Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers, Waterfalls and beautiful white sand beaches.
Bohol is the 10th largest island in the Philippines. It is known for its natural beauty, some call it “Tropical Heaven“. The main sights are the Chocolate Hills of Bohol (At least 1260 chocolate shaped hills) and Tarsiers (Tiny little cute but also weird-looking creatures and Philippines/ Bohol is one of the really few places you can see these creatures in the whole world). These are the main 2 sights that attract most of the tourists, but there is way more to that. Amazing white sand beaches, man-made forest, a lot of jungles, green all around, rice fields with majestic views around them, Loboc river (Really blue river surrounded by jungle) and many different waterfalls!
On pictures maybe it looks amazing to you or maybe it looks okay. But trust me once you go there you won’t regret this decision. The views in real life are surreal, you walk to the top of chocolate hill (Viewing point) and you see hundreds of hills stretching as far as your eye can see, some random smokes coming from people burning something between some of the hills which creates small fog adds a lot to the views and the feel. The way to the chocolate hills is also amazing, you can spot an area with Rice fields that are between the chocolate hills, one word “amazing”.
If you are in the Philippines, especially somewhere around Bohol, like Cebu, Dumaguete or Siquijor make sure to visit Bohol(Which you can get to by boat from these listed places, more on that below). Even 1-day trip is worth it but recommended is you go for more, we went for 3 days and we have seen so much (More on what to see below, as well as custom day to day plan to see the most of it) but we plan on going again for a bit more days to see the other side of the island, where you can find nice hidden beaches as well as many beautiful waterfalls.
How to get to Bohol?
You can get to or from Bohol from these cities: Manila, Davao, El Nido, Maasin, Caticlan, Clark, Cagayan de Oro, Seoul.
- Air Juan-(I do not recommend this airline, you can just type name on google and see a lot of 1-star reviews)Caticlan, Cebu, Maasin
- AirSWIFT-El Nido
- Cebu Pacific-Clark, Davao (begins 1 February 2020; ends 28 March 2020), Manila
- Cebu Pacific operated by Cebgo – Cagayan de Oro, Davao (ends 30 January 2020; resumes 29 March 2020)
- Jeju Air–Seoul–Incheon
- Philippine Airlines operated by PAL Express– Davao, Manila
- Philippines AirAsia–Clark
Source : Wikipedia
- From Manila – Cost can range from £44 to £100(₱3000-₱6000 – One way)* per person(Takes about 1:20h)
- From El Nido – Cost can range from £50-£120 (₱3600-₱8500-Per person one way)* (Takes about 1:45h)
- To El Nido – It can be a bit pricier £70-£140 (₱4500-₱9000-Per person one way)*
- To/from Korea(Seoul) – It can range from £90 – £140 (₱5900-₱9000-Per person one way)*
- *depending on the dates, how much in advance you are booking and whether with luggage or without.
In my opinion, this is the best way to get to the island. You can get to Bohol from Siquijor, Dumaguete, Cebu(Most popular) and even from Manila.
- OceanJet – From Cebu and Dumaguete (For exact schedule and ticket booking visit OceanJet Website)
- From Cebu – 5:10 AM | 6:00 AM | 7:00 AM | 8:00 AM | 9:20 AM | 10:40 AM | 11:40 AM | 1:00 PM | 2:00 PM | 3:20 PM | 4:20 PM | 5:40 PM | 6:40 PM
- To Cebu – 6:00 AM | 7:05 AM | 8:20 AM | 9:20 AM | 10:40 AM | 11:40 AM | 1:00 PM | 2:00 PM | 2:40 PM | 3:20 PM | 4:20 PM | 5:00 PM | 5:40 PM | 6:30 PM
- The boat takes roughtly 2 hours. The fare ranges from ₱500 to ₱1,300 depending on your choice of ticket: Open-air, Tourist Class, or Business Class.
- From Dumaguete – 9:50 AM | 2:30 PM
- To Dumaguete – 7:30 AM | 12:10PM
- The boat from/to Dumaguete takes roughtly 2 hours. The costs are ₱700 for tourist class and open air, ₱1020 for business class
- Source : OceanJet
- TIP 1 : You can buy the tickets online, but you will have to print them out, its recommended you go to the ticketing office day before and buy ticket there directly, it might turn out cheaper than online too.
- OceanJet – From Cebu and Dumaguete (For exact schedule and ticket booking visit OceanJet Website)
Location of OceanJet Ticketing office in Dumaguete (On more how to find it exactly / info about port in Dumaguete click here)
- 2GO Supper Cat ferries – From Cebu
- From Cebu – 5:50 AM | 8:15 AM | 11:00 AM | 1:15 PM | 8:15 AM | 3:35 PM | 6:00 PM
- Cost is 500php, takes roughly 2 hours.
Best things to see in Bohol
What to expect when arriving in Bohol Port and how to get around.
When arriving at the port don’t worry there will be people waiting and offering you motorbike rentals.
Tip #1 Just say you already have a place/someone for 350/400 and one or the next person offering will offer you lower 300/350 a day for scooter rental.
We have booked with Hey Joe Motorcycle Rental which we can recommend. They can give you the bike at any place around the port, we went to Jollibee and one of their people came by Jollibee to give us the scooter, also giving back the bike is flexible too, just message them on Facebook and they will reply or help you with any issue you have. Luckily we did not have any issues as they provide new scooter with helmets and everything legal. They didn’t want to go lower than 450 a day, so we went with them as we didn’t know what to expect at the port but we wanted a scooter for sure.
We had people offering us 300 a day at the port, which was quite teasing, but we already had it booked.
You can get around Bohol easily by other transportations such as jeepney, private car, bus, taxi or even rent out your own car. Although I recommend out of all renting scooter as it gives you real freedom, you can just go anywhere anytime you want. The island is way bigger than Siquijor(About 8x bigger), but to get from Tagbilaran to the other side of the island it takes about 2 hours so it’s not that bad.
Places and Sightseeings.
Chocolate hills are the most popular place to see in Bohol(At least 1260 chocolate shaped hills).
The views in real life are surreal, you will park your scooter at the parking just under the viewing point(There will be a small fee of 50peso for the entry and parking). Then you walk to the top of the chocolate hill (Viewing point, there is quite a lot of stairs to climb but its all worth it) you see hundreds of hills stretching as far as your eye can see, some random smokes coming from people burning something between some of the hills which creates small fog adds a lot to the views and the feel. The way to the chocolate hills is also amazing, you can spot an area with Rice fields that are between the chocolate hills, one word “amazing”. It is a must-visit place if you are in Bohol.
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
Once you reach Chocolate hills viewing point you can also go to this adventure park which is really close. Here you can experience various different fun activities such as Bike zipline, Surf Zipline, Treetop rope challenges, butterfly garden, chicken and fish feeding, wall climbing, Tarzan swing and more. For more details please head on to their website at https://www.chocolatehillsadventurepark.com/attractions.php
The costs are 60php for the entrance fee and 450php for bike zipline/surf zipline. For costs of all other attractions > Costs
Picture by Martin Kotyk
Less popular viewing point of chocolate hills. It is worth visiting even if you been to the first one (In carmen) because this one has as beautiful 360 views like the one in Carmen but this one has fewer tourists, mainly because of its a bit away from other sights.
– Entrance fee is 50php per person
– There is also a butterfly dome that you can see for just 10php
*Prefered time to visit is just before sunset so you get to enjoy the most picture-worthy views
Picture by @kristina_siianovych
It is the only recommended and I think official place in Bohol to see tarsiers. It is a small part of the forest that’s closed with nets which is quiet and peaceful, you walk through (About 10-15minutes) and can spot those tiny, cute but weird at the same time creatures. There will be workers showing you where they are because of their small size they are hard to spot, there is not many of them and also during the day they won’t be really active and most of them will sleep so don’t expect to see them jumping etc. At the end of the tour, there is a tourist shop with a lot of cool souvenirs.
On the way to tarsiers Sanctuary, you will go through the man-made forest so you can see these 2 sights in one go.
This sight will be hard to miss and it’s more of a “drive-thru” sight. You will most likely go through Man-Made forest when going to see Tarsiers sanctuary or Chocolate Hills. It is a wonderful and peaceful place with tall trees on both sides of the road. Be careful tho because there are many tourists taking pictures in the middle of the road, which you can do as well, or you can just stop on the side to enjoy the peacefulness and listen to nature.
Loboc River (And It’s various activities)
Picture by @ralph_pt
- Loboc river cruise
Picture by @missykarol
- Where you sit on the “floating restaurant” boat with other people and ride through part of Loboc river. There you can enjoy the beautiful views all around, the food being served to you as well as a short cultural show by the local community
- Cost per person can range from 550-650php per person.
- Total time of cruise: From 1 to 1:30h
Picture by KayakAsia
- You can rent a kayak from various places by the Loboc river. The cool thing is that you have 1 hour and can go anywhere with a kayak(Depending on the company/place you rent a kayak from and which package you choose), stop by the edge of the river under some trees get out of the kayak and swim in the refreshing water. The less cool thing is that its really overpriced.
- Cost: 800php per hour for a double seat kayak (We have checked 2 places and they both had 800php, some were even asking for 1600pesos so make sure you either ask if they can do lower or go to another place as there is a lot by the river, just follow along the river road and you will see signs for kayaking or other activities)
- FireFly watching (Night Kayaking tour)
Picture by @kayakasia.ph
- You can do this amazing tour for 800-1200php. You will see a beautiful light show of fireflies.
- The popular companies are kayakasia, and sup tours, however, you will find many more offering firefly watching so make sure to ride around and see the signs and ask couple of places the prices before you make a decision.
- It is usually done after sunset so after 6-7 pm, and is a subject to availability and weather so you have to contact your tour company/person before.
- Stand up paddle (SUP)
Picture by @suptoursphilippines
- You can book a 1-hour class, to learn how to paddle, learn the proper balance and technique. It is fun as its something new than kayaking and the views are amazing, you stand on the board so you see everything from a bit higher up than kayaking.
- Cost is: 800php per hour (It includes, all the equipment, vest, instructor and complimentary drink)
- You can also do a SUP Firefly watching, which brings the whole experience to a new level for just 150php more so 950php. It starts at 6 pm but is a subject to availability and weather.
- A website with SUP and Firefly watching offers https://www.lobocriverresort.com/watersports/
Aproniana Gift Shop
Beautiful and one of the oldest church in the Philippines that has been hit with an earthquake in 2013 which damaged many parts of the church. However they did a great job at renovating it, some parts look new but they still correspond to the old architecture. Really worth visiting as it is beautiful inside and outside. There is also a small museum with 50php entry fee that is worth visiting as well.
Xzootic Animal Park
This is another great quick stop on the way to chocolate hills. You can see a couple of cool birds, beautiful large butterflies as well as about 10 pythons(that are out lying on the floor, not in a cage) where you can get to hold them and take a picture. These are kept in a bit better condition than so-called “Python Sanctuary” in Bohol (where btw I do not recommend you visit this place if you love animals, they are kept in small cages without much space to move)
The cost to see pythons is 45php, to see butterflies it’s another 45php.
Beautiful cave, in order to get there you have to climb steep down(be careful it might be slippery) for a few minutes and then you see the beauty of cave with pool.
Sometimes there are many bats flying or hanging upside down.
-50php per person entrance fee
-75php per person swimming fee
Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridge
Spectacular hanging bridge made of bamboo(and steel wires under it so don’t worry it’s safe). It is a quick stop as you just pay a small fee (35php/person) and walk through the bridge to the other side where you can find some small shop with some souvenirs and ice creams etc (although it’s a bit overpriced if you are buying souvenirs). Then you walk on another bridge back to the beginning and that’s it, apparently, you can only do the trip once for the fee, there and back so feel free to take time taking stunning pictures and selfies.
Cost 35php per person
Habitat Butterflies Conservation Center
Nice place to see it has beautiful butterflies in every stage of the lifecycle. It is really an educational short trip that’s not only good for kids but also interesting for adults especially with their funny tour guides that will make you laugh for sure
They also have an iguana, a crocodile and a couple of snakes.
The butterflies are attracted with honey and water nectar so they come and sit on your hands. They have so many beautiful colours and types and are absolutely to watch!
Make sure to stop at their restaurant because they have their own made ice creams as well as good meals and salads.
Cost : 60php per adult
Bohol Bee Farm
Really nice restaurant and resort with nice small bee farm that you can take a tour for just 30php/person, it runs every 30minutes. Really recommend trying out their food because of its all organic food, as well as organic chicken and it tastes really good, and make sure to try their homemade ice creams with homemade cassava cone(70php per scoop)(Make sure to try Malunggay and dragon fruit ice cream flavours)! I recommend you visit their restaurant during sunset as it has a really beautiful ocean view.
They have a nice swimming pool but it is only for the guests that have booked a stay there (Price ranges from 3000 to 6000php for ocean view room in high season, might be cheaper during low season)
Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape
It is a protected landscape consisting of forested limestone hills, grasslands and natural springs, but it is mostly known for having a lot of monkeys as well as being one of the top philippine bird watching sites. It is a place if you really want to get closer to nature, you will find a lot of shade and trees and interesting hikes. There are a lot of long-tailed Macao monkeys so make sure you bring some bananas and fruits, although the signs say “do not feed the monkeys” most people feed them as the rule is not forced, just make sure to not give them any junk food! Banans and other fruits yes
Cadapdapan Rice Terraces
Picture by Francie Gibson
It is a little bit more difficult to get to as it is away from highway and roads are not yet developed, just follow the direction on the map below, it is definitely worth it as when you do get there you have all the view for your self! A really quiet and peaceful place where you can relax and enjoy the views. Also while visiting the rice terraces it is a good idea to make it a day trip to see: Rice terraces, Can-Umantad(Walking distance as it’s right next to the fields) Waterfall and Canawa Cold Spring as they are close to each other. (Just for an idea, it takes about 2 hours from Tagbilaran to reach Terraces, so plan it ahead as it will be quite long driving back being quite tired after a long day)
Before the rice terraces, there will be a small tent/house where you will need to pay 30php fee. There is a restaurant in the middle of terraces so once you get there you can get some lunch/drink, leave your bags and then carry on exploring and getting lost in tiny paths of rice terraces.
Tip#1: Best time to visit the rice terraces is from November-March, however, if you are in Bohol and have spare days or going in this part of the island it is worth visiting and checking it out even if you are not in November-March months.
Bohol Vintage car museum
Picture by Lev Vat
This can be a nice quick stop on the way to chocolate hills from Tagbilaran, the cost is only 50php per person. They have a couple of old vintage cars as well as typewriters, television, telephones and some old money. The cool thing is that they allow you to get inside the old cars to take pictures (Just a note that most of the cars there are not in the running condition it’s just to see) The whole trip will take you about 20 minutes to go through all the cars. Definitely worth it if you are into old cars or even if you are not because the fee is only 50php.
Best Beaches in Bohol
Picture by @adventuresinfocus
This is a most popular beach in Bohol/Panglao, mainly due that it is long white sand beach easy to get to (As in not too far from Tagbilaran Port or Bohol’s new airport in Panglao). Some call it “little Boracay” because of its views but mainly to the parties and that a lot is happening there. It is not really great for swimming(If you want to swim check out other beaches below) It has a lot of Chinese and Korean restaurants nearby but also other as well, the prices can be a little bit expensive by the beach so I recommend eating a bit away. There are also shops with souvenirs by and on the way to the beach. You cannot park your bike/car right by the beach, you have to park it on the parking by the main road and then walk down to the beach.
– Also, note – due to its popularity it is usually crowded and has a lot of people. If you don’t like touristy and crowded places check the other beaches below, they might not be as developed but you will get beautiful views as well if not better and peace.
Picture by @yoli78920
Great white sand beach, that is as beautiful as alona but has only a few people. It’s not as developed in terms of restaurants and shops or clubs as alona but that’s the good part, you get to enjoy a really nice beach without the crowds. Although the beach has resorts and parts with private beaches so you cannot lie down anywhere but there are still big parts for the public so it is still worth going. The beach is really close to alona about 10-15 min by scooter so if you don’t like alona you can go to dumaluan or another way around.
Libaong Public Beach
Picture by Sergio Isidoro
Another beautiful white sand beach that is right next to dumaluan, you can walk from dumaluan all the way to Libaong beach. This beach is better than dumaluan in terms of relaxing as there are even fewer resorts.
Picture by Iza P
Momo is a small beach on the other side of Panglao, it is less touristy, its more of a locals beach but it is good for snorkelling(Although not the best) if you are into that which i recommend because its quite nice experience seeing the beauty that hides under the water. Other than that the beach is quite nice for taking pictures as well as to just relax and read a book.
Picture by Zita Lin
This beach is on the other side of Bohol, in Anda which is about 2 hours away from Tagbilaran city. It is worth visiting if you are going to these areas which you should. It has a really fine long stretch white sand beach, the entrance is free and you can relax all day on that beach. Fewer tourists of course because its quite away, the food and drinks are affordable, not expensive comparing to Panglao prices. There is also a shower room where you can take a shower after swimming in the sea.
White Beach Anda
Picture by Merijn
Another great beach with fine white sand in Anda region that is not as touristy as Panglao beaches and is really beautiful, with palms and nice blue water ideal for pictures and relaxing on the beach. Just make sure you do not go from far away just for this or 1 other beach in Anda because you can be really disappointed driving 2 hours just to find out that it has a lot of seaweeds because of the season, or there is low tide, the weather will be bad or something else. It is best to go to this region for 1-2 days so you can explore more places in this region in a more relaxing way rather than drive 2 hours to the beach and then another 2 back.
Picture by bobhik
Small beach in Anda that is also worth visiting if you are in this area for at least checking as it’s on the way to White Beach Anda. This one is even less popular as the others so you are most likely find it with only a few local people. You can swim here as well as do snorkelling because there is plenty of fish and some corals as well.
Bugnao C E Beach
Picture by Indrek Juhani
Local’s beach that you can also visit as it’s between White Beach Anda and Norbert’s beach. You will mostly find locals swimming here, it has beautiful blue water, cliffs and rocks as well as palms. A really picture-worthy place that is also great for swimming, just note that water here can be a little cold and make sure to bring some sea shoes as in some parts it might be rocky.
Picture by Clément Chagnaud
Pamilacan is a small island about 40-60minutes boat ride from Baclayon and it is known for its white-sand beaches, friendly locals as all over the Philippines, and great aquatic life so makes sure you bring some snorkelling masks. A perfect place for relaxing from all the mainland of Bohol. The name of the island comes from the world “pamilac” which is a tool used to hunting sea life, which the island was known for doing a lot of it, however, right now the island is known to be more caring for sea life, organizing a lot of tours and its been rewarded with many awards for its taking turn towards caring about sea life.
For more information about Pamilacan, its history and other details visit Baclayon Official Tourism Site
How to get to Pamilacan Island?
- From Baclayon
- You can get a pump boat from Baclayon port to the island and it can cost 1500 pesos upwards depending on the number of passengers. It is recommended to organize it day in advance of possible, either by going to Baclayon pier and asking there or through Baclayon Tourism Information & Activity Center ([email protected], although they not always reply)
- If you don’t organize it in advance, you might have to wait a bit at the pier for the boat to travel from the island to pick you up.
- On Wednesdays, there are more pump-boats operating to and from the island as its market day in Baclayon and the boat prices can drop to as little as 200 pesos. These boats will go to Pamilacan during the afternoon, once the market day finishes, not in the morning so you should take this into consideration.
- On the way back the boats also go on Wednesday for cheaper to Baclayon, so if you want you can stay there a week although it’s a little bit too long for this Island unless you will enjoy it so much that you would want to stay there to fully relax.
- From Alona Beach
- This is another option you can choose, all you have to do is go to Alona beach and there are many tour operators by the beach or even on the way to beach, just talk to any or more likely they will talk to you first, and just tell them where you want to go and they will organize it for you, the prices are negotiable (Usually the price you should accept is ranging from 1500-2000 pesos)
- Tip #1
- To save money(At least for 1 trip so about 1000-1300Pesos saved) go to Pamilacan from Baclayon on Wednesday after market day (Afternoon) OR go any day to Pamilacan Island (1500pesos) and return in the morning Wednesday to Baclayon when people go for market.
Balicasag Island & Virgin Island (Pungtud Island)
Picture of Balicasag Island by Valkyrie 8411
Picture of Virgin Island by Minwoo Choi
Balicasag Island is another relatively small island of around 600 meters in diameter which you can explore in under 45 minutes, really beautiful and round island surrounded by the white sand beach from all the sides and a lot of green trees in the middle. It is a heaven place for snorkelers and divers as it is a marine sanctuary so it’s really rich in the marine life, you can see many turtles, beautiful corals, lot of different type of fishes as well as even dolphins. Make sure you try here snorkelling for sure or even scuba diving as it will be worth it.
Usually, the trip is done together with dolphin watching and virgin island. It begins in the early morning about 5:50 am to see dolphins in the morning then to Balicasag Island and then the final stop will be virgin island, the return is usually around 12 pm
How to get to Balicasag Island?
Again, most likely the boats will depart from Alona Beach, so you have to go a day before to Alona beach as there are many people who offer trips, and just talk to them ask for price, negotiate etc. There will be many people offering trips so you can talk to few and see what price they give, usually the price for the boat is 1500pesos, but it’s for the boat, so if there are other people with you the price should be cheaper as you will split the fare.
Usually, for the 6-hour trip, Dolphin watching, Balicasag Island and then Virgin Island should cost anywhere between 500-700 pesos per person.
Also if you want there is a special site for booking trips and other experiences all over the world even in the Philippines, it’s called Klook although i find it cheaper to do it your self by going to Alona beach.
Dimiao “Twin Falls” (Pahangog Falls)
A really beautiful waterfall hidden down in the jungle, although the walk can be off-putting as its about 15 min walk from the parking to the falls, sometimes can be steep downhill, but the end result is really worth it. There is really nice fall and clean and freshwater to swim. Really nice place to relax as well as it is not so crowded as other falls that are as nice, definitely a place to visit if you like to swim or looking for some great views for pictures.
*The entrance fee is 20php, parking is free
*You can also rent a small cottage for 100-200php per day so you can keep your belongings while you swim
*Best to bring some food and snacks, and set at least 2-4 hours for this place, you can also bring some sweets for local kids.
Another beautiful fall worth visiting where you can take a nice refreshing swim and also it has a swing which is a big plus. Sometimes there can be a lot of people, usually, in peak seasons February-April, as well as sometimes locals would ask for the entrance fee but sometimes there would be none(10-20php usually per person).
This waterfall is right next to the Cadapdapan rice Terraces so if you are visiting terraces you should also visit the falls and vice versa. The fall is really majestic to look at and relax on the rocks, however it is not guaranteed you will be able to swim as often times the water is up to the knees, but it is still a place worth visiting to relax by the water.
Entrance fee 10-30 pesos per person
Canawa Cold Spring
Tambuko Cave Pool
Anda Cave Pools