Iligan City is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls. According to iligan.gov, there are a total of 39 waterfalls in the city but only 23-24 are being promoted. The most popular ones are Tinago Falls, Mimbalot Falls and Maria Cristina Falls — these Iligan City waterfalls are also referred to as the Tourism Triangle.
Here’s our experience on chasing these waterfalls. My friend Joemar and I went here during our CDO-Bukidnon-Iligan-Camiguin backpacking trip.
How to get to Iligan City
The nearest airport to Iligan City is Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro (CDO).
From CDO, here are the commute directions:
- From CDO, head to Bulua Terminal and then ride a bus to Iligan (P100 per person). Travel time is 2 hours.
- (Option 1) The easiest way to explore the waterfalls is to get a habal-habal guide for the day. The habal-habal drivers will greet you as you get off the bus.
- (Option 2) You can also commute your way through jeepneys and habal-habals. From the bus terminal, ride a jeepney bound for Buru-un. Decide which waterfall you’d like to visit first and then let the driver know so he can drop you off at the right location. Then transfer to a habal-habal to get to the waterfall. I suggest starting with Maria Cristina Falls which is closest to the highway, followed by Mimbalot Falls and Tinago Falls.
Commuting is cheaper so it’s usually the option for budget travelers.
As for us, we chose to get a habal-habal guide each since it’s easier and faster — also, at that time neither of us were looking forward to memorizing routes. This way, we also get to avoid trafficked roads in the city.
Is it safe to visit Iligan City?
Iligan City is generally safe to visit, but there are also no-go areas in the province of Lanao del Norte.
The locations covered in this itinerary are safe. In fact, this itinerary is a popular one among locals or tourists staying at Cagayan de Oro.
Iligan City waterfalls you can visit in a day
You can visit these three Iligan City waterfalls in one day: Tinago Falls, Mimbalot Falls, and Maria Cristina Falls.
Tinago Falls is the most beautiful waterfall in Iligan City. Tinago means “hidden” in English, since the waterfall is hidden in deep ravines. Although Tinago Falls is far from being a secret location, I’d easily put it in my top 5 waterfalls in the Philippines due to its enchanting beauty.
Tinago Falls stands about 420 feet high, with a hundred streams falling into a blue-green basin. The water is cool and clean, perfect for a refreshing swim any time of the day.
You need to descend about 300 concrete steps to get to the waterfall itself. In the middle of the trail, there is a viewdeck where you can see Tinago Falls amidst the lush greenery.
Once at the base, you can find tables and stores selling food & water, including local fruits such as marang. The umbrellas in the tables can block the view if you’re taking picture, but it’s not as bad as that in Kawasan Falls in Cebu which is more crowded and commercialized. I only hope that the Iligan Tourism keeps it simple in Tinago Falls — and maybe push back those cottage tables a little bit farther from the pool area?
There are rafts that can take you to the waterfall itself. Of course, we had to try it. The torrent from underneath the waterfall was brutal and freezing. Joemar seemed to like it since he took the raft to get here twice, while I ran to the side where there was less shower.
Afterwards, we jumped from the raft and spent the next hour or so cooling down in the water.
Other tourists were more adventurous as they jumped from cliff on the right side of the waterfall.
Among the 3 waterfalls, this is the only place where you can swim. I suggest staying here for 2-3 hours. If you have brought your own food, you may also want to take your lunch here.
Tinago Falls is open from 6AM to 5PM daily.
Mimbalot Falls (also spelled as Mimbalut Falls) is a small waterfall where locals hang out. It stands 90 feet high, with huge boulders at the bottom. There is no natural basin for swimming, but there are man-made pools at the bottom.
This waterfall is maintained by the Iligan Paradise Resort and Eco-Park, which also offers other activities such as zipline, cable car, kayak and horseback riding.
Mimbalot Falls is easily accessible, which is one of the reasons it’s popular among the locals. From the parking lot, you only need to walk a bit to see the waterfall.
Mimbalot Falls is okay, but to be honest we weren’t particularly impressed with it. The man-made pools were shallow and a bit dirty. We only took pictures here and then left.
Maria Cristina Falls
At 320 feet high, Maria Cristina Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the country. It’s also called Twin Falls because the water stream is divided in middle by a rock.
It’s used as a power source by the Agus Hydro Electric Plant for Iligan City and other provinces in Mindanao. Due to this, swimming is not allowed. However, you can still take pictures in the viewdeck. There are also cottages where you can take a rest or eat.
As of February 2020, the waterfall is temporarily closed to visitors. If you plan on visiting here, I suggest to contact the Napocor’s administration first to ask whether it is already open.
Where to eat
There are numerous eateries you can stop by in Iligan City.
If you are looking for food specialties, try the halang-halang in the Wet Market or Iligan’s lechon.
Our suggestion: There’s a series of seaside restaurants near Mimbalot Falls where you can order freshly cooked seafood. Prices are moderate. This is where we had our lunch.
Where to stay in Iligan City:
There are limited hotels in Iligan City. If you’re staying here for overnight, here are the best ones you can book:
Budget and expenses
Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):
- Tinago Falls: Entrance fee – P30 / lifevest rental – P50 / table rental – P50 / rafter’s fee – no standard rate (we gave P200)
- Mimbalot Falls: Entrance fee: donation only
- Maria Cristina Falls: Entrance fee – P50
Once you get to the registration area in Tinago Falls, a guide will also offer to accompany you to the falls. This isn’t needed as there’s an established trail toward the waterfalls, but you might also want to get one so there’s someone to assist you and watch over your things as you swim. It also helps the income of the local community. There is no standard fee for the guide. We paid ours P300.
- Habal-habal tour: P700 for the first 3-4 hours (or depending on your haggling skills)
Reminders and tips
- Exploring these 3 waterfalls in Iligan City will only take a few hours (half a day at most). If you’re coming from Cagayan de Oro, you can leave at about 7-8AM and arrive back at 3-4PM depending on your pace.
- If you like to maximize your day trip in Iligan City, you can also visit Dodiongan Falls. To get there, ride a habal-habal to the jump-off point and then trek for 15-20 minutes to reach the waterfall. Other accessible waterfalls include Pagayawan Falls and Biyak na Bato Falls.
- Other possible side trips include Macaraeg-Macapagal Ancestral House, Paseo de Santiago and Cheding Pasalubong Center.
Has this guide on visiting the best Iligan City waterfalls on a day been helpful to you? If you have questions or suggestions, let me know in the comment section below!
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).