Bohol, a two-hour hop south of Cebu, is an attractive little island where life today is pastoral and quiet. The only sign of heavy tourist activity is on the beautiful beaches of Panglao, a magnet for scuba divers and sun worshippers, close to the utilitarian port capital of Tagbilaran. Most visitors only leave the beach for a day tour taking in the Bohol’s most famous attractions: the much-touted Chocolate Hills, a glimpse of the endangered tarsier, lunch on the Loboc River and a visit to the Blood Compact site, memorial to Bohol’s violent past. Those with more time will be rewarded by trips to other parts of the province, including the adventure centre at Danao, the attractive island of Cabilao and the pretty beaches of Anda. Bohol is also renowned for its wonderful old Spanish churches, many of them built with coral, which can be found all over the island, notably at Baclayon and Albuquerque. May is fiesta month on Bohol with island-wide celebrations including barrio festivals, beauty pageants, street dancing and solemn religious processions.
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Antiques at Antequera
A number of resorts offer half-day trips for around P2000 per person to the town of Antequera, north of Tagbilaran (you can get here independently by bus or jeepney from Tagbilaran). The attraction for tourists here is the lively market, twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays. Craftsmen and traders from around the island congregate to sell locally made handicrafts such as baskets, hats and various home decor items such as linen tablecloths, mirrors and attractive bowls made from stone or coconut shells. Prices are significantly cheaper than in the cities and it’s a fun place to haggle and pick up a few inexpensive souvenirs.
The Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills are renowned throughout the Philippines and one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions. Some geologists believe that these unique 40-metre mounds – there are said to be 1268 of them if you care to count – were formed from deposits of coral and limestone sculpted by centuries of erosion. Most locals, however, will tell you that the hills are the calcified tears of a brokenhearted giant while others prefer the idea that they were left by a giant carabao with distressed bowels. What you think of the hills will depend largely on the time you visit. During the glare of the day the light casts harsh shadows and the hills lose their definition. But at dawn or dusk they look splendid, especially during the dry season (Dec–May) when the scrub vegetation that covers the hills is roasted brown, and they really do resemble endless rows of chocolate drops.