Be Awed by the Tinuy-an Falls

Macky Calo explores a hard-to-visit waterfall whose beauty is worth the effort of getting there.

By Macky Calo
July 11, 2011

Aptly described by its name "tinuy-an," an adjective in Visayan vernacular that means "requiring intention," Tinuy-An Falls demands a resolute intent to find. Tucked deep in the thick woods of Baranggay Burboanan, Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, this magnificent waterfall is not the most convenient sight to visit, but whatever difficulty you experience getting there will be well worth it. The nearest airport is in Butuan City, from which one can take a four- to five-hour Bachelor Bus ride to Mangagoy, the heart of Bislig's trade and commerce. Alternatively, it will take the Bachelor Bus one more butt-numbing hour of travel to arrive in Mangagoy from the Ecoland Bus Terminal of Davao City.

Mangagoy is still 14 kilometers away from the falls that beckon. The Integrated Terminal of Managagoy has jeepneys for hire that can take you to the falls for a negotiable price of approximately P1,500. Or you can be a bad-ass and "ride bitch" on a motorcycle!  Just ask for a habal-habal, which costs around P150 per head, negotiable of course. For those who despise haggling, call Lori of the Bislig Tourism Council to arrange for a van to shuttle you to the falls from the Bislig City Hall. Lori can also arrange a sumptuous meal of crabs and ihaw-ihaw for you, saving you the hassle of bringing your own picnic food to Tinuy-an, where food is otherwise unavailable, except for some occasional durians which are sold by the entrance of the waterfall area.


Upon paying the entrance fee of P10 pesos, prepare to gawk, because that's all you are going to do for the next ten minutes when you finally set eyes on the majestic Tinuy-an Falls, before you cry out the expletive of your choice. The glorious sight touched my soul so much that the first words out of my mouth upon seeing it was "Holy Mother of God!" I could not believe how beautiful it was. In the Philippines, only the Batad Rice Terraces have inspired me to utter the same phrase.

Tinuy-an Falls is massive, and it looks like a gigantic tiered water fountain. Sources say that it is about 95 meters wide and 55 meters high. I have never seen so much water cascade down three levels before finally plunging thunderously into a basin, creating a curtain of water and mist. And despite the loud rumbling of the white waters, the encroaching dense forest evokes a serenity that reminds you that you are in the wilderness. 


Nearby picnic cottages can be rented out for P100. Strive to get the hut closest to the cascades, where the air is cooler, touched with a slight mist.  Once settled in, you may proceed to take pictures, of course! Be careful not to get your camera wet with water from the mist.

For P50, you can rent a bamboo raft that is harnessed to a rope line that leads to the falling waters, allowing you to get as close as you can to get drenched by the cool waters. 

There are stairs made of concrete and steel with banisters that go up to the second level of the waterfalls. I highly recommend wearing booties or aqua shoes when climbing because the steps are wet and a bit slippery. Click away, as more photo opportunities present themselves on the second tier, from where you get a bird's eye view of the river and a more panoramic picture of the jungle that surrounds it. Sit down against the cascading rock formations and get a whole body hydro massage from the falls' flowing water! Let nature wash all the stress and troubles away!


It is best to see Tinuy-an in its full grandeur, during the rainy season, when the waters of the falls completely enshroud the entire ravine. Go in the morning between nine and eleven when the sun is not positioned to cause a glare in your pictures. And on a sunny day, if you are lucky, witness the spray of colors in the air like rainbow!

There are many places in this world that take your breath away, and Tinuy-an is definitely one of them. Getting there is like being in an episode of Amazing Race, but this awe-inspiring waterfall definitely is worth all the effort.

Basta Pinas, Rock and Roll!


Macky Calo is a local restaurateur from Butuan City. He owns a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a beer and wine lounge bar. He travels around the CARAGA region in search of secret surfing spots and local delicacies.