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 2011 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, which used to be rough and uneven, is now concreted so it’s much easier to go now than before. Despite the distance, the view is 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 (12nn and 3pm), 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 P30 per head and P5 for kids, 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 and go island hopping. I couldn’t believe how cheap it was; for one boat (max 5 persons, more if there are kids), the charge is only P150 per hour.
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.
The best time to come is very early in the morning or late afternoon (just before closing time at 5pm) to avoid the crowds. They don’t have any overnight accommodations available.
The following is a clear view of how it looks below the surface:
Updated as of 01 June 2016.