Amazing how we can be at one point one minute and miles away the next, just like that. I say this because my recent trip all the way South of the Philippines in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao sent me hopping on a 2-hour plane ride to Davao and enduring an additional 8-hour bus ride down military-trodden roads. It took my mom and I a total of 10 hours just to get to Bislig, which was 731 km from Metro Manila.
Yet, this trip is proof that no amount of time and numbers ever become a hindrance for doing something you want so bad. And for me, that is to visit these top two tourist gems of Surigao del Sur – Hinatuan Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls.
A few months back, the Department of Tourism shared an advertisement video featuring Enchanted River, which immediately became viral due to its cheesy (but I dig it) story with the tagline “When you’re with Filipinos, you’re with family“.
But more importantly, it was able to showcase the mesmerizing gatorade-blue waters of Enchanted River. Then I knew, I wanted to be there.
But what the video didn’t reveal is that getting to Hinatuan town where this river is located took another 2-hour tricycle ride from Bislig, Surigao del Sur!
When we arrived, we paid the necessary fees and walked for about 5 mins. down the ecotrail that led to the river. As we approached yet another entrance gate, we started hearing chants. “Simbahan ba yun?” mom asked.
Only to find out that we just made it to the historical storytelling and fish feeding where the “Hinatuan Hymn” is being played, detailing the history of Enchanted River.
The river was obstructed from view by the fish-feeding spectators when we first arrived. I was like “ang daming tao!” I managed to still snap pics though.
When finally, the crowd subsided, I was left alone to appreciate the natural beauty and color of the lake. And it was then that I realized that everything that has been said and shown about Enchanted River is true.
It’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous! The water really is gatorade-blue. And when the sun reflects on the surface, it creates a glistening effect that makes the water look even more crystal-clear and inviting.
Its deep blue and aquamarine shade combination is a popular feature that displays a level of mystery as well. And, at exactly 12 noon, there suddenly appears a school of fish to feed on the scraps being thrown by the caretakers.
They say the river’s enchanted because they don’t know where the fish comes from. The origin of its waters isn’t exactly clear as some speculate they’re from springs, others the ocean.
Unfortunately for us, we can no longer dive or swim on this part of the river – as to preserve its beauty. However, the other side of the river towards its tail has been designated as a swimming area for those who wish to feel the waters.
This could be good – as it means we can take unlimited photos of the river without people in the background.
Which was exactly what I dd.
Tinuy-an Falls is just a 30-min. tricycle ride from Bislig. Upon arrival, it is obvious that such improvements to the place have transformed it into a park – with restaurants around the area, paved walkways and cottages available for the guests.
But the star of the destination is this 4-tiered waterfalls that cascade a glorious white curtain of water through its 95-m wide first layer, which is the tallest of them all!
Here, we had the option to ride the raft so we can come closer to the waterfalls. It would have resulted to having more majestic photos but I was fine with just appreciating it from the side. It’s already beautiful from a distance.
And I just recently found out that a rainbow appears from a certain time in the morning only — that is, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. We were lucky to be in the place that early so we were able to catch its appearance! I love rainbows! 🙂
Getting to the second layer is a little tough as it requires guests to climb 93 steps and a 20m bridge.
Here, the flow of the water seemingly is much stronger than the first one.
Because of its beautiful ladder of waterfalls, Tinuy-an Falls has been dubbed as “The Niagara Falls of the Philippines”
One can actually visit Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls in just one day. My mom and I were able to finish our trip in just half a day – roughly about 6-7 hours in total.
But should you wish to visit even more sites – such as the Sibadan Fish Cage (which I heard is also as mesmerizing!) where you can swim with tamed water animals; white sand beaches and caves – a whole day is enough.
Surigao so far, is the farthest place I’ve been to in the Philippines. Yet, as previously learned and experienced, the best things in life are not just free but far! It would really just depend on how much you truly want to go there.
I hope you too hear the call of Surigao – and take time to visit the place. I promise it’s worth the time and numbers.
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