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.
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!
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.
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:
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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!