Hinatuan Enchanted River – Hinatuan, Philippines - Atlas Obscura

Hinatuan Enchanted River

Hinatuan, Philippines

A magically clear, blue river that seems to spring from nowhere. 

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Hidden in the Philippine jungle is a short stretch of river that seems to pop up out the ground just to send its miraculously clear, blue water out to the sea.

The Hinatuan Enchanted River in Mindanao, Philippines, is a flawless saltwater river that flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is around 80-feet deep, and just barely long enough to be considered a river, yet the flow attracts visitors from around the world who want to experience the beautiful waters that locals have long thought to be miraculous. Its moniker “Enchanted River” came from a poem by Modesto Farolan.

In fact, no one is sure exactly where the saltwater emanates from, although the prevailing theory involves an underground cave system that spits the river out, free of any dirt or silt which would usually cloud such a stream. Whatever the explanation, the clean waters are a natural wonder unlike any other. 

Local legends tell all sorts of stories about the river. One of which states that fairies added some mesmerizing colors of sapphire and jade to the river. Another legend states that the river is home to a mysterious fish that is impossible to catch.

In 2017, the local government prohibited swimming in the main pool for preservation and maintenance. At the same time, they designated a swimming area some  33 feet (10 meters) away from the pool. Travelers should keep in mind that the infrastructure by the river is close to zero, thus, there are no facilities to buy medicine or food.

Know Before You Go

From the Butuan City Domestic Airport, you can take a van that goes straight to the town of Hinatuan. They can let you off near a signboard that Hinatuan Enchanted River where you can ride a motorcycle that passes through a dirt road and then a forested area leading to the river.You may also come in from Davao City and take a van or a bus to the same signboard to Hinatuan.