The island of Bohol may be relatively small in size but can boast a fantastic array of natural attractions, adventurous activities and sublime tropical beaches. Due to its close proximity to big brother Cebu, many visitors explore the island on day trips but Bohol certainly deserves a few days stay to really appreciate its charms.
Its beaches and dive sites are the main draw for most long stay visitors and offer a more back to basics beach experience with pristine stretches of sand unsullied by major development. Many tour companies including the large resorts provide Bohol sightseeing tours, but it can be great fun to rent a car or motorbike and explore the country oneself.
Ecotourism is well established on Bohol, with boat trips to a number of uninhabited offshore islands and dolphin and whale-watching cruises. Bohol’s green and verdant interior is also worth exploring and it has some of the most unique natural attractions in the Philippines.
The famous ‘Chocolate Hills’ are not to be missed–especially for hikers–and Bohol is equally noted for being one of the last refuges for the endangered Tarsier; the smallest and cutest primate in the world. This is a definite must for kids who will be enchanted by these lovable creatures.
Chocolate Hills of Bohol
This is perhaps Southern Philippines most intriguing natural phenomenon. It is a series of over 1,000 low conical hills covered in grass which when turning brown during the dry season, gives the effect of chocolate mounds. Unsurprisingly there are several age old legends attached to its evolution. However, to this day geologists are still no nearer discovering its true origins.
The largest, Sagbayan Peak offers wonderful views across a vast plateau and as far as Cebu and on a clear day will offer up fantastic photo opportunities. (Access through the neighbourhoods of Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan)
Danao Adventure Park
This eco-adventure park is a must for any energetic kids who can get their thrills with a day of river tubing, caving and trekking. There is a skyride and adrenaline pumping zipline which gives a bird eye’s view of the lush forest canopy. A great learning experience too for kids of all ages who can explore a wealth of flora and fauna on guided walks.
It is also a fun trip for green-fingered adults who want to learn about the natural world. (website: www.eatdanao.com).
Scuba diving in Bohol
Bohol boasts some of the best dive sites in the Philippines such as the famed Double Barrier Reef, Pamilacan Island and Balicasag. Alona Beach is the hive of the diving industry on Bohol and the perfect base for first timers to learn the ropes.
Alona Divers (website: www.alona-divers.com) offers comprehensive open water courses for beginners.
Coral Point Dive Resort organise weekly dive trips throughout the Visayas and is a good bet for more experienced divers.
Tarsier Visitor Centre
This habitat preserve and visitor centre is dedicated to the protection of the eye catching Tarsier, a tiny tree-dwelling primate with prominent facial features and huge bug eyes. It is the cutest small mammal you are ever likely to see and young children will find close contact with these unique creatures a magical experience.
Visitors can observe the Tarsier in its natural surroundings and learn all about the centre’s breeding and conservation projects.
Dolphin and whale watching in Bohol
The seas around Pamilacan Island and Cabilao are renowned as a happy hunting ground for large sea mammal watching with common sightings of whales, hammerhead and thresher sharks and dolphins. Sightings of huge sperm whales are not uncommon either.
Pamilacan Dolphin & Whale Watching Tours (website: www.whales.bohol.ph) are the longest established company and are just one of several operators offering early morning boat trips out to sea.