Hinatuan: Get Charmed at the Enchanted River
Situated between the boundaries of Barangays Talisay and Cambatong, about 14 kilometers from the town proper of Hinatuan, is a saltwater river that flows out to the Pacific Ocean. It has a depth of 80 feet, and it seemed not long enough to consider a river. The source of its water is something that until now is still unknown. Adding more to its mystery are various stories and folklore by the locals, such as mermaids and other creatures watching over. Perhaps one reason why it’s famous for tourists is its beautiful blue waters surrounded by lush green vegetation.
This is our very first time we visit the place, and we’ve been enchanted immediately. Its super clear waters have a unique shade that is so awesome to look at. You can see the fish that seemed to be just floating at the river’s limpid pool. Even by just staring at it, you will still be caught by the magic spell of the Enchanted River.
The locals have no idea that their small, rustic town will eventually become a tourist destination. The site has been once just a mere dumpsite for logs that are being flowed out to Hinatuan Bay. Only the residents swam at this natural spring. When the logging company that operated here shut down, nature began to reclaim it. Residents went to this place mostly just to cool off, while others came to fish. It just took a short while before this place became famous also to the visitors. And together with the influx of tourists, the place started to be developed.
In an effort for it to be preserved, as well as to be able to further study it, the local government of Hinatuan forbade swimming at the main pool. The scientists and researchers who conducted studies here concluded that there is a danger of its ecosystem being severely disrupted by the continuous bathing/swimming in the area.
Nevertheless, there has been a designated swimming area near the main pool. Swimmers are also required to wear a life vest.
Every twelve in the afternoon is the scheduled fish feeding. Each feeding session lasts five minutes, accompanied by the Hymn of Hinatuan playing in the background. We came here by weekend so the place is crowded, making the viewing of the spectacle pretty challenging.
To cater the tourists very well, the place is developed and facilities were constructed, such as the shower areas, toilets, dining areas, vendor stalls, waiting area and a large parking area. There are also shuttle services to serve guests as an alternative to having to walk about 400 meters up to the river’s main entrance. There are also souvenir shops and canteen that serves seafood from the Hinatuan Bay. At the end of the river are boats that can be rented for those wanting to do island hopping. The Enchanted River is open up to five in the afternoon.
TALES AND LEGENDS
Just like other places in the Philippines, there are also many tales and legends surrounding the Hinatuan River, especially because of its mysterious and unexplored depths and its unique colors. The locals claimed that there are engkantos and other mystical creatures that guard the place. Some fishermen are also claiming that there are certain fish that are uncatchable. But one of the most popular stories here is about the fairies that dropped sapphire and jade stones to the river, which gave the river its ethereal color. But according to the residents, these stories were just made up to deter outsiders from visiting.
At the entrance of the river park, you can see the diving gears of Dr. Alfonso Amores. Growing up in Hinatuan, he is one of the three divers who made major exploration in the river on February 2010. They discovered a hidden underground cave deep in the waters of the Hinatuan Enchanted River. Unfortunately, on June 17, 2014, he succumbed to cardiac arrest when he was unable to pass through the cave’s narrow exit inside the narrow tunnel of the Mayor’s Chamber. Despite the tragedy, explorations are still being conducted here.
A small spot at the park was dedicated as a shrine commemorating the researches made by Dr. Amores. This incident further added to the mysticism about this place.
There are many ways on how to go to Hinatuan, depending on where youa re coming from:
- From Butuan: Take a bus going to San Franz (84 kilometers, 2 hr trip). Then take a bus going to Bislig or Mangagoy and tell the driver to drop you off at the junction of Hinatuan. At the corner there are rows of habal-habal that you can take a ride.
- From Davao: Take a bus going to Butuan and get off at San Franz (200 kilometer, 6 hrs trip). Then take a bus going to Bislig or Mangagoy and tell the driver to drop you off at the junction of Hinatuan. At the corner there are rows of habal habal that you can take a ride.
Note: The roads here are concrete-paved so the trip is easy and convenient.
Tip: You can rent a habal-habal to enable you to visit other tourist spots like the Tinuy-an Falls.
- Adult – P40
- Children 4Ft and below – P15
- Senior Citizen – P34
- Environmental Fee – P10
- Parking Fee – P20
SHED AND COTTAGES
- Kubo (15pax) – P200
- Nipa Hut (6pax) – P150
- Umbrella (4pax) – P100
- Lifevest Rental – P15/hr