It's no surprise that Lanao del Norte is hailed as "The Land of Beauty and Bounty." Located on the southern part of the Philippines, the province has an abundance of majestic waterfalls. Its lands are blessed with glorious mountains and mysterious caves while its coastline is a sight to behold because of pristine beaches. With warm, friendly people and flourishing industries, Lanao del Norte is one of the ideal vacation destinations in Northern Mindanao.
Among the 20 waterfalls in Lanao del Norte, Maria Cristina Falls is the grandest and certainly the best known. Dropping at 320-feet high, it is the primary source of the geothermal energy used by the province. It is also known as "Twin Falls" since a huge boulder divides the water on top, creating two raging falls. There is also a zoological park and a power plant around the area.
Another waterfall worth exploring in Lanao del Norte is the Tinago Falls, which is more serene than the raging Maria Cristina. The falls cascade down multiple layers of rock, creating beautiful curtains of white water. Visitors need to hike through a rough trail before they can enjoy the enchanting site or swim at the base of the waterfall.
Aside from its waterfalls, Lanao del Norte is home to other incredible wonders. Mount Inayawan is its highest mountain, towering at 5,204 feet. Near the mountain is Lake Nunungan, one of the highest lakes in the country at 5,036 feet. These can all be found at the Mount Inayawan Range Natural Park.
Several flights from Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are available daily to take you from Manila to Cagayan de Oro. Travel time usually lasts for 95 minutes. From there, you can take a bus or van to various towns in Lanao del Norte.
Alternatively, you can also travel to Cagayan de Oro by sea. 2Go Travel has trips from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, which takes roughly about two days. From the port, you can take a bus or van to the different places in Lanao del Norte.
How to Get Around
By Jeep and Pedicab
When getting around Lanao del Norte, you can take jeepneys and pedicabs.
Public buses and vans are also available if you’re traveling from one town to another.
What to See
The Muslims in Mindanao greatly opposed Spanish rule during the colonial period. Because of this, the Spanish government built forts in strategic locations in the Mindanao region. In Lanao del Norte, they built Fort Almonte on a hill that serves as a good vantage point for Spanish soldiers. The fort was built towards the latter portion of the 19th century using stones collected from the nearby sea. Today, the fort is in ruins and one can only imagine how it looked like when it towered over the surrounding areas. This landmark also serves as a reminder of how our Muslim brothers fought the colonizers to preserve their culture and way of life.
The majestic Maria Cristina Falls is another landmark that you shouldn’t miss when in Lanao del Norte. The falls is located in Iligan—a highly urbanized city that is geographically part of Lanao del Norte. The breathtaking sight of the powerful waters cascading down a 320-feet drop is truly a sight to behold and worth the two-hour land trip from Tubod.
Aside from the Maria Cristina Falls, Lanao del Norte is home to about 20 more waterfalls that will surely leave you breathless. Tinago Falls, also located in Iligan City, is well hidden in a deep ravine. To reach it, visitors must descend a 500-step staircase that winds through lush greenery. At the bottom of the 240-feet falls is a lagoon filled with blue waters perfect for swimming.
Lastly, Mimbalut Falls is the most accessible since you don’t have to trek to reach it. This natural attraction various thrilling outdoor activities like canopy walking, zip-lining, horseback riding, and cable rides.
Another marvelous natural wonder is Mount Agad-Agad. The mountain rises at 490 meters above sea level and is considered the highest point in Iligan City. Hiking up the peak takes about two hours. Once on the summit, you’ll be greeted with a stunning view of the surrounding areas.
On the other hand, Mount Inayawan is the highest point in all of Lanao del Norte, towering at 1,535 meters above sea level. The mountain features a fascinating natural forest, rich wildlife, and a vast area for hiking. The mountain also features the calm Lake Nunungan, the highest lake in the entire Philippines.
And for those who love to relax by the beach, Pikalawag Beach in Sultan Naga Dimaporo is one natural attraction you should definitely check out. The beach is known for its crystal clear waters and powdery white sands. The beach is also ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving because of its rich marine life.
The Maria Cristina Falls is part of the NPC Natural Park, a sprawling hydroelectric power plant complex that harnesses the hydroelectric power generated by the famous falls to provide power to 70% of Mindanao. But aside from the falls, the park is also home to other attractions such as a mini zoo, butterfly sanctuary, treetop canopy, and zip-line facility.
In the heart of Tubod is the Mindanao Civic Center, a 71-hectare mixed-use property that houses the provincial trade center and an 18-hectare sports facility. The center is also the site of the annual motocross events in the country. Tubod is known as the “Motocross Capital of the Philippines.”
Events and Festivals
There are several festivals held in Lanao del Norte that showcase the culture, heritage, and traditions of its people. These include the Hudyaka Kinhason Festival in January, Anihan Festival of Maigo in February, Sagayan Festival every July, and Sagingan Festival in October. Another exciting event is Alimango Festival in the town of Lala, celebrated every March.
Where to Eat
Tedts is a favorite dining spot in Iligan because of its homey interiors, great food selection, and luscious cupcakes. They serve pastas, sandwiches, and various Filipino favorites. Their cakes and pastries, however, are the biggest attraction.
The Iliganon Restobar is a cozy dining spot in Iligan that locals and travelers rave about. Their best-seller is their version of rendang, which is available in chicken, beef, and fish. Their durian shake is also refreshing.
And for some comfort food, Pop Rock Café is a laidback and casual restaurant that will make you feel right at home. They have a selection of pastas, breads, and pastries.
Fare: PHP 4,000.00++
Roundtrip airfares from Manila to Cagayan de Oro cost around PHP 4,000.00. Boat fares range from PHP 1,500.00 to PHP 6,000.00. The bus or van ride to Lanao Del Norte, on the other hand, will cost you PHP 190.00 to PHP 250.00.
When roaming around the province, the base fare for a jeep ride is PHP 7.00, while a pedicab ride is PHP 10.00 per head. Remember that fares will also depend on your destination.
Food: PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00
A budget of PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00 per meal will surely go a long way in Lanao Del Norte.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 250.00
Key chains and ref magnets are great souvenir items, which you can buy for about PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. You can also grab souvenir shirts for PHP 200.00 to PHP 250.00.
Accommodation: PHP 800.00 to PHP 2,500.00
If you’re traveling on a budget, there are quality rooms for only PHP 800.00 for an overnight stay. You can also splurge on high-end accommodations: some offer rooms for PHP 2,500.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 30.00 to PHP 1,500.00
The entrance fee to the NPC Nature Park is only PHP 25.00 for kids and PHP 35.00 for adults. That already includes a visit to the various attractions inside the park, including the Maria Cristina Falls. You can go swimming at the Pikalawag Beach for free, but you’ll need to pay for snorkeling and diving.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When dining, a service charge may be included in your final bill, so tipping is actually no longer necessary. But if you insist, you can leave tips amounting to at least PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00.
||ETA in Iligan City
||Have lunch at Tedts.
||Check in at your accommodation.
||Visit the NPC Nature Park.
||Go on a tour of the city starting at Iligan Cathedral.
||Have dinner at the Iliganon Restobar.
||Head back to the hotel and retire for the night.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Depart Iligan for Sultan Naga Dimaporo
||ETA in Pikalawag Beach. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
||Depart Sultan Naga Dimaporo
||ETA in Iligan City
||Have dinner at Pop Rock Café and then retire for the night.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Head back to the city for some souvenir shopping.
||Check out of the hotel and head to the airport.
||Depart Iligan City for Manila.
||ETA in Manila
The province of Lanao del Norte is outside the typhoon belt, so you can expect calm weather on most days. The average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. Make sure to bring light clothing to keep you cool.
There are over 20 private and public hospitals and medical centers available throughout the province. Pharmacies are plenty, but make sure to bring your own medicine, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
The local government has done a good job in ensuring the safety of both locals and tourists in Lanao Del Norte, especially with the reputation of Mindanao when it comes to safety. However, you are strongly advised to always be vigilant in order to avoid any untoward incident. Also, always keep an eye on your valuables especially when going to public and crowded places.