PHL | All-in Surigao!!!: Enchanted River, Tinuy-an Falls & Britania Islands

[GUEST POST FROM DAVAO]

by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

After much delay, I was finally able to reach these places where word of mouth was the only thing I could imagine what these places would look like. We jumped off from Davao at 5:00 in the morning, we used the PICOP road to arrive faster.  The road was unfinished but it was not that bad as it just took 3 hours drive by private car.  We stayed in Mangagoy town for the night and visited two of highlight sceneries in Surigao.

REMEMBER to bring some water as the water in the area is not recommended for drinking especially for those with sensitive stomach. Bring also some snacks because food in Britania Islands is quite expensive.

Day 1

1st Stop: Enchanted River

From Mangagoy, it takes about 45 minutes to reach the town of Hinatuan where the Enchanted River is located. Road signs are  clear to see which way to take when going to the river.  The road is sandy, dusty and there are lots of twists and turns getting here.  The parking area is about 300 meters away from the main entrance so you have to walk a bit.  There are food stalls nearby where you can choose a variety of seafood.  I recommend the crabs which are very cheap.  As you go on, you will reach the entrance of the river. Entrance fee costs PHP30 each and rental of tables & chairs will cost you another PHP50.  There is also a fish-feeding (which I don’t understand what there is to feeding small fishes) event every 12 noon which you can catch but it will be crowded though.  Here are some pictures of the river.

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

I strongly suggest going here on a normal weekend as the crowd of people flock here on long holidays which degrades the beauty of the place because of the congestion.  I do believe the place should have a higher entrance fee to avoid some individuals who trash the place.

2nd Stop: Tinuy-an Falls

From Hinatuan we headed back to Mangagoy for the falls. I did this kind of route because if we went to the falls first we would have encountered the crowd of people and followed them till the enchanted river but I think if it’s not on the long weekend I would suggest to go to the falls first then the river and stay for the night at Hinatuan.

The way to the falls from Mangagoy took around 30 minutes due to the bad road. Unfortunately, the current was not so strong because it hasn’t rained for almost 3 months.  Still, it was a great view as the crowd were mostly at the river and we, more or so had the place to ourselves.  You can climb up the falls (which is 80 ft. high) at the side but be careful as the metal steps are slippery due to the moss growing and uneven terrain caused by typhoon Pablo.  The water was warm which discouraged me a bit but the current was still strong.

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

A guide is mandatory when climbing the falls as there have been incidents of drunkards who fell from the 80 feet height. There is no specific amount on how much you should give but we paid PHP50 for a group of four pax.

Day 2

The only Stop: Britania Islands

From the town of Manggagoy, we traveled north to San Agustin to see the Britania Islands.  It took about 2 hours travel to reach the place and the signs were quite clear on what directions should be taken.  When you reach the place, there are several resorts and local “bankeros” to choose from (I will discuss about this further at the bottom).  There are about 21 islands in the Britania area but only 4 of them can be entered by the typical “lantsa”.  If you’re in a hurry, you can tour the islands in just 2 hours but I doubt anybody would be satisfied with that.  It is quite sad that due to dynamite fishing, a lot of the corals have been destroyed.  Even locals who lives near the island leaves their trash behind.  I hope the local government would discipline these people as they are hurting not only the environment but also the tourism.

Mangroves surround the beach area which is a good sign of a rich biodiversity and ecosystem. You can also walk freely on the different resorts, they do not charge an extra fee for just roaming around their area. Here are some pictures of the Britania group of islands.

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

Surigao by Andy Cohun

We started at 9pm and ended at 4pm. You can have lunch on the island provided you brought packed meal and it will also depend on your boatman or you can just go back to your hotel and have lunch there then continue the tour afterwards.  At night, a bonfire can be arranged but you have to pay for the firewood.

 

Lodging

Mangagoy:

  • Paper Country Inn. A room for 4 costs around 1,350 a night.

San Agustin:

  • La Entrada Hotel. The room is housed a bit apart from other rooms as mangrove trees surround the road from one room to another. It costs 2,000 a night with 2 extra beds and free breakfast for 2 pax, an additional 100 per pax will be charged if the others want breakfast.

Guides

Enchanted River:

  • No guides are needed here as you can walk around the river easily

Tinuy-an Falls:

  • A mandatory guide will be provided to you if you want to scale Tinuy-an Falls.

Britania Islands:

  • As for the islands, I would strongly recommend you get the local “bankeros” which costs 1,500 (add 500 if you want to go to the further island) and they will tour you the whole day until you can tour no more. Some of the resorts offer tour services for just 1,000 but the guides would pressure you to be quick and sometimes make excuses on how dangerous the waves are for you to hurry up which is quite irritating.
  • The local “bankeros” were also the ones who can provide the bonfire for you and if planned earlier even do the cooking and market for you. I have experienced 2 guides here and they are cousins who guided my group to a very very enjoyable island hopping here at the Britania Islands.

Tata Libres – (0930)3912350

  • This guys is quite educated and will tell you about the culture and how things work in the island. Very soft spoken and knowledgeable and will be very happy to answer all of your questions.

Rominick (anot) Quinones – (0948)8199764

  • This guy is very loud which will never make the trip boring. He has full of funny stories of his customers in the past and does a very good imitation of being gay.

* I was lucky enough to have both of these guys on the boat while touring the islands and I would definitely hire them again if I were to come back to the islands again.

Directions:

  • Google Maps is sufficient enough to guide you.

Budget: 

  • We spent around PHP2,500 each for a group of 4 pax.  I will not break it down as I didn’t take the liberty of listing everything that we spent.
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