Bohol is the 10th largest island of the Philippines. It has become extremely popular among local and foreign tourists for its Chocolate Hills, the tiny Tarsier monkeys (smallest apes in the world) and the infamous Alona Beach in Panglao Island. However, Bohol is big enough to keep you busy for weeks, and if you venture a little, you will discover plenty to do away from the masses while enjoying its beautiful nature.
Scuba diving and snorkelling in Bohol
If you are looking for an off the beaten path experience, you should stay as far away from Panglao Island, and especially Alona Beach, as possible. There is one reason, however, for which this should be a place to include in your itinerary. Balicasag Island is perhaps one of the best places to dive or snorkel with turtles in the Philippines. Some say it is like Apo Island (off the coast of Dumaguete) on steroids. Only 150 divers are allowed to dive in Balicasag every day, and it does fill up, so do plan and book in advance. If you don’t get a spot to dive Balicasag, you can find a number of great dive sites around Cabilao Island, Anda and of course Panglao Island. Pata Negra Divers could be one of the best dive centres in the area. Tucked away in a back street close enough to Alona Beach and far enough to keep it out of the hustle and bustle. The staff is very professional, friendly and they go the extra mile to ensure your experience is one you won’t forget.
Nature in Bohol
Bohol is majorly known for the Tarsiers and the Chocolate hills which can be seen in a day trip during which one can also see the man made forrest. But Bohol has much more to offer. White sand beaches, cave pools and waterfalls are some of the many sights one can see in this gorgeous island. Anda is slowly becoming more and more popular, but it is safe to say it is still a place to get away from the crowds and enjoy its beautiful beaches, cave pools and diving. Another popular tourist destination to enjoy nature is the town of Loboc. Here, one can go on a river cruise or visit Loboc Church which was badly damaged, along with Baclayon Church, by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013. However, if you are looking for a different and interesting way to see Loboc River and get a bit of exercise too, try your hand at Stand-Up Paddle.
Where to stay in Bohol
Depending on your budget, there many lodging options to choose from. Best value for money would probably be Bohol Sea Resort which is beachfront and offers decent sized air conditioned and / or fan cooled room with cable TV, Internet, hot & cold shower, and a really comfortable bed. The resort is located 15 minutes’ walk from Alona Beach where all the bars and restaurants are.
Where to eat in Bohol
There are a few go to places in Panglao for good food. Enjoy the vegetarian dishes offered at Bohol Bee Farm and to round off your visit, book a massage with them with views of the sea. Shaka Bohol offers breakfast bowls and shakes and this branch in particular also offers heftier meals if you are really hungry. There is a “carinderia” that serves well-priced and tasty Filipino food and it can be found along the road that leads to Pata Negra Dive Center and Eco Hotels.If you are craving Italian pasta dishes and / or pizza then head to Oca Golosa.
A plus for motorbike riders is the fact that most roads are well paved and going around Bohol is eaiser on two wheels when it gets congested. Not only that, you get to explore places on the island that not a lot of visitors get to see and since it’s a rather large island, there is enough road to travel. One road worth the mention are the twisties through the man-made forest that takes you to both the Tarsier Sanctuary as well as Chocolate Hills in about an hour and a half or the beautiful coastal road from Panglao or Tagbilaran (2-3 hours). they are not only picture perfect spots but very enjoyable rides as well.
Geting to and from Bohol
If you are not flying and are travelling by road, Bohol is well connected to its neighbouring islands. From the port of Tagbilaran, you can get to Siquijor, Cebu and Dumaguete. Fastcat operates the Cebu – Tubigon line and you can also go to Camiguin from the port of Jagna or Bato, in Southern Leyte from the port of Ubay.
Check out our map of the different roro ports in the Philippines.