|Bluer than blue|
After our much anticipated visit of Tinuy-an falls, we had one more place to visit in Surigao del Sur. It’s Enchanted River located in the quaint town of Hinatuan. I’ve read so much about Enchanted River and got so much excited with the photos I’ve seen. Could the water really be that blue? That I had to confirm by seeing it with my own eyes.
We got up early on Friday and started our day with a complimentary breakfast from Casa de Babano. Corned beef, omelet roll, rice, and coffee – not bad for a cheap overnight fee. At around 7:30am we were already in Bachelor Express’ bus terminal. We boarded a bus for Butuan. If I am not mistaken, I’ve also seen jeepneys bound for Hinatuan the day before. We waited for about 30 minutes before the bus finally left. The fare for the 1-hour trip to Hinatuan proper is 55 pesos.
|Get ready to be enchanted!|
Maybe it’s because of my excitement to see the place that I did not notice that an hour had already passed. We got off at the town’s integrated transport terminal and negotiated with a habal-habal driver. We were quoted 300 pesos for a roundtrip ride, including gas and waiting time. Not bad, I thought. Off we went on our way going to the much talked about river. From the junction along the provincial road, Enchanted river is 12 kilometers away. You can actually ride a habal-habal from here at a cheaper rate, but the risk is that you will have to wait for quite a while because habal-habal drivers do not usually wait for passengers in this area.
Just like the one going to Tinuy-an Falls, the road that leads to Enchanted River is unpaved, rocky and dusty. Add to that the changing terrain that made it one of my worst habal-habal rides ever. In about 20 minutes, we were already at the entrance of Enchanted River. We paid the entrance fee of 30 pesos per person. Cottages, tables and chairs can also be rented for a fee. Rental of these is ideal for those who will share a meal during snack or lunch time. We arrived at half past 9 in the morning and there were only few people in the place.
|Enjoy the ice cold water|
After taking a few pictures in the welcome sign, we headed towards the main attraction—the royal blue water of the enchanted river. I must say I got “disenchanted” the moment I saw the river. It was not blue just as seen in the pictures. My friend theorized that maybe it’s because of the overuse and misuse of the people that the enchanted river has lost its enchanting color. But we were actually headed for a surprise a couple of hours later.
|Buoys and rope for safety|
Anyway, we continued our tour of the river. Took some photos here and there. There were actually a lot of nice views besides the blue water. The color of the water as well as the depth vary in each section. The presence of plants made the place look lovelier. There is a bridge on one side of the river that leads to another paradise—but that I will discuss in my next post. We actually had experienced that “another paradise” for almost three hours, and the enchanted surprise I was talking about a while back came when we got back from “paradise.” The surprise? The water turned royal blue! Enchanting indeed! It left me breathless for a moment. Apparently, the water changes its color at different times of day, and I must say it is at its bluest at noon. It was also low tide during that particular hour.
|Bridge leading to another paradise|
I took a few shots of the water before my friend and I decided to test the waters. He went for a dip first while I took pictures of him. When it was my turn to swim, I’ve decided to get into the water the more exciting way: jumping from a height of about 8 feet. The feeling of being submerged in the ice cold water got even more exhilarating when I got to see what’s below. The view underwater was breathtaking – there was sort of a cliff on the portion near the cave where the water flows from, so deep I couldn’t see the bottom. Aside from the unique color of the water, the river was dubbed enchanted because the locals believed that there were some sort of spirits that live in the area, especially in the great depths of the river. The water was dark blue, but the shallow floor was white (because of limestone) so the view was still clear. I saw some schools of small fish. The water tasted a little sweet, too (imagine the mixture of all the stuff out there, yikes! haha)
|View at the bottom|
The current in the river was actually strong that they put ropes and buoys on the far side for swimmers to hold on to. On the other hand, further downstream the water was just knee high during low tide so the place is safe for kids to swim in.
At around 1:30 pm, we’ve decided to leave. By this time, there were already several hundreds of people in the place. It was literally chaotic! Enchanted River has indeed gained much popularity.
This is one place that I highly recommend. Though a bit crowded during summer, visiting Enchanted River is really worth the time, effort, and money you spend. Though there’s not much to do in the river itself, simply gazing at the enthralling view of the river is enough. Be sure to tag lots of friends and loved ones along for that perfect bonding experience!
|The author getting into the water (photo by C. Literatus)|
HOW TO GET TO ENCHANTED RIVER:
If you are coming from Davao City, ride a bus bound for Bislig City, Surigao del Sur at the Ecoland Terminal. Travel time is 5-6 hours. Upon reaching Bislig City, ride a bus bound for Butuan (55 pesos, 1 hour travel time). You have two options upon arriving in Hinatuan. First, you can alight at the transport terminal in the town proper and hire a habal-habal from there (300 pesos for two passengers, roundtrip). Second option is to alight at the junction along the provincial road and catch a habal-habal from there (50 pesos per person per way). The first option is more recommended since not a lot of habal-habal drivers stand by the junction. Travel time is 20-30 minutes.
30 pesos per person
|Flocked by a lot of people during summer|
|View from the end of one bridge|
|This way to paradise|
|Plants all around|
|Splash of colors|