If you have ever researched things to do in the Philippines, you most definitely have come across pictures of the famous Chocolate Hills. Bohol Island is home to these hills, the Loboc River, Tarsier Sanctuary, and much more. We were inspired by Sabrina from Just One Way Ticket for her love of the Philippines and just had to see it for ourselves!
We went to Bohol (only a two hour ferry ride from Cebu) for only two short days.
Well, actually we were there for 3 because we missed our ferry and ended up in Jagna for the day, which is like in the middle of nowhere, but an adventure nonetheless. For the time we were in Bohol, we stayed in Panglao, an hour tuk tuk ride from the main city, Tagbiliran.
Bohol, although small, is spectacular. Bohol has lush green mountains and forests but also the most amazing white sand beaches! Did you know Bohol was named as one of the top diving spots in the world?
There is so much to do on this island, you need at least a week! We did accomplish quite a bit while we were there, but we wish we had more time, especially to see the Tarsiers.
Our favorite activity was renting motorbikes to see the Chocolate Hills. We enjoyed this not because we got to see the hills, which were nice, but the motorbike ride was so much fun! It was a 2.5 hour drive out to the hills (I was a bit slow…I thought 25 km/h was speedy!), but we got to stop at old churches, eat at little villages, found hidden beach coves, and passed through the man made forest of Bilan.
The Chocolate Hills were one of those odd works of nature. They are hundreds of little symmetrical domes covered in grass, or as my high school named these mountains, “Nipple Mountains“. They are named the Chocolate Hills for its shape and its brownness during the dry season but it was wet season so they were quite green—so more like Mint Chocolate hills!
It is definitely worth seeing the Hills but we would recommend to do it by bike because that made it really special. Although the hills were stunning and a truly interesting work of nature, it was great to take a few pictures but then you kind of get over it.
There are so many people at the one view point and you can’t really hike the hills. So we just hopped back onto our bikes and rode back to town. Bikes only cost 500 Peso, $11 for the 2 bikes for the whole day!
Fun Story – This was the first motorbike experience in Southeast Asia for us. Jack has ridden a motorbike before but this was my first time (and last time) ever, and it was so obvious.
We got two scooters, one for each of us and we were set to go. As we pulled out of the lot, Jack went first with ease and I went straight into the shoulder across the road and into some rocks. Great…. It was right in front of the rental company to! Ugh, how embarrassing…But I got up, checked the bike, no scratches! Woohoo!
Saying that, if you have no experience on a bike, be careful. Make sure you try where there aren’t many people around and the roads are smooth. Practice to get your footing first and don’t do anything stupid! Also, Watch out for the exhaust! It is known as the Farang Tattoos, the burn mark that almost every backpacker gets by putting their leg on the exhaust!! Ouch! Anyways, after the little incident, it was smooth sailing from there onwards!
We stayed in Panglau and Alona Beach, which are the famed white beaches in Bohol. Panglau is the ideal postcard picture with its white sand, abundance of palm trees, and turquoise waters. It is a popular tourist area with tons of restaurants and exciting beach parties with loud music. Paradise, really.
Panglau is actually one of the top 10 diving sires in the world! Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see it for our selves. Speaking of fish though (nice transition, huh?), this island had some of the freshest seafood to eat. They had tables of delicious fresh fish for us to pick out and they would grill it for us for dinner. SO GOOD!! Ps. a whole red snapper, grilled to perfection and served with a plate of veggies and rice was only 150 Pesos, $3 USD. So, uh, yes, we’ll take 5!
We also tried Halo Halo, the famous Filipino dessert! What better way than to wine and dine on grilled fish on the beach with the sound of the ocean? Nothing was better.
Did we mention it’s also almost always happy hour? :)
Things we wish we had time to do:
— We wish we were able to see the Tarsier Sanctuary. They are the worlds second smallest primate with these large bug eyes and creepy little fingers. You can see them at the sanctuary, however, we are not sure if you can hold them. We were going to kill to birds with one stone and see the Tarsiers on our way back from the Chocolate Hills, but it started to rain hard and apparently they hide out when it rains, making them hard to find.
— Ride down the scenic Loboc River. Apparently, there are dinner cruises that flow down the river and you get to eat with this awesome countryside.
— We are a big fan of waterfalls, there is something really special about the Southeast Asian waterfalls. One that we missed was the Masago Falls. It is 20 km outside of Tagbiliran (another great excuse to rent a bike) and only costs 20 Pesos.
— This one is not for the faint hearted. If you are really feeling adventurous, you should take the plunge! At the Danao Adventure Park, there is the only canyon swing in the Philippines. The Plunge is a 45 meter free fall plunge from a cliff before swinging back and forth across the canyon. Danao Adventure Park has many other fun activities if you want that taste of adrenalin!
Have you ever been to the Chocolate Hills in Bohol? Tell us about your experience!