Surigao del Sur, a quite difficult to reach province in Mindanao is blessed with natural attractions that beckons tourists. The butt-numbing ride is worth enduring knowing that once you reach your destination, a splendid place awaits you.
One such attraction that has gained a fair share of attention is Tinuy-an Falls in the town of Bislig. Reachable by habal-habal (motorcycle) that can be hired from Mangagoy, the commercial center of Bislig; this three-tiered water falls though not as tall as it appears in pictures, is indeed wide. The smaller cascades above the main falls are a perfect spot for swimming. Tinuy-an Falls has been developed already, stores and cottages for rent are now available which makes it ideal for family picnics.
A neighboring town Hinatuan has also risen to fame because of the Enchanted River. And like Tinuy-an Falls, the area has been developed; picnic tables and cottages have been built and the once pristine river is now akin to a pool. Despite these changes, the deep blue basin remains majestic. The deeper part of the water is a mixture of cobalt and turquoise and the water turns green at the shallow area that opens to the endless sea. When we arrived there early morning, we saw charming fishes swimming in the river. According to our habal-habal driver, what remains a mystery is that those elusive fishes are never caught by anyone who attempts to catch them. Since the Enchanted River is now flocked by tourists, to better appreciate it, it is advisable to go there early in the morning to avoid the crowd especially during weekends and holiday. Swimming in its refreshingly cool water is a must. For non-swimmers, lifejackets are for rent at Php 15 per hour.
Hinatuan is known for its delicious seafood, in fact, a few meters away from the entrance of the Enchanted River; you can find locals selling affordable fresh crabs, lobsters, shrimps, fish and shells. You can even have it cooked and delivered to your picnic tables.
At the mouth of the river, boats for island hopping (good for 4 people) are available for rent. For only Php 160 per hour these boats can take you to neighboring islands with golden sand beaches. Beach bumming is ideal in Pangasinan Beach,and Margaret Island but if you have been to many good beaches in the country, you may find them ordinary. A sandbar is visible during low tide beside the Sibadan Fish Cage. The viewing deck at Margaret Island Peak Resort is worth checking as it offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
(Gael Hilotin is a female solo traveler who is currently traveling around the Philippines, follow her adventures here: The Pinay Solo Backpacker.)