Exploring Bohol For The First Time

Exploring Bohol For The First Time

In September 2015, we spent three days in Bohol. These three days were magical. We spent a day exploring the countryside and on a second day exploring the island and hanging around the white beaches.

Apart from its many white-sand beaches and world-class dive sites, Bohol is known for unique attractions that you can’t find anywhere else in the Philippines.

Bohol, for me, is one of the Philippines’ most exciting and diverse destinations. If I had friends visiting from other countries and could take them to just one place, then Bohol would be on my shortlist.

12 Things To Do In Bohol

1. Savour life’s sweet moments at the unique landform known as the Chocolate Hills.

The Chocolate Hills are grass-covered limestone, but during the dry season, the grass dries up, turning brown which is where the name is derived from. It’s a famous tourist attraction in Bohol. They have been declared the country’s third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. And was included in the list of 7 Stunning Natural Wonders in Asia of National Geographic.

Get ready to have an up-close photo with chocolate hills and have an exhilarating experience through an ATV ride. Enjoy the spectacular view. Grab your cameras and take some selfies with the mountains as your background.

2. Take an Instagram worthy picture of the artificial forest.

While on the way to the Butterfly Sanctuary, we stopped by to look at the artificial forest in Loboc, which was a straightforward and pleasing experience. It was so gorgeous that it was hard for me to imagine that this was not a forest made exclusively by nature. We didn’t stay for long, but it was still worth my time seeing it.

3. Close encounter with cute Tarsiers

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta or Carlito syrichta) is a peculiar small animal. It is one of the smallest known primates, no larger than an adult men’s hand. Primarily active at night, it lives on a diet of insects.

The Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area is a popular destination among tourists mainly because of its proximity to Bohol’s famed spots like the Loboc artificial forest and the Chocolate Hills. It is also often a part of the packaged tours on the island, hence why this became one of our experiences during our grand time in Bohol.

My tour there was somehow fascinating, though (at first) since it was my first time seeing a tarsier, but moments after we finished our tour, I had the gnawing realisation that they were housing tarsiers in such poor conditions.

If you still want to see the endangered Philippine tarsiers, I suggest that you instead visit the official place run by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation: the Tarsier Research and Development Center in Corella, Bohol (also called The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary, in case you want to see their reviews on TripAdvisor).

4. Enjoy a unique dining experience while cruising at the Loboc River.

Visiting Bohol is never complete without touring around Loboc River while having a Filipino buffet-style lunch. The floating restaurant will not only fill your tummy, but the lush trees along the serene river in the cruise will surely make you feel relaxed.

The cruise will last for an hour and make a few stops along the way. The first stop is at the river choir station, where the locals will give you a warm welcome and heart-melting serenade. They will also perform a “Tinikling” dance, which the guests welcome to try. There is no fee for it, but it’s very much appreciated to give a tip.

5. Be mesmerised by Butterflies.

We had fun visiting the Bohol Habitat Conservation Center because of our tour guide. He was so funny and had a sense of humour in explaining the different kinds of butterflies in their habitat. However, the place is not superb, but because of him, he made our visit beautiful. And don’t forget to buy their special ice candy. It was 35 pesos (then), and it is worth it.

6. Visit the compact blood shrine in Tagbilaran City.

The Sandugo was a blood compact, performed in the island of Bohol in the Philippines, between the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol on March 16, 1565, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. This is considered the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. “Sandugo” is a Visayan word that means “one blood”. [Wikipedia]

This iconic bronze sculpture was created in 1999 by a world-renowned Boholano National Artist, Napoleon Abueva.

7. Feel the 15th-century era in Baclayon Church.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas in 2013, the church building sustained significant damage. It was reconstructed in 2013 and completed in 2017. Though reconstruction was happening during our tour yet, it’s worth visiting.

The church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Together with the churches of Maragondon, Loboc and Guiuan, the Baclayon Church was formerly included for the UNESCO world HeritageTentative List of the Philippines since 1993 under the collective group of Jesuit Churches of the Philippines. [Wikipedia]

8. Play hide and seek with the Dolphins in the early morning.

One of the must-do activities in Bohol is watching the dolphins swim in their natural habitat near Pamilacan Island.

It takes about an hour to reach the viewing spot. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see all the boats gathered in one area. And if you’re alert, you’ll see those Dolphins as they seem to play hide and seek.

9. Swim with the sea turtles and Nemo at Balicasag Island Sanctuary.

One of the Philippines’ most popular diving spots, Balicasag Island Sanctuary, is a small island off the coast of Panglao that is ringed by a reef that has been declared a marine sanctuary. It drops away to impressive submarine cliffs as deep as 50m. Large numbers of day-trippers have to lead to coral damage, but it’s still a fantastic site with turtles, trevally, barracuda and wrasse regularly spotted. I can still vividly recall what they looked like under the sea, the beautiful colours, the fishes as if they were dancing — it was magical!

10. Experience the holiness of the Virgin Islands.

Virgin Island (also known as Pungtud or Pontod Island) is probably the most iconic island destination in Bohol. Its main draw: a lengthy sandbar that curls and fades into the sea like the tail of a mischievous tadpole. The sandy runway makes for a perfect postcard backdrop!

I couldn’t help but feel mesmerised by the crystal clear water and the seaweed below. It almost looked as if we were floating in thin air. But this sandbar is unique from other shoals since it has St. Pio Shrine.

11. Hangout at Alona Beach.

Alona Beach is a stunning 1.5 km stretch of white sand beach. Walking by the beach, sunbathing, swimming and relaxing are prevalent activities here! Be sure to stop at one of the many beach-side restaurants for a cold drink and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. And remember to get a massage while you are here. They are very economical, and you can have them right on the beach!

12. Dine at Bohol Bee Farm Restaurant.

This is the top 1 in my shortlist among the restaurants we’ve been to in Bohol. I like the rustic style, perfect view, and the best part is – delicious local homemade-style dishes like organic Native Tinolang Manok!

What a lovely holiday, huh?

Our experience with this trip was fantastic. What about yours? Feel free to share your stories here.

Recommendation:

This trip wouldn’t be possible and happier without a well-organized itinerary. We commend the excellent service of JRC Travel & Tours. You may wish to check their FB Acct.

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