The Enchanted River in Hinatuan was one of the places I was looking forward to in our Surigao del Sur trip. First seen on the famous Travel/Docu show “Born to be Wild”, I was immediately curios to see it for myself. Mid-day after taking lunch coming from Tinuy-an Falls, we proceeded to Hinatuan which is roughly an hour away from Bislig. Finding it gave a sort of mix feelings. Only to discover it’s not how I envisioned it seen from the famed TV show.
Maybe we came in a not so ideal time. We knew the long weekend would bring people here but I still wasn’t prepared from what I saw – the huge crowd. For a moment, we halted at the entrance and pondered if we should proceed. We were there anyway so we might as well check. We payed our P10 entrance fee per head and not opting to get a table since we’re sure we’ll be leaving a lot sooner from this fiesta.
The Hinatuan River was indeed a surreal body of water with glimmering deep cobalt to turquoise waters with a few fishes looking like a mirage as it swims in this liquid crystal. But my amazement was damped down by numerous people jumping in, passing through and the crowd littering the scene. I can’t blame them since it’s a long weekend but it was hard to appreciate the place really.
We decided to explore deeper, going by the narrow footbridge on the side of the cliffs following the river flow as it gets shallow. I hear a scream approaching and heard a zipping sound pass by. Oh! a Zipline! Why am I not surprised? We continued on the footbridge hoping there is some solitary space in this craziness.
At the end of the foot bridge are numerous parked boats offering a tour of Hinatuan Bay. It turns out the river flows out to the sea and there are Fish Cages and a Vanishing Island to discover. The boat ride was only P160 per hour which can fit four of us. We thought it was cheap so we decided to do the touristy thing and see what this tour has to offer.
Our boatman let us choose which ones we would like to visit so we opted for the Vanishing Island. We arrived there in about 15 minutes and saw a large sandbar slowly being engulfed by the sea in the afternoon. There were also vendors there selling clams and other exotic shells which I think were not a good practice. Those same clams are the ones used for reforestation.
The visit to Sibadan Fish Cages just furthered my disappointment about the whole place. Seeing a number of sea turtles (pawikan) encaged there for entertainment was disheartening. Not to mention that their plumbing is non-existent. Use the toilet; it goes straight to the sea.
All of us share the same sentiment of leaving soon. It was touristy and the management has no regard for the environment. I’m not sure if I just came at the wrong time but I was not enchanted, okay maybe slightly from seeing the river but as a whole, it was a letdown. We decided to return to Tinuy-an Falls again that afternoon and be wowed by Surigao del Sur again.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.