko kasi nadaanan ko lang sya and when I arrived in Surigao, and asked people around where this is, they told me I am passed it 4 hours away.

    Next time, Il come here and of course, the Sohoton Cove na isa pa rin elusive dream ko.

  7. jetjet says

    indeed this place is very enchanting…the cold blue water fishes that came out of nowhere…it would leave you asking for more….

  8. Ann says

    hi..is it near Tinuy’an falls?? how many hours ang travel from tinuy’an falls to enchanted place and vice versa?

  9. Roy says

    You forgot to mention that it’s only open till 5PM and the fact that the road is not paved, very rough, very dark (malayo sa sibilisasyon) coupled with the rolling terrain makes it risky and dangerous to travel after 5PM. Best time to go here would probably be by the morning so that you get to savor the crystal clear waters for the rest of the day. Sadly, we were not aware of that one and opted to visit Lolong @ Bunawan first before going here last December. Natakam lang tuloy kami and dipped for like 15 minutes on the water ;o) The place is said to be infested with NPA so it’s not a good thing to roam or stay late but am not sure if this one is a fact. If Surigao develops this place it has tons of potential.

  10. shaw says

    im from hinatuan and there are lots of inn you can stay for the night or you can also stay at sibadan just 10 mins boat ride from enchanted river its a floating cottage and they offer meals too at affordable prize. you can even chose a fish u want to eat. you can also visit the new resort at pangasinan 10 mins boat ride also from enchanted river…thank you so much for visiting my town..enchanted river is indeed one of the reasons hinatuanon should be proud of..

  11. LAR says

    Hi po,

    Saw your post about Enchanted River. Ask ko lang po kung may van lagi from Butuan to Hinatuan and what time po ang last trip. And susulitin ko na. he he he Kaya po ba ng 3 hrs ang Enchanted and Tinuy-an falls? 😀

  12. says

    @ LAR: You can take the bus from Butuan to Mangagoy and get off at Hinatuan. There are also vans to MAngagoy. Am not sure what time is the last trip though. No, it’s not possible to do both Enchanted and Tinuy-an in 3 hours. From Enchanted, it takes almost 2 hours to go to Tinuy-an. Besides, if you get to Enchanted, you would definitely want to stay longer.
    Aleah recently posted..Tasting Bangkok With Locals

  13. enero de leon says

    Hi..i will be traveling alone..are there some safety LOCKERS so i can put my bags and other valuables there? while i am swimming?

  14. says

    @ Enero de Leon: That’s the problem. There are no lockers. What we did was we left our bags by the lifeguard. He’s stationed at the top of the stairs, just before going down to the river. I just gave him a tip afterwards.
    Aleah recently posted..Finding Solace in Jaipur


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge