When in Surigao: Road Trip to Enchanted River

Surigao lies next to the fathomless underwater gorge, “Philippine Deep”, being one of the deepest portions in the Pacific Ocean.  Rugged mountains are prominent borders throughout the long coasts.  Bounded by the Hinatuan Passage, this area stands strong from the countless typhoon as the eye of the tropical storm frequently visits Hinatuan.

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Not all people know the beauty and the potential of tourism of Surigao.  For some, it’s just another flight or a boat ride to the more famous one Siargao.  But if one gets to witness the hidden treasure in this overlooked paradise, the experience will be one for the books.

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Transportation is very challenging where bus rides are very scanty and habal-habal trips are a pain in the ass, literally.  Destinations can be reached ranging from three to eight hours each.  However, after every pause, every picture and every smile, you realize that the journey itself is the best part of your vacation.

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From Surigao to Cortes is a three to four hour bus or van ride involving a long and winding road with lots of drifting.  View of a barren mountain is due to intense mining in the province resulting to a dark muddy beach and polluted brown waters.

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When riding a bus to Tandag, alight from the drop off point of Cortes and ride a habal-habal going to Laswitan for 20 minutes.  With us, we made a detour first to their carinderia which took about 10 minutes to have our lunch and to change our clothes.

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Pathway to the entrance

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The entrance fee here is for only 20 pesos.

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After going down the stairs for about 2 minutes, you get to witness this view.

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Going further is the pathway to the ocean waterfall.

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Behind me is supposedly the ocean waterfall.  Unfortunately, it was a bad timing for us as the current is not so strong to make a continuous flow along the steep rocks.  They say December to January is the best time to visit as it is the peak of rainy season and typhoons visit the area for the water splash will be huge and nonstop.

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You can take time and swim in this natural pool.  Go here during high tide to see the scenery as the best time to visit is the rainy season.

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More picture taking first before the mountain kamang.

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The struggle is real. Seriously.

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Reminds me of Bolinao in Pangasinan. One slip here and you’d fall and die.  The waves were so big that they almost reached me.

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With great shots involves more buwis buhay che che

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Going down with ropes and guide? Kill me now.

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Next on our trip is the famous Enchanted River.  It takes another five hours to reach Hinatuan from Cortes with a total of eight to nine hours of freaking land trip from Surigao.  If you want less travel time, you can make Butuan your point of origin which only gives you half of the travel time.

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Well, this river is not so enchanting after all.  I think the water was not so clear because it was raining.  We were really jinxed at that time.  The river was so crowded.  There were so many people so you can’t actually enjoy swimming or take good pictures.  But the fact that it has salty water is very intriguing and on the left side is a bottomless pit where nobody has reached yet.  Few divers tend to take the challenge but were tragically unsuccessful.

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Habal-habal ride from our inn to Hinatuan takes 30 minutes to the tourist spot.

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You can have some refreshing buko juice when you arrive.  I don’t honestly drink this but yeah, you can enjoy it yourself.

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Before heading to the entrance, there are a lot of vendors selling food.  They will cook for you.  It’s like what we call pala-pala.  Enjoy seafood at an unbelievably cheap price.

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Entrance fee is for only 30 pesos.  Tour with the habal-habal includes Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls costing 1500 pesos.

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Swimming time while waiting for our food.

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These are the cottages where almost everyone enjoys their lunch.  Our table is for only 50 pesos.

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The food was worth the wait.

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Here, with our manong driver who is ever so accommodating.  Boboy – 0948 126 9618

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Around 12pm, the visitors flock to the side to witness this eventful fish feeding.

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Time for some pictorial before going to the next destination.

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Excuse the tampi, hindi ako na inform na wala may naga bikini diri.

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Too much crowd, but the water was very clean and bluish green.

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Because if I didn’t have this picture, then I wasn’t here.

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The water was incomparable.

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Renting a raft is for only 150 pesos.  There are two volunteers who would “drive” the raft without charge but do accept tips or donations.

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Entrance to Tinuy-an Falls is only 50 pesos.

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From Enchanted River, this can be reached with the habal-habal for an hour and a half travel time so a total of three hours will be a freaking waste of your squats.  Too long for us to sit on the habal-habal where your butt goes numb for a long time, so we stopped over for icecream and coffee for manong.

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Muni-muni

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Well, honestly there were only a few decent pictures on the raft because the water was so strong.

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Char!

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Ikadlaw na lang ang pag hang sang gopro.

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Kudos to manong for jumping in the water to get this shot.

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Smile!

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Goodbye Tinuy-an!  Can’t afford to waste time to follow our itinerary.

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Day 3 is Island Hopping to Britannia Islands

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The boat can very much occupy up to ten people.

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The picture doesn’t do justice of how beautiful the water is.  I can imagine surfing here with just having the most pristine waves.  However our boatman told us it’s not safe and the sea floor is rocky.

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First on the list is Bonbon Island. It’s the largest among the group.  The usual rate is 1500 for 3 hours but then if you want to visit this place then you have an additional 1000 since it’s the farthest of the islands and you can have the boat the whole day.

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Next is Hagunoy Island.

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This is my favorite as there is a little sandbar wherein it’s a perfect place to swim as waves from opposite direction meet together.

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Naked Island is a small islet.  It is just a small mound of plain white and powdered sand surrounded by unparalleled clarity of the water.

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I’m definitely in my happy place.

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Naked Island in Britannia, Surigao is different from the Naked Island in Siargao. Although it’s smaller compared to the famous one in Siargao, the water is very clear and similar to Maldives.

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Hiyor-Hiyoran Island is the eating place of all the islands.  There is a pala-pala here; a little expensive compared to Hinatuan.  You can also enjoy shopping for pasalubong.  From keychain to wooden mirrors and sala sets, they have it here.

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Natunaw na ya ang ice. letse

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Cheers!

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Lubos-Lubos ang bulad for the perfect tan!

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Tried sea urchin and it was fine. hahhahaha. We had a hard time arguing on how to cook the octopus.  All this time I thought octopus and squid are much the same. Wth.  Told them to just prepare it as kinilaw.  Didn’t like it so we made them turn it into adobo.  Yes, we are that demaning. So sorry.

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Last stop. Boslon Island.

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There are two islets connected by a sandbar.

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We just didn’t have time to spare to get to the other side.

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The water is too pretty.

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All done. Back to Surigao City.

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Where To Stay

Hinatuan:
Maryland Lodging House
Población Zone II, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Espana Blvd
+639078689808

San Agustin:
Mac Arthur’s Place
Britannia, Surigao Davao Coastal Road, San Agustin 8305 Surigao del Sur
+639999910845

Surigao:
Lokal Suites
Narciso Street, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte
+63868360778

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Travel Tips

  1. It is best you travel by large groups so you can rent out a van and follow your itinerary.  Public transportation is really a struggle as there are only few trips throughout the province.
  2. Fly to Butuan airport instead of Surigao to save travel time for the land trip.
  3. If you have an ample time, take a ferry from Surigao City and visit SIARGAO.
    For ferry schedule and fare visit: http://surigaoislands.com/news-and-updates/item/83-surigao-to-siargao-island-boat-schedule.html
  4. Or you can take your road trip further and visit to Davao via land transportation.
  5. For SIARGAO blog posts click here:
    https://wengwengwanders.com/2014/10/15/where-to-go-in-siargao-island-hopping-at-bucas-grande/
    https://wengwengwanders.com/2014/11/06/when-in-siargao-go-on-island-hopping-at-naked-dako-and-guyam-islands/
    https://wengwengwanders.com/2014/11/26/when-in-siargao-surf-at-cloud-9/
    https://wengwengwanders.com/2014/09/15/where-to-go-in-siargao-magpupungko-beach-and-tidal-pools/

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Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Bacolod to Cebu 7:40pm
Cebu 10:30pm
Eat 10:45pm
Check In 11:30pm
“Clubbing” up to 3:00am

Day 2

Cebu to Surigao 7:35am
Airport to Bus Terminal 9:00am
Tandag 1:00pm
Lunch 2:00pm
Laswitan 2:30pm
Tandag 4:00pm
Hinatuan 9:00pm
Dinner 9:20pm
Check In 10:00pm

Day 3
Breakfast 08:00am
Enchanted River 10:00am
Lunch 1:00am
Trike to Tinuy-an Falls 3:30pm
Check out 6:00pm
San Agustin 8:00pm

Day 4

Breakfast 7:00am
Island Hopping 08:00am
Lunch in the island 11:00am
Bus to Tandag 03:00pm
Surigao 07:00pm
Dinner 07:30pm
Check In 09:00pm

Day 5

Surigao to Cebu 11:30am
Lunch at Airport 3:00pm
Cebu to Bacolod 04:35pm

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Travel Expenses

Plane Fare to Surigao 8371
Plane Fare to Cebu 5100
Taxi 205
Dinner 2160
Taxi 103
Room 1480
Taxi 70
Taxi 200
Bar 375
Taxi 200
Bar 400
Taxi 80
Taxi 200
Jeep to Terminal 150
Van to Cortes 750
Lunch 310
Water 75
Entrance to Laswitan 60
Trike to Laswitan 500
Van to Tandag 150
Van to Borobo 330
Bus to Hinatuan 150
Dinner 360
Trike 60
Breakfast 512
Room 1200
Entrance to Enchanted River 90
Lunch 910
Plates 36
Seafood 610
Hut 50
Package Tour 1500
Snacks 113
Trike 150
Entrance to Tinuy-an 150
Raft 400
Trike to San Agustin 1000
Dinner 375
Environmental Fee 75
Room 2000
Breakfast 200
Redhorse 225
Lunch  1220
Boat 2700
Shower 60
Trike 60
Bus to Tandag 240
Bus to Surigao 1200
Room 1690
Dinner 474
Breakfast 300
Trike 150
Terminal Fee 300
Trike 24
Trike to Airport 150
Lunch 1200

Total 41203 group of 3 (13734)

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