Bohol is a mid-sized island in the center of the Philippines, next to the well-known Cebu island. If you are nearby, you won’t want to miss the chocolate hills and the smallest primates on earth, because all of them are located on this island.
After spending a magical week on Siquijor island, I decided it’s time to go and discover more of the Philippines’ treasures. Was hard to say goodbye to my already hammock office from the beach and to the amazing sunsets, but my desire to discover more was too big.
How to get to Bohol?
There are a few ways to get to Bohol, from Cebu island or from Siquijor island, via ferry.
Because I was coming from Siquijor, I took the ferry from Larena port. Here you have two options: the public ferry or the private one. They have different hours and days when they operate, so you better ask the reception of your hotel for more info regarding this. The only thing you need to know is that they have different prices: 250 pesos (4.5$) for the public one and 700 pesos (13$) for the private one. If you decide on the cheap one, you need to book in advance your seat and to arrive with 2 hours before departure, because the booking will expire afterward.
Where to stay in Bohol?
Everybody suggested me to stay in Panglao, the small island next to Bohol, connected by a few bridges and a 30min drive from the Tagbilaran port-town. They said all the best places to stay, are there and the beaches are really close. But I preferred to stay in Tagbilaran at a cute guest house, Open Doors Heaven, to be closer to all the attractions.
How to get around Bohol?
Getting around Bohol can be made by organized tours or by renting a scooter. So, I was planning to visit it with a hired tour in a minivan, because I don’t have a driving license in order to rent a scooter and I was also scared to try learning how to drive one on the bad Filipino roads. But, being in the minivan you can’t enjoy so much the landscapes and the journey. On organized trips, everything is made on a tight schedule and most of the time you are rushed, not being able to enjoy anything.
So, once I arrived there and I saw the roads were really good, I decided to rent a scooter from my accommodation (where they didn’t ask for a license). I asked around about the police roadblocks and they said the police officers won’t stop you to ask for documents if you are wearing your hamlet. And even if they stop me, “I don’t speak English”.
But, I need to mention that I’ve never driven a scooter before, just an e-bike in Myanmar if that counts. So, yeah, I was me that slow scooter driver, on the side of the road driving through Bohol. But what I love about the Filipinos is that they are really patient and they will not honk you for being slow, maybe just to announce their presence and let you know they are going to overtake you, but every time with a smile on their face and a waving hello.
I rented my scooter with 350pesos (6.5$) per day and I drove it without a driving license all around Bohol and Panglao. I drove in one day more than 150 km, and by the end of the second day, I was quite confident with my driving skills, making a big progress from the 40km/h to 80km/h. Way to go Cristina!
What to visit in Bohol?
I had a cheat map from a traveler friend and I decided to check all the points on it, so this is my itinerary for two days in Bohol:
This is a cave with a natural turquoise pool inside. You just have to pay the entrance fee, 50 pesos (1$) and you are allowed to enter the cave and even to swim in the pool. I suggest you go earlier in the morning if you want to be less crowded and to be able to get some greats shots there.
2. Fish Port
I ended up in this cute port by mistake. Here you can see how the locals work and live near the port, in wood houses on the water. They are very poor but they will welcome you with a smile on their faces every single time.
3. Alona Beach
There are a few beaches on Panglao island, where most of the tourists go: Alona Beach, White Beach and Panglao Beach. If you are looking for a place to eat or boat tours, this is the place to go. A lot of restaurants and tourism agencies. I tried the Alona beach but I wasn’t that impressed, it looked more like a port, with a lot of boats.
4. Local dinner at Acacia de Bubu
I was eager to try some of the local food so I found on TripAdvisor a restaurant with good reviews. The locals were cueing to eat here at Acacia de Bubu, and they were all surprised that I knew about this place, because I was the only foreigner there. The food was great, and they had some sort of mango pickled salad, packed in small bags, really delicious. All this and a soda were all 140 pesos (2.5$).
To get ahead of the vans full of tourists, I left Tagbilaran city around 6 am in the morning and I went straight to the Chocolate Hills, planning to see the other attractions on my way back. The hills are 50km away from the city, but the road is really good and the view is incredible.
These strange geological formations are cone-shaped hills and during the dry season, when the grass withers and turns into brown, they look like giant chocolate kisses. The entrance is 50 pesos (1$) and you have to climb a few stairs till the deck view from where you can have a better look over the hills.
Near the parking lot, you can enjoy a children band playing a variety of songs, from their traditional ones to the more well-known songs like Despacito.
On the road back, the first stop was at Pangas Waterfalls. Is a small but cute waterfall. The road to get there is kinda bumpy but is worth it! The landscape is amazing and is tourist free. Not many choose to come here because of the road, but if I did it, so can you! The entrance fee is 50 pesos.
As the name suggests this is a man-made forest and it’s an attraction because of the tall Mahogany trees densely planted in a two-kilometer stretch. You’ll enjoy driving your scooter through this forest, the cool air brushing your face and the clean air is just perfect.
4. Lunch on the river
This is a touristy but yet very beautiful place to visit. You get to Loboc River Cruise, buy the ticket and in less than 10 minutes you’ll be on a floating restaurant having lunch. On the way back, the boat stopped to watch a group of local folks who entertained us with traditional songs and dances. This is free of charge but they accept donations.
5. The Tarsiers
The Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world and, I think they look a little like Yoda from Star Wars.😅 If they get stressed or if they are scared by loud noises, they will hold their breath and suicide. So, you need to be really quiet in their presence and by no means, you can touch them.
There are left only two places where you can see Tarsiers on Bohol island. But, there is a thing, only one of them really takes care of them. So please go to Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary near Corella, here they really take care of them.
How to leave Bohol?
Because I was heading to Malapascua Island, I took the ferry to Cebu Island. There are a few choices but all private boats or maybe I didn’t look enough. The price is kind of expensive and they have other random taxes for anything else they can charge. At Starlite Company the ticket fare is 500pesos (9$). After you purchase the ticket you need to wait in another line for the seat number, and another line for terminal fee and, you guessed, in another line to drop your baggage. You end up with a ticket that looks like this and you feel robbed that you had to pay even for the luggage(50-100 pesos, I don’t remember).
Was a great 2 days trip to Bohol island and I’m glad I went there. I learned how to ride a scooter, I got to see the smallest primates in the world and I met great people along the way! Can’t ask for more! Thank you, Bohol!