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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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