In this post I explain what are some things to do and to see in Bohol and why you can’t miss this island if you visit the Philippines.
When I was planning my trip in the Philippines I wasn’t sure whether to include Bohol or not in my itinerary. If you decide to visit this amazing country you will face these decisions many times. Why? Because the Philippines are made up of 7107 islands and all of them are simply amazing!
Eventually, after asking more info to a friend of mine that lives in Cebu, I changed my mind and decided to include this island on my trip. I’m glad I did: there are so many things to do in Bohol and even though you may have never heard of this island, you have probably seen some pictures of the famous Chocolate Hills and the cute little Tarsier.
Bohol 2-day itinerary: things to do in Bohol and how to get there
There are mainly three reasons to visit Bohol: the Chocolate Hills, the beautiful beaches, and the small Tarsier. To get to Bohol you can fly to Cebu City and then catch a ferry to Bohol. The other option is to fly directly to Tagbilaran, the main city of the island. Once in Tagbilaran take a taxi to your hotel but remember to bargain before you leave!
The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills are a group of strangely shaped hills that seem to come from another place: the trees don’t grow on these small hills. Probably you don’t know that there are at least 1260 hills but according to some, there could be 1776 in an area of 50 Square Km.
Why are they called Chocolate hills? No, they are not made of chocolate, sadly, but the hills are covered in green grass that turns brownish during the dry season, giving them a chocolate-like color.
How were the Chocolate hills formed? The truth is that no one really knows but there are some funny legends about it. One of these says that a town was being plagued by a giant carabao (water buffalo), who ate all of their crops. Finally having had enough, the townsfolk took all of their spoiled food and placed it in such a way that the carabao would not miss it.
Sure enough, the carabao ate it, but his stomach couldn’t handle the spoiled food, so he defecated, leaving behind him a mound of feces until he had emptied his stomach of the food. The feces then dried, forming the Chocolate Hills. Quite disgusting but very funny legend.
If you have the chance to visit the Chocolate Hills it’s a good idea to rent a quad and drive around the hills. You will see them from a unique perspective and will take some interesting pictures.
You will surely fall in love with the small Tarsier: his big eyes are almost hypnotic.
To be honest some think that the Tarsier eyes are a bit scary, almost evil. To me, it looks like Yoda, from Star Wars. Don’t you agree?
This small primate measures only about 85 to 160 millimeters but it can jump to up to 5 meters: quite impressive! Another interesting thing about the Tarsier is that its eyes are fixed in its skull; they cannot turn in their sockets, but it can rotate the head 180 degrees.
The eyes are disproportionately large, having the largest eye-to-body size ratio of all mammals. Since it’s a nocturnal animal it’s not easy to photograph the tarsier with the eyes wide open during the day.
In Bohol, the Philippine tarsier was a common sight in the southern part of the island until the 1960s. Sadly, since then, the number has dropped to around 700. But the government is doing is best to protect this amazing animal.
The beaches in Bohol
An article about Bohol is not complete without talking about the beaches in Bohol. Even though they are not pristine and wild as in Palawan, the ocean is beautiful and the water crystal clear. I recommend one of the many Island hopping tours.
The tours are usually divided into three parts.
- First, you will get to a place where you will see the dolphins (you can see them in the first picture of this article).
- Then you will stop in Balicasag a small island famous for the fish sanctuary and for some sea turtles living close to the beach. You’ll have to pay a tax to snorkel and if you don’t want to visit both (fish and turtles sanctuary) I strongly suggest to snorkel with the sea turtles. It’s a unique and amazing experience. Some of these turtles are really huge.
- Finally, you will get to Virgin Island, famous for its long stretch of white sandy beach that during low tide spans around 1 hectare.
Not famous like the Chocolate Hills or like the small Tarsier, but the Hinagdanan cave is worth a visit. It is a natural cavern with a deep lagoon and many large stalactites and stalagmites. You can even swim there if you want to.
Where to stay in Bohol
I stayed in the small Panglao Island, just a 15 minutes ride by tricycles from Bohol. The area near Alona beach is a bit more expensive than the other places but you will find plenty of options and also some good restaurants.
Obviously, during peak season Alona beach can be quite crowded so it’s better to avoid it if possible.
If you have some days left to spend in the Philippines why don’t you try another amazing experience: Snorkeling with the Whale Sharks in Cebu not too far from Bohol. Have you been to Bohol? What did you like the most? Let me know with your comments!