Bathing at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River

DSC_0310Nowadays, the Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the most visited site in Southern Philippines as most of the educational field trips of both government and private companies, including small group outings in Mindano are always pointing there. The place was highlighted and recommended several times by tourists who had been there and experienced its charming scenery.

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Terraza Viktoria, Borobo, Surigao del Sur

Buddies: Family (8+)

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Sole standing tall tree greeted us while on the way to Hinatuan.

We stayed overnight at a friendly paid accommodation in Trento, Agusan del Sur. The accommodation was supposedly not accepting outsiders but because we have a family friend whose working there, we availed its guest room and bed at a super cheap rent. The group left at 6:30am to have a longer time in the Enchanted River.

Moderate rain showered so early and the weather was acting accordingly to the local weather forecast. We reached the small village of Hinatuan and the parking area to the river at 9am. We brought our valuable things as there was a need to hike from the parking area to the entrance gate. At the entrance, we registered and paid the entrance fee. Also, at the right side of the gate is a row of stalls offering fresh fish and sea foods. They can cook it according to the costumer’s liking and deliver it to the cottage at a given time for a small fee.

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DSC_0306After the entrance gate, we hiked entering the secluded vicinity.  The surrounding trees and undisturbed forest are hiding the serenity of the site. Only the resort’s private vehicles have access on the entrance road while the rest of the visitors should have to walk. We reached the checked-in building where a staff guided us to our reserved bamboo-made cottage. The place is like a resort with cottages, benches, tables, and full of people. There are also stairs down to the water. We also rented life jackets which are required and very important while swimming on this river.

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DSC00542This river is believably enchanted and that is where the locals acquired its name. There are mythical stories known to the locals about its legend. Its depth is never measure even by professional divers as it is like a continuous underground tunnel filled with water. The appearance of the fishes from below during feeding time at 12nn is still a mystery. However, you can still see the people (including me) bathing and diving on this dangerous mysterious water source.

There is a shallow part at the side of the river for kids but it was too dangerous for them without the guarding adults. Mosquito repellent lotion is also necessary to bring because the thick forest is covering the vicinity. These insects normally attack the victim once rise up from the water.

DSC_0357The river is temporarily cease for swimming few weeks after our visit but there is certain area where the tourist can enjoy its cool water. It is now only for photography which is for me is good enough to preserve its mysterious beauty. I had no chance of peeking the real dark bluish color of the water as signage of its deepest part during my visit. The water appears so blue and majestic on a regular sunny day but since the entire week was raining, the water was not as clear as what I expected.

Side Trip to Stingrays

At the dock, downstream of the river, there were rental motorized boats for P150 per hour. They brought us to the resort stationed in the middle of the sea with a small entrance fee. They offered us feeding of stingrays and swimming with other fishes. They also have rooms for an overnight stay especially in Sibadan Resort which has a restaurant too.

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DSC_0425At 4pm, we left Hinatuan and before we headed to our accommodation in Borobo, we visited the Wakat Cave and freshened us in the pool of cold spring water supplied inside the dark cave. The cave is normally public bathing area of the locals which is hidden from the knowledge of the tourists.

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Bonding in Paradise Resort

The ringing telephone hidden under our bed put my little kid on alert. We are normally hiding the telephone once we are in the hotel because the toddler loved to play with it. The hotel receptionist informed us that our check out time would be 10am. We were advised to meet our travel agent who booked our next resort accommodation in Maldives before 11am.

The booking was made by Island Voyage, the travel agent we knew online by chatting while surfing Maldives resorts. At first, it was uncomfortable conversation. If we should believe on these people or not. We’re thinking the possibilities of an online fraud who victimized travelers. However, we decided to try. The agent only request a 50% down-payment. The remaining would be paid upon arrival in Maldives. As they are sending vouchers and receipt with a legitimate company address, we determined that the agent was recognized and legal.

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At 10:30am, we left the hotel going to the airport. The hotel driver assured that we will meet the agent. He led us to the booths area where the agent was waiting for us. We paid the additional 50% payment, and he gave us the hotel accommodation check in voucher. He then transferred us to another booth to prepare the speedboat transfer going to the resort.

The speedboat departed from the airport at 11:20am. Together with us were the group of Chinese family.

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Location: Lankanfinolhu Island, Maldives

Where I Stayed: Paradise Island Resort & Spa

Buddies: Family

After 20 minutes, we arrived at the resort’s jetty. A staff greeted and guided us to the reception which was a few minutes by walk. At the reception, they gave each of us forms to fill in information and a welcome drink. After a short introduction, the bellboy guided us to our beach front bungalow room. We actually preferred water villas but it’s not safe for kids. Anyway, beach bungalow was wide and spacious. The toilet was so spacious and there was an outdoor shower.

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Paradise Island Resort and Spa gave us the most relaxing days in Maldives. Our daily routine for three days was so luxurious. We started the day with snorkeling at the jetty, buffet breakfast in restaurant, relax inside the room, and beach bathing in the afternoon. Our night ended sitting at the jetty walkway watching the group of stingrays and sharks after a buffet dinner.

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The snorkeling sites on this resort are at the jetty side and in water villas. The beach at the water villas was the safest ground for small children. The water was shallow and also not busy from water sport activities.

The best thing we did at  the night was watching for sharks and stingrays during feeding time. It was my first time to meet small sharks while swimming. They said, they don’t bite and will ignore human.

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Recommendation

This was only based on my personal experience. Don’t stay in the resort for longer than three days if you are a food critic. I observed that the menu was repeatedly served on the third day. The drinks on the night are not free. A bottle of water is not free too.  Some resort, like Paradise, doesn’t offer free wifi. Only US dollars and credit cards payment are accepted.

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