Northeast Mindanao travel

Mindanao travel: 1000 KM in 5 days

This post follows my two previous Mindanao travels: 1828 KM in 14 days and 1036 KM in 6 days.

Got another ticket and this time it was Cebu-Siargao-Cebu. What to do? But of course, traveling in northeastern Mindanao and tread the path of memory as well as discover new ones. It was almost ten years ago that I’ve been to Siargao, my first with my amour, back when the tourist trail hasn’t been developed much. Of course, there was already the three island tour.

My friend R came all the way from Iligan and joined me in this Siargao-Surigao-Bislig-Hinatuan tour in the span of four days. The fifth day was spent alone in Surigao City and rode a pumpboat back to Siargao for my flight to Cebu.

Interesting seawater pools at Magpupungko Beach in Siargao

Interesting seawater pools at Magpupungko Beach in Siargao

Siargao Island
What to do in Siargao? Instead of surfing (we just visited Cloud 9 and gawked at the surfers), and go island hopping, we decided to do the land tour. From morning to afternoon, we rode a roofed habal-habal and traversed and crisscrossed Siargao, for a total of 197 kilometers.

The waterpools of Magpupungko Beach were stunning. The rock formations of Pacifico in San Isidro were eerie. The water pool of Taktak Falls cool and we had a blast staying at Isla Cabana.

Beautiful and stunning Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur

Beautiful and stunning Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur

Bislig, Surigao del Sur
The waters were thunderous and a spray of mist emanated from the three tiered Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig. Ten years ago, I arrived almost at dusk, the area still undeveloped as what it is today. Now, the forests leading to the beautiful waterfall has been logged as vans upon vans wind their way carrying tourists and visitors wanting to view and get wet at this big cascade.

But please, stop calling it as “the Niagara of the Philippines.” There is just no comparison. No contest.

Enchanted River deluged by people

Enchanted River deluged by people

Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
Of course, the river is just beautiful with its dark blue parts, big fish and beautiful scenery. But enchanted? The fairies have already left I think as this river has been invaded by tourists and visitors having a great time. It’s like Easter Sunday at the beach with lots and lots of people eating at huts dotting the area.

If you were enchanted at looking at images of a serene river at blogs or seen a footage via TV, prepare to be shocked when you actually see the place teeming with the masses.

Docking at Pangasinan Island off Hinatuan for an overnight, island stay

Docking at Pangasinan Island off Hinatuan for an overnight, island stay

Pangasinan Is., Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
Nothing beats an island stay with someone. What I do like at Hinatuan are the island accommodations near the river. For a miinimum of P300 for two for a basic accommodation (plus others like banca fare, food, etc.), we enjoyed the silence and the beach all to ourselves.

Caretakers at the Margaret Peak Island Resort will cook for you, for a fee. There are choices of fish and seafood as well as a basic room with fan.

Early morning before sunrise at Surigao City's pier

Early morning before sunrise at Surigao City’s pier

Surigao City
It was more of a transit area between Siargao and Bislig but on the last day, I stayed at an inn after having dinner and coffee in one of the cafes. It’s still a sleepy town unlike more commercialized Butuan City. But likes it here. The last time I visited the place was when I stayed at Tavern Hotel.

I slept only for a few hours at a very basic room. At the pier, I waited for a motorized pumpboat to travel back to Siargao, but this time, via Del Carmen for my flight back to Cebu. The best scenery even before the break of dawn: this line of boats and houses across the pier.

This post follows my two previous Mindanao travels: 1828 KM in 14 days and 1036 KM in 6 days.

Below are the routes we traveled in northeastern Mindanao.


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View Larger Map

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

10 Comments

  1. Micole l Philippine Traveler
    July 26, 2013 @ 13:14

    ahh I remembered when the Enchanted river was indeed more enchanting when there were lesser people. Now it has become a tourist spot. Noon hindi pa nila masyado pinapayagan mag swim dun eh.. I’d like to see it again though.. do you think I’ll be disappointed?

  2. estancabigas
    July 26, 2013 @ 16:46

    Micole, sorry to say this, but, yes, you will.

  3. Mustachio
    July 26, 2013 @ 22:14

    I’ve always wanted to see Enchanted River… I hope I won’t be too disappointed.

  4. estancabigas
    July 27, 2013 @ 16:18

    best time to visit is very early as it opens or last hour before it closes. the crowds are lesser.

  5. Mustachio
    July 27, 2013 @ 19:33

    Thanks Estan

  6. Micole l Philippine Traveler
    July 30, 2013 @ 19:14

    Oh my =(

  7. Emi
    September 18, 2014 @ 10:57

    Hi. I will be traveling to Siargao next year and I am interested in visiting Hinatuan (for the river and falls) as well. Just a question though, how do I get to Hinatuan if I will be coming from Siargao? I can’t seem to find an answer when Googling. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

  8. estan
    September 19, 2014 @ 20:27

    Emi,

    three options:

    1) you need to go back to Surigao then travel to Tandag via coastal
    2) from Surigao, travel to Butuan and take bus/van to Hinatuan
    3) although I’m not sure if its available but do check around if there’s Bucas Grande – Cantilan and from there, take a van or bus to Hinatuan

    🙂

  9. michie
    July 17, 2015 @ 8:32

    Hi.. can you send me your 5days itinerary as your tour given above.. we are also planning for 5 days trip surigao-siargao-bislig-hinatuan.
    Can you please send it to.my email.
    Thank you very much.

  10. estan
    July 17, 2015 @ 9:33

    ditch the itinerary Michie. Discovering on your own is more awesome. Didn’t travel around mindanao with one.

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