Caution: Don’t jump if you can’t swim.
Enchanted River is located in the sleepy town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur province. The river is called enchanted due to its unknown depth and that fairies gather during here during the night. According to locals, no one has ever reached the bottom of the river yet.
Coming here isn’t walk-in-the-park if you’re coming from Manila. From Manila, the nearest airport to fly into is Butuan. From Butuan, there are buses going to Mangagoy. There are several bus companies that ply this route but Bachelor Bus company has new fleet and you would want to seat comfortably for four hours.
The bus fare is 120 pesos which is relatively cheap. The road is rather bumpy and the temperature inside the bus can be chilly so it’s recommended to bring a blanket. It is important to tell the bus conductor to get you off at Enchanted River and make sure to remind him as it would be a lot of hassle if you miss the stop.
The bus makes stop at almost every town to pick passengers so keep your cool or better yet sleep but don’t oversleep as you don’t want to miss your stop. After four hours, you have to get off the bus and there are motorcyles waiting to ferry passengers directly to Enchanted River.
Don’t hop in immediately and be sure to bargain. The normal fare from the bus stop is 150 pesos one way. Since you need to go back to the bus stop or stay in a hostel somewhere in Hinatuan, the fare would be 300 pesos. If you can bargain for a price lower than 300 pesos the better. In any case, don’t accept a price higher than that.
The motorcylce ride could take 10 to 15 minutes. The road is paved and smooth all the way. I was told by the driver that it was paved only recently and it could take half an hour before to reach the river. Thanks to the officials who made it possible for tourists’ convenience.
The driver also told me that during the morning, it is almost impossible to soak your body in the river as there are hundreds of visitors competing for the limited space. It could take you hours to wait falling in line to experience jumping.
Luckily for me, I arrived around 5pm and the people start leaving by the time I arrive. Entrance fee is 30 pesos and open until 6pm. When I arrived, I wasn’t even asked to pay the entrance fee. The technique is to arrive late afternoon to get in for free and enjoy the river for one whole hour. The water is cold and I became a child once again by jumping over and over and over.
Tourists can take a boat ride to enjoy the scenery but since it was late, I wasn’t able to experience it. Besides that, there is no other place of interest nearby and the only option is to go back to the bus stop and continue your journey or stay overnight in a hostel in Hinatuan.