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Going to the Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

20 January 2011 49,077 views 37 Comments
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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!


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37 Comments »

  • ☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said:

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

  • lakwatsera de primera said:

    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?)

  • josua V. jegou said:

    Wow looks nice are we allowed to catch the fish and just release them after?

  • Aleah said:

    @ Claire: I didn’t get to swim. There were too many people at that time! :(
    @ Josua: No one is allowed to fish in the river :)
    Aleah recently posted..Puerto Galera in One Day

  • junk said:

    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”

  • Aleah said:

    @ Junk: Thank you. The Philippines (and the world!) is so big. There are so many places more to explore!
    Aleah recently posted..6 Things You Shouldn’t Forget When You Travel Solo

  • Elde Jabonero said:

    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.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Elde: Thank you for your offer. If somebody asks about the possibility of getting your services, I’ll give them your contact details.
    Aleah recently posted..Day Trip from Manila—Our Mt. Pinatubo Trekking Adventure

  • Feanne said:

    Aleah, sobrang gandaaaaa! :) – Feanne from CS

  • Aleah said:

    Thanks, Feanne. Yes, it’s the best and cleanest river I’d ever seen :)
    Aleah recently posted..Day Trip from Manila—Our Mt. Pinatubo Trekking Adventure

  • Yan said:

    Thanks for posting! This place is beautiful! :)

  • sheriz said:

    paano malaman ang contact# para makapagreserved nang room to stay?

  • Aleah said:

    @ Yan: Yes, it’s a must-visit! It’s really very lovely.
    @ Sheriz: They don’t have a hotel (yet). It’s just a day trip. I’m not sure if there’s an inn in Hinatuan, but there’s one in Bislig City, a few hours away.
    Aleah recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—Child in Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • happysole said:

    how far is it from butuan? will be going to butuan in 2 weeks, care to share your contacts (accommodattion, rentals, tours, itinerary, etc)? thanks!
    happysole recently posted..Sagada – where time stood still

  • Aleah said:

    @ 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

  • shiela said:

    Hello maam:) Can i post my link here? i have a tour package in Mangagoy ,Bislig city. tinuy-an falls, Cagwait white beach,Britania Islands, Enchanted river.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mangagoy-Tour-Package/193150304064365

    Kindly visit my page po.. salamat:)

  • Aleah said:

    @ Shiela: Sureness :)
    Aleah recently posted..Solitary Wanderer is Turning 2! (A Call for Sponsors)

  • Hidden in Hinatuan: Reef Surf Paradise said:

    [...] is again a natural wonder that could also be one of the province’s treasure aside from Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. The stunning surf that breaks beside rock formations truly is a marvel. And guess what, locals and [...]

  • Journeys and Travels said:

    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.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Doc Wends: Sayang naman, ang tagal pa naman ng byahe papunta dun. Well at least it gives you a reason to come back. Go na rin to Tinuy-an Falls if you can.
    Aleah recently posted..Manila Bay Sunset Cruise: A Romantic Valentine’s Day Date

  • Mikhail said:

    I have been here three days ago and the river was indeed enchanting! :D

  • jetjet said:

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

  • Aleah said:

    @ Mikhail: I agree 100% :)
    @ Jetjet: Yeah I really love the color of the water! So clear and cool to the eyes!
    Aleah recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—The Rebirth of the Church of Our Lady in Dresden, Germany

  • ken said:

    naglalaway sa gandang pinuntahan mo. i already seen this on TV.
    hopefully makapunta din ako jan!
    ken recently posted..Ang Pulo | Mangroves Hopping

  • Aleah said:

    @ Ken: Ganda nga talaga dito. Punta ka na!
    Aleah recently posted..Caving in Wawa Dam, Montalban

  • Ann said:

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

  • Roy said:

    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.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Ann: Sorry I haven’t been to Tinuy-an Falls but that’s really far :)
    @ Roy: Thanks for the tip! Will update my blog to include that info. We’v always been there in the morning to noon, so it didn’t occur to me to include that :D
    Aleah recently posted..My Interview with Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor

  • Arianne said:

    By any chance, are you from Bislig City??

  • Aleah said:

    @ Arianne: No, I’m from Tandag :) Are you from Bislig?
    Aleah recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—The Leaning Tower of Pisa

  • shaw said:

    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..

  • Aleah said:

    @ Shaw: Thanks for a very good tip! I’m sure the readers would like to know how they can contact those guesthouses? Do drop by my blog again!
    Aleah recently posted..Best of Travel Photos—My 7 Super Shots

  • star said:

    hi, do you have any number for a van that we can hire?

    thank you :)

  • chymera00 ~ ambot-ah.com said:

    So beautiful! Winner and video.
    chymera00 ~ ambot-ah.com recently posted..My Camera Gears and Reviews for Travel Backpacking

  • Get Enchanted in Surigao's Hinatuan River said:

    [...] 9: This Photo, owned by Amihan Bajade, was published on http://www.solitarywanderer.com/2011/01/going-to-enchanted-river-hinatuan/#axzz2ERv6uBbc from the article of Aleah, the Solitary [...]

  • Places to swim in the Philippines with the Clearest Water - Out of Town Blog said:

    […] The Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur is hands down the clearest and most beautiful river I’ve seen in the Philippines. It’s estimated to be at least 200 feet deep, but divers haven’t yet fully explored it underwater. Check out how to get there and what you can do there: Going to the Enchanted River, Hinatuan. […]

  • Travel Davao said:

    I’ve been there at enchanted river and indeed the place suits to its name enchanted. I recommend this place as must go travel destination. Hopefully to go back there for another vacation. AYos jud!
    Travel Davao recently posted..The People’s Park of Davao City

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