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Hinatuan Enchanted River

The Hinatuan Enchanted River, also called the Hinatuan Sacred River, is a deep spring river on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It flows into the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean at Barangay Talisay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It is found between the boundaries of Barangays of Talisay and Cambatong. It earned the moniker "enchanted river" from the diplomat Modesto Farolan who described the river in his poem entitled "Rio Encantado".[1]

Hinatuan Enchanted River
Hinatuan Sacred River
Hinatuan enchanted river.jpg
Hinatuan Enchanted River is located in Mindanao
Hinatuan Enchanted River
Hinatuan Enchanted River is located in Philippines
Hinatuan Enchanted River
Country Philippines
ProvinceSurigao del Sur
Physical characteristics
MouthHinatuan Bay
 ⁃ location
Length0.27 km (0.17 mi)
 ⁃ locationPhilippine Sea


Hinatuan Bay, which is the habitat of various species of turtles, is located at its mouth.[2] Its mouth also offers a safe anchorage against storms and typhoons.[3]


The first exploration to the cave of the Hinatuan Enchanted River was made by Alex Santos in 1999.[4] The major exploration to the cave system started eleven years later when a group of three cave divers led by Dr. Alfonso Amores with team members Bernil Gastardo and Emgee Guillermo entered the cave in February 2010. The major exploration led to the discovery of a hidden cave opening at 30 metres (98 ft) depth.[5] Succeeding expeditions have been made that led to the discovery of the underwater cave's chamber. During its sixth expedition on June 17, 2014, Dr. Amores perished after failing to exit the narrow entrance to the cave due to a cardiac arrest at 40 metres (130 ft) depth inside the narrow tunnel to the Mayor's Chamber of the cave in the Hinatuan Enchanted River.[6][7]

Explorations have continued in March 2015 aiming to discover its unexplored area beyond its 82 metres (269 ft) depth and is now led by Bernil Gastardo under contract with GIZ, University of San Carlos-Biology Department, and DENR-BMB under the project Hinatuan Enchanted River Underwater Cave System Rapid Source Assessment (HERUCS). Beginning on March 20, a collaborative 5-day assessment and mapping of the ecosystem was conducted by the University of San Carlos and the Filipino Cave Divers (FCD).[4]


The river's unusual colors and unexplored depths has inspired various local legends. One story tells of fairies that added the colors of sapphire and jade to the river to make its unique shade. Local fisherfolk also report seeing fish in the river that cannot be caught through any means.[1] According to locals, the river was called the Enchanted River because of the engkantos that dwell there.[8] Their legends also say that the river is haunted by supernatural beings which act as its protectors.[9]


Since 2017, the local government of Hinatuan prohibits tourists from swimming on the main pool due to preservation and maintenance. However, they still designated a swimming area for tourists near the center of the lagoon which is 10 metres (33 ft) away from the main pool. Daily fish feeding schedule was also changed from 12 noon to 3 in the afternoon. This is done by playing the "Hymn of Hinatuan".


  1. ^ a b Oribe, Romel M (29 September 2012). "Nature spins magic in Enchanted River". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  2. ^ Hines, Ellen; Byrne, Rowan (2005). "The Marine Turtles of Hinatuan Bay, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines". Marine Turtle Newsletter. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ Philippines. Bureau of navigation (1912). List of rivers of the Philippine Islands. Bureau of printing. p. 76. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Hinatuan Enchanted River Underwater Cave System (HERUCS) Rapid Source Assessment". Filipino Cave Divers. 14 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Hinatuan Enchanted River Cave Exploration". Youtube. Dr. Alfonso Amores. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Diver Dies in Surigao Del Sur's Enchanted River". Yahoo! News. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  7. ^ "2014: A Year of Discoveries & Trial by Fire for the FCD". Filipino Cave Divers. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  8. ^ Bacongco, Keith (1 March 2011). "The lost enchantment of Hinatuan's Enchanted River". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  9. ^ Decenella, Jay (4 July 2014). "An enchanting visit in Surigao del Sur". Retrieved 25 March 2015.

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