It was the height of summer and I was daydreaming of relaxing in nature’s cool refreshing waters. What better place to go than Iligan, the City of Majestic Waterfalls.

Iliganons weren’t kidding when they adopted that tagline for their city. Iligan, located in Northern Mindanao region of the Philippines, was home to more than 28 beautiful waterfalls and numerous pristine cold springs. Its most famous spots include the Maria Cristina Falls, a 320-feet “twin” waterfall that powered the largest hydoelectric plant in the country, and Tinago Falls, a picturesque waterfall with the most inviting blue-colored lagoon you could imagine. 

There was one other waterfall in Iligan that had been in my bucketlist for a very long time. Named Limunsudan Falls, it was, reportedly, the biggest and most majestic waterfall in Iligan but its remote location had always been too much of a challenge for most travelers.

When Lai told me about the Iligan Bloggers’ plan of including Limunsudan Falls on the 3rd wave of their Waterfalling Adventure Tour (WAT3), I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass. A flight to Cagayan de Oro and an hour-long bus ride later, I arrived in Iligan City, where I met the welcoming bloggers of Iligan and other excited participants of WAT3.


My arrival at Laguindingan-Cagayan de Oro Airport.

Iligan Waterfall Itinerary

Our itinerary, spread over the course of three days, included visits to five beautiful waterfalls: Dodiongan, Mimbalut, Tinago, Maria Cristina, and Limunsudan. Iligan takes a special place among tourist destinations in the Philippines because it is one of the few places where it’s possible to embark on a “waterfall hopping” tour.

This trip was my second visit to Iligan. The first was just a day trip from Cagayan de Oro, so my itinerary was a bit rushed.

This time, I got to see more waterfalls, actually take a bath under one, sample local dishes, try the  food havens in the city, meet the indigenous Higaonon tribe, and best of all, share the memorable experience with other interesting travelers.

Dodiongan Falls

We visited Dodiongan Fall on our first day. The starting point of the hiking trail to the waterfall was 1-2 hours away from the city proper. The trail itself took us around 30 minutes to finish. On our way, we took a shortcut, where we had to cross the shallow part of the river a few times. It started to rain half-way on our trek, and the water level slowly started to rise as we finished our last crossing.

When we reached the waterfall, it had orange hued waters raging down its slope. Dodiongan Falls was oftentimes described as having angel wings because of the blessed sight of its twin white water cascade on a sunny day.

We got to see it in a different form … its more furious form, which was still beautiful nonetheless.


Carabao greeting us at the start of the trail to Dodiongan Falls.


Verdant and lush views along the foot trail.


Dodiongan Falls in its furious form during heavy rain.

The afternoon heavy downpour was a recurring theme throughout our thee-day trip and I was actually digging the dark mood because it filled the air with an exciting sense of adventure.

The Journey to Limunsudan

The next day, we woke up before the break of dawn to start our long journey to Limunsudan Falls. What was supposedly a multi-day trek was cut short to around four hours thanks to an insanely bumpy dirt road that crossed four provinces (Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Lanao del Sur).

Soldiers aboard three jeeps under the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army picked us up in Iligan and helped us to arrive safely at Sitio Limunsudan. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride but I gave my salute to the soldiers, who braved the intense heat and rain to make it a more pleasant experience for us.

Sitio Limsunduan did not have a particularly volatile peace and order situation. The organizers requested military escorts because they also wanted to do some community outreach activities and to better accommodate the size of our group.


Lai with the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army


Getting down for a river crossing.


Military jeep crossing the river.


One of the more scenic views along the way to Limunsudan.

Limunsudan Welcome

We were greeted with a huge crowd when we reached the main village of Limusudan. Before visiting the waterfall, we delivered our donation packs to the local school and then joined a blessing ritual led by the chieftain and attended by all the datus (leaders) of the Higaonon tribe.

The Higaonon people made up the majority of the village population. They had interesting cultural traditions and were very accommodating.


Villagers of Sitio Limunsudan awaiting the visitors.


Young girl dressed in traditional Higaonon attire.


Blessing ritual by the Higaonon tribe of Mindanao.


Cute kids lining up for our school packs. The Higaonon children have the cutest full cheeks!


Limunsudan Falls

From the main village, it took us around 30 minutes to get to the the viewpoint, where we had a good overlooking view of Limunsudan Falls. The two-tiered cascade was indeed majestic and was made even more beautiful by the thick forest surrounding it.

It was certainly the most gargantuan waterfall I had visited in the Philippines. Aliwagwag may take the top spot as the tallest waterfall in the Philippines (at 1,110 feet) but it was sectioned into 84 gentle cascades. Limunsudan Falls, on the other hand, only had two main drops, which looked amazing from afar.

I could only imagine the view up close but we didn’t have enough time for the four hour return hike from the viewpoint.


Full view of Limunsudan Falls, the most majestic waterfall in Iligan.


Our guide wearing a traditional Higaonon hat, with Limunsudan Falls in the background.


Souvenir group photo before leaving.


The Higaonons bid us goodbye with one of their traditional dances and music.


Fan fare.


That blessed sunset after a hard day of bumpy, dusty roads and heavy rain.

Iligan Tourism Triangle

On our last day, we visited three waterfalls included in Iligan’s “Tourism Triangle.” These three were the most visited and easily accessible waterfalls in the city. They may not be a secret anymore, but were still highly recommendable to any traveler passing through town.

Mimbalut Falls

Mimbalut Waterfall was the most accessible out of the three. There was a resort-like establishment near the base but we decided to skip it and follow the (public and free) trail on the other side since we only intended a quick visit.

The view of the main cascade remained free of man-made structures, which I hoped would be maintained in generations to come. Seeing Mimbalut Waterfall was a nice “appetizer” to the next two amazing locations we were about to experience.


Mimbalut Falls main cascade.

Tinago Falls

“Tinago” in the local tongue means “hidden.” When googling Tinago Falls, it does not seem hidden anymore because of its popularity to tourists but once you visit the waterfall in real life, you will discover the reason behind its name.

Hidden behind the foot of a deep ravine in one of Iligan’s highland villages lies Tinago Falls, one of the Philippines’ most alluring spectacles. It was most known for its inviting turqoise-colored water that maintained its vibrancy the whole year round.

We spent most of the day at Tinago and I loved every moment of it. We even had our picnic lunch there, with the relaxing view and sounds of the waterfall.

The best thing I love about Tinago Falls, though, was that it was perfect for swimming! The water was very refreshing and not freezing cold and the cascades were gentle. You can even bathe directly under the waterfall for a natural hydrotherapy massage.


Welcome to Tinago Falls


Steps to Tinago Falls.

Getting to Tinago Falls was easy because of an established trail. It was the getting out part that was the challenge because of the steep uphill climb.


The main cascade of Tinago Falls, the whole semi circular wall was covered with similar waterfall features.


Self-portrait with the graceful beauty of Tinago Falls.


Our picnic lunch at the falls.


We tried this raft that went under the main cascade. It was awesome!


Children climbing any ledge or tree and then jumping for a free fall. Some of them jumped from very high ledges. They were very entertaining to watch. With the proper training, these children could be very good at competitive diving.


Children climbing a tall tree, waiting to dive in the lagoon.


Child jumping from one of the minor cascades at Tinago.

Maria Cristina Falls

Maria Cristina was the last waterfall we visited that day. Even though I had already seen it once before, I was still awed by its beauty. It was raining when we went, which may have contributed to the stronger water current. Aside from the main cascade, there was a wall of smaller waterfalls that seeped out from the rock cliff. It looked mesmerizing!


Main cascade of Maria Cristina Falls.


Closer of Maria Cristina with the wall of smaller cascades.


Group photo with Maria Cristina.

Sidetrips and Foodtrips

Iligan was not all about waterfalls. During our visit, we got to experience other things to see, do, and EAT! in the city.

Iligan Night Market


Famous Spicy Lechon at the Iligan Night Market.


Food street at Iligan Night Market

Jasmine Pension House

We stayed at Jasmine Pension House the whole time we were in Iligan. They had simple and decent rooms offered at affordable rates. Their in-house food and coffee shop called “Kopi Luwak,” was a nice convenience.


Path leading to Kopi Luwak at Jasmine Pension House (Andres Bonifacio Ave., Barangay Tibanga, Iligan City; Mobile : 0932 8889122).

Kopi Luwak at Jasmine Pension House

Good coffee and food at affordable prices. Didn’t get to try their civet coffee though.


Storefront of Kopi Luwak


Capucchino and Breakfast at Kopi Luwak.


Sausage set breakfast at Kopi Luwak

Jacko’s Kan-anan

Jacko’s Kan-anan was where we had lunch on our first meetup as a group. The crispy squid and brisket were very delicious!


Lunch spread at Jacko’s Kanan-an


my plate :)

Tatay’s Grill

We ate dinner at Tatay’s Grill on our first day. It was one of the famous homegrown seafood restaurants in the city. They served us Adobong Bihod (egg-filled fish ovary), the specialty of the house.


Storefront of Tatay’s Grill


Seafood counter.


Shell soup


Squid rings


Chicken and Adobong Bihod

Calda Pizza

Located in one of the busy nightspots in Iligan, Calda Pizza served huge and delicious pizzas, perfect for our big group.


Storefront of Calda Pizza.


Pizzas at Calda Pizza


Barbeque that we ordered from a nearby stall.

Jollibee Iligan-Tubod

One of the best looking Jollibee branched I had ever visited. Jollibee himself even showed up to say “Hi!” and send us off on our merry way.


Kids party at Jollibbe ^_^


Our breakfast served.


Jollibee , up … up … and away!

Brew’s Cafe

A few stores away from Jasmine Pension House. It wasn’t part of our itinerary but we would frequent Brew’s for their coffee, desserts, and fast WIFI.


Brew’s Almighty display counter


Tita Fannies

Where we ate brunch on our last morning in Iligan. Tita Fannies was a household name in Iligan for affordable crispy liempo and juicy roasted chicken. Both were delicious and we highly enjoyed the Buko Halo-Halo.


Storefront of Tita Fannies


Roasted chicken at Tita Fannies.


Assorted / set group meal.


Buko Halo-halo.

Villa Sabarre

Villa Sabarre was the chic venue of our culmination night. The moment we walked in, we had already fallen in love with the intimate ambiance of the residence-turned-events-space. The covered event space was spacious enough for a large gathering and the house itself provided a charming array of textures, colors, and mix-and-match decor… to top it all off, the food was very delicious!

140519_205109Charming corner at Villa Sabarre’s garden


Alfresco area of the house.


Loved the mirror and the textures of the wall.


Inside the house


Dinner spread at Villa Sabarre. I couldn’t get enough of the Beef Rendang!

140519_194841my plate :D

Iligan Pasalubong

Iligananon delicacies, treats, and souvenirs from our event sponsors.


Cheding’s toasted peanuts


Keychain souvenirs from Keepsakes Iligan


Piyaya from Piyaya de Iligan


Sweet treats from Piyaya de Iligan

Waterfalling Adventure Tour (WAT) 3.0, organized by the Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. was made possible with the support from the following:

  • Imenchu – Social networking website that offers a convenient place for everyone to connect, communicate, share, search, and access updates, reports and information to keep each one abreast on things that matter most.
  • Villa Sabarre – Your occasion, your place, your garden, your home. Perfect Place and food for weddings, debut, birthdays, seminars, and all events.
  • Keepsakes Iligan, Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital, NPC Nature’s Park, Bob NYUSA, The Good Type

This event was also supported by the Iligan City Government, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation of Iligan, and Iligan Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association (Iharra).