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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surigao del Sur/ The Tri-Aqua Mindanao Adventure: A Travel Guide





The whole island of Mindanao has been presented to the general public by the ‘tri-media’, particularly  the irresponsible journalists, as a dangerous place to be in. With this sweeping statement, the beautiful side of Mindanao has been blocked from the eyes of the public due to fear and anxious feeling of being kidnapped or killed.

With this blog, I hope I can help turn things right by revealing the true face of the paradise feared by many. I  also hoped that everyone who reads this blog will agree with me.

First stop, the province of Surigao del Sur. This huge province in Mindanao is a sleeping giant when it comes to tourism. I have come and have worked in this place for almost two years now and it never stopped surprising me with beautiful potential tourist destinations. The first three sites which amazed me are Tinuy-an Falls, Hinatuan’s Enchanted River and Britania Group of Islands .These magnificent destinations had been previously featured in this blog.

To give way to those who wishes to experience the Tri-Aqua Mindanao Adventure, I made a list of travel tips that includes itinerary and a projected individual budget.

Note : I assumed that visitors are coming from Cebu or from Manila. So the cost projected in my calculations is a little higher compare to locals’ expense since accommodations are required for a 4 days 3 nights stay. And of course, those who are coming from Mindanao  can expect that your budget will be reduced by half especially if you are coming from the nearby town or city. The costs are also subject to change, so I suggest putting an extra margin on your budget is a smart move.


Day 0 : Arrival

Butuan  to Mangagoy:  ( take the earliest airplane schedule if coming from Cebu or Manila)

  1. Direct Trip- From  Bancasi airport you can hire a taxi, the price range is from Php200-300 or you can  take the cheaper way, find the  Multicab with a sign 'ROUTE 4' waiting infront of the airport  that shall lead directly to Butuan Central Bus Terminal. Each passenger has to pay Php20.00. Just bear with the inconvenience of choosing the latter. At the terminal look for the Bachelor bus heading directly to Mangagoy, fare is approximately Php 300.00. Travel time is estimated 5 hours.

  1. Cutting Trip-  If the bus going to Mangagoy has just left, take the bus going to Davao; inform the bus conductor that you shall alight in San Franz ( San Francisco, Agusan del Sur). The fare is Php110 for non-aircon bus ; travel time is 2 hours.

From San Franz, you have the option of  waiting  for a bus bound for Mangagoy or take the van for the same route. Fare is Php 200.00 , travel time is 3 hours.

Mangagoy:

You will know that you are near the City terminal of Mangagoy when you see the vast city boulevard with murky brown seashore. From the bus terminal, take a tricycle to pension house /lodge of your choice. In my case I tried Sheila’s Pension House along Espiritu Street for Php 700 air-conditioned room good for 3 occupants. 

At night ,you can take a tour in the city through walking or  tricycle, Php8.00 per ride. Commercial food chains are available like Jollibee or if you are in a tight budget, 'carenderias' are overwhelming in numbers.


Day 1  : Mangagoy  to Tinuy-an

You can ask the locals if habal habal passes by your street, if not take a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to the terminal of the Habal habal. From there, negotiate with the driver for a Tinuy-an Waterfalls and Hinatuan River transfer service. In my experience, we hired two habal- habals for Php 1000.00 each (sharing among 4 adventurers).

The trip going to Tinuy-an can last for a minimum of an hour.  Upon reaching the place, ask the driver to wait for you  for a couple of hours or better get his name and contact number. There is an entrance fee of Php50.00/pax and if you wish to rent a cottage the biggest one costs Php300.00 while the small table is Php100.00.  Leave Tinuy-an Falls by 10:00am

Tinuy-an to Enchanted River:

After you get tired of Tinuy-an,  get ready for a 2 hour ride to Hinatuan. Reaching  Brgy. Talisay, the road is half finished,so better prepare a handkerchief or small towel to cover your face against the dust. Brgy.Talisay would be the end of service for your habal habal so politely give your thanks to your driver and his ‘PF’. The entrance to the gate is Php30.00 and additional Php100 -300 for the table of your choice.

You don’t have to worry about the food; a small wet market is available outside the gate. You can ask the vendors to cook it for you for a minimal fee of course. Rice and beverages are also available. Plastic bags are not allowed. So don’t get pissed off when the vendor refused to sell you a plastic bag for your wet clothes because plastic bags are prohibited (barangay ordinance) in the whole vicinity of Enchanted River.I suggest bring your own recyclable/reusable bag. 

After your tiring swimming and non-stop picture taking, you can ask the boat operator at the north end of the river. You have the option to have an "offshore tour" . At the end you can ask the boat operator to take you to Sibadan or Fishcage Sand Bar located in the middle of the sea. That would be your accommodation for the night. Boat ride is Php200.00 includes back and forth hotel transfer. Room charges vary on size from Php300-1200. Food is not a problem in the ‘fishcage hotel’, so you don’t have to worry bringing your own. ( Check  my  Blog Entry- Sandbar-Hotel in the Sea)

Day 2   : Hinatuan to Britania Group of Islands        

I suggest that you wake up early in the morning to witness the magnificent sunrise in Hinatuan. After breakfast, ask your hostel host to radio a boatman to send you back to Talisay. Ask the local in Talisay to call for a Habal habal but don’t get frustrated as it will take a little while. From Talisay head back to Hinatuan terminal, usually you pay Php50.00 per head for the habal habal service, but if you are generous enough you can give a little tip to the driver.Remember you are there directly benefiting from the people's initiative  by protecting the site so a little generosity would be nice.

Hinatuan to Britania: 

From the terminal, take a bus or a ‘jeepney’ either bound to San Franz or Butuan. Just tell the bus conductor that you will alight in Barobo terminal, fare is approximately Php60-70. In Barobo terminal you can buy your  lunch for your island hopping in Britania . Take a bus or van going to Tandag City. Tell the conductor that you will alight in Brgy. Salvacion/Britania,fare is less than Php100.00

You will know that you are in Salvacion when you see the board of La Entrada. At the waiting shed of Brgy. Salvacion, take a habal habal going to Britania, fare is Php 20.00 per head.  Better ask your driver to pick  you up before 2:00 pm .Proceed to LGU tour facilitator or to a private resort in the area. The tour costs Php1500.00 per banca.

You also have the option to stay in one of the private resorts and accommodation in Britania if your time become "compromised" along the way. 

After you finish your lunch in Buslon island, head back to the main land before 2pm. Go back to the highway through your hired single motorbike and wait for a bus or van bound for Butuan  or you may do the cutting trip, take a van heading to San Franz , then bus bound for Butuan.

In Butuan take a tricycle going to your choice of accommodation, there is the Red Palm, Prince Hotel, Windsoar, Hotel Caraga etc. In my case I always go for the cheapest option so I am a regular patron of Garage/Julians Inn along Nangka road. It is a little bit far off from the highway(5 minutes walk) but at least it is safe and peaceful. The single non-airconditioned room is Php290.00  while the airconditioned room is Php390.00. Towel and other toiletries are not provided.

Day 3: Butuan to Home

Take your breakfast either in the restaurant of the hotel or proceed to Cuidad . Tricycle is rare in the morning so you will take a little walk back to the highway. After you had your meal you can now ride back to the airport. Take a multicab with a sign  Bancasi, fare is P15.00.  I just hope you are not late! Bon voyage and have a safe trip back home!

Summary :  Itinerary and Projected Budget for the Tri-Aqua Mindanao Adventure in Surigao del Sur.




Thank you and I hope this will help you on your trip to Surigao del Sur.


7 comments:

  1. Very precise!!! Love your blog kuya! And hey i am bookmarking this :)

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    1. thanks wandershugah....just let me know if you have queries to help you on future trips in SDS :D

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  2. Yah very true, Mindanao has been unfairly tagged for the longest time as dangerous. Mindanao is composed of many provinces. Many of which are peaceful, and holds such awesome treasures. I've been to Surigao, Bukidnon, CDO, Davao, Zamboanga and had a blast each time. I guess as bloggers we can make it our mission to make people aware that Mindanao is not equal to 'danger zone'.

    This post is a contribution to the cause -> Top Mindanao Attractions

    pasencia na sa long comment, my father is from Mindanao and we have many relatives from there and so this issue is a bit close to my heart.

    Looking forward to your future articles on discovering the best of Mindanao!

    Cille =)

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  3. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully matuloy ako dto.

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  4. Hope to see you around in Mindanao Mousehunt:D

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  5. Adrenaline RomanceJune 13, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    We are planning to visit Surigao this year. Your very detailed guide will surely help us on our trip. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Very detailed post. This tri-aqua adventure must be really hard and confusing especially if you're from Manila. This will surely help us man, i appreciate your effort to help us! THANKS!!!

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About The Author

Love Mindanao finished his graduate degree in Environmental Science and Ecosystem Management in Manila. He left his lucrative job from the city and worked humbly in the forested area of Mindanao as an Environmental Specialist in Surigao del Sur His love for Mindanao flourished when he saw the untold truth about the once feared island. His blog provides budget friendly travel guide in visiting marvelous and enchanting destinations in Mindanao and also other remarkable places in the Philippines.He also disseminates environmental awareness and features some of the unique flora and fauna encountered along his journey and share some interesting facts about its ecological importance. He is married to his work and to his passion to travel.. ...Read More