Philippines // Mindanao //

The Enchanted River

Swimming in the Enchanted River (daily; P10) is one of the highlights of Mindanao. The accessible part of the river is more like a narrow saltwater lagoon that ends at an underwater cave and ravine crammed with all sorts of tropical fish that get fed every day at noon. The colours are mesmerizing; the water glows like liquid sapphire, surrounded by dense jungle and karst outcrops.

The site is managed by the local authorities as a small park (you can wander to a small beach from here), but it’s well off the beaten path and very few foreign tourists make it this far. The park lies at the end of a 12km dirt road, just beyond the fishing village of Talisay – the village is almost as enchanting as the lagoon, with neat, nipa and wood cottages, some with stilts over the water, and plenty of blossomy gardens.

The turning to the river and Talisay is signposted 2km north of Hinatuan on the main coast road, 150km south of Butuan; the main road is served by frequent buses plying between Butuan and Mangagoy; without your own transport it’s a very long walk or habal-habal ride from Hinatuan.