Bohol in my opinion has it all, the white sandy beaches, great diving with turtles around every corner and mesmerising nature like the Chocolate Hills. After four days in a densely populated Boracay, we welcomed Bohol’s contrast, with its rural roads lined with green paddy fields and local kids strolling home from school eagerly egging us on to honk our scooter horns.
How to get to Bohol
Bohol was our second destination in the Philippines after Boracay. It was a bit of a trek but worth the travelling! From Boracay we flew from Caticlan Airport to Cebu airport. From the airport get an Uber (ignore the taxis waiting outside, they’re a rip-off!) to the port. Hop on the ferry to Tagbilaran, then once off the ferry get a local with a trike to take you to Panglao.
Where to Stay
Panglao is the area we stayed in Bohol, more of the touristy area and home to Alona Beach. Alona is basically a tiny version of Boracay’s White Beach, small and touristy with lots of restaurants.
We stayed in the Lost Horizon Resort just off Alona Beach. The standard of accommodation in the Philippines is very low, if you wish to stay in a nice “white sheet” hotel with air-con, a pool and the other comforts of home, be willing to pay a lot more than other South East Asian destinations like Thailand or Bali. The Lost Horizon Resort was about AUD40 a night and had spacious clean rooms.
What to do in Bohol
Of course we couldn’t come to the Philippines and not dive! If you enjoy diving and are a keen traveller I would strongly suggest getting your Open Water certificate to fully enjoy all the Philippines’ underwater world has to offer. We spent the day diving with Go Scuba. They were the most competitively priced and go to all the main dive sites in Bohol.
Because of government policies to protect the reef, there is a rotating roster for all the dive shops to visit Balicasag. Balicasag is the best spot for a dive, with turtles around every corner! Even sitting on the boat putting on our gear we could see turtles everywhere bobbing on the surface!
Corella Tarsier Sanctuary
Bohol is home to the smallest primates in the world, the tarsier monkey. These little big-eyed creatures are critically endangered and the Corella Sanctuary is doing its best to keep them from extinction. Do not get mixed up with the Corella Sanctuary and the sanctuary in Loboc. The Loboc “sanctuary” has been exposed for some mistreatment of the tarsiers and travellers claim they do not have the animals’ best interests at heart.
The Loboc River in Bohol is about an hour’s scooter journey from Panglao. We did an hour of stand-up paddle boarding on the river and it was amazing. The water is a vivid-green colour and lined with overhanging palm trees the whole way down. Fallen coconuts bob lazily down the river and we collected a few to have with lunch after our session.
Loboc is known for its river cruises, especially dinner cruises. Though a little more pricey they looked gorgeous.
Don’t bother with the tour buses, rent a scooter and get to the Chocolate Hills yourself. The hills are located in Carmen in the heart of Bohol. No they aren’t cocoa trees or made of chocolate, they are cone-shaped geological formations, that are brown in colour (during the dry season) making them look like chocolate buttons! With nearly 2,000 of them they make quite the surreal image, a definite must-see while in Bohol!