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While most tourists head over to the province of Bohol to catch sight of the world-famous Chocolate Hills, many are often surprised to discover tons of activities to do on the island. Apart from the picturesque landscape, first-time visitors will love its pristine white-sand beaches, jungle activities, and unique food delicacies.
Primarily, local and foreign tourists should see for themselves what makes The Chocolate Hills a bucket list-worthy destination in the Philippines. That’s because these hills stay true to their moniker. It’s called the Chocolate Hills because the hills turn chocolatey brown in color when their grass withers during the summer season. And, while the hills do vary in size, it seems like they’re almost symmetrical in shape when viewed from afar. It’s a fascinating sight and might make anyone think it’s really a product of natural forces and not a man-made creation.
Next to The Chocolate Hills, first-time visitors can also look forward to meeting the world’s smallest primate – the Philippine Tarsiers. While the species are endemic to the Southeast Asian country, these nocturnal creatures can only be found in the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. And due to habitat destruction, hunting, and other forms of human disturbance, tarsiers have become endangered in the country, too. If you’d like to see them in their natural habitat, visit the Tarsius syrichta species clinging to branches in Bohol’s Tarsier Conservation Area.
Apart from being home to the Philippine tarsiers, Bohol’s lush environment is also a haven to a number of creatures such as dolphins and whales, several turtle species, bees, and butterflies to name a few. In some resorts, they offer whale-watching and dolphin-watching as part of their tourist activities. You’ll spot these sea creatures around Pamilacan Island and if you’d like to visit the turtles and let them be your swimming companions, you’d better head over to Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary. Bohol Bee Farm is where you’ll find the bees, whereas hundreds of butterflies can be found in the Butterfly Garden in Bilar.
Speaking of the Bohol Bee Farm, it’s not just home to the buzzing bees but also serves delicious organic food at its very own restaurant. The restaurant stays true to what they’re all about and you’ll be able to order dishes made out of organic ingredients such as flower salad, vegetarian pasta, and seafood soup. Of course, the Bee Farm’s restaurant isn’t the only one you should visit. Check out Gerarda’s in Tagbilaran (one of the most visited restaurants in Bohol) for some Filipino food with a twist and dishes that have both Asian and Spanish influences. And, don’t you dare miss the floating restaurant in Loboc!
While Boracay is the Philippines’ national pride when it comes to stunning and white sand beaches, Bohol should not be overlooked when searching for amazing beaches in the country. Bohol’s Panglao island has become a top beach destination in the country for its beautiful white-sand beaches, stunning coral reefs, and world-class diving spots for beach lovers. Its clean waters are also said to be “better than Boracay,” according to a government official. The most well-known beach in the area is Alona Beach, as tourists can’t help but fall in love with its long stretch of powdery white sand.
When in Bohol, you’ll realize it’s not just about the sights and tourist spots but also immersing yourself in various activities such as water sports and extreme adventures. Here, you can experience paddleboarding, diving, windsurfing, zip-lining, ATV, and rock climbing. If you’d like to experience those activities, better check out Aqua Sports of The Bellevue Resort, Danao Adventure Park, and Chocolate Hills Adventure Park to unleash your inner adrenaline-junkie and test your nerves with outdoor recreational activities.
Apart from the magnificent view brought by The Chocolate Hills, there are numerous scenic views to enjoy when visiting Bohol. Be fascinated by the breathtaking views on Panglao Island’s beaches and capture the best panoramic views at Tarsier Paprika while having a taste of European dishes. And, for the best sunset and sunrise view in Alona Beach of Panglao, you might want to visit Amorita Beach Resort – where you can catch a wondrous sunrise view by the pool and watch the sunset from their outdoor area.
While there are a number of bars and clubs to be found in Bohol (specifically in Alona Beach), nightlife on the entire province is not as loud and crazy as you might expect. There are chill places where you can simply enjoy some great music, good food, and a relaxing atmosphere. Of course, for those seeking solace and some quiet nights, it’s a good idea to relax on the beachfront or by the pool. Forget the hustle and bustle of the city and just enjoy the night with a drink.
One of the many reasons why both foreign and local tourists keep coming back to Bohol is its ability to connect visitors with nature. Within the province of Bohol, there are nature spots that surround one with lush greens, crystal clear waters, and let you discover rich flora and fauna indigenous to the island. For instance, you’ll get a breath of fresh air at the man-made Mahogany Forest while getting a closer look at those giant roots. There’s a secret waterfall (better ask local guides where it is) where you can jump off a tall cliff and the Hinagdanan (which means laddered in English) Cave – one of the island’s best adventure spots.
Bohol also plays an important role in Philippine history as it witnessed a very important event during the Spanish era – the Blood Compact between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol. With a few drops of blood, it served as the First Treaty of Friendship between the two leaders despite having different races, culture, and religious beliefs. In honor of the Sandugo (blood compact in English), National Artist Napoleon Abueva, who’s a Bohol native, made the sculpture which was placed in Barangay Bool in Tagbilaran City. Within Bohol, there are also historical churches that exhibit Spanish presence marked by frescoes, carvings, and stone churches of the 15th century.
Just like in any other place in the Philippines, foreign visitors admire the country’s locals for their warmth, kindness, and hospitality. Most locals of Bohol are very welcoming and will extend help without asking anything in return. If you find yourself lost, ask a local and get instant help. Or, if you’re looking for the province’s best-kept secret destinations, seek help from a local guide who will be keen to take you there. Enjoy the countryside tour, the wondrous sights, and mingle with friendly locals who’ll make your trip worth remembering!