Bohol can easily come out as one of our top tourist destination in the Philippines. Yes, we have yet to visit all 7,107 islands so we might be a bit biased on this one. But, what is not to like? Bohol island has amazing activities for all types of travelers. It has beaches for beach bums, places of interest for Bohol city tour, adventures for adrenaline junkies, excellent cuisines for foodies, exquisite gardens for people with a green thumb, lively nightlife for Nocturnals, without sacrificing a good night’s sleep for morning people and historical places for the history enthusiast.
The province has risen from the ashes after the intensity 7.2 earthquake in 2013 and they haven’t turned back ever since. Infrastructure and businesses are blooming like never before. The part that I find endearing is Boholanos seems to respect the delicate balance between nature and development. And, it has an ambiance of a small town where everyone knows everyone. They won’t make you feel like a stranger, instead, they will throw a welcoming smile.
I think I went for a tour in Bohol 3 times already and yet, it seems there is always a new place to discover. So, give me at least 3 minutes to show you why you should go and visit and what to do in Bohol.
The Chocolate Hills are located in Carmen, Bohol. With an estimated number of 1,700 identical, symmetric geological wonder, it became the tourism poster of the province, embedding its reputation everywhere, from school geography books to postcards. En route to the viewing deck, there are a few spots where you can do a quick stopover with breathtaking views of the hills. Since I went with 2 photographers that time, I lost count how many stopovers we had before we reached the viewing deck. The sight to behold in the viewing deck, is of course, worth the 200 steps that you need to climb first. The hills are chocolate- brown in color during summer and lush green during the rest of the year. Some parts of the hills still have noticeable “scars” due to the last 2013 earthquake, which however does not lessen the beauty of the site. It’s like a giant took a bite of a few Hershey kisses.
Other unique specimens that can be found in Bohol are the tiny, palm-sized nocturnal and smallest primates in the world, the Tarsiers. There might be a few Tarsier attractions located in Bohol but the sanctuary is definitely the best. Using flash in taking photos and being too noisy is strictly forbidden. Remember, Tarsiers are nocturnal creatures. It might thus take time to spot a few Tarsiers in the sanctuary. Our tip is to look for makeshift roofs made with leaves. They can be found sleeping underneath. After the tour, make sure to pass by the souvenir shop just before you exit. A t-shirt with a Tarsier imprinted on it definitely looks like a cool souvenir! There are other souvenir items of course at a reasonable price, such as keychains, fridge magnets, and bags, just to name a few. The one I am not a big fan of is the toad coin purse: a bit creepy for me.
Bohol Butterfly Garden
A trip to the butterfly garden would probably last less than 30 minutes. However, your eyes will savor the beautiful garden fit for a princess, with interesting bonsai pieces in between. The bohol tour guide is well-equipped with knowledge about the butterflies and patiently explain its life cycle. They also do a fantastic job reassuring guests with the unnecessary fear of touching the caterpillar (they’ll smack it right into your palm, I’m kidding!) and gamely take photos too. If you are a butterfly or a bonsai enthusiast, you should definitely not miss this place!
Located in Loboc, Bilar, the Man-made forest is impossible to miss since this is the actual road going to the Chocolate Hills and other land tours in Bohol. The forest consists of Mahogany trees, its leaves giving a semi-spherical roof on the road, with the occasional sunlight peaking through. It gives out a fantasy vibe straight out of adventure books. No filter needed for Instagram pictures!
Another perfect spot for photo ops is the famous bamboo hanging bridge located in Sevilla. And yes, the bridge is made of woven bamboos! There are 2 bridges about 40 meters with the Sipatan river underneath it. The bridge might feel a bit squeaky if there are a lot of people crossing, but rest assured, it is perfectly sturdy and safe.
For those who are history-inclined, Baclayon church is a must-see for you. The church was made out of coral stones and was finished by the year 1727. Renovation was made every now and then, especially after the church was partially destroyed by the earthquake. A small museum replaced the old convent where old church memorabilia is beautifully preserved. The wooden flooring on the second floor along with capiz-adorned windows complete a trip down the memory lane.
In the old days of civilization, blood compact was a symbol of lasting friendship done by drinking a few drops of blood combined with wine by 2 parties. This particular site was built to pay homage to the blood compact done on the island in 1565 between Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, representing Spain, and the ruler of Bohol, Datu Sikatuna. This symbol of friendship was immortalized in Loay town, overlooking the Bohol Sea. The statues, built in bronze, consist of 5 images created by the national artist, Napoleon Isabelo Abueva, who hailed from Bohol.
The jade green river, running 1.5 kilometers before intertwining with the Bohol sea, became a major tourist attraction over the years. Located in the town of Carmen, the river has something in store for every tourist, regardless of age and interest:
Loboc River Cruise – Having a midday break from visiting the numerous land attractions Bohol has to offer is very much welcome. The Loboc river cruise offers buffet lunch with Filipino-style food while cruising the river in large bancas. Usually, there is an acoustic musician serenading the hungry guests as they fill in their tummies. There are at least 2 stopovers wherein the guests are invited by folk dancers to try a few traditional dance steps with them.
Zipline at Loboc Eco Adventure Park -As promised to adrenaline junkies, Loboc Eco adventure park offers zip line for those who are courageous enough to try. At 120 meters above Loboc River, it offers breath-taking views so if you have your adventure cameras handy, make sure to bring it with you.
Firefly Watching – For the romantics, Loboc River also has a night firefly watching, guaranteed to give you a warm, fussy feeling after the show. The trip starts at 10:00 pm, riding a banca, heading to the mangrove banks. All you have to do is to look up and follow your guide’s torch lamp, and you will see the fireflies blinking in the dark skies, similar to Christmas lights. Talk about magical!
Balicasag Island Boat trip
For the sea lovers, Balicasag Island boat trips start at 6:00 in the morning. The sight of Alona beach being kissed in the first rays of sunshine is absolutely gorgeous. There are 3 parts during Bohol island tour which lasts roughly half a day full of sun and sea.
Snorkeling – Balicasag island is a marine sanctuary. It features a rich in marine life: aside from various fishes and corals, turtles can also be found in the area. Snorkeling is Balicasag is a delightful activity enjoyable for kids and adults alike. For those who would like to tweak their adventure up a notch, Balicasag Island also has fantastic diving spots!
En route to the island, the boats will have a shortstop and try to spot some dolphins doing their morning routine. Seeing these fascinating creatures carefree in the wild gives out an exciting energy to the tourists in the early morning. I think the Dolphins seem to know and enjoy being watched, since they are more than willing to reappear in different spots, doing mid-air flips and somewhat like a half-show, leaving the guests asking for more.
I’ll be honest, Virgin Island can be a hit or miss, depending on how you see it. The place is a stretch of white beach, perfect for sunbathing or just simply have a relaxing break after the previous activities in the morning. There are only a few refreshment stalls and some vendors who sell pearl souvenirs.
After a long day (or days of adventure), one thing we can all agree on is our need for a delicious meal. And Bohol does not scrimp on the quality with reasonable price! A few restaurants on our list are Giuseppe’s, for fantastic Italian food (it’s so good, I am not sure you will have room for dessert), Linaw Beach Resort, for it’s cozy ambience and a hearty list of different dishes, L’Elephant Bleu at Bamboo for some good old burgers and drinks, Villa Formosa for delectable fusion dishes and Christina’s at Hennan Resort, for mouth-watering Western dishes.
Here at Chillout travel, we’ll make sure that you will have a memorable Bohol tour. Send a message and leave the planning and organizing part to us! If in case you still need more convincing, here’s the Visayas tour video that we have created. The Bohol clip starts at 2:14. Enjoy!
Maria Eloisa Alameda
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