Enchanted River Hinatuan. River in Mindanao, Philippines

Enchanted River Hinatuan

River in Mindanao, Philippines

Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur Photo © jLord Almighty

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Enchanted River Hinatuan

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Enchanted River - Enchanted River
Enchanted River - Enchanted River Hinatuan. Photo by ontheraks (slow and getting...
The Enchanted River (formerly known as the ‘Hinatuan River’) is a natural wonder enveloped with mysticism and mystery. It is quickly becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Mindanao due to its unbelievably clear aquamarine water. The river is also endowed with an alluring natural scenery and abundant wildlife. The Enchanted River was only discovered a few years ago, and has now become Surigao’s top attraction. The river is located in Barangay Cambatong, a few minutes away from Hinatuan (Wikipedia Article).

Enchanted Tales

There are hundreds of reasons why the Hinatuan River was dubbed “Enchanted” by the locals, and those hundreds of reasons are attributed to the hundreds of stories that were told by the people that experienced its supernatural phenomenon. Locals have also told stories about spirits and enkantos (supernatural beings) protecting the river. There are tales about people getting lost in the thick forest surrounding the river, and even tales about swimmers drowning without logical reason.

Aside from the air of mystery the river gives out, the Enchanted River has no known depth. Many divers have attempted to determine its exact depth but failed. Another mystery is the “feeding time” of fish during 12 PM. During this time, a member of the resort's staff rings a bell while other staff members throw food scraps into the water. Large schools of fish can be seen appearing out of nowhere to feed and forage food for one hour. After feeding, the fish are then nowhere to be seen (despite the water being crystal clear). Swimming in the water is also prohibited during the feeding time.


The entrance fee to the Enchanted River is only ₱30 ($0.66) per person. Cottages are also available in the resort for ₱100 ($2.20). Tourists can bring their own food and snacks to the area. For those who are unable to bring their own food, there is a restaurant in the resort and several snack stalls across the resort entrance. Fresh seafood are widely offered all over the area for very reasonable prices.

The pristine water of the Enchanted River is described to be quite salty even though the river is categorized as a freshwater body. There is also no definitive explanation as to why the river tastes this way. However, experts have explained that because the river flows to the Pacific Ocean, saltwater could have mixed with the freshwater of the river due to backflow.

There are only selected areas in the river where tourists are allowed to swim. The resort has a lifeguard on duty but swimmers are still cautioned to stay away from the deep end of the river. Life jackets are available for rent at ₱15 ($0.33) per hour, and tourists can also avail of the Enchanter River cruise for only ₱160 ($3.52) per hour. The boat used in the cruise can carry up to 5 passengers.

The resort closes at 5 PM, and night swimming is highly discouraged and is prohibited in Enchanted River. Locals have stated that during this time, no one is allowed to go near the river. When the sun is out, this is the time where spirits (and beings not from this world) come out to use the river.

Getting There

Tourists who want to visit the beautiful Enchanted River will have to exit at Butuan City. From Manila or Cebu, you can take a domestic flight directly to Butuan any day of the week.
From the city, head out to Butuan Integrated Bus Terminal and catch a bus ride to Mangagoy in Bislig. Inform the driver or bus conductor to drop you off at the Hinatuan Terminal. The travel time from Butuan to Hinatuan is approximately 5 hours.

Upon arriving at the terminal, there will be plenty of habal-habals (rental motorbikes) outside to take you to Enchanted River. The rate is usually around ₱100 ($2.20) - ₱200 ($4.40) per person (plus ₱100 ($2.20) for the waiting time). For those tourist who are traveling in groups, they can hire a multicab to take them from the Hinatuan Terminal to Enchanted River by contacting the Hinatuan Tourism Office.


Tourists who want to spend a day or two to tour the Enchanted River can stay at either Hinatuan or Bislig. One of the most recommended inn around Hinatuan is Marky’s Hostel. The place is not high-end but the guest rooms are clean and very affordable. If you want to stay in Bislig, the Sleep Inn located at R.B. Castillo Street and the Casa de Babanto in Caramcam are your best options.

Travel Tips

  • Tourists are strongly advised to follow the rules and guidelines set by the Enchanted River management. Although the area is crowded with tales about spirits, most drowning incidents in the resort is still due to negligence.
  • When visiting the Enchanted River, make sure to inform the habal-habal driver to wait for you to come back (set a round-trip fixed price). This avoids any hassles when going back to Hinatuan or Bislig.

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Author: radiantan. Last updated: Nov 01, 2014

Pictures of Enchanted River Hinatuan

Enchanted River Hinatuan
Enchanted River Hinatuan. Photo by Lota Constantino-Kawazoe

Enchanted River - Enchanted River Hinatuan
Enchanted River - Enchanted River Hinatuan. Photo by Jashpr


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