The island of Bohol can be viewed from many vantage points in Cebu across the 35kms Bohol strait and getting to Bohol from Cebu is simple with a dozen or so ferry services daily. There is a choice of superfast catamarans, speed boats and slower cargo ships. The faster services take just 90 minutes and run throughout the day from early morning until dusk.
Supercat (website: www.supercat.com.ph) has frequent services to the capital Tagbilaran and onwards to Leyte and Mindanao in the south.
If you are really pushed for time it is also possible to fly between Cebu and Bohol with domestic carrier Asian Spirit. Once on the island, local transportation is all pretty centralized around the Tagbilaran port and adjacent town. There are seemingly hundreds of ‘tricycles’ or motorbike taxis hanging around the port which are fine for short cross town trips and cost just a handful of pesos.
There is no shortage of taxi cabs either who will make their presence felt in no uncertain terms. Competition is fierce for custom, especially for foreign visitors and you should always agree a price in advance. A good reliable private taxi company is Varescon Taxi.
Tagbilaran’s bus terminal is located a little way out of town at Dao from where all services start and finish. Route frequencies are a little haphazard for the less visited outlying areas but to the main visitor attractions such as the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier Centre and for Panglao Island there is a fair bit of competition and frequencies are good. Most destinations can be reached for around Php150 although some roads are poorly maintained and become virtually impassable during heavy rain.
‘V hires’ are a speedier option for getting around Bohol’s towns and villages. These are modern 12 seater mini vans that connect the larger settlements in Bohol and although fares are roughly double that of conventional buses, journey times are twice as fast and more comfortable to boot. Unlike other forms of transport they have designated stopping points and generally terminate in the centre of towns and villages.
A similar alternative is the iconic Jeepney – a familiar sight throughout Filipino urban areas. These fabulous works of art on wheels concentrate on main commuter routes between larger towns such as Tagbilaran, Carmen and Loboc. They follow fixed routes on the main cross island ‘highway’ and although it is a fun way to go, journeys can be time consuming as few jeepneys will depart before all seats are full.
Where jeepneys, buses and V hires fear to tread – usually the bumpy back roads of the interior – is where you will find the habal-habal. These are local motorcycle taxis which speed along dirt tracks and rutted country lanes at breakneck speed, connected far flung villages and can drop off to connect with jeepney or bus routes. Prices are very cheap and are really the only option for some rural journeys. These drivers have a notorious cavalier attitude towards passenger safety and perhaps only recommended as a last resort.
Some of the larger beach resorts regularly arrange group excursions and half day tours to Bohol’s premier tourist sites. Although much more expensive than doing it yourself with public transport, it allows you to fit in quite a lot in a day and for extra flexibility most hotel front desks can organise a private driver for a personal island tour on request.