Eternal summer, delicious mango, warm sea, white sandy beaches, palms, beautiful underwater world… Friendly Bohol is loved by tourists coming to Philippines both to dive and just to relax on the beach.
Most tourists stay on the small appendix of Bohol – Panglao island. The most popular is Alona beach. Panglao is connected to Bohol by the bridge. The distance from Bohol administrative center, Tagbilaran city (sea port and airport are located here) to Alona beach is about 25 km. Getting here is quite convenient: you can take either domestic flight from Manila (AirAsia or Cebupacific) to Tagbilaran or international one to Cebu, from where it takes you just 2 hours by regular speed ferry to Bohol (Ocetanjet, Supercat).
People mainly come to Bohol to do a few activities: 1) to see tarsier, 2) to see Chocolate hills, 3) to go snorkeling at Balicasag island. Also from Panglao you can go by boat to Oslob in Cebu isl to dive or snorkel with whalesharks.
Tarsiers are really unique creatures, they live just in a few places in the world, in South-East Asia, mainly Indonesia, and here in Philippines. The smallest primates with hudge eyes. Probably famous Master Yoda from the “Star Wars” was copied from them. They are definitely worth seeing!
Chocolate hills: honestly speaking I’ve never seen them completely chocolate as they should be during the hot dry season (April-May) when grass on their slopes burns out and they become really chocolate color. It always remain slighly greenish. But anyway this geoformation is quite interesting, scientist still do not have unified opinion about their origin. From the viewpoint you can enjoy magnificent view.
Actually classical one-day Bohol-tour includes visiting all main sithseing spots: butterly sanctuary, tarsier sanctuary, Chocolate hills, Loboc river, mini-zoo. And you can book at Alona beach with any agency or a beach boy.
As mentioned above, the main issue of Bohol beaches is a long shallow entrance. So if you prefere classical “bounty” beach than islands like Boracay will suit you much better. But it doesn’t mean it’s too bad here, not at all. Bohol has beautiful white fine sandy beaches with palm trees where you can enjoy swimming and great snorkeling, BUT only during high tide. Reefs are nearby and full of life. The most popular beach in Bohol, to be exact – of Panglao is called Alona beach. It has the most developed infractructure but it’s not my favorite to be honest. But it is good as the easient option “come out of the hotel to sunbathe”. All other beaches can be accessed by local transport: tricycle, “habal-habal” (motorbike taxi – when driver takes you as a passenger), but the best is to rent a motorbike (400-500 pesos per day or 4000 per month) and go by yourself.
Actually coming to Bohol and staying all the time in one place doesn’t make much sence. First, there are a lot of nice islands around where you can go suntaning and snorkeling. Among them Virgin island, Balicasag, Pamilakan. Pamilakan you can even do overnight, it takes about 40 minutes by boat from Alona beach. There you can find bungalows for rent. It’s very nice and quiet place, as there are no big resorts there, only local village and ruines of old Spanish fort. Another island – Balicasag (30 min by boat from Alona Beach) – also has a resort on it. Coral reef around is a marine sanctuary and is truly considered one of the best in Visaya area of the Philippines. The best dive site in this area. Colorful live soft and hard corals, lots of fish both small and big, and one side is a sandy slope (down to 10m) covered with sea grass with pasturing turtles. You can see them even snorkeling.
One of my favourite spots – zip-line over Loboc river. They put on you a special harness and you fly on a cable above the jungle, meandering river and small waterfalls. The feeling of freedom is amazing, and the beauty of the view is totally breathtaking!
If you have time I recommend to go to Anda – a town on the East side of Bohol, about 100 km away from Alona Beach, 80 km from Tagbilaran seaport and airport. Very quiet and relaxing place with white sandy beaches and emeral green hills. And very charming because it’s not so touristic.
There are also beautiful waterfalls in the jungle of Bohol. Some of them are well-known and easy accesable like Mag-Aso; to get to another ones you will need a good guide.
Bohol is one of the most religious islands of the most strict catholic country in the world. That’s why, probably, you can hardly see here ladyboys so popular in Asia. And there are many old Spanish churches of 16-18 centuries. Unfortunately, some of them, like the oldest church of 16th century in city of Baclayon, were ruined by recent earthquake in 2013. Of course it’s under reconstruction now as religion plays very important role in life of filipinos.