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.
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@ 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.
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?
@ 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.
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? 😀
Hi! I have the same question(that you have years ago Ü) about the van’s last trip from Butuan to Hinatuan/Bislig. Coz our flight arrival to Butuan is 6:45 pm. Read lots of blogs and learned that bus’ last trip to Bislig is until 5pm only. Im just wonderin if you were able to get the answer to this question.
Would definitely appreciate any help that i could get. Ü
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!
So beautiful! Winner and video.
hi, do you have any number for a van that we can hire?
thank you 🙂
@ 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!
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..
@ Arianne: No, I’m from Tandag 🙂 Are you from Bislig?
By any chance, are you from Bislig City??
@ 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 😀
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.
hi..is it near Tinuy’an falls?? how many hours ang travel from tinuy’an falls to enchanted place and vice versa?
@ Ken: Ganda nga talaga dito. Punta ka na!
naglalaway sa gandang pinuntahan mo. i already seen this on TV.
hopefully makapunta din ako jan!
@ Mikhail: I agree 100% 🙂
@ Jetjet: Yeah I really love the color of the water! So clear and cool to the eyes!
indeed this place is very enchanting…the cold blue water fishes that came out of nowhere…it would leave you asking for more….
I have been here three days ago and the river was indeed enchanting! 😀
@ 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.
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.
@ Shiela: Sureness 🙂
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.
Kindly visit my page po.. salamat:)
@ 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.
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!
@ 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.
paano malaman ang contact# para makapagreserved nang room to stay?
Thanks for posting! This place is beautiful! 🙂
Thanks, Feanne. Yes, it’s the best and cleanest river I’d ever seen 🙂
Aleah, sobrang gandaaaaa! 🙂 – Feanne from CS
@ Elde: Thank you for your offer. If somebody asks about the possibility of getting your services, I’ll give them your contact details.
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.
@ Junk: Thank you. The Philippines (and the world!) is so big. There are so many places more to explore!
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”
@ 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 🙂
Wow looks nice are we allowed to catch the fish and just release them after?
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?)
i got friends who have been here and are raving about it too. hope i could go someday… dami nang nasa listahan ko! hahaha!