Blissful Bohol Island is part of the Visayas, the central island group of the Philippines. The 10th largest island in the country, it covers 4,821 km2, Although Bohol is known as an island itself, it comprises 75 islets in total, many of which are tiny are huddled around its northern shores.
Like much of the Philippines Bohol is known for its paradisiacal beaches, lush forests and jungles. Yet what makes this island unique is the sheer number of spectacular natural sights, adventurous activities and wildlife viewing opportunities packed into one place. Here’s what to do among the natural splendour of Bohol Island, Philippines.
Not only Bohol’s most famous sight but also one of the Philippines’ most popular sights, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chocolate Hills are a must-see. Located in the centre of the island is a vast landscape of over 1,000 almost identical and symmetrical mounds.
During the rainy season, from June to November, the hills are carpeted in lush velvety green. But come the hot, dry season the hills change into a soft cocoa shade, making them look like mounds of chocolate. There’s a special viewing platform from where you can see right out over the expanse of hills or you can hike among them.
The Abatan River is located just north of the capital of Bohol – Tagbilaran City. Flanked by mangrove swamps, the river is prime firefly spotting territory. Paddling along at night with the dancing lights of the fireflies to guide you like twinkling stars is quite a magical experience. For those who don’t want to kayak or those with small kids, there are boat tours offered too.
If you want to see what’s possible when it comes to conservation, take a trip to Bohol’s man-made forest. Not far from the town of Loboc, the forest of hundreds of towering mahogany trees was planted by the local government as part of a reforestation project around 50 years ago. There are hiking trails that snake through the woods and up onto the hillside so you can admire its beauty. It’s also a popular spot for cycling.
See one of the world’s smallest primates – the tarsiers. These small bush baby-like creatures are known for their huge round eyes. They are found on at least four different Philippine islands, but by far the best place to see them is Bohol. While there are several different locations, the best is the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, where tarsiers live in the wild, in a large swathe of protected forest.
Located on Panglao Island, Hinagdanan Cave is one of the most fascinating caves in Bohol. Stalactites hang from a cavernous interior over a blue lagoon. Tours of the cave even allow for a quick swim in the incredibly blue water. While today it’s more of a natural attraction, in the past the cave was used as a place to hide from Japanese soldiers during the Second World War.
The Hinagdanan Cave is less than 1km from the luxurious Mithi Resort & Spa, where tasteful thatched bungalows sit clustered around three aquamarine infinity pools, right in front of the beach.
The Philippines offers some of the best diving and snorkelling on the planet and Bohol is no exception. One of the best things to do in Bohol is to explore underneath the waves off Panglao Island, southwest of the main island. Both the Panglao Reef and the Napaling Reef are excellent spots.
As well as multi-coloured reef fish, they’re home to manta and eagle rays, green sea turtles, barracudas, jackfish and in the right season, thousands upon thousands of sardines. Napaling Reef is particularly known as a great freediving location.
The stylish Amorita Resort, the sumptuous Eskaya Beach Resort and the contemporary Maribago (Bluewater) Panglao Resort are all situated on the island’s south coast, within easy reach of the Panglao Reef. Bohol Beach Club, with its thatched roof buildings located directly on the white sand beach, is also a great option.
Flanked by emerald green forests and tall palms, the Loboc River is one of the most popular Bohol tourist spots. It winds its way from the coast at Loay up into the centre of the island among the Taytay Hills. One of the best ways to see it is aboard a long wooden boat that peacefully floats downriver from just south of the town of Loboc. Many of the boat tours include a huge local buffet of local delights that you can enjoy while admiring the natural beauty of the river.
Bohol is one of the best Philippines islands for dolphin watching. This is because of the deep waters south of the island in the Bohol Sea. One of the best places to see them is Pamilacan Island, located just south of the area between the main island of Bohol and Panglao Island.
Several different tour companies can take you out to see them, either from Baclayon on the mainland or on Panglao Island itself. The best time to see them is at dawn or at dusk when the dolphins are at their most playful and jump in the glow of the changing light.
Also known as the Dimiao Twin Falls, the Pahangog Falls are one of the best waterfalls on Bohol Island. Hidden deep in the forest of Brgy, the falls can be reached via a lovely hike. The hike down takes you through a lush jungle with views of rice terraces in the background. Once you arrive, you’ll find not one, but two falls, plunging into a clear blue pool, hence the nickname Twin Falls. In the end, you can reward yourself with a refreshing dip.
The tiny island of Balicasag is situated off the tip of the Panglao Reef and is another excellent spot for diving and snorkelling in Bohol. You’ll need to hire someone to take you over in a boat or book a dive or snorkel tour to get there. The sanctuary consists of several submarine cliffs which plunge into the depths, covered in bright corals and sponges.
The most common types of fish you’ll see here are jacks, mackerel and barracudas, while huge napoleon wrasse fish, groupers and snappers live further down below. If you’re here in December or January, you may even be treated to the sight of both hammerhead and whale sharks.
Bohol and its small islets are surrounded by idyllic tropical beaches, but one of the best is Anda Beach, situated on the eastern coast on a small peninsula. Its fine, powdery white sand gleams almost like snow against the deep blue of the clear sea and the bottle-green jungle behind.
For a longer stay, book yourself in at the Magic Islands Dive Resort, where small thatched chalets sit around a lovely pool. This is another great spot for diving and snorkelling. The resort even has its dive centre where you can rent equipment, go on dive excursions or even take your PADI course and learn.
It’s not only islands like Luzon that are home to picturesque rice terraces. You can see them in Bohol too. Cascading down the hillsides like jewel-green waterfalls studded with palm trees, they’re quite a sight to behold. After your hike through the terraces, you can cool down with a refreshing swim in the nearby Can-umantad Falls.
The Philippines is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. There’s no better place to get close to nature – and embark on wild adventures – than the island province of Bohol.
Don’t miss our run-down of the best beaches in the Philippines, unmissable insider tips for Philippines travel and discover more in The Rough Guide to the Philippines. Or, start planning your adventure by browsing our customisable tailor-made trip itineraries to the Philippines.
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