Up Close: Hinatuan Enchanted River

From its name alone, people certainly get intrigued about the mystery that lies underneath the popular Enchanted River of Hinatuan. This body of water, which actually resembles a cold spring, is located in the town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. Unlike other natural springs, this river empties into the sea, hence, some parts of the river is actually salty. So far, nobody has really reached the bottom of the river despite various attempts by professionals. This, along with various claims of strange phenomena by the locals, adds to the enchanting story behind the now popular river.

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One magical quality of the river is how the water changes its iconic turquoise color to green, depending on the time of the day. On a clear early morning, the river appears bluish and so clear that you can actually see its depth as well as the fish that thrive in it. However, local beliefs suggest that nobody attempts or has been able to catch any fish from the river. Around noon, the staff would lead the visitors out of the river to feed the resident fish, although we have not witnessed this when we came there.

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Depending on your travel schedule, we highly recommend to come to Enchanted River early in the morning for you to see the best view and hue of the river. On holidays and especially weekends, the picnic area and the river could get so crowded the entire day. In our case, we only spent around an hour or two. However, an added attraction is the island hopping option to nearby islands, which starts from the river. Visitors can also opt to stay overnight in the islands.

The Enchanted River is open from 6am to 5pm only. The LGU collects a Php 30.00 entrance fee per adult visitor & Php 5.00 for kids (4 ft below) and Php 15.00 per hour for the life vest provided that you present an ID. Picnic tables are also available for rent at Php 100.00 and Php 300.00 for the cottage. It is also suggested to bring your own food and water, although fresh seafoods are available near the river entrance. For more information, you cant contact 09099553077.

Getting There. Coming from Butuan City, we took a Bachelor Bus at Butuan Bus Terminal going to Mangagoy (Bislig City). Tell the driver that you are alighting at Enchanted River. The trip could take about three hours. At the junction/crossing, there are available habal-habal (motorcycles) for rent going to the river, a trip which takes around 20-30 minutes. Negotiate rates (about 200-300 for 2 pax) and arrange for pickup. In our case, we first dropped our bags in Bislig before we met our guide and driver we contacted earlier through our hotel. There are also available habal-habal guides at the Mangagoy Terminal, you just need to negotiate the rates with them for Enchanted River + Tinuy-an tour. It took us about more than an hour to finally reach the Enchanted River. It is important to clarify with the habal-habal driver your itinerary and rates so to avoid sudden changes and disagreements.

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Where to Stay. Based on our itinerary, we decided to spend the night in Bislig City at Casa de Babano located right at the city center for Php 500.00 per air-conditioned room/night. Restrooms are shared and they also have their in-house restaurant and bar/entertainments. The hostel also has their own accredited tour guide and driver with rates from Php1,200 to Php1,500. Hostels are also available in Hinatuan.

Travel Notes:

  • The road leading to the river used to be unpaved and could get muddy and slippery during rainy seasons, although updates from other guests indicate that concrete paving is almost complete.
  • It is a must to inquire with the driver the status of the road and to call his attention if you’re not comfortable with the speed when negotiating the route.
  • While at Enchanted River, keep your eyes on your valuables. Smoking is prohibited at the vicinity of the river.
  • Secure beforehand the contact number of the local authorities for untoward emergencies, although municipal authorities maintain a station at the property.
  • While Hinatuan is relatively peaceful, please refrain from exploring other areas without guides and prior permission from local authorities.
  • Check out our Surigao del Sur Travel Guide  and Tinuy-an Falls for complete details.
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