The Maria Cristina Falls In Iligan City
Iligan City in Northern Mindanao is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls because it’s home to over twenty epic waterfalls in the surrounding countryside. I was visiting one of the most spectacular on my tour of the city and at the Maria Cristina Falls, I found that Iligan certainly lives up to its impressive nickname.
The Twin Falls
The Maria Cristina Falls is called the Twin Falls, for the one simple reason that two powerful streams of water drop dramatically from high above.
The waterfall is, in fact, one of the tallest in the Philippines, with the water dropping from a maximum height of up to 98 metres.
It’s also one of the most powerful waterfalls in the Philippines. So powerful that a hydroelectric plant was built at the base of the falls to harness the sheer amount of kinetic energy that is produced every second. The Agus Hydroelectric Plant on the Agus River by Iligan City supplies Northern Mindanao with 70 percent of its total power, there’s that much energy.
For that reason too, the Maria Cristina Falls were on tight lockdown when I visited. It’s one of the most spectacular, but also one of the most important areas in Northern Mindanao.
Maria Cristina Falls and Iligan City On Lockdown
I was visiting Iligan City just one year after the start of the infamous and destructive Siege of Marawi, which occurred just 40 kilometres south of the city and the effects of which were still being felt keenly across much of Northern Mindanao. The siege was over but Iligan City was still on lockdown, with martial law in place and security tight.
Things were safe, but the military presence was real and at the entrance to the waterfalls I was told I couldn’t fly my drone because the area was too sensitive.
The gates were heavily guarded and the upper tier of the falls couldn’t be accessed at all. The only place I could stand to take photos from was the lower level, as the hydroelectric plant is right by the viewing area, and much of it is completely off limits.
Still, despite the added security measures, the Maria Cristina Falls were absolutely spectacular to see and unbelievably powerful to witness in person. Standing at the railing looking out downstream I could see how fast the water flowing and even at times when the wind picked I could feel the heavy spray from the plunge pool being hit by powerful, powerful streams of water from above.
The Road Back To Cagayan de Oro
With the curfew in place in Iligan, I had to get back to Cagayan de Oro where I was staying the night before it was too late, and with the falls closing early for security reasons I hit the road back to CdO, passing a few more checkpoints along the route.
On the way back, I stopped off for a quick Filipino style snack with the locals at a street stall, trying for the first time a rather delicious rice cake mixed with coconut, a snack which goes by the name of Bibingka.
After a long day of chasing waterfalls in Iligan City, it was the perfect treat to end the day in Northern Mindanao.
Maria Cristina Falls Iligan Travel Guide
Do you want to travel to Iligan City to see the Maria Cristina Falls, but don’t know where to start? Read on for my brief travel guide to Maria Cristina Falls and feel free to message me if you need any more help planning your trip!
Maria Cristina Falls Location in Iligan City
The Maria Christina Falls location is close to Iligan City in Lanao del Norte, Northern Mindanao. Iligan City is around ten minutes drive away along the coastal road, and Cagayan de Oro is just one hour away along the coastal road.
The nearest airport is at CdO, since Iligan’s airport closed long ago. It would be possible to take a bus from Cagayan de Oro to Iligan City, and then get dropped off at the Agus Bridge on the way into town. Or you could take a bus all the way into Iligan City, and then hire a Habal-habal motorcycle driver to take you to the falls. You could even hire a local driver for the day to help you explore more of the waterfalls in the area, Iligan City is known as the City of Majestic Waterfalls after all!
Entrance costs 50 PHP per person and you will need to sign in at the guard post. The top viewing area is actually off limits even though this is the best place in the area to take photographs from. Everywhere else and it’s hard to avoid the huge concrete hydroelectric plant, as you will have seen in my pictures.
The area is heavily guarded, as the powerplant is integral to the whole region. I wasn’t allowed to fly my drone either for security reasons. It’s safe though at the moment, especially with all the added protection hanging around!
The falls are open from 9 am until 4 pm every day. You could potentially stay the night in Iligan City when visiting the falls, however, there is still currently Martial Law and a curfew in place, so I would recommend making the journey all the way back to Cagayan de Oro, where there is much more choice available for travellers.
All Words and Photos by Richard Collett