Tinuy-an Falls: Three-tiered Splendor

Tinuy-an Falls in the sleepy city of Bislig, Surigao del Sur, Northern Mindanao is being branded as the little Niagara Falls of the Philippines. You can read this comparison from blogs, websites and promotional materials. I have even heard this straight from a local official’s mouth.  
But, wait! Do you think that's a good strategy?
Splendid, Tinuy-an!
Does it need to be compared and be perceived secondary to tourist sites from another world just to be recognized?  I don’t agree with that. I see Tinuy-an Falls as a unique beauty in itself. Niagara Falls in the international borders of Canada and New York has its own story and beauty.
View from the makeshift bridge of Tinuy-an Falls
The Tinuy-an Falls, a majestic handiwork of the universe perfectly placed in that thickly-forested portion of the village of Burboanan, should be recognized by its own magnificence
 The 95 meters wide falls plunges 55 meters to its base. This three-tiered splendor is considered as the widest in the Philippines. Its waters’ hypnotic curtain-like flow is what attracts photographers besides the frequent nature-loving adventurers, travelers and excursionists. I had my own dose of its beauty when I was there armed with a sturdy tripod attached to my camera.  There was this stillness that I felt upon seeing the second and widest of the falls. 
Swift but Raging Tinuy-an Falls
The falls is located 15 kilometers from the highway in Poblacion, Bislig and, according to the locals; to get there you have to navigate through the “luxurious” road. Not literally. The word was given another meaning as it is homonymous to vernacular lukso-lusko, bumpy or hopping in English.

The name Tinuy-an was derived from its literal Visayan meaning from the root word tuyo which means intent. Thus tinuy-an means intended or something that requires intention. 

The luxurious (lukso-lukso) road
The six-hour long travel from Davao City, one of the gateways to Surigao and where an international airport is located, is very much worth it. Once you first set an eye on the first tier located at the entrance of the falls area, you will forget how many times you slept inside the vehicle and how many head bumps you incurred while traveling.
The first and the welcoming tier at the entrance
 The second falls is the widest and the most picturesque. The third can be trekked up via steel stairs. I cannot describe how beautiful it is as I do not have personal accounts of the topmost falls. I missed seeing it. Thanks to my companions who were in a hurry to transfer to Enchanted River in nearby Hinatuan town. (Ugh! That’s one disadvantage of being in a large group while traveling. On a positive note, I’ll take it as a reason to go back.) 
Dream-like Tinuy-an
Currently, the local government handles the promotion of this natural wonder with the help of locals who are significant to its maintenance and the safety of the tourists. The Manobo Indigenous Peoples communities gets a share of 10% of the gross income and the Burboanan local government gets the same slice of the falls' total income. This makes Burboanan the highest earning village in Bislig. 
With my travel buddy, Zombo.
There was no economic activity in the vicinity of the falls prior to its mainstream promotion.  The IPs in the area used to be log smugglers of big logging (legal and illegal) groups and companies.
The cottages and other facilities

Inhale. Exhale. Be still.
The City Tourism Office have established playgrounds, cottages and a function hall in the vicinity. Swimming in the clear waters is allowed while those who want to get closer to the falls and get Facebook-worthy profile pictures may do so without dipping into the cold waters by renting the lone bamboo raft at P100. 
Tinuy-an area is rich in biodiversity. In fact, a Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga Jefferyi ), which was later named Tinuy-an, was rescued by the Manobos in the surrounding forested areas in 2007. The eagle became tamed and it interacted with people. That’s bad for the endangered species. It was later transferred to the Philippine Eagle Foundation in Davao City for care. A rare Juliana Sunbird was also found in Bislig. It was named after the wife of an American scientist who discovered the bird.
I can still hear the raging waters of Tinuy-an. I'm sure I will be back there soon to feel that inner stillness amid the raging falls again.
Here’s the list of rates (in Philippine peso) in Tinuy-an Falls:
Parking Fee per vehicle – P20
Entrance Fee per pax – P20
Small Cottage– P200
Big Cottage- P300
Function Hall - P500
Life Jacket – P30 per hour
Table set – P100
Wide Umbrella Shed- P150
Raft- P100

How to get there:
I was with office mates and colleagues when I visited Tinuy-an and the neighboring tourism sites in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur. We rented a van from South Cotabato and it took us around 10 hours from our base to get there.
For the backpackers who plan to visit the place via public transportation this blog post HERE can be very helpful.
For those who will travel by air to get to Surigao HERE’s the list of nearby airports.


  1. Galing ng shots Louie! I hate it also when places are being branded as the -insert foreign destination here- of the Philippines.

    Sama pagbalik!

    1. Thanks, gay!
      oo nga naman, as if our places' fate depends on its comparability to other foreign destinations.

      sure! Will let u know may trip back to surigao si Zombo the zombie. hehe

  2. Replies
    1. yeah, bro. bitin nga visit ko dun. i want to see the "rare" birds they're talking about next time. :)


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