What’s so enchanting about the river in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur? In 2014, my friends and I went to the sleepy town of Talisay to see the famous Enchanted River and find out for ourselves.
Earlier in the day, we rented a van in Agusan del Norte for our tour around the province of Surigao del Sur. We went to the Enchanted River after visiting Tinuy-an Falls and the International Doll House in Bislig. Thereafter, we set off on a one-hour ride to Hinatuan, where the Enchanted River can be found.
Since we arrived in the afternoon, there were already many tourists in the area. For a P30 entrance fee per person, we were allowed access to the stream. Right behind the wooden view deck was a series of stone steps which lead to the left bank of the river. The water beckons, clear and glistening with hundreds of fishes zipping back and forth just beneath the surface.
Where Fairies Play
With its ethereal charm, the Enchanted River has inspired many local legends. Stories about fairies and spirits frolicking in the waters abound among locals, and many believe that the fish swimming lazily in the river cannot be caught. Some say that the river got its deep sapphire color from the spirits who serve as its guardians.
According to the locals, no one knows how deep the river goes. In the past, divers have been able to reach about 80 ft., and what lies beyond that depth remains a mystery. In 2010, professional divers have discovered an underwater cave hidden from sight 30 ft. below the surface. Unfortunately, in another expedition in 2014, one of the divers died of cardiac arrest while inside the narrow tunnel connecting the mouth of the cave to an inner chamber, which they had been exploring.
If you want to have an idea what it looks like to swim in this river, here’s a short video shot and edited by my friend Lovely. (This film also includes the other places we’ve visited in Mindanao.)
Who knows what these brackish waters hide in its depths? Can the fish in the river really avoid capture? We can only guess.