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Lake Mainit is Surigao’s Secret No More


Little known to be the Philippines fourth largest and (the) deepest lake in the country. Lake Mainit is no less than one of the most beautiful secrets of Surigao, and today, it is slowly being known across the country. So if you are a traveler who is bound for Northeast Mindanao, the roadside view itself will be the loudest invitation to visit Lake Mainit.

view of lake mainit lake from the road

A view of Lake Mainit while still on the road. Now isn't this inviting?

lake mainit becoming more popular

Lake Mainit. Slowly gaining momentum as a tourist attraction of Surigao.

soon to be a crowded dock at lake mainit

This may not be much, but as Lake Mainit gains more popularity, tourists would soon be flocking towards this dock.

Lake Mainit is about 17, 000 hectares and has a maximum depth of 223 meters with an elevation of 37 meters above sea level.

mainit lake bangka

Bangkas are a common sight in Lake Mainit. They serve as an introduction to the local's way of life.

Lake Mainit, if not entirely famous yet, but may soon be known to be a lot of wonderful things. For one, it is described as a pear (some, teardrop) shaped lake. The undisturbed Lake Mainit is said to be one of the most natural ecosytems in existence in the region. And when placed beside the famous lakes in the world, can actually boast of great potential. It’s pristine waters is surrounded by a number of hot and cold springs.

serene waters of mainit lake

Serene waters of Lake Mainit aren't just for the fishes to enjoy, but for sight seers, too.

relaxing sights from mainit lake

The only sight that could relax anyone's nerves. Feel the calmness wash over you just by looking at this sight.


The rich, undisturbed ecosystem is home to many fishes that are actually a big source of livelihood for the locals.


An ordinary day for the locals living near Lake Mainit includes the day's catch.

There’s one season where visitors may admire the water’s transformation into a little bit purplish due to the presence of some beautiful hyacinths and lilies growing round and about the lake. It’s calm waters is home to wild ducks and many species of fishes. Among the rare and delicacy fish the lake houses are the eel (known locally as casili) or Anguilla Sp., mudfish (hayuan) or Ophicephallus striatus, gurami or Gourami Belontiidae and the bolinao or Neusthethus tessa which is said to be found no where else in the world and is among the migratory fishes known to pass through a river called Kalinaoan.

Mainit Lake

Carp. And that's not even the biggest.

Ride to Lake Mainit

Tour Boats like this can accommodate 40-60 people at Php 3000.00/day. It's like a picnic cottage and boat in one.

A large freshwater lake on a narrow plain between hill ranges near the northern tip of Mindanao, Lake Mainit is shared by two provinces: Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte. With two municipalities each province bordering the lake.

Lake Mainit Tilapia

One of Lake Mainit's main produce: tilapia.

Lake Mainit sights

Carabao. Sights like this give away the simple life lived by those near Lake Mainit.

Going back to some local lore which makes Lake Mainit more interesting, The first inhabitants of the lake was said to be Papuan nomads that formed communities all around the lake. Lake Mainit (local term for hot) was named as such because of the sulphuric hot spring aptly named Mapaso (meaning to be burned). And like any other place in the country, Moro attacks were common during the early days. When the moros harassed and drove away the early inhabitants, they moved to what is presently the town site, the Barrio of San Isidro.

tribe of mainit lake

Mamanwa tribe of Lake Mainit, the oldest tribe in the Philippines.

The Mamanwas may have been descendants of these Papuan Nomads. They are considered to be the oldest tribes in the country. Just like the Aetas of Northern Luzon, they are also short and dark-skinned.

Tilapia Lake Mainit

Lovely visitor with a lovely catch.

Lake Mainit Tilapia

Aside from the tilapia and carp, many more kinds of fish can be found in Lake Mainit.

Lake Mainit also had it’s fair contribution to the Filipino people during the Second World War. It became a venue for some underground movement and served as a witness to the many tragedies of the war.

But all the same, the mere sight brings any visitor nothing but a tranquil feeling. A visit to Lake Mainit is actually not just a geographical experience, but a step into an archeological and religious history as well.

sight from mainit lake

Lots and lots of beautiful sights (like this) from Lake Mainit.

The province of Surigao del Norte can be reached through its capital, Surigao City. Flights from Cebu and Manila are available. From Cebu, it takes about 45 minutes. There are also boat trips on board fast crafts that take about four and half hours. On land, there are plenty of buses and jeepneys that could take you to any other destination to and from Surigao City including Lake Mainit.

surigao airport

Surigao Province can be accessed through Surgiao City, its capital through the Surigao Airport .

surigao bus terminal

From Surigao City, one can take a bus or jeepney to reach Lake Mainit.

another mode of transportation

Habal-habal. This is not just another mode of transportation for Mainit Lake goers, but also a treat for the eyes.

True, Lake Mainit may not be that popular yet among outsiders, but rest assured that for people in Surigao (and other neighboring communities), it’s a secret that they would be willing to divulge to the rest of the world, one visitor at a time.

cocoa from mainit lake

Another crop produced from Lake Mainit are coco beans.

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One Response to Lake Mainit is Surigao’s Secret No More

  1. Jeniffer says:

    Very informative post… I love it! Keep it up…