The Philippine island of Bohol is the definition of an island paradise. Situated southwest of the country’s capital, Manila, Bohol is the 10th largest island in the country, lying in the middle of the Visayas. Surrounded by other islands on all sides, Bohol is shielded from the region’s frequent typhoons as well as from the heavy rains during the monsoon season.
Bohol has an abundance of activities and sights for visitors, so many that tourists often have a hard time choosing what to do first. The island’s hospitable inhabitants might be the biggest draw, and one can’t help but feel at home in the island’s lush greenery and countless resorts.
What to do
The Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol’s most famous tourist attraction. Up to this day, geologists have not reached consensus on how they were formed, lending mystery to the beauty that is the Chocolate Hills.
Coming out from Tagbilaran Airport, there are plenty of well wishers advertising their vans or motorcycles for an exciting trip of the island, bargain here or ask your hotel to arrange a service for you. Whichever way you decided go, make sure your trip includes a visit to Bayoyoy, a dwarf and one of the oldest men in the Philippines, as well as a stop at some of the island’s centuries-old churches and the legendary Chocolate Hills. While you’re travelling around, keep an eye out for tarsiers, one of the smallest primates on Earth that calls the island home.
Other activities that should be on your agenda are dolphin watching, snorkelling near the local coral reefs and sunbathing on the island’s white sand beaches.
An addition to the cay’s activity roster is the new zip-line suspended between two mountains peaks. Visitors almost fly between the end points with the clear rushing water of the Loboc River below them.
Bohol Tourism Office, Ground Floor, New Provincial Capitol Building, Marapao Street, 6300 Tagbilaran City Bohol, Philippines, +63 384 113 666, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to stay
Regardless of the hotel, watching the sunset on the horizon of Alona Beach is worth stay by itself.
For something more luxurious, check out The Peacock Garden, a 40-room boutique resort with an expansive view of the sea. It’s a 15-minute drive from Tagbilaran City, the island’s capital. To complement the rooms, the resort also features a fine dining restaurant, spa, wine cellar, music and dance club, as well as business facilities. ;
Alona Bamboo House, Alona Beach, Danao, Panglao, Central Visayas, +63 900 6132 4062, Email: email@example.com; The Peacock Garden, Upper Laya, Baclayon, Bohol, Phullippines, +63 385 399 231, www.thepeacockgarden.com
Where to shop
Bohol may not have many shopping malls, but the various indigenous handicrafts available at most scenic attractions make for wonderful souvenirs.
The island is far from the region’s major cities like Hong Kong or Manila where shopping mall rule; here you shop for experience and adventure. (Although there are always the typical souvenirs you can purchase while you’re there.)
While you’re in the city, the place to stop into is Island City Mall, one of the main shopping centres. If you’re asked to leave your bags at the counter before you enter, don’t be alarmed, this is a must in all malls throughout Bohol.
Island City Mall, Dao district, 6300 Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines, +63 38 501 6255
Where to eat
For a truly scenic dining experience, opt for one of the many floating restaurants along the Loboc River, where you can dine and take in the sights at the same time.
Try the sumptuous buffet spreads on the floating restaurants that cruise the scenic Loboc River. You’ll dine while taking in the view as well as the folk music provided by local musicians.
On land, the place for good (and organic) local food is Buzz Cafe at Bohol Bee Farm. Besides a hearty meal, you can also go on a farm tour, enjoy the spa or even get hands on with some of the activities there; definitely something for the whole family. There’s also a resort if you wish to spend the night.
Loboc River Cruise and Floating Restaurant, Sitio Ubos, Loboc 6316, Philippines, +63 388 886 951; Bohol Bee Farm Resort and Restaurant, Dao, Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, +63 38 510 1822
Additional reporting by Esther Cheng.